Skip to main content

Film Friday: «Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison » (1957)

In honor of Deborah Kerr's 95th birthday, which is today, this week on «Film Friday» I bring you what is perhaps one of her best remembered pictures. This is one of my personal favourites of hers, and also the film that made me a Robert Mitchum fan. 

Directed by John Huston, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) begins when United States Marine Corporal Allison (Robert Mitchum) finds himself stranded on a deserted South Pacific island in 1944. He finds an abandoned settlement and a chapel with one occupant, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), an Irish Catholic novice nun who has not yet taken her final vows. She herself has only landed there a few days before with Father Philips, who has since died. Despite their extreme differences in backgrounds and outlooks, their are respectful of each other's vocation and soon form a close bond. For a while, Allison and Sister Angela have the bountiful island completely to themselves, but then a detachment of Japanese troops arrives to set up a weather camp near their location and the pair is forced to hide in a cave.
Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

When action in the Pacific Theatre makes the Japanese leave the island, Allison suspects that the Allied forces won the battle and will soon be doing their own recognition in the area. Relieved, Allison begs Sister Angela not to take her bows and proposes to her, but is embarrassed after she tells him that she is already engaged to her life to God. That night, as heavy rain pounds their shack, a frustrated Allison gets drunk on sake and smashes Father Philips' pipe, which Sister Angela had given him. Hurt, she runs into the forest, where Allison finds her the next morning, soaked and delirious. Just as he carries her back, he sees that the Japanese have returned, forcing them to the retreat to the cave again.
Allison decides to sneak into the Japanese camp to get some blankets for Sister Angela, but has to kill a soldier who discovers him in the act, which alerts the enemy to his presence on the island. The Japanese ultimately locate the cave and are about to toss in a grenade when American troops begin attacking the island in preparation for a landing. While the Japanese are still in their bunkers, Allison manages to disable the massive enemy artillery guns by removing their breechblocks, thus saving many American lives. His mission accomplished, Allison returns to the cave and, knowing that he will soon be rescued, bids goodbye to Sister Angela. In response, she promises that he will be her dear companion always.

Cpl. Allison: I never loved anything or anybody before. I never even lived before. Not really lived... inside. So that's why I want to ask you to marry me. I want to look after you. Not only while we're here, but for the rest of our lives. I couldn't keep from saying it, ma'am. So, tell me if there's a chance.

The son of a Tasmanian-born horse trainer, Charles Shaw grew up on his family's small farm in southern Australia. In the early years of the Great Depression, he held a variety of jobs in the countryside, until his interest in writing led to employment at Forbes Advocate, in 1931. As he gained practice in all kinds of newspaper work, Shaw began sending stories to Smith's Weekly and The Bulletin, most of which were based on his experiences in the Australian Outback. In 1939, he moved to Sydney to work on the Farm and Settler, but soon joined the staff of The Bulletin as its rural editor. During World War II, he put out a significant amount of writing, including two collections of short stories, two detective mysteries and a volume of verse.
After publishers rejected several of his manuscripts, Shaw decided that the Outback was «too parochial to hold much interest for people outside Australia» and began developing material that was set against a different background. His efforts resulted in a novel called Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, the story of an American marine and an Irish Catholic nun, who find themselves cast away on a Japanese-held Pacific island during World War II.
LEFT: First edition of Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. RIGHT: Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum.

When Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison became an international bestseller in 1952, producer Eugene Frenke purchased the screen rights from Shaw, in a deal that would give the author ten percent of the film's profits. However, Shaw's generous contract caused financial difficulties, forcing Frenke to relinquish his ownership of the rights in November 1953. The following month, John Wayne and his producing partner Robert Fellows tried to acquire the property, but Frenke soon regained control. Wayne had intended to star as U.S. Marine Corporal Allison, although he was replaced by Kirk Douglas once he lost the rights to the story.
In May 1954, Frenke made an arrangement with Paramount Pictures to finance the film and hired William Wyler to direct. After church authorities stated that they would ban such a film — especially since the novel featured «the characters entertaining illicit thoughts on every page» — Wyler altered the ending of the story by revealing that the female protagonist, Sister Angela, was not a nun, but had disguised herself as one to elude the Japanese. However, Wyler quickly lost interest and the project was shelved. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was then acquired by Buddy Adler, the newly-appointed head of production at 20th Century Fox, who finally green-lighted the production in 1956, with John Huston at the helm.
Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Finding Shaw's novel too salacious, Huston worked with veteran screenwriter John Lee Mahin to pen what he considered a «palatable adaptation» of the material. Huston, whose previous credits included The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) and The African Queen (1950), felt that the solution Wyler had come up with to receive the Church's endorsement was «a bogus one.» He insisted not only that Sister Angela turn out to be a real nun, as in the original, but that she remain true to her calling by rejecting the marine in favor of her higher commitment to God.

Although Frenke objected to Huston and Mahin more celibate script and less lascivious nun, Adler promptly approved their version. They also decided to advance Shaw's original story two years to 1944; in the book, Allison has escaped from the Battle of Corregidor in May 1942, at the same time that the Allies were still on the defensive in the Pacific.

Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.

Adler bought Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison especially for Deborah Kerr, who had campaigned to play Sister Angela for over three years. The daughter of a World War I veteran, the Scottish-born Kerr originally trained as a ballet dancer, debuting at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London in 1938 as part of the ensemble in Prometheus. However, she felt more attuned to the theatre than the dance and soon began to act on the stage in small parts. At the same time, Kerr gained her first film role in the British production Contraband (1940), but her scenes were ultimately not included in the final cut. Her actual film debut was made in Major Barbara (1941), based on the eponymous play by George Bernard Shaw, which was both a financial and critical success.
After opening at the West End with a revival of Shaw's Heartbreak House, Kerr attracted international attention for playing triple roles in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), a Technicolor war drama directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. On the basis of her work in Black Narcissus (1947), MGM signed her to a film contract and brought her to Hollywood to star with Clark Gable in The Hucksters (1947). Kerr's reputation was soon established with Oscar nominated performances in Edward, My Son (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953) and The King and I (1956), the latter directed by Walter Lang for Fox.
Deborah Kerr in publicity stills for Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Huston initially wanted Academy Award winner Marlon Brando for the role of Corporal Allison, but the actor turned down the offer, to the director's great disappointment. Fox then insisted to Huston that he cast instead Robert Mitchum, who had just signed a two-picture deal with the studio. Although Huston was uncertain in hiring Mitchum, put off by stories of his being difficult to work with, he eventually decided to give the actor a chance.

Mitchum, who had become a major star on account of his roles in film noir — most notably Crossfire (1947) and Out of the Past (1947) — was apparently not pleased to be second choice to Brando. Also, when he learned that Huston planned to shoot Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison entirely on location on the Caribbean island of Tobago, then a British colony, he flatly refused to take the part. After spending nearly four months there filming Fire Down Below (1957), «the sand was still coming out of his ears.» However, when his agent reminded him of his currently unstable financial situation, Mitchum reconsidered Huston's offer and accepted the role.
Robert Mitchum on location in Tobago during the making of Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

In August 1956, an advance team landed in Tobago, which was a «dead ringer» for the South Sea island where the story was set. Every room in four of the eight existing hotels on the island was rented for the 80 English crew members (Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was what was then called a «British quota picture,» utilizing Fox's blocked pounds sterling). A fleet of taxis and trucks was requested to take the filmmakers from the hotels to the beach where the film was shot. In addition, native labourers were hired to build a small village with a church, which was later destroyed for a scene. The cave where Allison and Sister Angela hide from the Japanese was actually a local community centre converted into a sound stage, with doors and windows tightly sealed and no air conditioning. To play Japanese-speaking bit parts, the casting scout secured the services of eight émigrés in a Japanese farm colony in Brazil, while the non-speaking Japanese roles were given to 50 Chinese employees from the restaurants and hand laundries of Trinidad. The film's American invaders were 100 actual U.S. Marines.

Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum on location in Tobago during filming.

In September, Kerr and Mitchum arrived in Tobago to start work on Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. Both were uncertain of their compatibility as co-stars. Years later, Kerr revealed,
«I wondered about what it would really be like to work with Bob, and if I was really going to be able to cope with, as I called him then, a weed-smoking character. He was the first of the hippies, really and truly. When I arrived on that beautiful island, Bob was already there. I remember we met for the first time that evening. And the two of us just sat on the edge of the sea with our toes in the water, generally talking about life. I realized immediately that, far from being like his image of a lazy kind of a character who didn't seem to care about anything, he was in fact extremely intelligent, and cared about so many things. He was such a surprise

According to his own account, Mitchum was expecting Kerr to be a prim English lady, just like the stiff women she often played on screen, but he was pleasantly surprised to discover that her personality did not correspond to that image. «I was impressed by her chaste and genteel demeanor, and attitude eminently suited to the saintly character she portrayed, made touchingly mortal by a few freckles,» he later said. «She is warmly human and sympathetic, and possessed of a humor that ranges from the subtle to the downright wicked.» Indeed, Mitchum truly appreciated Kerr's sense of humor. One particular occasion is frequently recounted. While rowing a raft in open water during the tortoise-chasing scene, Huston kept shouting to the actress, «Row faster, Deborah,» as her hands became increasingly blistered. When the wooden oar broke in half in her hands, she leaned back and shouted to the director, «That'll tell you how fucking fast I'm rowing!» Mitchum, who was swimming nearby, was so amused by Kerr's unladylike response that he «swallowed a gallon of saltwater laughing

Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum during the making of Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.
During the four months they spent in Tobago, Mitchum and Kerr formed a close friendship that would last for the rest of their lives. Laura Nightingale, a wardrobe girl on the film, recalled one day when Kerr told Mitchum that she had hurt her feet on the rocky ground: «He just kneeled down, unlaced her white sneakers, removed them and massaged her feet. It was lovely and compassionate the way he did it. No show, no affection, just all feeling. Then he put her sneakers back on and said kind of brusquely to hide his tenderness, 'Gotta keep you alive for my next scene.' Then he walked away. Deborah was so touched she cried.» Kerr and Mitchum would make another three films together: The Grass Is Greener (1960), The Sundowners (1960) and Reunion at Fairborough (1985), the latter a television production. Mitchum later confessed that Kerr was the «only leading lady I didn't go to bed with
Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.

Although Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was a fairly happy experience for Kerr, it also turned out to be one of the most physically challenging films of her career. Tobago's tropical climate, which averaged 90-degree temperatures at that time of the year, was one of the main problems. «Talk about mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun,» Kerr gasped. «I go out in it with a scratchy nun's habit on. All Bob is wearing is that underbrush on his chin and a pair of trousers.» Mitchum claimed that Huston had to hire two members of the crew for the purpose of holding her heavy nun's habit up between takes and «cooling her ass with a fan.» In one particularly unpleasant scene, Kerr had to run through a mangrove swamp full of leeches, slime and alligator excrement. «Deborah had to lie down in this mess and she did it without a word of complaint,» Huston remembered. «It was only years later that I discovered this had been such an ordeal for her that it almost unnerved her totally. She had said nothing when we shot the scene, but she had dreams of this swamp for weeks afterward
Filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison also proved a challenge for Mitchum. During a scene that required him to crawl across the razorlike coral reef, he scraped his flesh open in several places. Huston and his assistants immediately ran down to look at the streams of blood that covered his body, but Mitchum shrugged, «You work, you suffer.» While shooting the tortoise-chasing scene, the 300-pound creature towed him for longer than expected and «almost dashed me against the coral reef.» He caught his foot on a tree root and nearly twisted it in a full circle. En route to a nearby doctor, he was heard moaning, «The bastard Huston's going to kill me.» On top of all of this, Mitchum — as well as several others in the company, Kerr included — fell ill with dengue fever, which caused him intense joint and muscle pain. Mitchum quickly recovered, but his leading lady had to be hospitalized for a few days. 
Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Because of the picture's delicate subject matter, Fox had an advisor from the Motion Picture Production Code Administration, as well as representatives from the Catholic Legion of Decency, observe the filming in Tobago to make sure the depiction of Kerr's character was entirely respectable. The censor was Jack Vizard, whom the crew often called «Blizzard», «Buzzard» or «Grizzard,» while the Legion of Decency's man was Monsignor Devlin. One day, they arrived on the set as Huston was preparing a scene between Mitchum and Kerr. The actor recalled, «Mr. Huston planned a little surprise. We contrived a scene wherein Sister Angela overcomes the suppression of her base animal urges and, panting and clutching, throws herself on Mr. Allison in a lustful frenzy. With no film in the camera, we 'shot' the scene for our guest, who stood agape and immobilized in shock as John quietly said, 'Cut.' Huston then turned to the stunned Mr. Grizzard and said, 'You should have seen it before we cleaned it up!'»

Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was completed in early December 1956, at a budget of over $2.9 million. After the Catholic Church endorsed it with its highest audience rating, A-1 classification, the film had its gala opening at the Roxy Theatre in New York City on March 14, 1956.
Critical reviews were generally positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it «stirring and entertaining,» adding, «In the hands of a writer and director less skilled than Mr. Huston [...] this obviously delicated story might have been pretty badly abused. [...] But Mr. Huston has kept it free of nonsense.» Although Films and Filming considered that «CinemaScope and censorship effectively destroyed its chances for distinction,» the British magazine still described the picture as «good entertainment, technically competent, and perceptive in the characterizations of Mitchum and Deborah KerrHeaven Knows, Mr. Allison also became one of the biggest hits of Huston's career, grossing $4.2 million in domestic rentals alone. The director too ranked it high on his list, remarking, «Allison is seldom referred to, but I think it was one of the best things I ever made
Original theatrical release posters for Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

At the 30th Academy Awards held at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in March 1958, Huston and Mahin received a nomination for Best Screenplay, but lost to Pierre Boulle (fronting for blacklisted screenwriters Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman) for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Kerr was likewise nominated for Best Actress, eleven years after playing another nun in Black Narcissus, although she lost to Joanne Woodward for her performances in The Three Faces of Eve (1957). She won, however, her second New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress; the first had been presented to her for both I See a Dark Stranger (1946) and Black Narcissus. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, together with Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember (1957), made Kerr one of the most in-demand and admired actress in Hollywood. Indeed, she was awarded a Gold Medal by Photoplay as the most famous actress of 1957 based on a poll by readers of several popular movie magazines. 

Deborah Kerr: A Biography by Michelangelo Capua (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010)
Robert Mitchum: «Baby I Don't Care» by Lee Server (St. Martin's Press, 2001)
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: The Cinema of John Huston by John McCarty (Crossroad Press, 2016)


Popular posts from this blog

Golden Couples: Gary Cooper & Patricia Neal

It was April 1948 when director King Vidor spotted 22-year-old Patricia Neal on the Warner Bros. studio lot. A drama graduate from Northwestern University, she had just arrived in Hollywood following a Tony Award-winning performance in Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest . Impressed by Patricia's looks, Vidor approached the young actress and asked if she would be interested in doing a screen test for the female lead in his newest film, The Fountainhead (1949). Gary Cooper had already signed as the male protagonist, and the studio was then considering Lauren Bacall and Barbara Stanwyck to play his love interest.          Neal liked the script and about two months later, she met with the director for sound and photographic tests. Vidor was enthusiastic about Patricia, but her first audition was a complete disaster. Cooper was apparently watching her from off the set and he was so unimpressed by her performance that he commented, « What's that!? » He tried to con

Golden Couples: Henry Fonda & Barbara Stanwyck

In the mid- and late 1930s, screwball comedy was in vogue and practically every actress in Hollywood tried her hand at it. Barbara Stanwyck never considered herself a naturally funny person or a comedienne per se , but after delivering a heart-wrenching performance in King Vidor's Stella Dallas (1937), she decided she needed a « vacation » from emotional dramas. In her search for a role, she stumbled upon a « champagne comedy » called The Mad Miss Manton (1938), originally intended as a Katharine Hepburn vehicle. Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda as Melsa and Peter in The Mad Miss Manton .   Directed by Leigh Jason from a script by Philip G. Epstein, The Mad Miss Manton begins when vivacious Park Avenue socialite Melsa Manton finds a corpse while walking her dogs in the early hours of the morning. She calls the police, but they dismiss the incident — not only because Melsa is a notorious prankster, but also because the body disappears in the meantime. Sarcastic newspaper editor

Films I Saw in 2020

For the past four years, I have shared with you a list of all the films I saw throughout 2016 , 2017 , 2018 and 2019 , so I thought I would continue the «tradition» and do it again in 2020. This list includes both classic and «modern» films, which make up a total of 161 titles. About three or four of these were re-watches, but I decided to include them anyway. Let me know how many from these you have seen. As always, films marked with a heart ( ❤ ) are my favorites. Sherlock Jr. (1924) | Starring Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire and Joe Keaton The Crowd (1928) | Starring James Murray, Eleanor Boardman and Bert Roach Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) | Starring Henry Fonda, Alice Brady and Marjorie Weaver Brief Encounter (1945) | Starring Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard and Stanley Holloway The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) | Starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman The Girl He Left Behind (1956) | Starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood Gidget (1959) | Starring Sandra Dee, Cliff Robertson an

80 Reasons Why I Love Classic Films (Part II)

I started this blog six years ago as a way to share my passion for classic films and Old Hollywood. I used to watch dozens of classic films every month, and every time I discovered a new star I liked I would go and watch their entire filmography. But somewhere along the way, that passion dimmed down. For instance, I watched 73 classic films in 2016, and only 10 in 2020. The other day, I found this film with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. that I had never heard of — the film is Mimi (1935), by the way — and for some reason it made me really excited about Old Hollywood again. It made me really miss the magic of that era and all the wonderful actors and actresses. And it also made me think of all the reasons why I fell in love with classic films in the first place. I came up with 80 reasons, which I thought would be fun to share with you. Most of them are just random little scenes or quirky little quotes, but put them together and they spell Old Hollywood to me. Yesterday I posted part one ; her

Wings of Change: The Story of the First Ever Best Picture Winner

Wings was the first ever film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Since then, it has become one of the most influential war dramas, noted for its technical realism and spectacular air-combat sequences. This is the story of how it came to be made.   A man and his story The concept for Wings originated from a writer trying to sell one of his stories. In September 1924, Byron Morgan approached Jesse L. Lasky, vice-president of Famous Players-Lasky, a component of Paramount Pictures, proposing that the studio do an aviation film. Morgan suggested an «incident and plot» focused on the failure of the American aerial effort in World War I and the effect that the country's «aviation unpreparedness» would have in upcoming conflicts. Lasky liked the idea, and approved the project under the working title «The Menace.»   LEFT: Byron Morgan (1889-1963). RIGHT: Jesse L. Lasky (1880-1958).   During his development of the scenario with William Shepherd, a former war correspondent, Morga

Christmas in Old Hollywood

The beautiful Elizabeth Taylor with an extremely cute little friend. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with their son Stephen (early 1950s). Here they are again. What an adorable picture! Paulette Goddard looking rather uncomfortable next to her Christmas tree. Boris Karloff and Ginger Rogers at a Hollywood Christmas party in 1932. The adorable Shirley Temple chatting with Santa. Here she is again with a dolly friend. Look how cute she looks here, modeling a new Christmas dress (1935). The fur-tastic Joan Crawford. Doris Day asking us to "do not disturb until Christmas." Don't worry, Doris, we shall not. Though it's past Christmas now, so I'm sure Doris won't mind if we disturb just a little bit. Priscilla Lane looking sparkling drapped in her garlands. A VERY young Carole Lombard sitting next to her tree (1920s). Jean Harlow looking stunning as always. Janet Leigh looking extra cute unde

Top 10 Favourite Christmas Films

Christmas has always been a source of inspiration to many artists and writers. Over the years, filmmakers have adapted various Christmas stories into both movies and TV specials, which have become staples during the holiday season all around the world. Even though Christmas is my favourite holiday, I haven't watched a lot of Christmas films. Still, I thought it would be fun to rank my top 10 favourites, based on the ones that I have indeed seen. Here they are.  10. Holiday Affair (1949) Directed by Don Hartman, Holiday Affair tells the story of a young widow (Janet Leigh) torn between a boring attorney (Wendell Corey) and a romantic drifter (Robert Mitchum). She's engaged to marry the boring attorney, but her son (Gordon Gebert) likes the romantic drifter better. Who will she choose? Well, we all know who she will choose.   Holiday Affair is not by any means the greatest Christmas film of all time, but it's still a very enjoyable Yule-tide comedy to watch over the holi

Films I Saw in July & August

In the past five years, I shared a year-end list of the films I saw throughout 2016 , 2017 , 2018 , 2019 and 2020 . For 2021, I decided to do this monthly and share a list of the films I saw during each month of the year. These are the films I saw in July and August, which make up a total of 18 titles. As always, films marked with a heart ( ❤ ) are my favourites.   Resistance (2011) | Starring Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wlaschiha and Michael Sheen Siberian Education [Educazione siberiana] (2013) | Starring Arnas Fedaravi čius The Last of Robin Hood (2013) | Starring Kevin Kline and Dakota Fanning The Water Diviner (2014) | Starring Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko and Yılmaz Erdoğan Holding the Man (2015) | Starring Ryan Corr, Craig Stott and Anthony LaPaglia The Last King [Birkebeinerne] (2016) | Starring Jakob Oftebro and Kristofer Hivju The Pass (2016) | Starring Russell Tovey and Arinzé Kene Access All Areas (2017) | Starring Ella Purnell, Edward Bluemel and Georgie Henle

The Sinatra Centennial Blogathon: Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly

  In January 1944, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer happened to see a young crooner by the name of Frank Sinatra perform at a benefit concert for The Jewish Home for the Aged in Los Angeles. According to Nancy Sinatra, Frank's eldest daughter, Mayer was so moved by her father's soulful rendition of « Ol' Man River » that he made the decision right then and there to sign Frank to his studio. Sinatra had been on the MGM payroll once before, singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the Eleanor Powell vehicle Ship Ahoy (1942), although it is very likely that Mayer never bothered to see that film. Now that Frank was «hot,» however, Metro made arrangements to buy half of his contract from RKO, with the final deal being signed in February of that year. Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in  Anchors Aweigh Being a contract player at the studio that boasted «more stars than there are in the heavens» gave Frank a sudden perspective regarding his own talents as a film performer. The «g

The Gotta Dance! Blogathon: Gene Kelly & Judy Garland

In 1940, up-and-coming Broadway star Gene Kelly was offered the lead role in Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's new musical Pal Joey , based on the eponymous novel by John O'Hara about an ambitious and manipulative small-time nightclub performer. Opening at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Christmas Day of that year, the show brought Gene his best reviews up to that date. For instance, John Martin of The New York Times wrote of him: «A tap-dancer who can characterize his routines and turn them into an integral element of an imaginative theatrical whole would seem to be pretty close, indeed, to unique .»   One of Gene's performances in Pal Joey was attended by established Hollywood star Judy Garland , who requested to meet him after the show. Gene agreed and then accompanied Judy and her entourage, which included her mother Ethel and several press agents, to dinner at the newly-opened Copacabana nightclub, at 10 East 60th Street. They sang and danced until 3 a.m., after whi