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In 1904, Uncle Latsie comes to New York from Hungary with two little nieces, who immediately take to cafe dancing. In 1912 they're still at it, but to pay Uncle's card debts they decide to go into vaudeville. Singer Harry Fox, whom they meet en route, schemes to get them an audition with the great Hammerstein; but their resulting success takes them far out of Harry's league. Lots of songs with a little story.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
One of Betty Grables's biggest hits (it grossed over $4 million in 1945) THE DOLLY SISTERS stands as perhaps her splashiest and most lavish musical made at the summit of her career. Originally intended for Alice Faye and Betty, Faye withdrew early in pre-production, not wanting to commit to another exausting musical. Producer George Jessel substituted up-and-coming blonde June Haver, with John Payne (who had worked with Grable numerous times at Paramount and Fox) and Frank Latimore (in a role originally intended for Randolph Scott) as the male-co stars. And although the easy-going Grable usually got on famously with all her female co-stars, June Haver was the exception. It's likely that this was mainly uncharacteristic jealousy on Betty's part - it had taken Grable a decade of hard work to attain her position as Fox's brightest and most bankable actress, while the teenaged Haver had catapulted to stardom in just two years. The fact that none of this animosity shows on screen says a lot for Grables professionalism. As for the storyline...well, to say that it takes great liberties with the lives of its subjects is kind - the real-life Dollys were both small dark brunettes (not leggy blondes), both went through several husbands and Jenny's car accident left her permanently scarred (unlike Grable who gets thru the accident with only a tiny band-aid). Also, the real-life Jenny Dolly was a drug addict who hung herself in 1941 - such elements would certainly be out of place in a bubbly Hollywood musical of 1945! Instead, the film traces the rise and heartbreak of the sisters as they conquer vaudeville, Broadway and Europe, accompanied by numerous nostalgic tunes like "Carolina in the Morning" "Give Me The Moonlight, Give Me The Girl (and leave the rest to Me)" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and the new James Monaco-Josef Myrow tune "I Can't Begin To Tell You" which was a Hit Parade favorite. What gives the musical its special flavor are its outrageous production numbers by Seymour Felix, which one writer considers to be prime examples of "kitchy vulgarity...monuments to bad taste", which means, naturally that they are irresistably fabulous! "Powder, Lipstick and Rouge" is a Paean to a Make-Up kit ("Beautiful Faces come out of Vanity Cases!") that has to be seen to be believed, and the decidedly un-P.C. "Darktown Strutters Ball" number was usually cut from old TV prints as it featured Grable in Haver in blackface, cavorting around a 'Harlem' set as pig-tailed 'picaninnies' surrounded by chorus girls in hats made of watermelons, dice and playing cards - not until "Springtime for Hitler" in Mel Brooks' THE PRODUCERS was there a musical number that revelled in its tastelessness! Equally eye-catching are the non-stop parade of breathtaking costumes by Orry-Kelly, easily the most lushly glamorous of any Grable film, and both Betty and June look smashing in them. Topping it all off is Fox's succulent Technicolor and elegant set design. Once when a guest on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, Grable was asked about a prospective project. She replyed: "It's flashy, it's gaudy, It's vulgar. It's like everything I've ever done. I LOVE IT!" This sums up THE DOLLY SISTERS as well - and you'll love it, too!
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