Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


June Haver, Betty Grable and John Payne
THE DOLLY SISTERS (1945). Director: Irving Cummings.

Latsie Dolly (S. Z. Sakall) brings his two nieces from Hungary to America where Jenny (Betty Grable) and Rosie (June Haver) become a popular singing and dancing sister act. Jenny falls for entertainer Harry Fox (John Payne) but their romance hits a couple of snags. Lest you think that the Dolly Sisters were a mere invention of 20th Century-Fox, these gals actually existed, and a true story of their lives would have shocked the hell out of staid 1940's movie house patrons. In this sanitized version of their backstage history, the focus is on the love affair and marriage of Jenny and Harry -- Harry Fox was also a real person -- but the latter was only one of Jenny's husbands -- and lovers. This movie completely ignores the fact that the two gals became more famous for gambling and bed-hopping with wealthy men than they did for their singing and dancing! A car crash which necessitated plastic surgery for Dolly is presented in the movie, and would seem like a lame attempt to add "drama" were it not for the fact that it actually happened. Reginald Gardiner [Black Widow] plays a duke who dallies with Jenny after she and Harry part ways, and Frank Latimore [Shock] is a real-life store owner, Irving Netcher, who marries Rosie. Trudy Marshall [Mark of the Gorilla] has a nice bit as Lenora, a woman who has the misfortune of falling for Harry even though he's still in love with Jenny. While the screenplay is mediocre, The Dolly Sisters is bolstered by sumptuous Technicolor, high-class cinematography from Ernest Palmer, professional performances (from Sig Ruman and others), and some pleasant songs (Gordon and Monaco), although the best numbers are standards such as "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." Two ladies who make an impression are Collette Lyons as (fictional?) entertainer Flo Daly and an uncredited chorus cutie who plays "Rosie Rouge" in a production number devoted to make up. (This song, in particular, has a weird off-kilter melody, if you can even call it that.) I have no idea what they were like in real life, but as embodied by Haver and Grable, the Dolly Sisters come off as a decorative but not terribly mesmerizing or especially talented vaudeville act.

Verdict: Smooth and entertaining and good to look at it nothing else. ***.


angelman66 said...

This one looks like fun, Bill. I have a special place in my heart for Betty Grable, precursor to both Marilyn Monroe in sexiness and Doris Day in sunniness. And June Haver is her perfect costar!!
- Chris

William said...

Chris, I think you've summed up the appeal of Grable perfectly! She certainly made lots of servicemen wild in her day!