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Gypsy Rose Lee,
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Set in the days of the great Canadian Gold Rush, this rousing musical stars Randolph Scott as a "reformed" con artist-turned-dance hall owner whose girlfriend, singer Gypsy Rose Lee, tries to keep him on the straight and narrow.Written by
Alessandro Martini <email@example.com>
Supposedly set in the old Klondike at the time of the gold rush; we get a jokey opening narration similar to the prologue three years earlier to 'Louisiana Purchase' (1941) advising us in advance that we will be getting glossy escapism, not gritty realism. We see little of the film's hinterland setting beyond a brief shot of what looks like a black & white photograph of a couple of mountains; and the story could just as easily have been set in a speakeasy during prohibition or a contemporary New York nightclub. However, 'Belle of Chicago' or 'Belle of Brooklyn' wouldn't have had quite the same ring - or accommodated Don Loper's colossal saloon set in which most of the action takes place; and which along with his costumes and choreography (dressed in Technicolor by veteran cameraman Ray Rennahan) look as if they consumed about half the film's budget. All those chorus girls in glossy red lipstick flinging their legs in the air would also have been more likely to have encountered problems with the Hays Office in a contemporary setting.
No one character ever seems to be the focus of the film; but being the tallest - as well as being Randolph Scott - a smiling Scott just about qualifies as the film's central character. Although in the title role, Gypsy Rose Lee functions more as Dinah Shore's female buddy; and with their long faces, matching blood red lipstick, alarmingly corseted dresses and vertical hairstyles could pass for sisters. The 'action' tends to consist mainly of the two girls singing about their burgeoning romantic passions, until there is finally a conclusion appropriate to a western when Robert Armstrong (who alone appears to be acting in something more rugged) organises a bank robbery to end the film with something passing for action.
Some of the sets are sufficiently stylised to have possibly helped ten years later to inspire those for 'Red Garters'; or Vienna's saloon in 'Johnny Guitar'. The film's most eye-popping use of colour is saved for the final scene when the chorus are shot from below energetically dancing the Can-Can, although their pale green dresses flicking about their rose red petticoats manage to look remarkably like costumes from a two-colour rather than a three-strip Technicolor production.
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