24 July 2012 | jimjo1216
A wartime morale-booster from MGM
TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR (1944) is mindless fluff featuring a string of guest stars and musical acts, meant to cheer audiences up while WWII raged on overseas.
In the tradition of many other wartime musicals, the film is almost like sitting through a concert. A simple plot serves as an excuse for a parade of musical numbers that aim to entertain the cinema-goers as much as the in-movie club patrons. It's pure escapism. Throw in some romance, some comedy, and a dash of patriotism and you have a very pleasant movie indeed.
And TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR is a very pleasant movie. Fluff, yes, but it's fun. June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven play showbiz sisters who sing at a nightclub and entertain servicemen at their apartment. Thanks to the generosity of a mysterious admirer, the girls are able to open their own canteen to put on shows for the men in uniform. But what happens when both sisters start falling for the same guy (Navy sailor Van Johnson)?
Both actresses are charming and do a nice job. Gloria DeHaven is very beautiful, but it is June Allyson as the protective older sister who wins us over. I've never considered myself much of a June Allyson fan, but she certainly was talented and her performance here (singing, dancing, acting, comedy) is great.
Jimmy Durante provides solid comic relief and even sings his hit "Inka Dinka Doo". Van Johnson plays an all-American good guy, a sailor who happens to be a multi-millionaire. Tom Drake is Johnson's rival for DeHaven's affections, an Army sergeant who's really kind of a jerk.
MGM showcases many of its top musical acts throughout the film, including popular trumpeter and bandleader Harry James, the exotic Xavier Cugat Orchestra, jazz vocalist Lena Horne, deadpan singer Virginia O'Brien, the singing Wilde Twins (sisters Lee and Lyn), and piano maestro Jose Iturbi. Even Gracie Allen shows up for a comedic piano number.
Thinly plotted musicals aren't always my thing, but there's something very likable about this production. Allyson, DeHaven, Johnson, Durante, and Henry Stephenson (as Johnson's grandfather) are all great. The musical acts serve as a 1940s time capsule. The story is sweet and innocent. Just sit back and be entertained.