The Dolly Sisters (1945): 4/5

The Dolly Sisters is a fictionalized, somewhat romanticized account of the lives of twin sisters Roszika (also known as “Rosie,” portrayed here by June Haver) and Yansci (“Jenny,” portrayed by Betty Grable) Dolly.

The Dolly sisters were Vaudeville stars, born in Hungary but immigrants to the United States. This is where the film begins: the two young girls move to the US with their uncle Latsie (S.Z. Sakall).

They soon rise to fame just before World War I after years of performing in beer halls. The film follows their rise and the many changes that come about in their lives because of it.

Grable and Haver are the blond, fictionalized version of a true pair of Hungarian performers.

The Dolly Sisters is visually beautiful, with elaborate costume designs and very drapey, often romantic sets. It is very colorful as well , with a variety vibrant personalities and performances to match.

Haver and Grable both give wonderful performances. They’re believable as sisters, and are both quote lovable.

Their love interests aren’t so shabby either. Particularly impressive is John Payne as Harry Fox, a budding composer and the apple of Jenny’s eye. Payne gives a gripping performance as the man who loves Jenny, but isn’t quite sure how to deal with her stardom or their long distance relationship.

A fantastic set of songs accompany these performances. My favorites would have to be “Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl” and “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” though all are lovely and fit very well into the film’s story.

Though this could have turned out to be much of a fluff film, it’s an emotional ride. It starts out very fun, cheerful and happy. But as the girls’ success grows, complications arise in their lives and relationships that take the viewer on a bit of a roller coaster.

The only thing that could have been improved on was the film’s focus. It seems all about Jenny, while the name implies that the plot will focus on both of the Dolly Sisters. There isn’t much balance, and it becomes quite obvious that the film was a vehicle for Betty Grable.

Still, it’s a very enjoyable musical where all of the elements seem to fall together almost perfectly. Despite the lack of balance between the characters, I would still very highly recommend it.

The actual Dolly sisters on stage in the early 1900s