Colleen (1936 film)

Colleen is a 1936 Warner Bros. romanticmusical film directed by Alfred E. Green. It stars Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, and Marie Wilson.[1]

Movie still
Directed byAlfred E. Green
Produced by
Written by
Story byRobert Lord
Music byHeinz Roemheld
Edited byTerry Morse
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 21, 1936 (1936-03-21)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States


Cedric Ames is the absent-minded and easily distracted president of a large business, which is largely run by his subordinates, including his nephew Donald. Cedric impulsively hires an assistant named Joe Cork, who sees the businessman as an easy mark. While touring a candy company that is located in one of the buildings he owns, Cedric meets a "chocolate dipper" named Minnie Hawkins. Influenced by his new assistant, he buys a dress shop for Minnie, who is a gold digger, to manage. Donald tries to fix things by going to the dress shop to examine the books. Colleen Reilly, the bookkeeper at the dress shop, is angry that Donald plans to close it. When newspaper headlines about the "businessman who bought a dress shop for a chocolate dipper" bring business to the shop, Colleen uses the opportunity to stage a fashion show. The increase in customers begins to make the shop profitable for the first time. Colleen convinces Donald to keep the shop open. Donald asks her to dinner to discuss her plans for the shop. She says yes, then reveals that she is engaged, by coincidence, to Joe Cork. Joe, meanwhile, begins to see Minnie. Joe and Minnie concoct a plan to have Cedric adopt Minnie, and then Joe will marry her. When this news gets picked up the gossip columns, Cedric's wife Alicia is scandalized and forces Donald to close the shop. But Donald is in love with Colleen and she's in love with him. Minnie and Joe are both fired. In revenge, Minnie sues Cedric for five million dollars for breaking his promise to adopt her and Joe sues Donald for five million dollars for stealing Colleen. They are both bought off with $25,000. Colleen is also fired, by mistake, and given a check for $10,000 to give up any legal claims she may have. Donald calls Colleen to ask her to marry him, and she berates him and hangs up before he can explain that it was a mistake. Brokenhearted, Colleen accepts an offer to open a dress shop on an ocean liner. It turns out that Donald is on the same ship, with Cedric and his wife. Donald and Colleen find each other, reconcile, and get engaged.



  • "Boulevardier from the Bronx"
  • "An Evening with You"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Sung by Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell
  • "I Don't Have to Dream Again"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Sung by Dick Powell and chorus and danced by chorus
    • Sung as "The Magic and the Mystery of Clothes" by Ruby Keeler
  • "Summer Night"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Played on piano and hummed by Dick Powell
  • "You Gotta Know How to Dance"
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Played during the opening photo credits and sung with special lyrics by Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Jack Oakie, Joan Blondell, Hugh Herbert, Louise Fazenda, Luis Alberni and Marie Wilson and chorus and tap-danced by Paul Draper and chorus
    • Sung by Dick Powell, danced by Paul Draper and Ruby Keeler in the finale
  • "Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)"
  • "I Love You Truly"


Critical response

Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times states in his review:

"There isn't much point in composing a critical analysis of these Warner musical films: you just accept or reject them for what they are. Out of long experience the Brothers have become proficient mixers and, by and large, their formula has been successful. Equal parts of Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell for romance, Hugh Herbert and Joan Blondell for comedy, Bobby Connolly's dance spectacles to dazzle the eye, Dubin and Warren's music to hum as you leave the theatre. Same old story, same old overhead shots, same expanding screen to accommodate the overflow of the colossal numbers. It all adds up to a 'Gold Diggers' of 1933-4 or 5, or—as at the Strand this week—to 'Colleen.' If you are curious enough to require a more definite answer, we might offer a few comparisons. 'Colleen' is not as fresh as it might have been three years ago before '42d Street' and its descendants accustomed us to this sort of thing. It is not as striking as last year's 'Gold Diggers,' with its imaginatively photographed Broadway Lullaby number and its trained herd of white pianos going through a dance routine. It is not as tuneful as most of its predecessors, nor is its comedy any less juvenile than usual. All of this may sound pretty discouraging, even to a confirmed Warner musical addict, but it still is a relative opinion and should not be considered any more serious a reflection on 'Colleen' than our admission that we prefer one ballroom dance by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to a whole program by Miss Keeler and Mr. Powell. It is purely a personal reaction and, if you happen to like the Keeler-Powell musicals, you probably will find this one entirely satisfying. Its resemblance to last year's and the year's before that is unquestionable.[2]


Colleen was released in theatres in 1936.[3] The film was released on DVD by Warner Home Video on September 1, 2009.[4]


  1. "Colleen". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  2. Nugent, Frank S. (March 9, 1936). "'Colleen,' the Latest Warner Musical Film, at the Strand -- 'Three Godfathers' at the Rialto". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  3. "Colleen". British Film Institute. United Kingdom. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  4. "Colleen". Warner Home Video. Burbank, California: Warner Bros. September 1, 2009. ASIN B002DQB3Y6. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
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