I'll See You in My Dreams (Warner), Hollywood's latest biography of a songwriter, suggests that the inhabitants of Tin Pan Alley, who are sometimes accused of borrowing their songs, also pattern their lives on one another. This time the old, sentimentalized story of humble beginnings, success, defeat and comebackall neatly studded with song cueshas as its hero the late, prolific lyricist Gus Kahn (1886-1941).
A typical scene shows Kahn (Danny Thomas) gnawing a cigar in a nightclub, distractedly hatching an idea for a lyric to a new tune. His wife (Doris Day) breaks his creative trance to tell him that she is pregnant. Kahn brightens and says happily: "I've got it! We'll call the number Pretty Baby!"
Operating under such handicaps of plot, but with the help of some amusing dialogue, Nightclub Comic Danny Thomas puts remarkable warmth into a portrait of Kahn. The songwriter is pictured as an earnest craftsman of simple tastes, shy beneath a brash surface, who needed, resented and forgave his wife's constant efforts to push him forward. Actor Thomas' performance won him a four-year Warner contract before the picture's release.
Though Kahn's lyrics are distinguished mainly for the volume in which he turned them out, his collaborators, notably Walter Donaldson (Frank Lovejoy), wrote many a good tune, and the film riffles through a fat catalogue of such old hits as It Had to Be You, Love Me or Leave Me, Memories, Nobody's Sweetheart Now, The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else.