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The Bride Goes Wild (1948) features the third pairing of MGM's resident girl- and boy-next-door - June Allyson and Van Johnson. The two were first teamed in the 1944 wartime musical Two Girls and a Sailor, which also marked June Allyson's first leading role. The two stars met next in the WWII romance High Barbaree (1947) and The Bride Goes Wild arrived a year later. After that, five years would pass before the screen duo would make another film. Reunited in Too Young to Kiss in 1951, Allyson played a pianist posing as a 14-year old prodigy who's hired by concert promoter Johnson. Remains to Be Seen (1953), a mystery involving hypnosis, would be the last of Allyson and Johnson's five film pairings, not counting the all-star Till the Clouds Roll By in 1946, which featured both Allyson and Johnson, but in separate scenes.
So popular was the Allyson-Johnson pairing that joint fan clubs were formed. MGM studio head L.B. Mayer encouraged them to date. Fans even believed the pair was married in real life. In truth, Allyson and Johnson had been friends since the early days of their careers, when they were both living in New York. They did appear together in public once in Hollywood but it was purely for P.R. purposes. Their friendship made working together a pleasure, though occasionally their camaraderie did create problems on set. One story that emerged from the filming of The Bride Goes Wild had Johnson and Allyson cracking each other up to the point that director Norman Taurog called off shooting for the day. When they resumed the next day, Taurog wouldn't allow Allyson and Johnson to speak off camera, and he filmed each of their close-ups without the other on set.
Even after they married other people (Allyson wed Dick Powell and Johnson married Evie Wynn, the former wife of his friend Keenan Wynn), the rumors persisted that the two stars were hitched. In her biography A Most Improbable Star Allyson tells the story of one Halloween when the two couples and their children were celebrating together. Johnson and Allyson opened the door to hand out candy and one teenage trick-or-treater gasped, "See, I told you they were married in real life, too." Fans even wrote in to suggest baby names for Johnson and Allyson going with the traditional Van Jr. for a son and the creative Vanjee (a combination of their names) for a girl.
Allyson and Johnson's on screen chemistry is delightfully evident in The Bride Goes Wild. Johnson plays a hard-drinking children's author who just happens to hate kids. He hides behind the kindly pseudonym Uncle Bumps. But once Allyson, a New England teacher who wins a contest to illustrate one of Uncle Bumps' books, meets Johnson, his cover is blown. With Allyson threatening to expose his true persona, Johnson and his publisher (Hume Cronyn) cook up a scheme involving a dead wife and a troubled son (Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins) to pacify her. Of course, along the way, Allyson and Johnson inevitably fall in love. As MGM put it, in promotions for the film, "When a Miss from the Country who's Prissy but Kissable Meets a Guy from the City Who's Fresh but Likable. Watch The Screen Go Romantically Combustible."
In addition to Allyson and Johnson, the supporting cast of The Bride Goes Wild is especially noteworthy. Hume Cronyn ended his five year run at MGM in the film. He first appeared for the studio in The Cross of Lorraine in 1943. Cronyn's other MGM outings included The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Ziegfeld Follies (1946). Una Merkel appears in The Bride Goes Wild as Cronyn's secretary, Arlene Dahl plays Johnson's ex-girlfriend and Clara Blandick is featured as Allyson's aunt (Blandick is best known for playing Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz ).
Even the child actors are famous in The Bride Goes Wild. Most prominent is Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins, who was nearing the end of his career as a freckle-face child star. He made just one more film, Big City (1948). Another youngster you might recognize is Billy Gray as one of the orphans. Gray went on to play young Bud Anderson in the television series Father Knows Best.
Producer: William H. Wright
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenplay: Albert Beich
Cinematography: Ray June
Film Editing: George Boemler
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Harry McAfee
Music: Rudolph G. Kopp
Cast: Van Johnson (Greg Rawlings), June Allyson (Martha Terryton), Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins (Danny), Hume Cronyn (John McGrath), Una Merkel (Miss Doberly), Arlene Dahl (Tillie Smith Oliver).
BW-98m. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames