The Dolly Sisters (1945)

114 mins | Musical | November 1945

Director:

Irving Cummings

Producer:

George Jessel

Cinematographer:

Ernest Palmer

Editor:

Barbara McLean

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller

Production Company:

Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

The Dolly Sisters is based on the lives of Yansci and Roszika Deutch, twin sisters who were born near Budapest, Hungary in 1892 and immigrated to the United States in 1900. [In the film, their Hungarian first names are spelled Jansci and Rozsicka, a less-used alternative spelling. Also, the sisters in the film are not twins.] The dark-haired sisters, who became famous under the names Jenny and Rosie Dolly, were as well known for their beauty, romantic attachments and exploits in European casinos as for their dancing. Although the sisters were indeed world-famous dancers, much of the film's story is fabricated. Rosie's first husband was songwriter Jean Schwartz, and after their divorce in 1921, she married millionaire Mortimer Davis, Jr. in 1927. After divorcing Davis, Rosie married department store owner Irving Netcher in 1932. Jenny was married to Harry Fox from 1914 to 1920, and married lawyer Bernard Vinnisky in 1935. The sisters, who began their career in 1907 in vaudeville, went on to star in musical shows produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, Oscar Hammerstein and Charles Cochran, and perform in plays in New York, London and Paris. In 1915, Jenny starred in the Kalem Co. film The Call of the Dance , directed by George L. Sargent, and Rosie appeared in Fine Arts Film Co.'s picture The Lily and the Rose , which was produced by D. W. Griffith. In 1918, the twins were directed by Leonce Perret in The Million Dollar Dollies (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.0571, F1.2497 and F1.2943). The sisters retired in 1927, but because of their highly publicized gambling ... More Less

The Dolly Sisters is based on the lives of Yansci and Roszika Deutch, twin sisters who were born near Budapest, Hungary in 1892 and immigrated to the United States in 1900. [In the film, their Hungarian first names are spelled Jansci and Rozsicka, a less-used alternative spelling. Also, the sisters in the film are not twins.] The dark-haired sisters, who became famous under the names Jenny and Rosie Dolly, were as well known for their beauty, romantic attachments and exploits in European casinos as for their dancing. Although the sisters were indeed world-famous dancers, much of the film's story is fabricated. Rosie's first husband was songwriter Jean Schwartz, and after their divorce in 1921, she married millionaire Mortimer Davis, Jr. in 1927. After divorcing Davis, Rosie married department store owner Irving Netcher in 1932. Jenny was married to Harry Fox from 1914 to 1920, and married lawyer Bernard Vinnisky in 1935. The sisters, who began their career in 1907 in vaudeville, went on to star in musical shows produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, Oscar Hammerstein and Charles Cochran, and perform in plays in New York, London and Paris. In 1915, Jenny starred in the Kalem Co. film The Call of the Dance , directed by George L. Sargent, and Rosie appeared in Fine Arts Film Co.'s picture The Lily and the Rose , which was produced by D. W. Griffith. In 1918, the twins were directed by Leonce Perret in The Million Dollar Dollies (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.0571, F1.2497 and F1.2943). The sisters retired in 1927, but because of their highly publicized gambling exploits, their fame persisted. Jenny adopted two young Hungarian orphans, Klari and Manzi, in 1929, and was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 1933. After her recovery, Jenny returned to the United States with her daughters and married Vinnisky. Jenny committed suicide in 1941, and Rosie died of a heart attack in 1970. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Produced Scripts Collection, both of which are located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, when Rosie sold the rights to the story of the Dolly Sisters to Fox for $52,500, the studio was forbidden to include in the film any information about Jenny's adoption of Klari and Manzi or her suicide. The studio records also reveal that the film was partly based on a fourteen-page biography of the sisters, written by Rosie, as well as scrapbooks, correspondence, newspaper clippings, etc. that she supplied.
       HR news items announced that Fox was producing a film about the Dollys in May 1943, and later news items and studio records reveal that Alice Faye was originally scheduled to play "Jenny." Faye declined to make another musical, however, and instead appeared in the drama Fallen Angel (see below). The film's production was delayed due to Betty Grable's pregnancy, and during her temporary retirement from the screen, Fox considering casting other actresses, including Gale Robbins, Janet Blair, Vivian Blaine, Patricia Romero and the Dowling Twins. Studio records indicate that Robert Wyler may have worked on the screenplay, although his contribution to the completed film is doubtful. HR news items and a studio press release note that John M. Stahl was originally scheduled to direct the picture, Milton Berle was set to play "Professor Winnup" and Jessel was set to play himself in the picture. According to studio records, Jessel was to play the master of ceremonies in the benefit show sequence at the end of the picture. Jessel, who knew the Dolly Sisters, also wrote a foreword about them included in early versions of the screenplay, but it was not used in the finished picture. A HR news item noted that Jessel would not appear in the picture due to the pressures of his producing schedule.
       The film marked Jessel's debut as a motion picture producer, and also marked the return to the screen of actor John Payne, who had served in the military for two years. Studio records indicate that J. Edward Bromberg was originally signed to play "Oscar Hammerstein," but the casting was protested by Hammerstein's grandson, Oscar Hammerstein, II, who feared that Bromberg would "give the public a visual and mental impression that may be totally different" from what he and production chief Darryl F. Zanuck were contemplating in connection with a biographical film about Hammerstein. [That film, which they intended to call Romance with Music , was not made.] Zanuck assured Hammerstein that the role would be recast "with a more perfect physical double in an effort to match original photographs." Robert Middlemass appears in the role in the completed film. HR news item and a studio press release include the following actors in the cast, although their participation in the finished picture has not been confirmed: Fefe Ferry, Helen Kimball, Lois Barnes, Lucille Barnes, Jan Bryant, Juanita Cole, Ann Corcoran, Virginia De Luce, Marietta Elliott, Donna Hamilton, Marjorie Holliday, Savona King, Elaine Langan, Eve Miller, Martha Montgomery, Mary Jane Shores and Yvonne Vautrot. S. Z. Sakall was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the production. The film received an Academy Award nomination for the song "I Can't Begin to Tell You," written by James Monaco and Mack Gordon. Monaco died on 16 Oct 1945; The Dolly Sisters was his last screen assignement.
       Several lawsuits concerning the film were filed, including one by songwriter Jean Schwartz, who was Rosie's first husband. Even though the studio's legal records indicate that Rosie had obtained a release from Schwartz and several other current or former family members, allowing for the use of his "name, likeness, actions and activities, in fact or in fiction," HR and LAEx news items reported that Schwartz had demanded $100,000 in damages. Schwartz made numerous allegations, including that his career had been damaged by his not being characterized in the film; that there was a breach of oral contract by the studio to employ him as a technical director; that Rosie had misled him to believe his songs would be included in the production; and that the picture presented a gross distortion of history by portraying comedian/actor Harry Fox [Jenny's first husband] as a songwriter, when, in fact, Schwartz was the only songwriter married to either sister. The highly publicized trial, at which Rosie and Jessel testified, was dismissed on 1 Apr 1947 by Judge Campbell E. Beaumont, who stated that Schwartz could not have been injured by a film in which he was not named or characterized. Harry Fox also filed suit against the studio, Jessel and Rosie in Mar 1946, claiming that his reputation had been injured by the film's portrayal of him as a "lowly songwriter," according to a LAHE news item. The same news item also reported that Fox asserted that Rosie "induced him to agree to the film portrayal as part of a 'conspiracy' to injure him." The disposition of Fox's suit has not been determined. The legal files indicate that several other complaints or suits were lodged against the studio, one by Jenny's daughter Klari and another by Beatrice Fox White, who was Harry Fox's third wife, but their exact nature and disposition have not been determined. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Sep 1945.
---
Daily Variety
26 Sep 45
p. 3, 7
Film Daily
28 Sep 45
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 44
p. 31.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 45
p. 2, 17
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 45
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 45
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 45
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 45
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 45
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 45
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 45
p. 3, 8
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 45
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 45
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 45
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 46
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 46
p. 1, 14
Los Angeles Examiner
7 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
8 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
12 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
14 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
20 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
28 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
29 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
2 Apr 1947.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
20 Mar 1946.
---
Motion Picture Daily
26 Sep 45
p. 1, 7
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Sep 45
p. 2661.
New York Times
15 Nov 45
p. 24.
Variety
26 Sep 45
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Rudolf Lindau
Edward Kane
Wedgewood Nowell
J. C. Fowler
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Mus set des by
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Miniatures
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Research dir
Research asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor dir
SOURCES
MUSIC
Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms
"I Never Knew (I Could Love Anybody Like I'm Loving You)" by Tom Pitts, Raymond B. Egan and Roy K. Marsh.
SONGS
"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," music by Harry Carroll, lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
"I Can't Begin to Tell You," music by James V. Monaco, lyrics by Mack Gordon
"The Vamp," music and lyrics by Byron Gay
+
SONGS
"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," music by Harry Carroll, lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
"I Can't Begin to Tell You," music by James V. Monaco, lyrics by Mack Gordon
"The Vamp," music and lyrics by Byron Gay
"Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl," music by Albert Von Tilzer, lyrics by Lew Brown
"We Have Been Around" and "Don't Be Too Old Fashioned (Old Fashioned Girl)," music by Charles Henderson, lyrics by Mack Gordon
"Carolina in the Morning," music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Powder, Lipstick & Rouge," music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel
"The Darktown Strutters' Ball," music and lyrics by Shelton Brooks, special lyrics by Charles Henderson, French lyrics by Georges Kessel
"Arrah Go On, I'm Gonna Go Back to Oregon," music by Bert Grant, lyrics by Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young
"Smiles," music by Lee G. Roberts, lyrics by J. Will Callahan
"Oh! Frenchy," music by Con Conrad, lyrics by Sam Ehrlich
"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile," music by Felix Powell, lyrics by George Asaf
"The Sidewalks of New York," music and lyrics by Charles B. Lawlor and James W. Blake
"Mademoiselle from Armentières," composer undetermined.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1945
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Chicago: 5 October 1945
Production Date:
18 January--20 April 1945
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 October 1945
Copyright Number:
LP101
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
114
Length(in feet):
10,251
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10827
SYNOPSIS

In 1904, Hungarian sisters Yansci and Roszika Dolly immigrate to America with their uncle Latsie, and their first stop is a New York City restaurant run by Latsie's friend, Ignatz Tsimmis. To amuse themselves, the girls dance as the restaurant's band plays folksongs, much to the delight of the patrons. In 1912, the girls, now grown, are called Jenny and Rosie, and still love to dance and sing popular songs at Tsimmis'. Needing money to pay Uncle Latsie's debts, Jenny and Rosie persuade Tsimmis to book them elsewhere, and he gets them a job in upstate New York. On the train, the sisters meet singer Harry Fox, who lies about how successful he is, and he is chagrined to discover later that he has been billed below the unknown sisters and Professor Winnup's educated seal. Harry overcomes his embarrassment and over the next several days, romances Jenny. The couple fall in love despite Rosie's dislike of Harry, and on the day the Dollys leave, Jenny promises Harry that she will wait for him. Back in New York City, the sisters try to advance their career but have no luck, until one day, they meet Harry again. Harry and Jenny are delighted to be reunited, and Harry assures the girls that, with his help, they can catch the eye of impressario Oscar Hammerstein, who is looking for exotic acts. Harry installs the girls in an expensive hotel suite and clothes them in lavish outfits, then arranges for Hammerstein to visit. Re-assuming their Hungarian accents, the girls audition for Hammerstein, who is so impressed by them that two weeks later, they are ... +


In 1904, Hungarian sisters Yansci and Roszika Dolly immigrate to America with their uncle Latsie, and their first stop is a New York City restaurant run by Latsie's friend, Ignatz Tsimmis. To amuse themselves, the girls dance as the restaurant's band plays folksongs, much to the delight of the patrons. In 1912, the girls, now grown, are called Jenny and Rosie, and still love to dance and sing popular songs at Tsimmis'. Needing money to pay Uncle Latsie's debts, Jenny and Rosie persuade Tsimmis to book them elsewhere, and he gets them a job in upstate New York. On the train, the sisters meet singer Harry Fox, who lies about how successful he is, and he is chagrined to discover later that he has been billed below the unknown sisters and Professor Winnup's educated seal. Harry overcomes his embarrassment and over the next several days, romances Jenny. The couple fall in love despite Rosie's dislike of Harry, and on the day the Dollys leave, Jenny promises Harry that she will wait for him. Back in New York City, the sisters try to advance their career but have no luck, until one day, they meet Harry again. Harry and Jenny are delighted to be reunited, and Harry assures the girls that, with his help, they can catch the eye of impressario Oscar Hammerstein, who is looking for exotic acts. Harry installs the girls in an expensive hotel suite and clothes them in lavish outfits, then arranges for Hammerstein to visit. Re-assuming their Hungarian accents, the girls audition for Hammerstein, who is so impressed by them that two weeks later, they are starring in one of his shows. By 1915, Rosie and Jenny are very successful and are about to embark on their first tour of Paris. One day, Harry visits Jenny and admits that he wishes to end their relationship because she has hit the big time while he is still struggling. They resolve their problems though, when song publisher Sam Harris admires one of Harry's compositions, and Jenny retires to marry Harry. On the eve of Harry's first Broadway show, however, he enlists in the Army and is sent overseas. Jenny then accompanies Rosie to Paris, and the Dolly Sisters conquer the Folies Bergere. They then become the toast of London, where Jenny attracts the attention of Tony, the Duke of Breck. A magazine photograph of the couple enrages Harry, who goes to see Jenny while on leave. Harry, who is returning to the United States, demands that Jenny come with him, but she cannot leave Rosie, as they have signed with the Folies Bergere for another season. The heartbroken Jenny files for divorce after Harry leaves her, then immerses herself in a whirlwind of performing, gambling and refusing Tony's marriage proposals. Meanwhile, Rosie has fallen in love with American department store owner Irving Netcher. Back in New York, Harry achieves success and pursues the beautiful Lenora Baldwin. One night, Jenny overhears Rosie tell Irving that they must wait to be married, and in order to free Rosie, Jenny agrees to marry Tony. As they are driving to town for the ceremony, however, Jenny's emotions disorient her and she drives the car off a cliff. Tony is unharmed by the accident, but Jenny is seriously disfigured. On the night that he becomes engaged to Lenora, Harry learns of Jenny's accident, and Jenny is comforted by the telegram he sends. Jenny urges Rosie to marry Irving immediately, and after the couple leave on their honeymoon, Jenny's beauty is saved through plastic surgery. Rosie and Irving soon welcome Jenny to New York, although they are dismayed to discover that she has sold her jewelry to pay her medical bills. Irving agrees to allow Rosie to return to the stage with Jenny, and the sisters are soon appearing at an all-star benefit. Harry is also on the bill, and when Lenora sees Harry watching Jenny, she realizes that he still loves her. Lenora then tells Rosie that she will not be marrying Harry, and watches as Harry invites Jenny to join him onstage for a song. The couple reconcile as they sing together, and happily gesture for Rosie to join them. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.