Janet Blair was a Hollywood semi-star in 1940s musicals and comedies (her most famous role was as Eileen opposite Rosalind Russell in "My Sister Eileen" before it was musicalized), but somehow never made it to the top, and went into TV in its early days, becoming far better known in the 1950s as a variety show regular and as Sid Caesar's wife (after Nanette Fabray).
Blair had a wonderful contralto voice and a great way with a song, either uptempo or slow and sultry. In "One Touch of Venus," she gets to show off all her gifts and we see what Hollywood somehow failed to use. Yes, the plot is creaky, the 1955 TV telecast practically prehistoric, and Russell Nype (the nerdy lead) and George Gaynes (the suave villain) are not special. But most of the original score by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash has been retained (unlike the film version, with the stunning Ava Gardner, which cuts much of the score and rewrites the Ogden Nash lyrics, and not for the better), and even the ballets (Venus in Ozone Heights) are included. You get to hear not only "Speak Low" and "That's Him," but also the gorgeous "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and others.
Above all, though, is a chance to see Janet Blair singing, dancing and using all her charming talents as Venus. You'll have to search around for this title, but it's a very cool oddity.
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