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... See full summary »
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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
On the DVD, Taina Elg says the original cast was supposed to include Cyd Charisse as the American girl, Leslie Caron as the French girl and Kay Kendall as the English girl. Cyd Charisse decided to do Silk Stockings (1957) instead, so Mitzi Gaynor took her part. At one point, Kay Kendall didn't want to do the film and Taina Elg was tested for her part. Ms. Kendall took the part after all, but then Leslie Caron withdrew. Tania Elg was tested for THAT part and received her first major film role. See more »
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 »
Cole Porter's final film score and next to last music written for any media is Les Girls. The same team producer Sol Seigal and writer John Patrick who produced and wrote the adaption of The Philadelphi Story for High Society worked with Porter again and this time George Cukor was directing. It's a good film, but I've got the feeling that it could have been a whole lot better.
One of the criticisms that Porter used to get annoyed with was the perennial 'it isn't up to Cole Porter's standard' and then you'd look in the score and see a lot of classics. Can-Can is the best example of that. But in the case of Les Girls Porter admitted this to be true. According to the George Eells biography of Porter, he was starting to suffer the decline in health that would eventually end his life in 1964. He did have surgery to bypass an ulcer and was not feeling up to par.
Still the numbers are mostly for a vaudeville act, Barry Nichols and Les Girls so they're serviceable to a bright Rashomon like plot. The members of the act are Gene Kelly and the girls are Mitzi Gaynor, Taina Elg, and Kay Kendall. Kay's written a memoir that includes an alleged suicide attempt by Elg and she's suing her in an English court. As we get testimony from Elg, Kendall, and Kelly, they all give out with different versions. It's also clear he had his fling with all of them at one time despite his alleged no fraternization policy.
Elg has the best ballad of the score, Ca C'est L'Amour which sounds like something that might have been written for Can-Can and discarded. Cole Porter discards are better than a lot of composer's best efforts. The sparkling Kay Kendall was never shown to better advantage on the screen than with You're Just Too Too in a duet with Kelly. And Cole Porter wickedly satirizes Marlon Brando and The Wild One in Why Am I So Gone About That Gal with Kelly and Mitzi Gaynor.
In addition to this being Cole Porter's last film score, this film also marks Gene Kelly's last full blown musical. He did do other musical numbers in films like What A Way To Go and Young Girls From Rochefort and Xanadu, but this was the last musical he did. They were getting way too expensive to make, something Kelly learned from behind the camera when he directed Hello Dolly.
Even with a score that Cole Porter himself wasn't thrilled with, Les Girls is still a fresh bit of film making. And since it's original to the screen, the Porter wit is not edited severely. All in all four great musical performers, three of them Les Girls.
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