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Vittorio De Sica,
Nineteenth century Wyoming: the wild West. Mild-mannered Tom Healy has a two-wagon theater troupe hounded by creditors because Angela, his leading lady and the object of his affection, constantly buys clothes. In Cheyenne, they meet with applause, so they hope to stay awhile: the theater owner likes Angela, and she keeps him on a string. She's also the object of the attentions of Mabry, a gunslinger who's owed money by the richest man in Bonanza. Complications arise and the troupe heads for Bonanza, through hostile Indian territory. Is the troupe doomed to a peripatetic life, is Mabry in danger, and does Tom stand a chance with Angela, a hellion in pink tights? Written by
The film is the story of an acting troupe (Anthony Quinn, Sophia Loren, Eileen Heckart, Margaret O'Brien) who run into various monetary and Indian problems as they travel across the Western United States.
George Cukor, who directed this film, supposedly never liked how the usual western looked. They lacked color, according to him, and in "Heller in Pink Tights," Cukor set out to remedy that. The film is full of vivacious color. From Eileen Heckart's orange hair to Sophia Loren's platinum blonde wig and the various pieces of clothing that they wear. Visually the film is quite arresting. It mixes such loud, bright colors with the colors of such a rigid and tough landscape.
While the use of color is certainly interesting, the film never gets quite as far. The story is entertaining, but in a silly way. The chemistry between Loren and her two love interests (Quinn and Steve Forrest) is non-existent. She also looks totally uncomfortable with the blonde wig she is saddled with. Eileen Heckart is fun as the loudmouth actress/stage mother to O'Brien's character, and Anthony Quinn is his usual "dramatic" self.
"Heller in Pink Tights" certainly is a different kind of Western. I just only wish the film's story would have been as interesting as its use of color.
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