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William K. Howard
Shapely burlesque dancer Hot Garters Gertie aka Angela Gardner meets her former teacher John Palmer, now a professor at Midwest State... where she decides to begin her new college career. She rents a room; her new landlady proves to be the professor's wife. Among romantic complications, Angela helps the downtrodden dramatic arts department put on a potentially popular musical show...but someone's discovered her secret past. Does she have an ace up her garter? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Imbibition Technicolor, the most perfect method of adding color to film, was at its glorious apotheosis when the Warner Bros. musical "She's Working Her Way Through College," came along in 1952. Let the words of one of the men who worked on the process, Don Berry, inform us:
"The results were striking. No other color process notably the cheap processes of Eastman Kodak could even come remotely close to achieving the vibrant, saturated look of IB (imbibition) Technicolor."
With musical films, especially, looking for a prism through which to display their charms, the wedding of Technicolor and "She's Working Her Way Through College" was a match made in cinematic heaven.
Elsewhere, you may read that this musical was an inferior version of the Warner Bros. 1942 drama (in black and white), "The Male Animal." The names of James Thurber and Elliott Nugent, writers of the 1942 movie, do appear in the credits of "She's Working " but the musical uses only a few of the former film's lines. . . and it has a great foundation, hummable tunes, and that wonderful Technicolor going for it.
Briefly: "She's Working Her Way Through College" starring Virginia Mayo, Ronald Reagan, and Gene Nelson, is a delight from the first scene on. Reagan plays John Palmer, a college professor who's doing dramatic research; and at one of the theaters he visits, he sees a rousing and colorful production number starring a burlesque queen (played winningly by the beautiful Ms. Mayo). Reagan doesn't remember her at first, but she remembers him as her high school teacher. They meet in her dressing room and she learns that her former teacher is now a professor at a small college, Midwest State. Ms. Mayo decides to quit the theater and enroll in his college.
Once at Midwest State, Ms. Mayo receives a lot of wolf whistles from the male students, but responds only with smiles. She meets Don Weston (Gene Nelson), who is quarterback of the football team, but is also a terrific singer and dancer. Together they co-write a musical play for the school to present at one of the better theaters in town, and give their classmates a sneak performance right in their classroom. Professor Palmer has no objections, and is in fact drawn into the performance. The Mayo-Nelson routine is a winner, to the song "I'll be Loving You" by Sammy Cahn and Vernon Duke.
In all, the production of "She's Working Her Way Through College" is a delight. And those who criticize it as an inferior "The Male Animal" need to look again. The two films are ages apart and "The Male Animal," whatever its virtues, lacks the effervescent and vivid hues afforded by the Technicolor palette.
By Dan Navarro -- @firstname.lastname@example.org.
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