Today marks the centenary of one of the brightest stars of MGM’s golden era, June Allyson. For classic Hollywood fans, she’s best known for her roles as the “girl next door” in musicals and romantic comedies. She worked continuously from the early 1940s through the end of the 1950s, the latter of which one of her lesser-known movies comes in, one of director Douglas Sirk’s last films, Interlude.
The film follows a young American woman named Helen Banning (June Allyson), who travels to Munich to begin a new job. While working there, she meets Dr. Morley Dwyer (Keith Andes), a family friend who starts courting her, though she warns him that she’s not in Germany to find romance. But when she meets symphony conductor Tonio Fischer (Rossano Brazzi), her mindset changes, and the two begin an affair.
Just as this 1957 melodrama was one of the last feature-length films Douglas Sirk directed (with his career ending just two years later with his most famous movie of all, Imitation of Life), Interlude was one of the last movies June Allyson starred in before focusing her career on television, though she did make occasional film appearances now and then. The film is a loose remake of a 1939 film starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer called When Tomorrow Comes, and for Allyson, it came out the same year as another remake she starred in, My Man Godfrey, and both films came out just a year after starring in The Opposite Sex, a remake of The Women.
The movie that Allyson is arguably best remembered for is the 1949 adaptation of Little Women, in which she played the main character Jo March. While most would remember her initial love interest, Laurie, as played by Peter Lawford, her character would later link up with Professor Bhaer, played by Rossano Brazzi, who she reunited with nearly ten years later here for Interlude. The romance their characters share in this film is not as easygoing as it was in Little Women, but now that Allyson wasn’t stuck playing ingenue parts, she’s able to play a more mature role, and thereby have a much more complex relationship with her on-screen love interest.
Allyson may not be the first actress to come to mind to star in a Sirk melodrama such as this, but she’s able to hold her own with the material. Her image as the girl next door at the height of her career also works well for her character, who throughout much of the film is seen in predominately white outfits, symbolizing a sort of respite for Brazzi’s tormented character, while also showing her naivete to the deeper issues that lie beneath their affair.
Interlude isn’t remembered much today in the careers of all involved, and it’s not one of their best films by any means, but it’s a film well worth checking out (especially for the gorgeous European scenery). And for fans of June Allyson, it’s a chance to see her in a different sort of role, especially one of the last she made while she was still a beloved Hollywood star.
I wrote this entry as a part of the June Allyson Centenary Blogathon, where bloggers are writing about the actress in honor of her 100th birthday. Click the banner below to read more great posts!