Saturday, September 14, 2019

What happens when you DVR the wrong movie

June Allyson was part of this year's Summer Under the Stars. One of the movies I thought about putting on the DVR was The Girl in White. Unfortunately, I recorded the wrong title, instead getting Two Sisters from Boston. They're both on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive collection, so I sat down to watch Two Sisters from Boston to do a post on it.

June plays Martha Chandler, one of the two titular sisters along with Abigail (Kathryn Grayson, so you should know from seeing her name in the cast what sort of movie you're getting) at the turn of the last century. Their family is one of those Boston Brahmin types like in The Late George Apley, very proper and doing things like sponsoring musical recitals. They've also helped support Abigail in her desire to become an opera singer in New York.

But word comes to Martha and Abigail's uncle Jonathan (Harry Hayden) that Abigail has been seen working in a burlesque house in the Bowery! That's bad enough for any patrician family, but Uncle Jonathan is running for mayor, and if the news comes out it would torpedo his candidacy. So they go to New York to find out if this is true, and get her back to Boston if so.

Abigail is in fact working as "High C Susie", at the Golden Rooster, a club run by Spike (Jimmy Durante), although she's not about to tell any of her family this. Her family's support money ran out, and she needed to support herself, after all. She insists that she's had small roles in legitimate operas, and even makes the claim that she's got one tonight. So of course the rest of the family plans to stay on to see her in the opera, which is going to blow the ruse.

Except that Spike is a Jack Carson-level schemer, and knows who the biggest patron of the opera is, Mr. Patterson (Thurston Hall). He uses this info to get Abigail backstage, and from there she works her way not only on stage, but to upstage the lead tenor, Olstrom (Danish opera singer Lauritz Melchior), in a way that causes a whole lot of consternation. Olstrom would like to black-ball this unknown member of the chorus, while Mr. Patterson's son Lawrence (Peter Lawford) thinks she's carrying on an affair with Dad since she used Dad's name to get into the chorus.

Complications ensue, but in the end Abigail gets her chance to be a star while the Lawford and Allyson characters wind up together as you could probably guess. It's the sort of story that offers nothing groundbreaking, but in the right context can be more then entertaining. Unfortunately for me, this time the context is opera, something which in the movies I really don't care for. Grayson isn't bad here when she's not singing, and I suppose opera singers would like her singing. I also have to admit I've never really been a Peter Lawford fan.

Still, this isn't meant to pan the movie. It's more that it's going to be an acquired taste, appealing much more to people who like opera than to people who don't care for it so much. To be fair, I also find Grayson less irritating that Jeanette MacDonald, and either of them far less irritating than Nelson Eddy And Durante is as good here as he always is, although I'll admit that there are probably people who don't care for his shtick. So Two Sisters from Boston is one I'll give a qualified recommendation to -- if you know in advance what it's about.

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