To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil ... See full summary »
To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil takes him under her wing, gives him a room in her high-class bordello, and gets him a job at a newspaper. He's so sweet and dumb, he thinks Lil's is a boarding house. He's soon caught up in an electoral struggle between a secretly corrupt reformer and an openly corrupt councilman. Can Ben expose corruption or will he be caught up in allure of power? An alcoholic investigative reporter and the bordello's ingénue try to help him grow up. Written by
[about why Ben is comatose]
I can't understand it. Medically, I can't understand one bit.
Well, his juices are all dammed up.
[covering young Virgil's ears]
That's all that's wrong with him, his juices are all dammed up.
Oh, how do you expect to raise a boy when his juices all dammed up, and get a man?
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It is a colorful movie, full of wonderful characters. This movie shows the life of a young boy, named Ben Harvey -maybe young Ben Hecht-who tries to succeed as a reporter in Chicago. It features in the cast the beautiful and mercurial Melina Mercouri, who as Madame Lily-owner of a brothel- 'adopts' Ben when he runs to Chicago to prove himself. Melina Mercouri provides the film with one stellar performance, but you can not stop the thought that she is restrained in some scenes, especially in the beginning with an unflattering piece of hair. She even sings a song of Henry Mancini that as far as I know has never been recorded. (Mercouri although never a professional singer, had a wonderful voice that helped here to record some classic songs like 'Never on Sunday'. Keith and Kennedy are good in their but easily forgotten. Bridges provides some somewhat stupid expressions, but his part is never developed, as N.Jewison never gave him directions.
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