Bright Lights Film Journal

June Allyson, R.I.P.

June Allyson deserves a little more attention than she’s getting. Forget about the dutiful wife roles. Despite her own claim that she couldn’t sing or dance, she turned in an excellent performance in the “Thou Swell” number with the Blackburn Twins in Words and Music, the 1948 Rogers and Hart bio-pic, which I am apparently alone in finding extraordinary. (It still hasn’t been issued as a DVD, despite repeated threatening phone calls on my part to Ted Turner.)

One of June’s last films was They Only Kill Their Masters, a Doberman pinscher flick starring James Garner, Katherine Ross, and Hal Holbrooke, which picks up a very clever review from “Poseidon-3,” who identifies some astonishing “similarities” between this film and Twin Peaks , enough, one suspects, to fill a doctoral thesis. According to Poseidon-3, “Holbrook gives another one of his wonderful performances in which it’s impossible to tell if he’s good or bad. The script is trashy and occasionally meandering. If anyone wants to hear Garner and Ross toss around words like ‘faggot’ and ‘dyke,’ here’s the chance.” Hey, I’m on it!

(Cosmic convergence note: After Allyson starred in They Only Kill Their Masters (1972), small-time musical comedy star Joan Caulfield (Blue Skies) starred in The Daring Dobermans (1973). And in 1976 major musical comedy star Fred Astaire appeared in The Amazing Dobermans.)