Lillian Russell (1940)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, Musical  |  24 May 1940 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 293 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 5 critic

Life story of the musical star from her discovery in 1890 by band leader Tony Pastor till her retirement in 1912 when she married newspaperman Alexander Moore.



(screen play)
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An entertainer in Rio impersonates a wealthy aristocrat. When the aristocrat's wife asks him to carry the impersonation further, complications ensue.

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Nan Spencer is on a boat bound for Havana which runs aground. The man sent to rescue her is engaged and she doesn't understand his disinterest. Gambler is interested, to the annoyance of his girlfriend.

Director: Walter Lang
Stars: Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, John Payne
On the Avenue (1937)
Musical | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Broadway producer satirizes an important New York family. The family sues but their daughter falls in love with producer.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Dick Powell, Madeleine Carroll, Alice Faye
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An American girl on vacation in Argentina falls for a wealthy racehorse owner.

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda
The Great Lie (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After a newlywed's husband apparently dies in a plane crash, she discovers that her rival for his affections is now pregnant with his child.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After years in prison, Max promises revenge on his brothers for their betrayal. His lover Irene and memories of his past yield him a broader perspective.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, Richard Conte
Certificate: Passed Musical | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Lucille Ball accepts a cadet's invitation to a military academy's senior prom in order to boost her career.

Director: Edward Buzzell
Stars: Lucille Ball, William Gaxton, Virginia Weidler
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Attractive Nan, member of a bank-robbery gang, goes to prison thanks to evangelist Dave Slade...who loves her.

Directors: Howard Bretherton, William Keighley
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A soldier falls for a chorus girl and then experiences trouble when he is posted to the Pacific.

Director: Busby Berkeley
Stars: Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, Phil Baker
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Maj. Pete Sandidge is a very able pilot who seems to have a streak of luck as far as flying goes. World War II is raging and Pete has come out of it pretty so far. He even has a beautiful ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, Van Johnson
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A waitress at the Warner Brothers commissary is anxious to break into pictures. She thinks her big break may have arrived when actors Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan agree to help her.

Director: David Butler
Stars: Doris Day, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson
Love Is News (1937)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Financier's daughter spars with newspaper reporter: he by writing about her, she by announcing their engagement.

Director: Tay Garnett
Stars: Tyrone Power, Loretta Young, Don Ameche


Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Solomon
Alexander Moore
The Famous J.L.
Leo Carrillo ...
Tony Pastor
Helen Westley ...
Grandma Leonard
Dorothy Peterson ...
Cynthia Leonard
Ernest Truex ...
Charles K. Leonard
William Gilbert
Lynn Bari ...
Edna McCauley
Claud Allister ...
Arthur Sullivan (as Claude Allister)
Joe Weber ...
Himself (as Weber)
Lew Fields ...
Himself (as Fields)
Eddie Foy Jr. ...


Life story of the musical star from her discovery in 1890 by band leader Tony Pastor till her retirement in 1912 when she married newspaperman Alexander Moore.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 May 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Bela Lillian Russell  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After the huge success of The Great Ziegfeld (1936) MGM wanted to make a movie of Lillian Russell starring Jeanette MacDonald, but that project fell through. Twentieth Century Fox then decided to make a movie about Russell. See more »


Spun-off from Diamond Jim (1935) See more »


Comin' Thro' the Rye
Music Traditional
Words by Robert Burns
Sung by Alice Faye with piano accompaniment by Joseph Cawthorn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An Alice Faye film which is great for nostalgia
9 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Some historical films are totally worthless as guides to the lives and careers of the people they discuss. PARNELL, for instance, is a dismal film about the great Irish nationalist leader. LILLIAN RUSSELL is not a good guide to the career of the the famed singer and entertainer of the 1890s. There are omissions and polite bowdlerizing. For example, her marriage to Edward Solomon the composer(played by Don Ameche) was not ended by his dropping dead from overwork. Effective movie moment that it is, the marriage ended when Lillian discovered her husband was a bigamist with a living first wife. The relationship with Gilbert and Sullivan was not ended on such a sad but friendly note. Lillian did appear in PATIENCE, but she never played IOLANTHE (Gilbert claimed she did not want to rehearse as much as he insisted his performers do; rumor said that Gilbert tried to get Lillian onto the "casting couch" at the Savoy but she said no). Also, it is highly unlikely that Sullivan would have agreed to Lillian singing another composer's song in his operetta (even if between acts).

Henry Fonda's Alexander Moore is a bland enough character - handsome and kindly in the film, but not as colorful as rivals Ameche, Edward Arnold ("Diamond Jim" Brady) and Warren Williams (Jesse Lewisohn). In real life he was an important newspaperman in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, and (less acceptable in hindsight) a close friend of Warren Harding and Harry Daugherty's "Ohio Gang" of political spoils-men. Lillian, by the way, died in 1922, in the middle of Harding's corrupt administration.

The best things in the film are Faye, as pretty as usual in 19th Century costume, and warbling songs like "Blue Love Bird" in her best voice. That is worth watching. Then there is the color of the theater in the mauve decade. Tony Pastor's, the Savoy Operas, the stage of 19th Century Broadway (back then down near 14th Street and Union Square). My favorite moment: Joe Weber and Lou Fields in costume as their "Dutch" characters of the 1890s, demolishing a game of "Casino". It is a priceless moment of theatrical magic, that briefly tells us more about the real 1890s than the fake movie script for this film. Watch it for Joe and Lou and Alice.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What Lillian Russell *really* looked like meredithsloan
Not historically factual, but ... dmnemaine
Discuss Lillian Russell (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: