On Moonlight Bay (film)

On Moonlight Bay is a 1951 musical film directed by Roy Del Ruth which tells the story of the Winfield family at the turn of the 20th century. The movie is based loosely on the Penrod stories by Booth Tarkington. There was a 1953 sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon.

On Moonlight Bay
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoy Del Ruth
Produced byWilliam Jacobs
Written byBooth Tarkington (stories)
Screenplay byJack Rose
Melville Shavelson
Based onPenrod Stories
StarringDoris Day
Gordon MacRae
Jack Smith
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyErnest Haller
Edited byThomas Reilly
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 26, 1951 (1951-07-26)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,730,000[1]
$2.5 million (US rentals)[2]


In a small Indiana town in the mid-1910s, the Winfield household – banker father George, his wife Alice, their grown tomboyish daughter Marjorie, their mischievous precocious trouble-making son Wesley, and their exasperated housekeeper Stella – have just moved into a larger house in a nicer neighborhood. No one but George is happy about the move, until Marjorie meets their new neighbor, William Sherman, home on a break from his studies at Indiana University. The two are immediately attracted to each other, which makes Margie change her focus from baseball to trying to become a proper young woman. Their resulting relationship is despite, or perhaps because of Bill's unconventional thoughts on life, including not believing in the institution of marriage, or believing in the role money plays in society. The road to a happy life between Margie and Bill is not only hindered by distance as Bill returns to school and Margie's attempts to learn feminine things, but also George's dislike of Bill because of their differing beliefs, the stuffy Hubert Wakely also trying to court Margie (he who is George's choice as an appropriate suitor for her), Wesley's continual meddling in his sister's life, and the onset of World War I. One of those issues may be overcome when Wesley receives a birthday gift from Aunt Martha that used to be his father old slingshot that he used to kill Aunt Martha's best hen. His father discovers the old slingshot after Wesley cracks a window with it, his father gets emotional after he sees it and everything is resolved in time for a happy ending.[3]




According to Warner Bros accounts, the film earned $2,738,000 domestically and $992,000 foreign.[1]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 31 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  3. On Moonlight Bay (1951), retrieved 2017-11-28
  4. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
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