Meredith Wilson's
"The Unsinkable Molly Brown" Score

Molly (Debbie Reynolds), a tomboy orphan rescued from the Colorado River and brought up by Shamus Tobin (Ed Begley), sets out to find a rich husband. Arriving in Leadville, she gets a job singing in Christmas Morgan's (Jack Kruschen) saloon.

En route she has met Johnny Brown (Harve Presnell), and when he refurbishes her cabin, she marries him. Johnny, wishing to satisfy Molly's hunger for money, sells her silver mine for $300,000, but the paper currency is burned accidentally after Molly hides it in the stove. Comforting her, Johnny tosses his pickax in the air, and it cracks open the richest gold vein in Colorado history.

The Browns and Shamus move into a mansion in Denver, where the unpolished Molly hopes to break into society but is thoroughly snubbed by the elite. The Browns then go to Europe, where Molly becomes the toast of royalty. They return to Denver, bringing along their royal friends, and Molly's party to introduce them to Denver society is a success until Johnny's Leadville friends show up and turn it into a free-for-all.

Rejected once more, Molly returns to Europe despite Johnny's warning that the separation will end their marriage, while he returns to Leadville. In Europe, Prince de Lanière (Vassili Lambrinos) falls in love with Molly, but she decides to go back to Johnny.

She sets sails on the Titanic, and when the ship sinks, Molly saves the lives of the people in an overcrowded lifeboat. Her courage and selflessness make worldwide headlines, and all Denver at last welcomes her home with open arms. And Johnny, too, is on hand to welcome Molly.

Oscar
6 Nominations
0 Awards

Golden Globes
2 Nomination
0 Awards
A career highpoint for Debbie Reynolds, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” is essentially a showcase for the diminutive star's singing, dancing and acting. She gives the part her energetic all, plunging into the energetic aspects of her character with wild abandon, and making the transformation to elegant swan believable.
Not that she's the only thing in the movie. Harve Presnell is very definitely a big presence -- and his luscious, booming baritone with its sweet, light upper register is very definitely a tremendous asset. Presnell shows his voice off to good advantage in Colorado, My Home and I’ll Never Say No, two of the more attractive offerings from Meredith Willson's great score. The leading man is also a decent actor and he partners Reynolds well. Presnell was the sole member of the original Broadway cast who was invited to reprise his stage role in the film.

Although Tammy Grimes had originated the title role and had won the Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance, MGM executives wanted Shirley MacLaine for the film. After she signed, producer Hal Wallis claimed she was under contract to him, and MacLaine was forced to withdraw from the project. When Debbie Reynolds was cast instead, MacLaine publicly accused her of agreeing to accept a lower salary in order to land the role, and director Charles Walters, who preferred MacLaine, tried to persuade Reynolds to turn down the part.
While the energetic performances of such songs as I Ain't Down Yet and Belly Up To The Bar, Boys are to be cherished, the real highlight of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” is a society ball which ends up in a pie fight between the Denver "elite" and Molly's rambunctious mining-town cronies, in He’s My Friend. Treated contemptuously by the critics, the film struck a responsive chord with audiences to the tune of a $7.5 million gross and earned the film 6 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for Reynolds.

Though she didn’t win (she lost to Julie Andrews for “Mary Poppins”) it did solidify her as America's sweetheart, the archetypal girl-next-door.
He's My Friend
Belly Up To The Bar, Boys
Colorado, My Home
I Ain't Down Yet