If the title does not sound familiar, maybe the name does as she was one of the survivors of the Titanic. However Molly Brown in this 1964 musical film (based on the 1960 musical of the same name) is not portrayed by Kathy Bates (like the famous 1997 movie but that is another day), but by the lovable Debbie Reynolds who received her only Oscar nomination for this part. While not everything in this movie may be accurate, it is a nice thought. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.
After surviving the Colorado river as an infant, a baby is taken in by Seamus Tobin (Ed Begley), who grows up to be tomboy named Molly (Reynolds). Being a determined and stubborn woman Molly travels to Leadville, CO to learn how to read and write as well as find a wealthy man to marry. Along the way she meets the very handsome miner Johnny Brown (Harve Presnell, the only one from the original Broadway cast to reprise his role for the movie). It is obvious how smitten the two are within meeting each other, but Molly leaves in a rush thinking Johnny has bad intentions (which may or may not have been true). Molly soon gets hired as a singer at a local saloon, and Johnny teaches her how to read and write. While they get to know each other they fall deeply in love and marry. Johnny sells his claim to a silver mine for $300,000 but when trying to hid the money Molly accidentally burns it. However by accident Johnny finds the richest gold vein in Colorado and the happy couple (along with Seamus) move to a beautiful Denver mansion. Unfortunately their unconventional ways turn the neighbors off, which upsets Molly as she wants to bring up her social status, while Johnny would rather go back to Leadville. The two decide to go to Europe and are embrace by the top people of the country; however while Molly can let go of their old lives Johnny cannot and the two have a falling out. Molly travels back to Europe, but soon realizes exactly what she is missing in life and travels back on the Titanic, which well you know that story, Molly is one of the survivors and she and Johnny happily reunite.
Debbie Reynolds was an absolute joy to watch in this movie as she has a very unique voice, not just in singing but talking. She really brought the role to life, telling a lot with one look or speaking very fast. This was my first time watching Harve Presnell in a movie and there were three things I noticed right off the bat: he was very handsome, he had the voice of an angel and the pants he was wearing were we first meet him were a little tight (which my mother did not mind at all). The two have great chemistry together and I liked the happy ending, unlike real life where Molly and Johnny never got back together, but still cared deeply for one another for their children. The writing may not be the best, but the music more than makes up for it.
There are quite a few songs I love in the movie, but three stand out for me. “I Ain’t Down Yet” is Molly’s opening number where she tells anyone within listening range exactly what she wants in life. “Colorado, My Home” is Johnny’s big number where he expresses his love for Colorado. Finally, and my personal favorite from the movie, “I’ll Never Say No” where Johnny tells Molly how he feels about her, promising to never say no to her. If any number is worth listening too it’s that one. If you can find The Unsinkable Molly Brown on TV, most likely Turner Classic, I would highly recommend watching this pretty good musical.