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It Happened in Brooklyn (March 13, 1947)

It Happened in Brooklyn
It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)
Directed by Richard Whorf
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I used to be bummed out that I grew up after the era of listening booths in record stores.

After seeing Richard Whorf’s It Happened in Brooklyn, I’ve realized that as far as regrets go, that’s small potatoes. If this film is to be believed, there was once a music store in Bay Ridge where you could pick out any piece of sheet music and hand it to Frank Sinatra, the in-house “song demonstrator,” and listen to Ol’ Blue Eyes tickle the ivories while he performed it for you. Sure, you had to contend with a teeming crowd of sighing bobby-soxers, but that’s a small price to pay.

When It Happened in Brooklyn begins, Private Danny Miller (Sinatra) has been in the service for four years. World War II is drawing to a close, and he can’t wait to get home to his one true love, Brooklyn.

Danny loves Brooklyn so much that he carries a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge in his wallet. When a pretty Army nurse (Gloria Grahame) from Brooklyn refuses to believe that Danny is really from Brooklyn because he’s so restrained and cool, he pulls out the picture of the bridge and says, “Sure, that’s my pinup girl. Ain’t she a beauty?”

When Danny returns home, a traffic cop asks him why he’s so happy to be in Brooklyn when he could be across the river in New York. Danny looks incredulous and exclaims, “New York? That’s a place to look at Brooklyn from!”

Faced with the post-war housing shortage, Danny moves in with Nick Lombardi (Jimmy Durante), the janitor at New Utrecht High School, Danny’s alma mater. Nick is a kindly old geezer who idolizes the fictional teacher Mr. Chips, and doesn’t understand why all the kids in the school make fun of him.

Danny also befriends a pretty music teacher named Anne Fielding (Kathryn Grayson) and, in a remarkable example of art imitating life, teaches a British drip named Jamie Shellgrove (Peter Lawford) how to be cool.

For an MGM musical, It Happened in Brooklyn is fairly restrained. Unlike Sinatra’s previous film, the Technicolor extravaganza Anchors Aweigh (1945), which also co-starred Grayson, It Happened in Brooklyn is filmed in black and white, clocks in at under two hours, and doesn’t feature any huge production numbers.

Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante

Despite this, It Happened in Brooklyn is still a blast, especially if you’re a Sinatra fan. It’s packed with great songs by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, including “The Brooklyn Bridge,” “Whose Baby Are You?,” “It’s the Same Old Dream,” “The Song’s Gotta Come From the Heart,” and the classic “Time After Time.” I especially enjoyed Sinatra and Durante’s humorous performance of “I Believe” with a teenaged actor named Bobby Long, who does a great tap number. Does anyone know anything about Long? Why didn’t he ever appear in another movie? Did he have an abrasive personality? Horrible skin? Did he sleep with a producer’s wife after wooing her with his sensuous tap-dancing?

Along with all the great pop numbers, there’s a little “class” squeezed in, too. The classically trained Grayson gets to belt out a couple of operatic numbers — one from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and one from Delibes’s Lakmé — and her student Leo Kardos (Billy Roy) performs a piano concert in hopes of getting a scholarship. (Kardos’s playing was actually done by André Previn, who had just joined the music department of MGM at the age of 17.)

It Happened in Brooklyn is clichéd and occasionally silly, and it doesn’t offer the over-the-top razzle-dazzle of Anchors Aweigh, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

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19 responses »

  1. I think Bobby Long suffered a career-ending injury from his tap-dancing, or at least that seems plausible. In all seriousness, it sounds like a fun movie. Captures the optimism of the post-war period, it seems.

    Reply
    • Does seem plausible.
      Yet it does depend whether or not he injured himself On or Off the movie set.

      Solving the mystery of what happened 2 Bobby Long has been Long overdue and I hopr and pray that his story will finally Finally FINALLY come out someday soon.

      Neither Sinatra nor Durante never mentioned anything about him or what was the experience with him in the movie.

      And shame on the entertainment media for never Ever bothering an investigation on him, especially after the 50th anniversary of the movie in 1997. His story deserves to be told at Long last.

      Reply
      • Marlene Cameron

        I danced with Bobby Long when he and I were 7 or yr. I would love to get in touch with him. Can you help me do
        that?

        Marlene Cameron

      • Btw (By The Way)

        Sorry I had 2 reply a 3rd time.
        I had to be sure you got my last 2 messages in case they didn’t go through.

        Take care Marlene and please call me whenever you can. I am just as passionate at finding Bobby just as much as know you are.

        Thank U and Good Night*

      • Marlene, more than anything I would want to help U reunite with Bobby*

        Please tell me where can I contact U?

      • Yes Marlene. More than anything is that I would love to reunite you and Bobby together again.

        Here’s my number# 925-978-3254*

        Please let me know whenever you can, I would be more than happy to talk 2 U*

        It’s about time that Bobby’s story is Finally be told at Long last!

        Thank U Marlene & God Bless Bobby Long*

  2. does anyone know what happened to Bobby Long?

    Reply
    • Yes! I know he’s still alive. But he could be in the final days of his life. He’s 82 or 83 now.

      And now “I Believe” his story deserves to be told at Long last. He was Extremely talented and Rare. He had the Quadruple Thread of Talent (Acting, Singing, Dancing (Tap), & Gymnastics/Acrobat Stunts)

      And to add a 5th thread to it, he also had charm and adorability. He had the Whole Package. Natch! (Bobby’s Movie Quote)*

      But something or someone got in his way and prevented him for becoming the Bigtime Star he dreamed of being. We don’t know if it was for good reason or if it was foul play.

      Either way it stopped Bobby from achieving his dreams. The mystery molust be solved someday. And I hope I get the opportunity to meet him myself.

      I’m not gonna let that Once Amazingly Talented Child Star die without having his story told. Natch!*

      God Bless Bobby Long*

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (March 9, 1949) | OCD Viewer

  4. I don’t know what happened to Bobby either. When we were about 6-7 yr. old we were paired as a dance team. His real name was Robert (Bobby) Longston. If any one know what happened to this very talented man please get in touch with me.

    Marlene

    Reply
    • Marlene, that’s so interesting. Where did you dance together?

      I loved his performance in this movie and I think it’s a shame he was never in any more movies

      You’ve inspired me to update this review … I added a little video at the end of the “I Believe” number, which was a highlight of the film for me.

      Reply
      • We were both New Yorkers. We got together through our mothers who were friends. We danced all over New York but only for a very short time. I believe I have a pix of us among my memorabilia. He was so good…a much better dancer than I. His style was so like Fred Astaire. You can find my bio. on IMDb.Wish someone would come forward and tell us what happened to him.

        Marlene

      • Adam, I hope you get this, I hope you email me ASAP. I must contact Marlene, I might just have a way to finally reunite her and Bobby Long together again*

        Thanks*

      • Gabriel, the only contact information I could find for Marlene was this email: mcameron4@myrapidsys.com

        That’s the best I could do. Hope it helps!

      • Well I will continue 2 try 2 contact her. To me Bobby Long was the Diamond in the Rough who’s story has gone untold and ignored.

        I plan 2 find him, reunite him with Marlene, and then hopefully get an interview with him about waht really happened to him before, during, and after he did the movie and what stopped him from becoming the Star he wanted to be.

        Thanks Adam*

    • Dear Marlene,

      U may not know me, but I have as much curiosity as to know about what happened to that talented sweet little boy who shined on the big screen once in Sinatra’s It Happened In Brooklyn.

      Bobby Long had his whole life ahead of him if he wanted to continue with his amazing God-given talent in show business and movie-making. When I first saw him, he stole my heart with his adorable quirkiness, his charm, his charisma, and especially his fast-tapping soles. He could’ve been the best since Shirley Temple, the male version at least. and like Shirley, he would have been adored by fans worldwide at the time.

      Then again I think for the protection of most child stars, they need the consent and support of thier families, especially the parents. If Johnny’s dream was to really Really REALLY make it Bigtime with his name in lights, then there would’ve been some proven documentations about how he was first discovered. And maybe somewhere saying Why he never was seen or heard from in another picture or production again.

      Then I did the research and discovered that this was his 1st and Only movie. It was a bummer but then it lead me to speculate.

      There can only be a theories as to why Little Johnny disappeared from the limelight.

      Could it be…

      A. He injured himself during the I Believe number sending him to Intensive Care that the report he got was tragic and he ended up being paralyzed never to tap dance again, forcing him to give up show business.

      B. He ir his parents were in a huge disagreement with the head of MGM whether it to do with money, time, or even talent, and they became so unpleased and disappointed at the company that Johnny or his parents decided to rip up his contract and quit show business.

      C. He wanted to continue showbiz but he found out about something wrong and sinister in the entertainment industry, and if he was targeted by suspected pedophiles at the time and ended up becoming a victim of child rape or abuse, then he was right to quit and remove his name from the showbiz history.

      And if he tried to come forward with his family and the authorities with everything he endured or discovered, then chances are he never got to tell either by being threatened to keep his mouth shut for as long he lived or whoever those terrorists were ended up killing him and his entire family! Making it all look like an accident!

      If any of the above happened as to why Johnny Long quit showbiz, then i hope Marlene if you’re reading this, maybe I’ve helped shed some light to what really happened to your dear old little friend.

      I feel bad for him either way, all he probably ever wanted was to be an inspiration for everyone and put a smile on people’s faces whenever he dances his delightful tap choreo or does some beautiful acrobatic stunts or acts cute to attract lovely ladies to fall head over heels for him.

      He sure became an inspiration to me. I hope one day I might get the opportunity to meet him whether he is still alive or he passed away, but either way, I’m sure God would love to see him jumping and tapping his way to Heaven.

      Now I’m getting a little emotional because kids like him are a rarity in these times now. Who could ever posses the same amount of quality in kindness, wit, talent, and beauty like Robert (Johnny) Longston had. Thank U Johnny Long* God Bless Him*

      And God Bless U Marlene, he really was such a good friend to You.

      Reply
    • Yes Marlene. More than anything I want yo help U reunite with Bobby, but first we must find him.
      Maybe he never wanted his story to be told, especially not to the entertainment media.

      But if he Finally wants to come out with it than I say he deserves to be heard at Long last! Natch! (Bobby’s catch phrase in the movie)

      Please tell me Marlene where can I contact you? Thank U* Gabriel Vidrio*

      Reply
    • Marlene, here’s my number# = 925-978-3254*

      Please call me when U can, I want to help find Bobby too. Thank U* Gabe*

      Reply

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