A few years ago, Disney and Red Om films treated us to quite a few American Girl movies as an annual treat during the holidays, and with this being Pearl Harbor Day, Musings decided to go with not only the WWII-themed appropro Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front, but also one of the best of the American Girls movies in the series. If you are one whom is easily caught up in tears of happiness, confusion, and sometimes sadness, make sure you have tissues, paper towels, a dish towel, or even your pet cat close by to wipe your tears on, or else your collar will be wet by the time this eighty-five minute movie is over.
Molly McIntire (Maya Ritter) is a regular nine-year-old girl living in the town of Freeport, Illinois, during the 1940s. She lives in a fine middle-class neighborhood. Her father, James McIntire (David Aaron Baker) is a doctor, and her mom, Mrs. Helen McIntire (Molly Ringwald) is doing what she can, raising a family in this tough time, when the War touches everyone’s lives in some way. She has an older, too logical and mean sister, Jill (Genevieve Farrell), and, a typical younger brother, Ricky (Andrew Chalmers) that is into all things explosive Molly has two great friends, Susan Shapiro (Hannah Fleming) and Linda Rinaldi (Samantha Somer Wilson) that support her in just about everything she does. These three spend their days in school, go to the movies on the weekend, and watch Movietone news reels about the war, and get caught up in the lives of the young royals, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. These girls also love the local romance of their teacher, Charlotte Campbell (Sarah Manninen) and her Army officer fiance’, Lt. Tom Davies (Joe Sacco).
One night, during an air-raid drill, Dr. McIntire announces that there is a shortage of doctors in the field, and that he has signed up to join the forces. Molly won’t have it. She loves her father very much, and does not want him to go, but she really has no choice in the matter. Her sister thinks she is selfish, and her brother thinks the idea is cool. Later on, her mother takes a job building planes at a local aviation center, and the widowed neighbor becomes their babysitter when the eldest sister can’t be home. Molly finds her time with Gladys Gilford (Sarah Orenstein) to be boring, because all the woman can seem to talk about is her son whom is stationed in England.
A brighter spot in Molly’s little world is a dance pageant that she has been working for where a girl in her tap class will be chosen as “Miss Victory”. Not only will Miss Victory lead the finale in the Christmas pageant at school in 1943, she will become a goodwill ambassador, and tour the nation at various USO shows and other stops to rally the troops and keep spirits high. When a sweet English girl is brought into their lives as a temporary live-in, Molly’s world gets turned around again. The shy Emily Bennett (Tory Green) has much more in common with Molly than she realizes, even though Emily puts on airs at first to impress the other kids in class. The Anglophile girls, Susan and Linda assumed she was a noble, and Emily went along with the ruse to keep their friendship. Once the cat gets out of the bag that she is just an ordinary kid stuck in tragic circumstances, the other girls don’t seem to upset that she is not a noble.
This movie is an emotional rollercoaster that will keep you on your toes. You never know whom might be the next one to lose a loved one in the war, or whom might go MIA. The girls do their best to help the war effort by collecting scrap metal, selling war bonds, and just about anything a kid can do to help the boys fighting overseas. This movie is about a time when Americans were not pulled apart by party politics, and were bonded true and strong. Maybe we could find that spirit again. We only need great kids like Molly to help us find it.
I give this film a Musing review of