Former burlesque star May and her daughter Peggy dance in the chorus. When May has a fight with featured dancer Bubbles, Bubbles leaves the show and Peggy takes her place. When Peggy falls ... See full summary »
Former burlesque star May and her daughter Peggy dance in the chorus. When May has a fight with featured dancer Bubbles, Bubbles leaves the show and Peggy takes her place. When Peggy falls in love with wealthy Randy, May fears class differences may lead to misery. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Lovely Young Marilyn Monroe in Her First Starring Film
LADIES OF THE CHORUS is a fairly rare "B" movie from 1948 of interest because it's Marilyn Monroe's very first starring film but beyond that it's a quite well-made little musical. Marilyn was a complete unknown at the time with only a little extra work and one credited bit part under her belt when she was cast in this movie and yet she's quite wonderful and a total pro.
Marilyn stars as Peggy, a very young burlesque chorus girl who works in the chorus alongside her fortyish mother Mae (Adele Jergens). When the obnoxious "star" of the show walks out, Peggy steps into her part and becomes a sensation, earning the interest of various back door johnnies, in particular wealthy heir Randy (Rand Brooks). Peggy and Randy fall in love and he proposes but Mae is wary that Peggy will never be accepted in his social circles from her own past experience with her own annulled marriage to a socially prominent young man decades ago. Mae makes Randy promise to tell his mother (Nana Bryant) that Peggy is a burlesque queen in advance of their visit to the family's Cleveland estate, which he fails to do.
Marilyn is just adorable in this film and sings two surprisingly good songs for a "B" movie, "Anyone Can See I Love You" and "Every Baby Needs a Da Da Daddy", the latter a sexy little number that foreshadows her classic "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in sexiness and philosophy, right down to a reference to Tiffanys. Columbia's resident B queen of the era Adele Jergens is negated to a subordinate role as her mother, as still shapely middle-aged dancer who hides her gray hair under a blonde wig. Adele does very well at suggesting a slightly tired woman a decade or so older than her actual age and also gives a very good performance. (Adele was top billed in the original 1948 release but it appears only copies from the 1952 reissue exist where Marilyn was given that spot).
Rand Brooks (best known as Scarlett O'Hara's first husband in GONE WITH THE WIND) is quite pleasant as Marilyn's romantic suitor (they have a lovely scene together parked in a car that is an endearing ode to wholesome young love) and character actress Nana Bryant gives a pleasant performance as his mother, complete with a musical number of her own, the memorable "You're Never Too Old". Standing out in good comic unbilled bits are Gladys Blake as a gossipy sales girl and Dave Barry as a garbled-speaking decorator.
Running just a minute over an hour, the movie moves so quickly there's really no time for dull spots. This movie was reissued in 1952 by Columbia at the dawn of Marilyn's stardom but was virtually unseen for decades thereafter (likely because it was too short for most television movie programming slots); it reemerged in 1994 on video and a few years later had a handful of showings on cable television. Today your best bet in seeing it would probably be in buying a used copy of the out-of-print VHS tape or, if your DVD player can handle it, the region 2 DVD release from the United Kingdom in a Marilyn Monroe boxed set.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?