Abigail (Kathryn Grayson) and Martha Chandler (June Allyson) are Two Sisters from Boston. They come from a very stuffy, high-society family, where their uncle is running for political office and they care a whole lot about their reputations.
Abigail has moved from Boston to New York, where she works in a burlesque show. But when rumors start flying about her job back home and her family becomes highly worried about what it means for their reputation, they decide to pay Abigail a visit. Upon their arrival, Abigail attempts to convince her family that she has become a successful opera singer, rather than performing in skimpy outfits every night under the stage name of “High-C Susie.”
Jimmy Durante makes an appearance as Spike, who performs alongside “High-C Susie,” and famed opera singer Lauritz Melchior stars as high-strung Olstrom, a star on the opera stage. Henry Koster (1950’s Harvey, 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife) directs this very comedic musical.
The entire cast gives successful performances in this film. The actors who portray the ever-so-stuffy Chandler family easy succeed in making the audience annoyed with their reputation obsession, which in turn endears us to Abigail’s plight. Grayson herself gives a solid performance and looks as beautiful as ever, though she is easily outshone by two of her fellow cast members.
Jimmy Durante and June Allyson both succeed in completely stealing the show here. Durante’s outspoken character is a complete riot and adds a lot of fun to the film, while Allyson’s character is funny because she’s so uptight. The characters are near opposites, but together they provide many of the film’s best moments, giving the actors a great opportunity to show off their comedic talents.
Allyson in particular is perfectly on point. She has great chemistry with her love interest, portrayed by Peter Lawford. Her performance is very fresh and natural, especially in comparison to the slightly too over-the-top delivery that is usually seen from her. She comes off as young and somewhat naive, a bit too accepting of her family’s overbearing influence, but still very likable, especially in how she handle’s her sister’s predicament.
As for the music, the songs shared by Durante and Grayson are the best of the bunch. They’re very pleasant to listen to, especially for fan’s of Durante, who is ultra-charming as usual here. I’m not a huge fan of opera, so the rest of the songs were a bit lost on me – particularly the drawn out Olstrom numbers, but fans of operatic style are sure to enjoy these portions of the film.
Overall, the film could have benefitted from more of a focus on Allyson’s character, since her screen presence in this film is so much more magnetic than Grayson’s. It spends a bit too much time on the opera sub-plot for my taste (showing a decent sized chunk of the opera show on screen, including Olstrom recording a musical number, et cetera). But still, the film is quite fun and charming. A few small bonus points for a very cute puppy make the score: 3/5