Irene (1940)

 Run Time: 104 min. | b/w
Director: Herbert Wilcox
Stars: w. Anna Neagle, Ray Milland, Roland Young, May Robson
 Genres: Comedy | Musical | Romance
This film version of the famous 1920s musical loses some of the songs, but the age-old story of an upper-cruster falling in love with a pretty model offers much charm.


  1. IMDBReviewer

    August 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I saw this film on AMC one rainy Sunday afternoon last month. I saw that it was listed as a musical and, not being a huge fan of the genre, I was a bit apprehensive. But, I did get hooked on it after about 10 minutes or so and watched the entire thing. Even worse.. I LOVED it!! It was a charming and funny film that I recommend to all those who love a good black and white movie afternoon.

  2. IMDBReviewer

    August 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

    "Irene" is very entrancing screen version of Joseph Tierney and Harry McCarthy’s 1919 stage musical, glossily directed and produced by Herbert Wilcox. I happened to catch it the other night, and I loved it. I was entranced by the charm of the actors — and the songs, while not first-rate, are quite pleasing. Anna Neagle stars as whimsical Irish sales girl Irene O’Dare who is introduced into Long Island’s high society culture, and becomes infatuated with two suitors, Ray Milland and Alan Marshall. Billie Burke plays their mother who becomes impressed with Irene, turns her into a celebrity sensation in "Madame Lucy" dress collection. May Robson is very memorable as the irrepressible Granny; so is Roland Young as Milland’s partner in business. The highlight is the sumptuous ball sequence shot in Technicolor, "Alice Blue Gown", where Irene, dressed in blue, is waltzing with Milland in a very tuneful number. The other songs include, "You’ve Got Me Out on a Limb", "There’s Something in the Air", "Worthy of You", and "Irene". Enjoyable stuff.

  3. IMDBReviewer

    August 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Watching this delightful movie I was captivated by the beautiful Anna Neagle. While watching the early part of the movie and appreciating more and more the beauty of Miss Neagle, and the beautiful dresses she was modeling, I wished that this was a movie that they would convert to Technicolor. Lo and behold suddenly the movie becomes Technicolor and the vivid red hair and Alice blue gown come alive. Her graceful movements in the dancing and modeling are memorable. I have seen some comments that her dancing was not first class but I do not recall a more alluring dance than her solo dance on the patio near the movie’s end. Unfortunately at this time the movie has reverted to black and white but this detracts little from the beautiful Anna. Of course the music is dated but this movie taken as a whole is a musical comedy classic.

  4. Anonymous

    August 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Anna Neagle was never one of my favorites. She was one of those oh-so-ladylike actresses that you just couldn’t picture doing things us mere mortals do every day without thinking. However, in the early 40’s, the British actress was Americanized for three musical films based upon old Broadway shows. "Irene" was the first of the three (followed by remakes of "No No Nanette" and "Sunny"), and by far the most charming. As the oh-so-Irish Irene O’Dare, Neagle becomes a superstar overnight when she shows up at a Long Island party wearing an old gown of her grandmother’s (that salty old favorite May Robson) that has eyes all aglow. Dashing Ray Milland and her dizzy mother (Billie Burke) are instantly taken with her, and she is soon a celebrity. They believe her to be related to European blue-bloods, not realizing she is a simple working girl. Only Milland and his business partner (Roland Young as "Madame Lucy", the apparent designer of the "Alice Blue Gown") know the truth.

    I was familiar with the score thanks to a recording of the 1973 revival with Debbie Reynolds; most of the songs are either cut or given minor arrangements, with the exception of "Alice Blue Gown" which is turned into a cute production number filled with a variety of different races wearing the outfit. Hattie Noel and the Dandridge sisters are given the bulk of the production number, while Neagle earlier sang it to her grandmother and sisters. Neagle’s singing voice, while not bad, is no Jeanette MacDonald; It is hard to believe that she was one of Britain’s most popular musical stars. Her acting, however, is pretty good, and she is most convincing as an Irish lass. Milland is handsome and quite charming; He is the perfect leading man. Billie Burke and Roland Young (reunited from the "Topper" series as well as several others) are good as well, and May Robson is always a delight. (The Broadway musical for those who are interested featured Monte Markham in the Milland role, and Ruth Warrick, Billy DeWolfe, and Patsy Kelly in the Burke, Young, and Robson roles respectively).

    RKO went all out for the production design of the film, giving it a marvelous art deco look. It is equal in design to any of the Astaire/Rogers musicals, and just as charming. The only thing I disliked was the lack of music; I wanted a production number of the rousing title song which gets more attention as background music than as a musical number. Still, as a comedy with music, "Irene" is very well done, and being taken from that point of view makes it a film worth viewing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *