June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Jimmy Durante, Van Johnson, Tom Drake, Henry Stephenson, Henry O’Neill. Guest shots by Harry James, Albert Coates, Lena Horne, Jose & Amparo Iturbi, Gracie Allen and more.
Patsy (Allyson) and Jean Deyo (DeHaven) are two sisters who have been performing together on stage since they were toddlers in Vaudeville. Now they’re grown. Patsy is the brains of the outfit, trying to keep their act together and keep her irresponsible younger sister out of trouble—Jean is always out looking for a rich young man to marry, but the rich young men she finds seem more interested in merely having a good time. With the war on, the girls decide to open a servicemen’s center. At first they use their apartment, but it quickly becomes too crowded. A young sailor they know as Johnny (Johnson) has a crush on Jean—and he’s also rich. When he hears what the sisters want to do, he buys a deserted warehouse and anonymously turns it over to the sisters. Grateful to their unknown benefactor, the girls quickly clean the place up and start bringing in class acts. Meanwhile, Patsy is falling hard for Johnny. A romantic triangle ensues but quickly sorts itself out when a poor young onion farming soldier appears on the scene.
NY Times June 15, 1944, Two Girls and a Sailor
…this new musical is a joy and delight. Indeed, we would string along with anyone who chose to call it the best so far this year. For, under Joe Pasternak’s authority, there has been magically woven into it all the charm and refreshing exuberance that have distinguished that gentleman’s tune films in the past. On the veriest thread of a story, it spins melody, humor, whimsy and romance with a cast of engaging performances—all this and Jimmy Durante, too.
…It’s a toss-up between June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven as to which is the lovelier girl…Van Johnson is attractive as the sailor, Tom Drake is vastly likable as a soldier, and Henry Stephenson, Ben Blue and Frank Sully are amusing in nice minor roles. Also Harry James does magnificently by his trumpet on a number of scorching tunes—especially “Young Man with a Horn,” sung by Miss Allyson—and plays himself recognizably. Virginia O’Brien sings “Take it Easy” comically, Lena Horne does tingling things with “Paper Doll” and José Iturbi, Gracie Allen and Xavier Cugat and his orchestra are neat in specialties.
Council Bluffs (Iowa) Non-Pareil, September 24, 1944
Two Girls and a Sailor, the new musical which opened Saturday at the Broadway theater, is one of those rare films about which a reviewer need not hesitate to use all the superlatives in the dictionary.
…The picture brings Jimmy Druante back to the screen, and that is great news indeed! Jimmy, the “Schnozz” himself, is in rare fourm as he portrays a retired, ex-vaudevillian who has lost confidence in himself and fears to attempt a comeback…
Then there are Lena Horne, one of the top singers of the day; Gracie Allen, whose One Finger Piano Concerto will bring howls of delight; Virginia O’Brien, the dead-pan singer, José Iturbi, who plays a mean piano, and Harry James and Xavier Cugat and their orchestras—’nuff said!
You’ll love the songs…Put “Two Girls and a Sailor” on your “must” list.
Director: Richard Thorpe
Van Johnson, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, José Iturbi, Jimmy Durante, Lena Horne, Donald Meek, Virginia O’Brien, Gracie Allen, Harry James and Xavier Cugat orchestras. Singing sisters Allyson and DeHaven operate a canteen for GIs, and become romantically linked with sailor-with-a-secret Johnson. Breezy entertainment, with many find musical numbers (from Gracie Allen playing the piano to Lena Horne singing “Paper Doll.”). Watch for Ava Gardner as a dancing showgirl and in the dream sequence.
Thoughts of ManyFountains.com: Irony supreme—Iturbi has about 5 minutes of screen time in this one, in two scenes—but he appears in the Maltin credits list over Tom Drake, Henry O’Neill, and Henry Stephenson, all of whom actually had a part in the movie. Plot wise, this is probably the best of the Iturbi movies. Pity he’s in it so little…although the look on his face when dealing with Gracie Allen is priceless. Amparo makes her first appearance in this one, too—no acting, just music, but she’s perfect. Despite the title, which makes it sound as if a bad-taste joke will follow, this is a fun movie, and Jimmy Durante is adorable.