By the humble standards of director Richard Thorpe, this is an amazing entry. It's superbly directed and tells us that Thorpe was actually a lousy director by choice, rather than accident. Mind you, James Mason did put me on the right track many years ago when he told me that he almost flubbed one of his lines in The Prisoner of Zenda and asked Thorpe to re-shoot the scene. To Mason's surprise, Thorpe refused and told Mason he was quite happy with the way the scene had been played, "But I can do better than that!" Mason argued. "Much better!" Thorpe then went into his saving-the-studio- money routine which both Mason and I thought was simply a put-down. Anyway, Mason told his fellow thespians and they all agreed to send the movie up by playing all their roles tongue-in-cheek. Thorpe not only made no attempt to stop them, he appeared not to notice. Anyway, Mason and I agreed that Thorpe was simply a hack who could tell no difference between good acting and bad. But this little film proves that we were way wrong. Thorpe was actually a very clever artisan who could not only elicit superb performances from his players but move the plot along briskly with bright camera movements, seductive close-ups and speedy delivery. In short, Beauty Parlor is essential viewing. The plot moves along briskly and the players, headed by Joyce Compton, Barbara Kent and frisky, overweight Albert Gran (who died in the same year this film was released), are all marvelous. This movie is available on a very good Alpha DVD.
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