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Look out New York. Beantown sisters Kathryn Grayson and June Allyson are out to make their mark on the Big Apple in Two Sisters from Boston (1946). And of course the road to success includes a little romance; the singing siblings meet their matches in piano man Jimmy Durante and opera lover Peter Lawford. It would be the first of four Allyson-Lawford screen pairings; Good News (1947), Little Women (1949) and They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) would follow. An off screen partnership between Allyson and Lawford would also be formed. At the urging of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, Allyson dated Lawford (as well as Van Johnson) - but it was all a publicity gimmick to generate interest in the film. Allyson eventually married the recently divorced Dick Powell.
Two Sisters from Boston also teamed June Allyson for a second time with her Music for Millions (1944) director Henry Koster. The Berlin born Koster got his start performing a variety of jobs ranging from childrens story illustrator to newsreel cameraman. He made the jump first to screenwriter with The Big Opportunity in 1924 and later to director in pictures like The Adventures of a Beautiful Woman (1932) and Peter (1934). But Kosters big break came on the movie Five in a Jazz Band (1932) which he wrote and co-directed (alongside a stage director named Erich Engel). The producer of Five in a Jazz Band was Joe Pasternak and he was so impressed with Kosters work that he promised the director hed work with him on one of his own productions.
In the meantime, Koster was forced to flee Nazi Germany for Paris. But Pasternak hadnt forgotten his promise and eventually summoned the young Koster to Budapest to direct some Hungarian releases. Later, when Pasternak was called to Hollywood by Universal, he agreed to go only if the studio allowed Koster to come along. Pasternak and Kosters first collaboration for Universal was Three Smart Girls (1936) with newcomer Deanna Durbin. Despite Kosters less than fluent English, the movie was a success. It helped pull Universal out of bankruptcy and set Durbin on the road to stardom. Koster would direct five more Durbin pictures at Universal. In 1944, Koster followed Pasternak to MGM where they did Music for Millions and Two Sisters from Boston. Despite their success as a team, it was soon time for Koster to go his own way. He was called on to finish The Bishops Wife (1947) which was already in production. The assignment led to a contract with Twentieth Century Fox, where Koster remained until 1965. Among his best known films are The Robe(1953) which was the first film shot in CinemaScope, Harvey (1950), Flower Drum Song (1961) and The Singing Nun (1966).
Koster would direct Allyson again in the 1957 remake of My Man Godfrey. Years later, he commented on Allyson and co-star Kathryn Grayson in Two Sisters from Boston. Of them he said, "I loved both girls. June was the better actress and Kathryn was the better singer." He would also remember the film Two Sisters from Boston as one of his favorites. Having directed numerous movies with children (for example Margaret O'Brien in Music for Millions), Koster saw Two Sisters as giving him room to grow. Of this film he commented, "It had no children...I could get a little deeper into the life of human beings."
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Henry Koster
Screenplay: Myles Connolly, Harry Crane, James O'Hanlon
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Film Editing: Douglass Biggs
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Sammy Fain, Ralph Freed, Charles Previn, Jimmy Durante
Cast: Kathryn Grayson (Abigail Chandler), June Allyson (Martha Canford Chandler), Lauritz Melchior (Olstrom), Jimmy Durante (Spike), Peter Lawford (Lawrence Tyburt Patterson, Jr.), Ben Blue (Wrigley).
BW-113m. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames