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THE DOLLY SISTERS (1945)

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Twentieth Century Fox had one of its biggest post-World War II hits when it cast Betty Grable and June Haver as the famous vaudeville entertainers Jenny and Rosie Dolly. Through a series of mostly fictionalized adventures, the two rise from dancing in cafes to international stardom, with Jenny (Grable) torn between her career and love of her first husband (John Payne). The real Dolly Sisters were petite, dark-haired Hungarians as famous for their gambling as for their musical act. For the movies, however, Fox turned them into strapping, blonde all-American girls, which was exactly what a war-weary public wanted. The film had been planned in 1943 with Alice Faye as Jenny and Grable in the companion role. Tired of musicals, Faye turned the part down, and Fox promoted Grable to the leading role, with newcomer Haver as her sister. The lavish Technicolor concoction had mammoth sets designed by Lyle Wheeler, witty costumes by Orry-Kelly and fanciful musical numbers that wouldn’t have fit on any stage. The songs were a combination of period pieces like “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” with new pieces like the Oscar-nominated “I Can’t Begin to Tell You.” Grable would record the latter under a pseudonym because Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck didn’t want his stars available on inexpensive records. (d. Irving Cummings, 114m, Nitrate, 35mm)

Nitrate projection made possible through support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies, and The Film Foundation in partnership with the American Cinematheque and the Academy Film Archive.

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