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After writing a tell-all book about her days in the dance troupe "Barry Nichols and Les Girls", Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) is sued for libeling her fellow dancer Angele (Taina Elg). A Rashomon (1950)-style narrative presents the story from three points of view. Sybil accuses Angele of having an affair with Barry (Gene Kelly), while Angele insists that it was actually Sybil who was having the affair. Finally, Barry gives his side of the story. Written by
Mitzi Gaynor breaks her picture over Gene Kelly's head, and storms out the door. As he gets up to go after her, the frame is still clearly around his neck. But as he goes out the door, the frame is gone. See more »
Sophisticated Musical with Gene Kelly, Kay Kendall and George Cukor's Skills
The musical "Les Girls" (1957) is curious, I suggest for many reasons. It has three leading ladies, only a few very good musical numbers and a plot that is heavy on satirical comedy, with four distinct sections. It is also embedded within a trial about libel and takes part very largely indoors; yet it is arguably filled with clear 'action' from start to finish. John Patrick's screenplay I find clever and the dialog perhaps very good. Vera Casparay's story gave us three different versions of mostly the same events, with a subtle shift forward in time each time. Director George Cukor used shots from heights and clever low angles to give an extra dimension to what otherwise might have been boring indoor shots (in less-capable hands). The film produced by Saul Chaplin and Sol Siegel looks lovely in Technicolor and seems sumptuous as well as convincing throughout, I suggest. The cinematography by Robert Surtees, acting as director of photography, the vivid art direction by Gene Allen and William A. Horning and the set decorations by Richard Pefferle and the great Edwin Willis complement the well-matched art direction very well indeed, in my opinion. Among the film's musical numbers, "Ca C'est L'Amour", "You're Too Too" and the rope ballet seemed the most memorable moments to me. Orry-Kelly's wardrobe and costumes and the musical department's contributions stand out; Jack Cole and Alex Romero are credited with the choreography, no doubt with ideas from the star Gene Kelly. In featured roles, Jacques Bergerac, Henry Daniell as the judge, and Leslie Phillips and Patrick MacNee all make very strong impressions with little to work with. The three ladies in the act "Barry Nichols and Les Girls", are Kay Kendall, Taina Elg and Mitzi Gaynor. Kendall deserves an Oscar for her range of comedy and dramatic moments in the film, by my standards; Mitzi Gaynor is a good dancer and delivers both a decent characterization and some fine one-liners without being vocally strong. Taina Elg is the surprise--by turns charming, mischievous and intelligent; her accent perhaps harmed her opportunity to play more comedies within a shrinking 50's movie industry. Kelly is believable throughout and perhaps has never danced better. This film that retails the interplay among four interesting people on "the road" in Europe in the 1950s is undoubtedly both beautifully directed and professionally mounted. It has, I say as a writer, discreet charm, some nice comedic and emotional moments and a pace that director Cukor and the cast never allow to falter. It deserves more credit than it has ever been given, and I believe awards for some of its finest achievers' work exhibited herein.
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