One of the joys of returning to the U.S. of A. is, without question, access to real, live Turner Classic Movies.
Oh, out in the Sandlands, as I once upon a time kvetched, we had something called TCM, but it was but a pale shadow of the real thing. Now that we're home, though, I've been having a grand time. Over the weekend it was a wallow in Imitation of Life, a film that never ceases to please, whether on the level it was intended to or on many additional layers of camp and knowingness. Tonight - even as I type - it's Girl Crazy, and I've realized with some shock that it's one I've never seen before.
It was a terrible surprise, then, to ease into the opening number - a deluxe nightclub hoopla in fine MGM style, led by no less than Tommy Dorsey himself - and find the wailing banshee who appears in the still above taking center stage. Her outfit is sufficiently appalling that I'm thinking Irene was having something of a private joke, and it was only once she she opened her ample mouth and the dulcet tones of a badly tuned siren came out that I realized that the harridan in question is, in fact, no less than Miss June Allyson. Here in 1943 she's considerably livelier than she mostly was later on (virtually BettyHuttonische, even), but even without her trademark bangs no easier to take.
Fortunately, she disappears pretty quickly, and now we're launched onto the Andy-Judy-meet-cute-out-West substance of the thing and it's all much improved. Although now that I'm getting a good look at some of Judy's getups, I'm wondering if the whole thing wasn't a bit of an inside joke, costume-wise, for Irene...