Missing from the career appreciations were two atypical Allyson titles - José Ferrer's compelling "The Shrike" (1955) and Douglas Sirk's lovelorn "Interlude" (1957), both made and released by Universal-International.
The two are impossible to see (or even find) these days, although Turner Classic Movies had "Interlude" penciled in for a couple screenings in the recent past, only to subsequently substitute another title at the 11th hour.
Allyson playing a woman who falls for a married man and pursues an affair with him could have meant career suicide in the 1950s, especially for someone who played uncomplicated, perky woman in which Allyson specialized. But her performance here is another gentle reminder that it was foolish for one to underestimate June Allyson.
It's interesting to compare the two versions of the material. The Sirk film, of course, has those matchless Sirkian qualities that he so freely exhibited at Universal-International during this ripe, productive period, while Billington's take on it is more realistic and kept afloat largely by the mesmerizing, mournful Werner and the lovely Virginia Maskell as his wife.
The choice of music is also interesting. The remake has a classic Georges Delerue score. Lots of harpischords here - way over the top. Frank Skinner scored Sirk's film in a more traditional, studio-approved way.
Sirk opens his film with a song by the McGuire Sisters; Billington and Delerue use the inimitable Timi Yuro for the remake's haunting title song.
You know, I'd actually like to see "Interlude" again - both versions.
And certainly "The Shrike," which is begging for a remake of its own.
* * * * *
~Vintage June Allyson
~photography: MGM 1947©
~Poster art for "The Shrike"
~Publicity shots of June Allyson and José Ferrer in "The Shrike"
~photography: Universal-International 1955©
~Poster art for "Interlude"
~Allyson and Rossano Brazzi in "Interlude"
~photography: Universal-International 1957©