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Why Allan Jones was dubbed over Dennis Morgan


pandorainmay
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Annie Laurie was a MGM short made in 1936 that was shown on TCM yesterday, Nov. 16th. It featured wonderful production values, and retold the story behind the old Scottish song, "Annie Laurie". It also had deft performances by Ann Rutherford and Dennis Morgan, when he was still being credited under his actual name, Stanley Morner.

 

My enjoyment of Dennis Morgan's singing of the traditional air in this lovely short made me wonder why MGM chose to dub Allan Jones' voice for Morgan's perfectly suitable singing voice for the "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" sequence in their often (imho) elephantine musical, The Great Ziegfeld (1936).

 

I wish that "Annie Laurie" were listed for re-airing soon, but unfortunately it is not being shown again in the near future, according to MGMBRKO's list under the Genres section Shorts' thread. Did anyone have any idea why Jones' voice was chosen over Morgan's and did anyone else catch this little gem of a short? Thanks in advance for any info or opinions provided.

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I noticed that too Moira, There isn't a Bio here at the DataBase and not much at IMDb.com

IMDb.com: MGM had Dennis Morgan under contract for the first few years of his career under his real name Stanley Morner. His most famous "role" was that of the singer in the A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody number of The Great Ziegfeld. Unfortunately somebody decided to dub Allan Jones's voice instead of Morgan's and poor Dennis was out in the cold until he got to Warner Brothers.

 

They did make use of him here in this short subject about the origins of the song Annie Laurie and his pleasant tenor was just the voice for this old Scot's melody.

 

Dennis had to wait for stardom at another studio, but this short subject does show the potential he had.

 

vallo

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I don't think I've ever heard Mr. Morgan's singing voice, but Mr. Jones' certainly had the vocal quality that would attract MGM for this extravagant number. His tonal quality was thought to evoke an air of sophistication that befits his white tie look. The warm head tone would later be a big hit for Tony Martin.

 

But isn't this number really about the curtain? I tell you, I'm always agog at the fabric, the amount of fabric, the way it moves. I try to envision the craftspeople putting that brobdingnagian drapery together, hanging it, ensuring that it opened correctly and enveloped the uber-wedding cake at the close of the number. I'm breathless.

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Jack,

You made me laugh. I understand your awe over the sheer magnitude of the work that must've gone into the execution of that weird wedding cake number that features ol' Denny amid the female pulchritude in The Great Ziegfeld.

 

Dennis Morgan actually had quite a career as an actor as well as a singer on his own in such '40s fare as Chauncey Olcott in My Wild Irish Rose (1947) as well as in the movies in which he teamed with Jack Carson, the best of which dramatically, if not musically, was The Hard Way (1943). I'd describe his voice as a light tenor. Like his acting, it was pleasant and serviceable, and Mr. Morgan was always easy on the eyes. He looks fine in that memorable scene and imho, his singing was on a par with that of Allan Jones. I guess I wondered about the dubbing because I wondered if Morgan's singing wasn't deemed "classy" enough or something by Louis B. Mayer or some other music scholar around MGM like Eddie Mannix--leading to Mr. Jones' employment.

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I would never overestimate your knowledge Jack, you've proven yourself too many times for that, but somehow I got the impression Ann Sheridan was one of your favorites and I couldn't imagine your having missed either of those particular movies. I'm not sure however, how well the notes will come across on-screen, 'visually' perhaps the 'audio' would be more conducive to Mr. Morgans' musical talents. ;-)

 

Ha-ha good start to the morning.

 

Anne

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I do like Ann Sheridan, but you know what? I haven't seen many of her movies. She's one of my unchartered frontiers. I haven't even seen Nora Prentiss and look forward to TCM repeating it (while others will complain about it being repeated too often). I think I've only seen her in:

 

The Opposite Sex

I Was a Male War Bride

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Angels With Dirty Faces

They Drive By Night

Kings Row (but so long ago, I don't remember it)

 

Apparently, I need more "oomph" in my life!

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You were on vacation last week, so naturally there was 'King Row' big as life on Tuesday or Wednesday, and she was ohhh so good in it. I've said many times one of my favorite movies is 'The Women', but Ann is in the re-make with June Allyson, 'The Opposite Sex', however Ann is the only good thing about it.

 

Anne

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"I've said many times one of my favorite movies is 'The Women', but Ann is in the re-make with June Allyson, 'The Opposite Sex', however Ann is the only good thing about it."

 

Ah, I must beg to differ. For me the sole reason to watch The Opposite Sex is for the opening credits. Well not the credits themselves, which weren't that interesting; but for the soundtrack: the uber-fabulous Dolores Gray singing the title song as only she could. Once the credits are done, I turn off the movie. This movie is an excellent lesson akin to "don't judge a book by its cover". When I was young and foolish (as opposed to my present state of middle-aged and foolish) I used to think one could tell if the movie was going to be good by the opening credits. The Opposite Sex taught me otherwise...

 

But now we have two good things about this movie: Ann Sheridan and Dolores Gray. Which is odd, when one considers this is a thread about Allan Jones and Dennis Morgan.

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This is purely an educated guess on my part, but I think it's because Allan Jones is a vocal dead ringer for John Steel, who introduced the song "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody" in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919. Morgan's voice probably sounded a little too modern for that period in the film, and Jones sang in a more "legitimate" style, as Steel did originally.

 

Message was edited by:

coffeedan (who someday may be crushed under the weight of his record collection)

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Do my eyes deceive me, Coffeedan? Has someone actually brought a thread back on topic? ;)

 

Your suggestion about John Steel sounds utterly credible to me and I thank you for your pertinent solution to this minor, but interesting mystery. In thinking about it, I realize that Jones' style of singing did have a polished, more highly trained and slightly "stagier" quality that Morgan's did not share. Though I've read that Dennis Morgan also had professional vocal training, his voice and manner seemed more reflective of the radio/big band era than Allan Jones. I can understand how Allan Jones' quality might be truer to the original singer from the immediate post WWI era. I appreciate your taking the time to make this relevant point.

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