The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing is the true story of Evelyn Nesbit Shaw, a beautiful showgirl caught in a love triangle with elderly architect Stanford White and eccentric young millionaire Harry K. Thaw.
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It's the early twentieth century New York City. There exists a high level of animosity by Harry Thaw, a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman, toward renowned architect Stanford White for Harry feeling those dealing with the New York social set giving Stanford many of the perks that should rightfully have gone to him. While Stanford is mature and refined, Harry is brash, impetuous and volatile. That animosity is ratcheted up a notch when they both meet Evelyn Nesbit, a beautiful but poor model with who they are both infatuated, she appearing in the chorus of her first Broadway musical revue. After getting to know Evelyn, married Stanford, who still loves his wife and thus will not divorce her, wants nonetheless to provide Evelyn with the comforts and breeding of those within his social circle. His infatuation with her is also despite he being old enough to be her father. Harry, who is more age appropriate, takes a more direct approach in his pursuit of Evelyn, he doing whatever to convince ... Written by
Before being put on suspension, Marilyn Monroe was 20th Century-Fox's original choice for the role of Evelyn Nesbit. She turned this film and a forthcoming remake of Wabash Avenue (1950) titled 'The Girl in Pink Tights' (which was to co-star Dan Dailey and 'Mitzi Gaynor') and was put on suspension. Sheree North was then announced as her replacement for both films until Joan Collins was eventually cast as Nesbit. 'Girl in Pink Tights' was eventually abandoned. See more »
In a restaurant scene near the beginning of the film, architect Stanford White castigates a magazine editor for not including in an article about him the Boston Public Library, which he calls "the best thing I ever did." White's partner, Charles Follen McKim designed the Boston Public Library, not White. See more »
THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING (Richard Fleischer, 1955) **1/2
This is a glossy melodrama (scripted by Charles Brackett, who also produced, and Walter Reisch) about a famous early 20th century crime of passion. The love triangle comprises Ray Milland (ideally cast but who isn’t particularly stretched by his role of architect Stanford White), Joan Collins (in one of her better Hollywood parts – by the way, the real-life Evelyn Nesbitt acted in a few Silents herself and served as a consultant on this film!) and Farley Granger. The latter is a revelation: usually playing self-effacing types, here he’s arrogant, temperamental and possessive; he reminded me of Robert Ryan’s equally neurotic millionaire in Max Ophuls’ CAUGHT (1949). Besides, Granger’s jealous probing into Collins’ past relations on their wedding night basically replicated a scene from Luis Bunuel’s EL ; and, likewise, his murder of the Milland character over Collins presents a similar situation to a subplot in the Pre-Code BABY FACE  – which, interestingly enough, I watched the very next day!
Fleischer handles the proceedings efficiently enough (he was certainly adept at real-life crime stories, as his later dramatizations of the lives of other infamous murderers such as Leopold and Leob, Albert De Salvo and John Christie – in COMPULSION , THE BOSTON STRANGLER  and 10 RILLINGTON PLACE  respectively – can attest) but, here, he’s somewhat bound by the commercially-minded formula approach of the studio system which, for instance, necessitated the inclusion of corny musical numbers…even if Collins’ character does start off as a dancer in a variety act. Unfortunately, too, the courtroom scenes aren’t the most compelling ever put on film – but they’re nonetheless elevated by Luther Adler’s presence as Granger’s defense attorney. Another valued appearance is that of author Cornelia Otis Skinner: this was one of only 4 films she did (which include the classic ghost story THE UNINVITED , also with Milland, and the existentialist drama THE SWIMMER , starring Burt Lancaster); she has one interesting scene towards the end where Granger’s mother recounts his overly-protected childhood to Collins, and which inevitably marked his character forever. Collins’ mother, then, is nicely played by veteran character actress Glenda Farrell.
While THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING has been a regular on Italian TV over the years, I had first watched it as a kid; I decided to check the film out again now in view of Fox’s upcoming SE DVD, as part of THE JOAN COLLINS COLLECTION. By the way, the final scene – with Collins doing the titular stage act for impresario Emile Meyer, who’s eager to exploit her new-found notoriety – ends the film on a satisfyingly ironic note.
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