Monday, March 05, 2007


Colorful Fox musical whose main selling points are nostalgia and Betty Grable. Set at the turn of the century, the film begins with George Montgomery, as a Coney Island barker, looking to make a move to the big time as his old pal Cesar Romero, owner of a high-class saloon, has done. Carny Phil Silvers takes Montgomery on and soon Silvers' "Turkish Harem" girlie show is doing gangbusters, and putting a bit of a dent in Romero's business, but what Montgomery really wants is a piece of Romero's operation, so through an elaborate prank which involves faking the death of old friend Charles Winninger, a saloon regular, Montgomery becomes Romero's partner. His next step is to get saloon singer Grable to refine her act--he thinks she's too hammy and in order to give her a classier style, he handcuffs her while she's onstage, forcing her to rely less on movement and more on a creamy vocal style. The trick works and soon Grable moves on to bigger and better things, leaving behind both Romero and Montgomery. The rest of the film finds the two men as rivals getting into and out of Grable's good graces. Of course, as leading man, there's never any doubt that Montgomery will win in the end. Grable is fine, singing "Cuddle Up a Little Closer" and "Pretty Baby," along with a slew of new songs written for the movie. Montgomery is handsome and charming, as is Romero--the nice thing here is that, even though we know that Romero will lose the girl, he's not portrayed as a villain, but just as the guy who came in second. Winninger is good as always, and Silvers is relatively inoffensive, unlike in his horrific turn in SUMMER STOCK. [FMC]

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