Lawyer Thomas Farrell has made a career defending crooks in trials. He has never realized that there is a downside to his success, until he meets the dancer Vicki Gayle. She makes him ... See full summary »
Lawyer Thomas Farrell has made a career defending crooks in trials. He has never realized that there is a downside to his success, until he meets the dancer Vicki Gayle. She makes him decide to get a better reputation. But mob king Rico Angelo *insists* that he continues his services. Written by
Director Nicholas Ray was certainly impressed with Robert Taylor's commitment. "He worked for me like a true Method actor," said Ray, who remembered Taylor going to an osteologist, poring over X-rays and asking probing questions so that he would have an understanding of where in his body the pain would be from his character's crippled leg. See more »
In the car after the visit to the doctor's office, traffic seen through the car windows is of 1950's vintage. See more »
for the specialist or the veteran? a good but flawed noir with a unique pairing of its top stars
Party Girl is one of those films that can satisfy either the veteran film-goer (who may remember it or its era) or the specialist (who watches a film with a critical eye towards its particular qualities.) Fans of director Nicholas Ray or of stars Robert Taylor or Cyd Charisse (in one of her few dramatic roles, she acquits herself well) will enjoy the fine, well-crafted performances and the superb finish to the pacing of scenes and the cinematography. The film also has a certain heft due to the presence of Lee J Cobb as Rico, the gangster 'heavy,' although Taylor's skill in portraying the heavy's 'consigliaro' Tommy Farrell should be noted as well, avoiding as it does both cliché and bathos. It is a fine performance indeed, in a film marked by good, if not outstanding performances all around. There is as well a compelling understatement to Ray's directing that highlights both the strengths and (unfortunately) the weaknesses of a fairly less-than-original script -- the most glaring weakness being the way shyster lawyer Taylor readily submits to arrest and threat of imprisonment for having been associated with one of Cobb's henchmen, as though lawyer-client privilege were unknown to the state's attorney, a bit preposterous considering that Cobb's character Rico is wanted for the murder of the henchman anyway. The script thus plays to a perceived need to provide conflict outside that which already exists between Rico and Farrell, missing the opportunity to give some dimension to Rico's one-sided gangster. Some may find the surgery Taylor's character undergoes to restore a shattered hip a bit hard to believe, but in fact the description given the surgery, and the length of time required for the hip to heal, are in line with hip restoration surgery of the film's era (set in the 1930's.) And Taylor's character does not return from his stay in Europe miraculously healed; he still leans on his cane, but is less dependent on it. In fact Taylor does a very good job of being more married to the cane than to his on-screen wife (who makes only one thankless appearance) and of losing the cane gradually, and regaining the strength to walk without it, as he gains momentum against Rico and towards Cyd Charisse's character (dancer vs. near cripple; dancer drops dancing career and goes with near cripple, who gradually regains the strength to walk -- a nice metaphor for the growth of a relationship, filmed without melodrama.) The so-called 'happy' ending is certainly less than story-book, but probably will not satisfy a generation raised (reduced?) on Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 and three rather sickening 'Godfather' films. In fact, it is rather gratifying to see middle-aged Taylor (and near middle-aged Charisse) successfully build their relationship out of mutual trust. Both still have their looks, but both are mature enough not to be self-conscious about them -- a refreshing change from a youth-obsessed post 9/11 culture.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?