Dennis a Menace? Hardly.
Alright, let’s talk about someone who you may or may not know: Dennis Morgan. Or if you’re not sure, here’s his picture.
Now, you’re probably thinking “What’s so great about him?” Well, here’s my confession — I love Dennis Morgan. I absolutely adore him. Every time I see that a film has Dennis Morgan in it, I get excited. I can’t wait to see his beautiful smile, it totally melts me.
Is this a weird crush to have? I feel like it is. Hardly anyone talks about Dennis. He wasn’t a major star, and when he was popular during the 1940s, it wasn’t for very long. He wasn’t as glamorous as Cary Grant, as elegant as William Powell, as talented as Humphrey Bogart, as funny as a Marx Brother… the list goes on. So why do I adore him as much as I do?
I don’t know.
Watching Dennis Morgan gives me such a warm and comforting feeling—he’s my film comfort food. I know he’s not the best actor, but I really don’t care.
The very first time I saw him was opposite Ginger Rogers in KITTY FOYLE (1940). (Spoilers ahead!) He's the rich boy Ginger falls in love with and marries, but his snobby family disapproves and say they will have to cut off his inheritance if he doesn't work in their family bank in Philadelphia. Knowing that Ginger wants to live away from Philadelphia, Dennis insists that he'll be okay without his inheritance, but Ginger knows what it's like to be poor and believes that Dennis couldn't handle it. She divorces him to save him, only to discover she’s pregnant. She plans on telling him, but she reads in the newspaper that he’s engaged to someone else. After losing the baby in childbirth, Ginger moves on and starts to become successful, even getting engaged to a doctor. But Dennis finds her and asks her to run away with him. She wants to, but after remembering the previously mentioned events in flashback, she believes that she can’t be happy with Dennis and decides to marry the doctor instead.
I wanted to see this film for Ginger, especially since it won her the Best Actress Oscar. But when she’s cuddling with Dennis by a fire, playfully tapping melodies on each other with their fingers and trying to guess the songs, I had the biggest smile on my face. That’s when I fell in love with Dennis Morgan. So much so that when Ginger leaves him in the end for the doctor, I was like “No, you’re making a mistake! You want Dennis! You need Dennis!”
I recently saw 1943’s THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS, and I couldn’t believe it — Dennis actually sings, too?! It’s not just him lip-syncing to someone else?! Seriously, people. I love this man.
The only other film I’ve seen of Mr. Morgan’s is IN THIS OUR LIFE (1942), and I was a little disappointed. Not in Dennis, but in the fact that (spoiler!) his character is driven to suicide by Bette Davis’s character with an hour still left in the film. Why couldn’t it have been George Brent instead? Let’s be real here, guys.
So, there you have it. I’ve only seen three Dennis Morgan films, and I can’t get enough of him. His filmography isn’t very big, he doesn’t really have an exciting life story (that I know of), and he’s probably only known to true-blue classic film fans. But none of that matters, because I will forever champion Dennis Morgan. Look at this face and tell me you wouldn’t do the same. Yeah, you wouldn’t.