A run-away school-girl falls among chorus girls planning to marry into the nobility.



(novel) (as Emery Bonnet), | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
George Robey ...
Horace Blount
Hugh Sinclair ...
Earl of Pangborough
Naunton Wayne ...
Hugo Smythe
Moore Marriott ...
Bretherton Hythe
Mary Clare ...
Mrs. Wallis
David Burns ...
Joe Gold
Kathleen Harrison ...
Drusilla Wills ...
Miss Polkinghome
Wilson Coleman ...
Mr. Joliffe
Helen Haye ...
Aunt Primrose
Frederick Burtwell ...
Muriel Aked ...
Mme. Dupont, headmistress


A girl runs away from her Swiss finishing-school to go on the stage under a false name just as a rich young rubber-planter returns to England to inherit a title... with her fellow lodgers and chorus-girls both determined to get their hooks into him. The honours are about even as Gloria and Clytie fight it out for the Earl's attentions, until the whole chorus line is unexpectedly invited to spend the weekend at the Pangborough mansion, along with their producer Joe Gold and the wallet-lifting Hugo... and the *real* Leslie James makes an appearance... Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

25 September 1939 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Girl Has to Live  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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I'm a Savage
Written by George Scott-Wood and Julian Vedey
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User Reviews

Margaret wins the "bitch-fest"
15 February 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Carol Reed directed this fast moving farce in 1939 about three showgirls: Margaret Lockwood, Renee Houston and Lilli Palmer who vie for the attention and possibly marriage, of the Earl of Pangborough (Hugh Sinclair).Margaret initially escapes from a Swiss finishing school, by climbing down knotted bedsheets, nearly straining her leg in the process.The headmistress is the redoubtable Martita Hunt, (Martita played a similar role in The Man in Grey in 1943) She is assisted by Muriel Aked who played a deputy head to Margaret Rutherford in "The Happiest Days of your Life" (1951).Before escaping, one of the débutantes suggests to Margaret she adopts the stage name of "Leslie James" as her mother, of that name, was a famous music hall star and it will give Margaret a "leg up" in the profession.Armed with this alter ego, Margaret finds a boarding house (thinly disguised as Bedford Square in Holborn, London) run by and full of mainly odd theatrical folk, (there is a sole sanitary salesman there).Among the "resting" actors are two bitching showgirls, Renne Houston and Lilli Palmer who aggressively compete with each other and try to ensnare any eligible man who has a few quid in his pocket.One of these is a romantic, elderly but married fur salesman, Horace Blount, who may finance the burlesque show.Horace is played by real life music hall star, George Robey.Renee and Lilli's rivalry rapidly descends to physical violence and theft in their efforts to best each other and win a rich patron.Margaret, on the other hand, is the perfect lady and establishes her well mannered moral credentials early on when she explains to the other débutantes in Switzerland that the reason she is escaping from the school is that her recently widowed mother cannot afford the fees any more.She will get a job to repay the school for the outstanding balance she owes.

Naunton Wayne (minus Basil Radford), for once appears as a smooth talking conman and pickpocket who gets to play a funny drunk scene with the director of the show, Joe Gold.Naunton is allowed to show his versatility as an actor aside from his usual partnership role he adopted in the several films with the aforementioned BR.He even appears to like women!The Earl of Pangborough's savvy aunt is the aristocratic Helen Haye who is given a few comic lines for a change.Although Margaret tries to land the Earl her strategy is far more subtle than the overt tactics used by the other two feuding girls.

This is no lush Hollywood musical and the show tunes are mediocre but you do get to see Margaret and the girls in revealing costumes doing high kicking singing and dancing routines.The ending was too rushed and could have been lengthened by letting the story unfold at a more even and natural pace.For this reason I rated it 6/10.If you would like to see Margaret in a full film musical try "I'll Be Your Sweetheart" as it has many old time (circa 1900) music hall songs familiar to many viewers.

Incidentally in "A Girl Must Live", does anyone know the identity of the brunette showgirl whose bathing costume was too revealing for the other girls who hoped to swim at Pangborough manor?.If so post here please since the IMDb.com full list of the cast only gives the names of the principal actors and she was therefore uncredited.Although she did have one line to say, boy! was she attractive! A bit of research by me reveals her name is Judy Gray.She only has one credited role on IMDb.com which is "Josette" in "Alibi" (1942)Any other info, would be appreciated.

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