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USA 1957
Directed by
George Sidney
111 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Pal Joey

Sanitized to conform to '50s production codes, George Sidney's filmed version of the Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart stage musical is mundane to say the least with everything subsumed to the star power of Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth (who got top billing on Sinatra's insistence).

The story is paper-thin and dramatically the range is from A-B and back again. There are however some gilt-edged classic songs  - 'My Funny Valentine', 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered', 'I Didn't Know What Time It Was' and the highlight of this production, a swinging rendition of 'The Lady is a Tramp', a song that Sinatra made very much his own, although the wistful 'Lover, Come Back To Me' is unfortunately left out. Clearly, unlike Ol' Blue Eyes, neither Hayworth nor Novak did their own singing.

I am not a great fan of Sinatra on screen and his character here is particularly annoying in its glibness (the character was turned into a nice guy for the film) and given his skinny, pock-marked appearance he makes for an unlikely ladies man (the role was originally intended for Gene Kelly, so we won some, lost some). Hayworth, in her last film appearance of note, although over-made up, holds her own with the 15 year younger, up-and-coming Novak who in her musical numbers is reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, the role model Columbia had in mind for her.




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