Jul 20, 2008

Decades of Darling!

I will admit it. When I read of eternally-cute June Allyson's outspoken, matchmaking fans in her mildly heartstring-tugging 1984 autobiography, I knew immediately that I was one of them. After June's smash success alongside Van Johnson in their 1944 film, Two Girls and A Sailor, moviegoers the globe over began to plan the pair's nuptials, write scenarios of their wedded bliss, and submit potential names for future Allyson-Johnson offspring - all hypothetical, of course - to movie magazines of the day. While a reflective and amused Allyson divulged that she adored Johnson but enjoyed only a platonic relationship with him, their onscreen interaction was, and is, so sparkling and wholesome, so innocently romantic, so darned charming, you can't help but imagine a preacher and a white picket fence in their near future every time the credits roll on one of their five collaborative films.

Imagine my pure and unfettered delight, then, upon discovering the painfully adorable partners in a 1984 episode of the Angela Lansbury television classic, "Murder, She Wrote". Forty years after their first screen pairing, Van and Junie were still as darling as they had been when they were sharing marquees with Jimmy Durante and Gloria deHaven, and I'm sure there were more than a few erstwhile audience members thrilled at their onscreen reunion upon the show's airing nearly 25 years ago (though Van and June were still pretty young themselves: she was a mere 67 to his 68). Despite a rather lackluster storyline in the 48-minute mystery and a disappointing amount of screentime alloted Miss Allyson (she appears but briefly as a pivotal supporting character), that old MGM chemistry was in full force between those two dolls - all that was missing was a little Technicolor, Butch Jenkins and a Freed Unit number, and it would've been 1944 all over again!

The episode of "Murder, She Wrote" featuring Van Johnson and June Allyson is entitled "Hit, Run and Homicide" and is available in the first season of the show's DVD release.

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