Header Image: The 3 Sisters

The Brian Sisters

Sally, Irene and Mary (1938)

The Brian Sisters appear in a song & dance scene in Sally Irene and Mary, singing Who Stole The Jam and complementing the three adults, Alice Faye (Sally), Joan Davis (Irene) and Marjorie Weaver (Mary).
The film was released on March 4th 1938, so was filmed in late 1937 and early 1938 when Betty was 14, Doris 11 and Gwen 9.

This is a really good scene, in which the Brian Sisters bring much more than just 'kiddie appeal' to the film. Their singing is just right; they are certainly no less professional than the three adults. After singing they all dance - we don't normally see the Brian Sisters dancing and they do it very well.

The girls were taught the dance moves by Nick Castle, the choreographer on this film and Little Miss Broadway, who was patient with the girls and pleased with their accomplishment in such a short time. The Brian Sisters readily learned the steps for their dance and the entire sequence was completed in one day.

When they appear, the Brian Sisters delightfully 'fill in the gaps' with their typical 'scat' singing:
"Mama, Mama wants to know Tra da - tra dada
"Who stole the jam Dada da-da-da dahh dada
"Who got into her clean kitchen? We Know!
"Who stole the jam"

They accompany Sally (Alice Faye) in the same way a little later.

During the dance, the 'pecking' by Doris is a bit restrained (she merely nods her head), but Gwen is enthusiastic!

Watch for them all bouncing up and down waving their arms right at the end, on the stairway.

The Brian Sisters really are very, very good, with their first class harmonizing and accomplished dancing.

In the Lowell Sun newspaper of March 22 1938 the reviewer, Charles G Sampas, rated Sally, Irene and Mary as two stars out ot four, "** Means fair"; but was clearly enchanted by the Brian Sisters:-
"The 'Who Stole The Jam?' routine, near the finale, is cute and sweet, with the three little Brian sisters stealing your heart away. They have something different."

Well, see for yourself:

This may be available on DVD but takes a fair bit of searching!

The girls hated wearing glasses and having braids in their hair, as Betty and Doris have in this film, but in this case it seems to work out very well. The Brian Sisters carry it off brilliantly and certainly have no less charm than their adult counterparts! This is an excellent appearance by the girls.

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