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Les Girls (1957)
Ca C'est Magnifique?
While I really do like this film, every time I hear "Ca C'est L'amour", I'm reminded how similar it is to "C'est Magnifique". Anyone else notice the obvious similarity in the music and the lyrics between the two songs? "Love is wonderful. When love goes away, it's terrible. When love comes back, it's wonderful again." I think Porter simply did a rewrite of "C'est Magnifique", and hoped nobody would notice.
Otherwise, I think this is a well-done film. Although the music isn't the best, it is serviceable. One disappointment is that the "Ladies In Waiting" number has so much peripheral stuff going on (Elg trying to hide her face, Kendall drunk), that you don't get the full impact of Porter's "naughty" lyrics.
Wonderful acting, sometimes funny film, but ...
What the heck is the story supposed to be? We get a whole bunch of plot elements introduced -- estranged wife comes back to take daughter away, the government causing problems for the Comanches, the set up for problems between the cattle barons and the settlers, a romance between two young people, and various other things stuck in here and there. The stars do wonderfully well with the mishmash they're given to work with, but nothing really meshes together into a coherent whole. It also seemed like the film was cut to pieces before it was released. One especially notable instance is where Jerry Van Dyke is asked by Stephanie Powers and Maureen O'Hara to sing a song with his banjo, then suddenly the song is over without us ever hearing it. The romance between Stephanie Powers and Patrick Wayne is pretty choppy too. They bicker throughout the entire film, then suddenly they like each other, and after a brief encounter in a haystack, are engaged. Seemed like something was missing someplace. The Comanche plot line was full of noticeable holes too, and never gets resolved.
All in all, one of those films where I think the actors are far superior to the material, and if this film was popular, it's because of those actors, and not at all for the storyline.
My Sister Eileen (1955)
Nice musical, but somewhat mystifying ...
I recently saw this musical, and enjoyed it very much. There is only one thing that puzzles me though. First, a little history of "My Sister Eileen". It originated as a series of short stories by Ruth McKenney that eventually was published as a book in 1938. In 1940 the book was adapted as a non-musical play. In 1942, Columbia produced a film version of the play. In 1953, Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green wrote the music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical adaptation retitled "Wonderful Town". Then two years later, in 1955, Columbia released this musical version. What puzzles me is that it seems that Columbia completely ignored the hit Broadway show of just two years prior, as if it never existed. It's interesting that they would have Jule Styne and Leo Robin write a completely new score for the film, when the superb Bernstein/Comden & Green score was already there. The Styne/Robin score is very good, but in no way does it compare to "Wonderful Town".
Show Boat (1951)
Should Lena have been cast?
I know there are many out there who think that Lena Horne would have been better cast as Julie than Ava Gardner was. She was considered for the role and desperately wanted to play it, according to her own commentary on the film from the documentary "That's Entertainment III". Lena had also done a brief turn as Julie in the 1946 Kern biopic, "Till The Clouds Roll By". Lena had, and still has, a wonderful voice and would have been wonderful in the part vocally. With that said, let me say that she would have been miscast in the role of Julie. There is no possible way that Lena Horne could have believably played a woman born to one black and one white parent who is credibly passing as white. With no racism or malice intended, Lena Horne is very obviously a black woman. The whole crux of Julie's story has to do with her attempt to hide her parentage and her marriage to a white man. How could a black woman who "looks" black pull this off? I think MGM was wise to cast Ava Gardner and pass on Lena Horne. It is just too bad that there weren't really any roles written for her during her time at MGM. She proved that she could carry a real part in such films as "Stormy Weather" and "Cabin In The Sky", especially that latter.
Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
One of Day's best
Not being a great Cagney fan, I didn't have high hopes for this film when I first saw it. The only reason I did watch it was Doris Day. Boy, am I glad I did. Anyone who questions Day's acting abilities should take a look at this film. Personally, I've always thought she was one of Hollywood's few singers who really could act. Look at the lackluster acting of Kathryn Grayson or Jane Powell sometime. Doris Day runs circles around them. If you're still in doubt after seeing this film, watch "Julie" sometime. Another one of her best films.
Also, Day is in fine voice in this film. All of the songs are wonderful. "Ten Cents A Dance" and "Shaking The Blues Away" among the best. I have heard the real Ruth Etting's rendition of both these numbers, and they are nothing like Day's performances. Obviously, they weren't going for mimicry here, but it works fine just the same. Highly recommended.