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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pal Joey (1957)

A down and out singer (Frank Sinatra) finds himself penniless in San Francisco and cons his way into a job in a seedy nightclub. It isn't long before he attracts the attention of a wealthy socialite (Rita Hayworth) and he joins forces with her to open his own nightclub. Based on the 1940 Broadway musical (which made Gene Kelly a star) with a book by John O'Hara and the songs by Rodgers & Hart. The film version, directed by George Sidney (THE HARVEY GIRLS), makes substantial changes including ditching much of the original songs and replacing them with better known Rodgers & Hart standards. It also cleans up the character of Joey, who is a total heel in the stage musical but the film gives him a conscience and the movie a happy ending. If there is one stage musical that needs to be remade properly, it's PAL JOEY. That being said, there's much to enjoy in this bowdlerized version, namely Sinatra. When he sings I Could Write A Book or The Lady Is A Tramp, you know what bliss is. Kim Novak's performance is awkward but there's a sweetness about her that overrides that but Hayworth seems ill at ease in a role that would seem to fit her like a glove. With Barbara Nichols, Bobby Sherwood, Hank Henry and Betty Utey.

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