The life of boisterous entertainer Texas Guinan is recalled from her poor childhood with a down-on-his-luck father to her reign as the Queen of the Night Clubs. Along the way, she also ...
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The life of boisterous entertainer Texas Guinan is recalled from her poor childhood with a down-on-his-luck father to her reign as the Queen of the Night Clubs. Along the way, she also finds romance and heartbreak.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
INCENDIARY BLONDE came somewhere in the middle of Butty Hutton's film career and there is no doubt that every moment she is on screen she is a wonder to behold. Gorgeous, funny, sexy, talented, are all words to describe Betty Hutton and without a doubt films like this are why. Like many of her better films this is a biography of a famous performer, in this case, Prohibition-era nightclub performer Texas Guinan who rose to fame starting in a Wild West Show and then onto a brief stint in Hollywood's silent films. Though this is not a lesser film in any respect (it boasts a good budget, nice color and costumes, and a good supporting cast) it fails to rise to the level of Betty Hutton's great films. INCENDIARY BLONDE begins with two equestrian policeman watching a memorial for the late performer and one of them telling the story of the woman who predicted she would die at the heights of her career as a young woman. Curiously, this device is not continued and is not used as a framing device, in fact, the film ends shortly before Texas Guinan's death. Even at close to two hours, the film zips through several career changes and because of this, we never settle in long enough for her to develop relationships with any of the other characters, nor is there much development of her own character. The always enjoyable Charles Ruggles is unrecognizable as a Buffalo Bill type of character for half the film (later clean shaven as he heads for Hollywood) and therefore he has much less impact than he normally would. The part of her family (the only consistency in the film) is kept in low profile with the exception of her father, played by the always great Barry Fitzgerald. Even though, Fitzgerald's role is small and he has no room to develop more than just a cartoon persona of a "hick" in the big city (he has no time to slow down and act as say he did in GOING MY MY.) Because his role is smaller, Fitzgerald's relationship with Hutton is not as developed either as it was in their earlier pairing in THE STORK CLUB. Hutton joins a Wild West show for a short while and we shades of a relationship between her and her boss, played by Arturo de Cordova. The film does a nice job in this area but it is eventually overshadowed by memories of the much grander ANNIE GET YOUR GUN which Hutton would make five years later. We see a little of early Hollywood as Guinan moves into silent pictures, which is also nicely done, and also overshadowed by memories of the much grander PERILS OF PAULINE. After a blink-of-an-eye career on the Broadway stage (the highlight: Hutton wears the sexiest skin-revealing costumes of her career), Texas Guinan builds a career as a nightclub performer (also nicely done, also overshadowed by memories of the much grander THE STORK CLUB). There is nothing terribly wrong with this film and Hutton fans will place this higher than her early career black-and-white low budget efforts, but the ending is a terrible let down, without any hope. Caution: If you are expecting the film to resolve it's problems, it won't. In whole, it does not reach the heights of her classics, but still there are enough parts to warm anyone who loves Betty Hutton (as long as you don't finish the film).
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