Thursday, 29 September 2011

Spreading the June Haver love

I've always loved the musicals of June Haver. She had such a charming and natural screen presence. I've often wondered why more people don't talk about her nowadays! She dances just as well and is just as charming as co-star Betty Grable in The Dolly Sisters, one of her better-known films. Yet, there is no biography of her life and/or work. An underrated talent to be sure. And a woman with an interesting life: she left films in 1953 to become a nun, left the convent because of an illness, and who did she fall in love with while she was recovering out of the convent? Hollywood actor Fred MacMurray! No more convent for her! The two were married until his death. True Hollywood romance.

In light of the need for a Haver appreciation, I have decided to start spreading the Haver love! Here are a few of my favourite Haver movie moments.

June's last film is one of her best: The Girl Next Door. She has a great partner in Dan Dailey, a charming song and dance man, and a very able performer. Here's "You're Doing All Right" with somewhat terrifying tenor Dennis Day.

Dailey and Haver also share a gorgeous dance duet as they dance to the title song... they don't have moments like this in film anymore. Makes Haver fans wish she had stuck around in the business! Looks like she reached her peak here.

My favourite June Haver film is Look for the Silver Lining, and is available now from the Warner Archive (click on the title to find it at amazon). Definitely worth taking a look if you can get your hands on it. Haver is charming as the legendary stage actress Marilyn Miller, and shares the screen with newcomer at the time Gordon MacRae, who sings in his beautiful baritone, and dancing legend Ray Bolger. If you pick one Haver film to watch, this would be my recommendation.To give you a taste, here is the trailer:

Here's Haver doing a great tap solo, and then is joined by dancing great Gene Nelson. From The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady.

June Haver was once a bigger star than Marilyn Monroe! Don't believe me? Take a look at this trailer for the charming 1951 comedy Love Nest, starring Haver, and featuring Monroe in one of her first roles.

Another June Haver movie, rare though it may be, is one of her best. I'll Get By with costars Gloria DeHaven, William Lundigan, and Thelma Ritter is truly worth a look if it ever pops up on TV. No DVD is available as of yet. And, of course, check out The Dolly Sisters with Betty Grable, which made Haver a star, and is easily attainable on DVD.

I hope this inspires you to delve more closely into the work of June Haver, one of the cutest, perkiest, happiest, charming, and real performers the movie musical ever knew.

Stay tuned... my next blog will be a tribute to the cruelly underrated dancer Vera-Ellen!

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