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I'll Be Your Sweetheart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'll Be Your Sweetheart
Original British trade ad
Directed byVal Guest
Written byVal Valentine
Val Guest
additional dialogue
Edward Percy
Based onoriginal story by Valentine and Guest
Produced byassociate
Louis Levy
Maurice Ostrer
CinematographyPhil Grindrod
Edited byAlfred Roome
Music byLouis Levy
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
30 July 1945
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

I'll Be Your Sweetheart is a 1945 British historical musical film directed by Val Guest and starring Margaret Lockwood, Vic Oliver and Michael Rennie. It was the first and only musical film produced by Gainsborough Studios. Commissioned by the British Ministry of Information,[1] it was set at the beginning of the 20th century, and was about the composers of popular music hall songs fighting for a new copyright law that will protect them from having their songs stolen.[2] Copyright scholar Adrian Johns has called the film "propaganda" and "a one-dimensional account of the piracy crisis [about sheet music in the early 20th century] from the publishers' perspective", but also highlighted its value as historical document, with large parts of the dialogue "closely culled from the actual raids, court cases, and arguments of 1900-1905."[1]

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In 1900 Bob Fielding arrives in London from the north of England determined to make it as a song publisher. He visits a music hall where he hears Edie Story singing "Oh Mr Porter" by George Le Brunn.

Songwriters Kahn and Kelly sell their latest song, "I'll Be Your Sweetheart" to Jim Knight, who also wants to be a publisher. Knight doesn't give them an advance so they sell it to Jim. This causes a rivalry between Bob and Jim, which is increased when both men fall in love with Edie.

Bob leads a movement to smash the music pirates. He asks Edie to speak out against them but she refuses, reluctant to get involved with what she sees is a political issue. However when composer Le Brunn dies impoverished, Edie makes an on-stage appeal to her audience to fight piracy.

Eventually the copyright bill is passed with the help of MP T.P. O'Connor. Bob leads a group of song writers to smash the printing presses of the pirates, resulting in a large brawl where Bob and his allies are victorious.

Bob and Edie decide to get married. Bob and Jim bury the hatchet as the copyright bill is passed.



The film was based on the real life copyright battles of Abbott and Preston in the early 1900s. Val Guest, the writer-director, was familiar with these struggles having been a former songwriter.[1]

Margaret Lockwood's singing voice was dubbed by Maudie Edwards. It was a rare musical from her. Michael Rennie went to see Val Guest for a small role and Guest decided to make him the male lead.[3]

Vic Oliver was billed above the title, just below Margaret Lockwood. However his role was fairly minor. It was the first major part for Michael Rennie who is given an "and introducing" credit in the film's opening credits.

It was the last film Val Guest made under his contract with Gainsborough. He says the film was made while the Blitz was on.[3]


  • "I'll Be Your Sweetheart" by Harry Dacre
  • "Oh! Mr Porter" by Thomas and George Le Brunn
  • "Honeysuckle and the Bee" by W H Penn and A H Fitz
  • "I Wouldn't Leave My Little Wooden Hut" by Tom Mellor and Charlies Collins
  • "Liza Johnson" by George Le Brunn and Edgar Bateman
  • "I'm Banking Everything On You", "Sooner or Later" and "Mary Anna" by Manning Sherwin and Val Guest


Box Office

According to Kinematograph Weekly the film performed well at the British box office in 1945.[4][5] The 'biggest winners' at the box office in 1945 Britain were The Seventh Veil, with "runners up" being (in release order), Madonna of the Seven Moons, Old Acquaintance, Frenchman's Creek, Mrs Parkington, Arsenic and Old Lace, Meet Me in St Louis, A Song to Remember, Since You Went Away, Here Come the Waves, Tonight and Every Night, Hollywood Canteen, They Were Sisters, The Princess and the Pirate, The Adventures of Susan, National Velvet, Mrs Skefflington, I Live in Grosvenor Square, Nob Hill, Perfect Strangers, Valley of Decision, Conflict and Duffy's Tavern. British "runners up" were They Were Sisters, I Live in Grosvenor Square, Perfect Strangers, Madonna of the Seven Moons, Waterloo Road, Blithe Spirit, The Way to the Stars, I'll Be Your Sweetheart, Dead of Night, Waltz Time and Henry V.[6] However Gainsborough Studios made no further musicals.


In the Radio Times, David Parkinson wrote, "Val Guest directs with brio, but the songs he's saddled with are decidedly second-rate";[7] while in The Independent, Tom Vallance described the film as an "under-rated musical...a film that combined the pace and vitality of the best Fox musicals with a trenchant look at flourishing music piracy at the turn of the century."[8]


The film was adapted for radio on the BBC in 1945.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates By Adrian Johns p354
  2. ^ Murphy p.202
  3. ^ a b Fowler, Roy (1988). "Interview with Val Guest". British Entertainment History Project.
  4. ^ Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p 208
  5. ^ Harper p.99
  6. ^ Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 232.
  7. ^ David Parkinson. "I'll Be Your Sweetheart". RadioTimes.
  8. ^ "Obituary: Peter Graves". The Independent. 8 June 1994.
  9. ^ Program details


  • Cook, Pam. Gainsborough Pictures. Cassell, 1997.
  • Harper, Sue. Picturing the Past: The Rise and Fall of the British Costume Film. British Film Institute, 1994.
  • Murphy, Robert. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1939-1949. Routledge, 1989.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 December 2023, at 06:01
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