Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hal LeRoy and June Allyson

Hal LeRoy and June Allyson weren't one of Hollywood's most memorable dance pairs, but you have a chance to see them together in a couple of shorts running on TCM this evening.

First up, at about 7:35 PM, is Ups and Downs, which has Hal as a tap-dancing elevator operator meeting and falling in love with stockbroker's daughter Allyson, even though he's not of her social class. Perhaps giving a good stock tip to her father might help. The second of the shorts, The Knight Is Young, comes on at about 9:35 PM, following Good News. (Good News also stars Allyson, is in the 8:00 PM slot, and runs 93 minutes. It's the first of "Bob's Picks" for this month.) In this second short, Allyson plays an out-of-work girl who talks to the billboard outside her apartment who falls in love with dancing sign-painter LeRoy when he shows up to paint over the current billboard. He invites her to the Sign Painters' Ball (yes, they had a big dance for the sign painters!), and live happily ever after, one presumes.

The movies have next to no plot, which is mildly forgivable considering that you're dealing with two-reelers: there's just not that much time for plot or character development. But if you watch the Crime Does Not Pay shorts or Warner Bros. Technicolor history shorts from the late 1930s, you'll seee that they're so much better than these. Part of that might be down to Hal LeRoy. About the only time I've mentioned him before was in Too Many Girls. Even in that he's the decided weak link. The poor guy has no charisma, and perhaps it should be unsurprising that after Too Many Girls, LeRoy returned to Broadway and the nightclub scene. June Allyson tries, bless her heart, and you can see that she had the makings of a likeable actress in these shorts. But she's not given anything to work with.

In Ups and Downs, watch also for Phil Silvers as a tailor. It's one of his first screen appearances.

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