It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
“Two Sisters From Boston” –Musical #85
June Allyson, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmy Durante, Peter Lawford, Lauritz Melchoir, Ben Blue, Barbara Billingsley (uncredited)
Abigail (Grayson) writes to her sister Martha (Allyson) and her other stuffy relatives in Boston that she is a successful opera singer in New York. In reality, she is working in a burlesque show.
-After June Allyson and Peter Lawford starred in this film, MGM publicity was tried to play them up as a couple. This was a common practice and the same attempt was made with her co-star Van Johnson. Allyson wrote in her autobiography that though she and Lawford had a good time together, it was never anything serious. The two later starred in “Little Women” (1949) together.
-Lauritz Melchoir’s second film, his first being “The Thrill of Romance” (1945). Born in Denmark, Melchoir was a Wagnerian tenor and debuted in 1924 in London. He debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1926. Melchoir made five Hollywood films from 1944 to 1953. In the 1940s, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer signed singers and musicians like Melchoir and pianist Jose Iturbi to give the studio class and culture.
-Sammy Fain and Ralph Freed (brother of Arthur Freed) wrote the songs “Autumn Twilight,” “Indian Holiday,” “Lanterns in the Sky,” “More Than Ever” and “Seattle.”
-After the Show sung by June Allyson
-When Romance Passes by sung by Kathryn Grayson
-Performances by Lauritz Melchoir
-Down by the Ocean sung by Kathryn Grayson and Jimmy Durante
-When proper June Allyson sings takes Kathryn Grayson’s place at the burlesque show, having to undress before an audience.
-Kathryn Grayson unconventionally gets in an opera in the chorus. Lauritz Melchoir is the lead. Much to his chagrin, Grayson keeps singing notes to get attention.
This is a cute movie, but I don’t feel it exhibits the full appeal of June Allyson and Kathryn Grayson. June Allyson’s character is a simpering proper girl, ashamed of her sister’s profession in New York.
Kathryn Grayson’s character is a bit more likable but is still a bit uppity (the roles she usually seems to be typecast in).
When I originally saw this film 12 years ago, I was watching it for June Allyson, and I was a bit disappointed in her character then.
Jimmy Durante is the real treat in this film. It’s also interesting to see Metropolitan Opera star Lauritz Melchoir in films, giving a frame of reference of who was famous in the operatic world during this time.
However…despite any character flaws…this is still a fun and enjoyable movie. There are several funny parts and at the end of the day, the movie is down right cute.