This semi-film within a film opens in the office of producer George Jessel, who never saw a camera he couldn't get in front of, who is holding a story conference to determine the screen ...
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This semi-film within a film opens in the office of producer George Jessel, who never saw a camera he couldn't get in front of, who is holding a story conference to determine the screen treatment for the life of Eva Tanguay, and Jessel is unhappy with what the writers present him.He tells them to look up Eddie McCoy, Eva's one-time partner, for the real inside story on the lusty and vital Eva. Eddie's version is that he discovered her working as a waitress in an Indianapolis restaurant in 1912, wherein singer Larry Woods and his partner Charles Bennett get into a fight over her and both land in the hospital, and McCoy convinces the manager to put Eva on as a single to fill their spot. She flopped, but McCoy arranges for Bennett to be her accompanist, and she went out of his life. The writers look up Bennett, now head of a music publishing company, who says McCoy's story is phony, and it was Flo Zigfeld who discovered Eva for his Follies. Then Jessel's staff comes up with a letter from... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It begins, even before the credits, with an onstage production number in which Mitzi, as famed vaudevillian Eva Tanguay, emerges hoarse and uncertain onstage, thus forcing the stage manager to ring down the curtain. AND IT NEVER COMES BACK TO THIS. That's how ineptly cut this Fox backstager is, leaving a major plot thread unacknowledged for the next 78 minutes. Along the way we get some clichéd show-must-go-on situations, the unappealing Oscar Levant (especially unappealing when deprived of good dialog, which Comden and Green provided him the same year in "The Band Wagon") plunking away on some classical piano, David Wayne in what first appears to be the leading-man role but turns into an inconsequential supporting part, the pleasant-voiced Bob Graham as Mitzi's love interest, George Jessel playing himself pretending to be a nice man, and several big, big production numbers. These have nothing to do with the vaudeville milieu and are set to undistinguished music, but the color's great, and Gwen Verdon gets to do some sinuous Jack Cole choreography in one of them. The whole thing's framed in a desperate-looking "Citizen Kane" conceit, as two studio boys are exhorted by Jessel to "come up with the REAL Eva Tanguay story," but the movie never wanders anywhere near the real Eva Tanguay story -- maybe it just wasn't that interesting. Worth looking at for the blazing Technicolor, the dances, and Mitzi, who's never less than professional, and never more.
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