Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Doll Face (1946) Film Review

Plot Summary - Fun forties backstage musical adapted from a play written by Gypsy Rose Lee - about "Doll Face" Carroll (Vivian Blaine), a burlesque queen who is a big hit in the downtown "Gayety Follies" but wants to get into legitimate theater. But during tryouts for an upcoming show being put on by Flo Hartman, a big Broadway producer, her background is discovered and he won't hire her because he's looking for "class". As Mike Hannegan (Dennis O'Keefe), the owner of the burlesque house and Doll Faces's boyfriend, says "She's not just a stripper, she's a personality", so he comes up with a plan - to get her a bit of culture (and publicity) she should write a book! They hire a ghost writer to do the actual writing of her "autobiography" and he's a handsome specimen indeed - and only takes the job when he gets a look at Doll Face, sparking some jealousy on the part of Mike. Soon a Broadway show of their own is in the works, and a misunderstanding that leads to Doll Face leaving burlesque and joining up with Hartman, who now wants her based on her now published book - a hit!

Review - While this film is not the greatest of movie musicals by any means, it is still an enjoyable, fun watch - light fare boosted up by some well done songs performed by a young Perry Como and some entertaining burlesque and dance numbers including several versions of "Somebody's Walkin' in My Dreams", plus "Red, Hot, and Beautiful", "Dig You Later (A-Hubba Hubba Hubba)", and especially Carmen Miranda, barefoot and full of energy, in a fun number "Chico, Chico". Now Carmen Miranda who appears as Chita, Carroll's best gal pal, pretty much steals every scene she is in - she's basically the comedy relief here as she says her one-liners in sequined head pieces and Brazilian accent so thick I had to back up the DVD several times to understand what she said. The DVD includes a deleted scene featuring Miranda performing a burlesque show number "She's Always True to the Navy" while wearing oh so high platform shoes and a lighthouse on top of her head - pretty cool, I wonder why they cut this scene from the final film? I'm not so sure I agree with Doll Face Carroll's choice of Mike for a boyfriend, considering the other man in this is, really, quite hunky - and Mike thinks the way to handle women is to "treat 'em rough" (he even encourages the Perry Como character to give the woman he's been chasing a punch - um!). I did enjoy the flashback to the past watching this, an escape to the forties - with it's clothing, hats, hairstyles, and jive slang - is always fun. The new DVD of this film features a very clear black and white print, with good contrast - looked great. I'm a big fan of musicals - I quite enjoyed this. Rating - 7/10 stars

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