The I Don't Care Girl (1953)
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I had never even heard of Eva Tanguay, although I was vaguely familiar with the old song "I Don't Care". It's interesting to read her bio on Wikipedia...preferably before you watch the film; in fact, the bio may be more entertaining than the film.
While far from her best film, Mitzi Gaynor shines here, although I doubt production numbers at the turn of the century were this lavish.
Oscar Levant is here as a fellow performer. He seems more ill-at-ease here than usually; this just wasn't the right kind of part for him.
David Wayne is surprisingly good as a song and dance man who, at one time, teamed with Tanguay. Bob Graham is a singer with his eye on Tanguay...but my reaction was Bob who? It's interesting to see George Jessel, as Himself, as the producer of the very film you're watching.
A rather disappointing outing.
To start the framing device of having George Jessel mounting a biography of Eva Tanguay is a wasted and contrived waste of time and should have been scuttled. Then the story such as it is tells you nothing of the real Miss Tanguay.
Mitzi is a talented girl, an excellent dancer and pleasing personality but she is given little too work with but she does wear feathers well. None of the male actors are given characters that make any sense. At least Oscar Levant gives his patented amusingly dry performance and gets a spotlight piano number which is the best thing in the movie. The leading man Bob Graham playing the fictitious Larry Woods is so bland he practically evaporates from the screen and makes no impact in the picture at all.
If you like flashy production numbers, staged by the legendary Jack Cole, than this has plenty to enjoy but if you want narrative structure along with them you won't find that here.
Fox Archives has released this recently along with other older films. Too bad they couldn't include the missing footage as it's very obvious scenes and details to the plot were left out on the 'cutting room floor', so to speak. The musical numbers, for the most part, are very good to excellent, even though they do not belong in the time element of the story. One very strange number, the second I DON'T CARE sequence, has Mizi changing costumes RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ACT, and a character that was long gone, back in the scene. I'm sure this number was supposed to be a 'dream sequence', that would be the only reasonable explanation!!!! What did Mr. Zanack have in mind when he edited this film??? I know he was responsible for all editing of films under his regime. He also ruined the fabulous MM movie, NIAGARA along with sever cuts to THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS. And he was supposed to be a 'movie' person? I think not.
Oscar Levant plays the piano magnificently a few times and David Wayne gives a typically graceful performance in support.
The film tells the story of the making of a film based on Broadway luminary Eva Tanguay.
The dances and the songs centered around the theme of I don't care are marvelously staged.
Wayne appears in and out of the film and his telephone drunk scene was so similar to when he gave up Susan Hayward (Jane Froman) to Rory Calhoun via the phone again the year before in "With A Song in My Heart."
The film tells of different men in her life telling her story with differences that seem to come all together at the end.
There's no sense in breaking the story down by producer George Jessel's attempts to film Eva's story by talking to two of the men who knew her best and trying to find the one she loved for years. David Wayne plays a drunken partner whose career fell apart as hers rose (think of a vaudeville version of "A Star is Born") and Oscar Levant an egotistical producer who claims his version is the truth. Other than the first version of the title song (performed as she ambles up from the stage to a box), the numbers are badly staged, the Ziegfeld Follies reprise of "I Don't Care" seeming more like something Marilyn Monroe would have turned down in present day character than something the real Eva would have done in 1906.
There's not even enough novelty numbers to make this entertaining enough, even though Wayne does get to reprise "This is My Favorite City" which Dan Dailey and Betty Grable had done with more success in "Mother Wore Tights". In fact, there's really little story, and at under 80 minutes, this really never gets a chance to develop Eva as a real character and make her interesting beyond simply being an almost forgotten historical entertainment figure. Mitzi Gaynor does her best in the title role, doing what she's directed to do, but overall this ranks as one of her few disappointments.