It's been quite a while since StinkyLulu's worked up a "A Great Bad Movie Tribute" to a recently departed movie star. So a brief word of introduction might be in order: "Great BM Tributes" afford the opportunity to reflect on what was great about a particular performer. By considering their performance in a real stinker of a movie (the kind likely to be omitted from their official remembrances), StinkyLu considers how that performer found a special place in Lulu's heart, whether StinkyLulu actually "liked" their work or not.
The recent passing of June Allyson just screams for "A Great BM Tribute" -- because, for years, StinkyLulu just found June Allyson completely insufferable. That nasal twang of a voice. Those twoinky bangs. The wifey roles. The Depends. But somehow, and for no particular reason, over the last couple years, StinkyLulu's become strangely fond of Miss June. Even -- no, especially -- that voice. More than her more notorious contemporaries, June Allyson really does embody the vibe of 1950s musicals (the period in which movie musicals began to show signs of the creative identity crisis from which they still suffer).
June Allyson's the exemplar of a classic 1950s movie type: the ingenue, all grown up and married. And nowhere are her -- ahem -- particular gifts on more fascinating display than StinkyLulu's selection for her "Great BM Tribute":
This 1956 MGM musical adaptation of Claire Booth Luce's The Women (beloved for its 1939 film version) stands as one of the more extraordinary Hollywood moments of "WHAT were they thinking?!?" Replacing Joan Crawford with Joan Collins? Paulette Goddard with Ann Miller? The shift from shopping to show business almost works, if only the songs weren't so bad. And -- of course -- one of the all time stupidest moves in "reimagining" a classic: Adding MEN to the all-female cast. (Tragically few moments of genuine fabulousness come from Dolores Gray as Sylvia Fowler and Agnes Moorehead as The Countess. A holler and a hoot, respectively.)
But not long ago, StinkyLulu -- in one of those moments only true film obsessives will recognize -- flashed on a realization that June Allyson's performance was Lulu's favorite among the three leading ladies of the most famous versions of this story (1939's Norma Shearer and 2001's Cynthia Nixon). Norma Shearer's more sympathetic (if a touch pathetic), and Nixon's more nuanced (if a touch shrill). But Allyson's real simple. And the story's really about how a good woman (to whom only good things have happend) is out of her emotional and social depth when the going gets nasty. So, even though Lulu's not screened this stinker of a movie in a while, this was the leading performance that StinkyLu thought most worth revisiting... Who'da thunk it? Not Lulu, for one -- as June Allyson's mere presence in the film was enough initially to convince Lu that The Opposite Sex was a crime against queer culture/humanity...
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