The Dolly Sisters (1945)
A popular stage act in the early 20th Century, the Dolly Sisters were identical twins Janka (Jenny) and Rózsika (Rosie) Deutsch. After starring individually in one movie each, the sisters appeared together in aptly titled The Million Dollar Dollies (1918). Written specifically for them by French director Leonce Perret, the plot centred around the sisters being employed to break the spell cast on an Indian Maharajah, enabling them to match the finances of their fiancés. It was no more fanciful that this biopic, engineered to showcase the talents of Betty Grable and June Haver. In this regard, The Dolly Sisters also fails.
It starts off well enough, with a charming transition from the girls’ arrival in New York in 1904 to their more polished act eight years later. Accompanying them as their uncle is S.Z. Sakall (doing his usual ‘Cuddles’ schtick) who encourages the sisters to take their show on the road. Along the way they meet fellow performer Harry Fox, and a romance soon develops between him and Jenny. Will their mutual attraction break up the Dolly Sisters’ act? Or will Jenny put Rosie’s interests above her own? Given the cursory treatment meted out to both relationships, it’s doubtful anyone will care.
The lack of dramatics in such films is not unexpected but it's usually compensated by some good production numbers. That’s not the case here. Despite featuring 20th Century Fox’s premier musical star and her potential replacement, it’s the dependable John Payne who is shown to best advantage. Grable and Haver meanwhile are reduced to singing unmemorable songs while posing under the weight of some of designer Orry-Kelly’s most extravagant creations. Then, when a familiar song like the ‘The Darktown Strutter’s Ball’ is heard, it is performed in blackface with Grable and Haver dressed as pickaninnies while the chorus is costumed in garb with racist overtones.
June Haver had more luck four years later in the Marilyn Miller biopic Look for the Silver Lining. The genre was not so fortunate for Betty Grable. In The George Raft Story she was the inspiration for the fictional character Lisa Lang.
as Jenny Dolly
as Rosie Dolly
as Harry Fox
as Will Rogers
Jenny and Rosie were identical twins, not born one year apart.
Though movie depicts Jenny and Rosie Dolly each marrying once, Jenny was actually married twice while Rosie was married three times.
Harry Fox, Jenny’s first husband, was not a songwriter. However Rosie's first husband, Jean Schwartz, was.
Biopic makes no mention of the Dolly sisters' limited film career.