13 user 2 critic

Rhythm on the River (1940)

Popular songwriter Oliver Courtney has been getting by for years using one ghost writer for his music and another for his lyrics. When both writers meet at an inn, they fall in love and ... See full summary »


Dwight Taylor, Jacques Théry (story) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Bing Crosby ... Bob Sommers
Mary Martin ... Cherry Lane
Basil Rathbone ... Oliver Courtney
Oscar Levant ... Billy Starbuck
Oscar Shaw ... Charlie Goodrich
Charley Grapewin ... Uncle Caleb
Lillian Cornell ... Millie Starling
William Frawley ... Mr. Westlake
John Scott Trotter John Scott Trotter ... Orchestra Leader
Jeanne Cagney ... Country Cousin (as Jean Cagney)
Helen Bertram Helen Bertram ... Aunt Delia
Ken Carpenter Ken Carpenter ... Teddy Gardner (Announcer)
Charles Lane ... Bernard Schwartz
Harry Barris ... Bass Sax Player
Wingy Manone Wingy Manone ... Wingy Manone


Popular songwriter Oliver Courtney has been getting by for years using one ghost writer for his music and another for his lyrics. When both writers meet at an inn, they fall in love and then try to sell their songs under their own name. The problem is every song publisher thinks they're copying Courtney's style. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

songwriter | songwriting | See All (2) »


Some singers! Some swingers! The hum-dinger of hum-dingers!


Comedy | Musical


See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 September 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ajan sävel See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Throughout the movie, the song "Goodbye To Love" is mentioned, but no lyrics or melody are heard at all in the film. In the liner notes to the "The Singles" album, this non-existent song is revealed to be the inspiration for The Carpenters' song "Goodbye To Love", written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis. See more »


Bob Sommers: Oh, I don't know. She's gone into some kind of wing-ding...
Uncle Caleb: Wing-ding? Gosh, I thought it was a cyclone.
[reference to Grapewin's role in "The Wizard of Oz"]
See more »


Referenced in Arena: The Orson Welles Story - Part 1 (1982) See more »


Only Forever
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Johnny Burke
Sung by Bing Crosby
also sung by Mary Martin and Bing Crosby
See more »

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User Reviews

Was a great hit on release- not at all hard to see why
1 October 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

A film starring Bing Crosby, Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone, with a screenplay co-written by Billy Wilder and directed by Victor Schertzinger promised so much. The good news is that it delivers on all the goods.

There are better film musicals out there than 'Rhythm on the River', ones with songs that are so easy to remember, timeless and have become standards or had truly lavish production values and choreography to die for. Not saying that 'Rhythm on the River' didn't have those things, just that other film musicals did even better in that regard. There actually is not anything wrong with the film, and it was a great hit on release and the appeal is entirely justified.

'Rhythm on the River' is a handsome-looking film, beautifully photographed and while the costumes and sets are not exactly spectacular they are hardly cheap either. While none of them are standards as such, the songs are pleasantly good and in the case of the best of them pretty exquisite. Wasn't entirely crazy on "Tiger Rag", but certainly really dig the title song and especially the sublime "Only Forever".

Schertzinger's direction is more than amiable, and the script is very engaging and witty especially with the chemistry between Rathbone and Oscar Levant. The story is somewhat thin and predictable, but this doesn't really matter when there is so much fun and charm and the chemistry between the performers is so good, not just the endearing one between Crosby and Martin but even more so between Rathbone and Levant.

All the acting is fine. Crosby is relaxed and charming and as ever sings an absolute dream. While Martin proves that it is a mystery as to why she didn't make it bigger in films as she is clearly enjoying herself, radiates and has a beautiful voice. Rathbone has a comedic character that is quite a departure compared to his usual roles, and he is a joy, in fact he's never been funnier and one wishes that he showed his comedic chops more because he proves that he certainly has them. Levant is suitably amusing.

On the whole, fun and charming film and not hard to see why it was a hit. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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