4 May 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
The ship shape revue
Love musicals, and also have seen comedy and romance done very well individually and together. Whether in musicals or not. MGM made many classics, too numerous to list in this review, and the 40s was a good decade for them. The cast here boasts of many very talented actors and singers, so there was a lot about 'Two Girls and a Sailor' that made me want to see it after being in my slowly decreasing watchlist for so long.
'Two Girls and a Sailor' on the most part is enjoyable fun and very charming, very difficult to dislike it. Not MGM at its best or among the best of the decade, the cast have all done better things too. That is not trying to knock 'Two Girls and a Sailor', as there is much to like about it and it does a lot of things well. As well as being enjoyable, charming and upbeat, it is also very well made and it in no way disgraces the cast or anybody involved. It combines musical, comedy and romance, and does all three on the most pretty well individually and balances the three without feeling disjointed or muddled, not always the case with films that try to mix more than one genre.
Not perfect by all means. The story is very thin, and too thin for the (to me) overlong running time. Some of the film feels very over-stretched, which made for some draggy interludes a little reliant on coincidence, and about 15-20 minutes could have been trimmed easily, which would have tightened things up.
Richard Thorpe's direction could have at times been more inspired in the non-musical numbers, it is fully competent as always if at times on the too ordinary side.
However, there is so much to enjoy. The production values are truly top notch, all big and lavish without being overly-glossy, the black and white still looks lovely. Have nothing to fault the songs for, they were big hits at the time and no wonder, they fit beautifully in the film, don't bloat it and are outstanding songs in their own right. Made me feel happy and upbeat. Similarly the way they are performed is practically pitch-perfect, one cannot go wrong with Harry James, Lena Horne and Jimmy Durante, particular standouts of the all round fantastic contributions. Virginia O'Brien is amusingly deadpan as well. All of them are choreographed with great energy and none of them were choreographed in a way that felt overblown or drawn out. Plus that deliciously strange dream sequence, won't be forgetting that in a hurry.
It is the musical aspect that comes off the best. The comedy does amuse though, and it is not the vulgar kind of comedy thank goodness, and the romance is sweet and charming, just wish that in the non-musical numbers there was a little more bounce. The script is spirited and doesn't become cheesy or limp. The pace is uneven, but a lot of the time it comes to life and gives 'Two Girls and a Sailor' enormous charm. The cast are the main selling point and they and the musical numbers are the best thing about 'Two Girls and a Sailor'. June Allyson and Gloria De Haven are endearingly perky, while Van Johnson does the boy-next-door thing with appeal, though he has relatively little to do. James, Horne, Durante and O'Brien shine in their sequences in particular, but as said the film is a feast of talent in their element.
On the whole, good fun and very likeable. Could have been better though. 7/10