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Two Girls and a Sailor
February 19, 2006

I don’t know where to start describing this picture, because it’s three films in one. First, June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven are Patsy and Jean, singing sisters who’ve grown up in the theater. The younger, prettier Jean is getting orchids from an anonymous Somebody, and protective Patsy wants her to settle down with a good man, not just a rich one.

Second, since the film was made in 1944, the girls have a habit of picking up stray soldiers and sailors in the evening and taking them to their house for sandwiches and Coke. They dream of turning the nearby deserted warehouse into a canteen to entertain the brave lads before they go off to war. Somebody turns out to also be a sailor who hears of their wish at one of their parties and buys them the warehouse, which magically becomes an amazing theater with a three-story stage.

Many acts of the time appear and perform in insert clips, including Harry James, who gets a whole song sung at him about how great a trumpet player he is. Then there’s Jimmy Durante in plot number three. He used to appear on the same bill as the sister’s father, only he gave up performing when he lost track of his beloved son. He’s been living in the warehouse, and they’re trying to convince him to come back to the stage. He also plays his own grown son, who appears suddenly in a terrible coincidence that comes only because the movie is ending.

I haven’t even mentioned the two sisters getting involved with the same guy, or the creepy-looking soldier who’s stalking Jean (but it turns out ok for totally inplausible reasons), or the dream sequence with fashion show (a common element of mid-40s films). The soap opera’s good, June Allyson’s always a pleasure to watch, and with Tivo, it was easy to skip over the entertainer segments I didn’t care much about. Especially the one inserted after the two sisters have a significant revelation but before the happy ending. What a way to strain the drama! It felt like the moviemakers hadn’t filled their quota of spotlights yet and have to get one more in before the movie wraps up.

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