Monday, July 4, 2011

All Singing, All Dancing?

This week, we decided to try a musical as we waited for more Crawford or Lombard movies to show up in the pipeline.  Our choice was Good News starring June Allyson (as library assistant and French tutor Connie Lane) and Peter Lawford (as football hero Tommy Marlowe).  Our stars are college students who become involved with one another when Tommy decides he needs to learn French to impress recent transfer Pat McClellan (played by Patricia Marshall).

This is fun, if odd little movie. Some really cute dance routines, but with the most remarkably unmusical cast you have ever seen.  Only Mel Torme (as Danny) can really sing.  Certainly Allyson and Lawford did not have the greatest sets of pipes in the business, though their dancing is indeed earnest.  Surprisingly, even the second string player (particularly Joan McCracken as Babe Doolittle)are not really what one could call singers.  Regardless, it is an enjoyable film.  We, the viewers, however, did want to take Tommy and launch him into another solar system for his casual attitude towards our heroine, Connie.

On the DVD of this film, there is a cut number. According to the notes, it was removed because it slowed down the action.  We decided to take a look, and found that we agreed. It's a shame though; it was the only chance Patricia Marshall had a chance to sing), and June Allyson had on the most attractive evening gown! So much nicer than the Peter Pan collar numbers she is forced to wear in the rest of the picture!  Here is a clip of a number that did NOT slow down the action - "The Varsity Drag":

We were not familiar with either Ms. Marshall or Ms. McCracken, and their history is rather interesting.  For Ms. Marshall, this was basically her only film (she would appear one more time, almost 30 years later in The Prisoner of Second Avenue). She returned to New York, and appeared in the casts of Mr. Wonderful and Pajama Game. She married Larry Gelbart, and was with him until his death in 2009.  Joan McCracken had nearly as short a career; she did some television work, and married Bob Fosse in 1951 (they divorced in 1959, but he remained a source of support for her until her death in 1961.

So, do take a look at Good News. It's lots of fun, and you'll get to see two actresses you'll not see again.

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