Two of my favorite Old Hollywood stars are June Allyson and Van Johnson. I was actually a huge fan of each star before I saw my first film of them together. Once I began watching the movies they made together, however, my level of obsession for each grew to new heights. There was something extraordinary about their chemistry and the way they worked together.
Do I, personally, put them on par with Hollywood’s greatest, most iconic movie couples:
- Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne
- Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
- Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
- Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney
- Myrna Loy and William Powell
- Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, Jr.
- Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda
- Doris Day and Rock Hudson
Yes. Yes I do. And without hesitation. Comedic pairings are just as delicious and iconic as dramatic pairings, after all, and they were two of the best.
June Allyson and Van Johnson made five films together for MGM from 1944 to 1953 and every single one of them is excellent.
The most recent one I watched (for the first time, oddly enough, in spite of having seen all of the others multiple times) was The Bride Goes Wild (1948). This was the third film the duo made together and, IMO, one of their best. It might just be their best, in my opinion, but I’ll have to wait for the initial “wow” factor to calm down to determine for sure. You know how it is, when you first fall in love with a film, you forget nearly every one you’ve ever seen before it.
I’ll get to just how much I love this movie in a moment, but I have to just say that this is one of the most oddly-named films of all time. Sure, there is a bride and, sure, she goes wild… but not for the vast majority of the film.
It’s just not at all what the film is about! I realize a film’s title doesn’t amount to a hill of beans (weird phrase) but it was odd enough for me to mention.
Now for the movie: It is a hilarious delight from the opening to the closing. There are more than a handful of laugh out loud moments, thanks both to a darn good script AND the wonderful comedic talents of June Allyson, Van Johnson, Hume Cronyn, Una Merkel, Jackie “Butch” Jenkins and Arlene Dahl (in a small but memorable role).
June Allyson plays Martha Terryton, an illustrator who happens to also be a school teacher. She is hired as the illustrator for children’s book author Greg Rawlings. Hume Cronyn is Greg’s much put-upon publisher, John McGrath, and Una Merkel is his wonderful secretary Miss Doberly.
Hume Cronyn and Una Merkel had a very similar quality – whenever each graced a movie, they always left you wanting MORE. They worked the same magic in The Bride Goes Wild… while I LOVED every second of Martha and Greg’s adventures, I wanted desperately to see more of John and Miss Doberly’s! They could have had a movie of their own and I’d have sat glued to every scene.
One of the best things about the movie stood oh, only about “this high.” Jackie “Butch” Jenkins stars as an adorable little boy named Danny and he does an absolutely outstanding job. I would say that he is outstanding “for such a young boy,” but his performance was wonderful for any age. He conveys each and every emotion perfectly and draws you into what his character (a central one, at that) is feeling and makes what he is going through palpable.
If I’m a director, I ask for no more than that!
The Bride Goes Wild (going to take exception to this title for the rest of my life, it seems) is an absolutely delightful, fun, and hilarious film. Plenty of laugh out loud moments and just a solid good time. I hope you’ll check it out as soon as possible – and then go on to see the rest of Van Johnson and June Allyson’s movies.
They’re all so much fun!