Sinatra knocks 'em dead in... Pal Joey (1957)

Joey Evans was a role Bob Fosse coveted. An insincere womanizer, Joey is a drifter, forced to search for nightclub job after nightclub job, not because he doesn't have talent but because he constantly racks up debts or pisses off his bosses. Cynical and hardened, Joey Evans was the part of a lifetime for Fosse -- hell, he practically was Fosse.

Pal Joey premiered in 1940, with many revivals popping up after its original run. One such revival occurred in the early 1950's, which cast a young (but not inexperienced) Fosse as the understudy for Joey. Hollywood quickly came calling, and the dancer was whisked into one MGM musical after the other, proving himself as a great talent in 1953 alone with Give a Girl a Break, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, and Kiss Me, Kate. Stuck in the supporting cast, though, was certainly not Fosse's style -- he wanted to be the next Fred Astaire, a man he idolized since childhood. The irony is that he was more like Gene Kelly than Astaire, a fitting comparison when you consider that Kelly was the guy who originated Joey Evans.

Pal Joey was one of the first shows to let the male lead be an antihero instead of a good guy that the audience has no problem cheering for. Joey Evans wasn't a straight-up villain, but he wasn't someone you would take home to meet the family either. The songs were written by the fabulous Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, who provided sexually suggestive lyrics alongside beautiful melodies. The show was a wonderful vehicle for Kelly as well; he would soon leave it once MGM offered him a contract that began with For Me and My Gal, a picture that made him co-stars with the already-legendary Judy Garland. Famously, Pal Joey's original chorus also boasted Van Johnson and Stanley Donen, future Kelly collaborators and well-known in their own right.

Columbia's studio head Harry Cohn sought to transfer Pal Joey to the screen for years until something finally stuck in 1957. The list of Cohn's cast ideas are certainly interesting -- over 17 years, possible stars included: Irene Dunne, Gloria Swanson, Ethel Merman, and Mae West for
the part of Vera Simpson, and James Cagney, Cary Grant, and Marlon Brando for Joey. Of course, Kelly was Cohn's first choice, but Louis B. Mayer asked for too much money to release his star to a rival studio. Oddly enough, over the years Rita Hayworth was always considered for the role of Linda English... until 1957. By then, Columbia had Kim Novak, an actress who began as an imitation Marilyn Monroe and wound up removing Hayworth as the queen of the lot. Rita became Vera Simpson, while Pal Joey became her swan song for Columbia. Meanwhile, Bob Fosse saw the film as his last chance in Hollywood -- if he didn't get Joey Evans now, his desire to be Astaire's successor would be shot to pieces. Although by 1957 he was a Tony-winning choreographer for The Pajama Game, Pal Joey still had a hold on him. Cohn barely gave Fosse a thought, instead seeing big box office by casting Frank Sinatra, a man who was at his absolute peak professionally. The closest Fosse ever came to immortalizing Joey Evans was in an off-Broadway production in 1963.

Why the interest in Fosse, you're wondering? Glad you asked. Pal Joey is a great favorite of mine, as well as my #1 Sinatra film, so finding out any background to it is fun for me. The Fosse connection is a little heartbreaking, exemplifying how Hollywood could embrace some stars but not others. Bob Fosse coulda been a contender, his film career always representing a giant "What if?" to me. I have no doubt that Pal Joey would have been a major breakthrough for the guy, showing us all that he could be the leading man with a song and dance ready to go at a moment's notice.

But as Betty Garrett declared to a nervous Sinatra in Take Me Out to the Ball Game, "it's fate, baby, it's fate" that Ol' Blue Eyes was given the chance to be Joey Evans. While he may have already been an established star for over a decade, Pal Joey solidified what an incredible talent and icon he was. Quite simply, it is the culmination of Sinatra's hard work, his magnificent voice combined with his sensational acting creating a performance anyone would be proud to have in their resume. And honestly, who could play a cad better than Frank?

We begin in a dicey situation -- Joey is escorted out of town and forced on a train after he was found with the mayor's underage daughter. Yep, this is our hero. As the credits roll, Joey makes his way to San Francisco, a city just dying to welcome the nightclub singer into its fold. Ha, not really. Not finding luck anywhere because he isn't a busty chorus girl, Joey tries the Barbary Coast Club and finds his old buddy Ned (Bobby Sherwood) leading the band. Ned isn't too keen to help Joey, though, especially since the guy owes him money.

No worries, Joey will just have to make his own luck. He watches a snippet of the floor show, which is basically half-naked women strutting around and singing. Seeing the opportunity to snag himself a job as MC, Joey jumps on stage and performs "I Didn't Know What Time It Was."
The manager, Joe (Hank Henry), isn't amused, particularly when he's told that the man who hijacked his stage is the notorious troublemaker Joey Evans, but he can't deny that Evans has talent, reluctantly giving him a job. Even better for Joey is the cute "mouse" in the chorus line, Linda English (Novak).

The fact that she's casually dating Ned doesn't bother him in the least, of course. Intrigued by the golden-voiced MC, Linda joins Ned and Joey in the kitchen after the show. Joey's inability to remember her name and his arrogant demeanor is more than enough to annoy Linda. Ned invites her and Joey to perform with his band at a charity event that night at socialite Vera Simpson's (Hayworth) house.
 Widowed, glamorous, and impeccably coiffed, Joey is intrigued by Vera. Clearly attracted, he croons "There's a Small Hotel" as he refuses to take his eyes off of Vera. The sensuality of the scene radiates off the screen, and you know that although she's playing it cool, Vera is at the very least curious. Joey asks Ned why Vera seems familiar. "She used to be Vera Vanessa." "Oh yeah, now I remember. Vanessa the Undress-a. Guess I didn't recognize her with her clothes on." Now the chase is more interesting.

Later that night, during the auction part of the event, Joey announces to the guests that Vera will perform one of her old numbers for them. Annoyed but unashamed of her past, she obliges with "Zip," only removing her gloves ("Put the Blame on Mame" reference?). Going through with the number only endears her more to Joey, but she's not amused, putting him in his place when he tries to join her guests in dinner: "Just a minute, my presumptuous friend. The help is being served in the kitchen."

Don't think that means Joey is deterred, far from it. He knows he's got Vera in the palm of his hand... but we don't know that yet. Ned and Joey drop Linda off at her apartment, where Joey notices there is a room available to rent. He's able to sweet-talk the landlady into giving him the room that night, and tricks her into deferring payment until a later date. Conveniently, he finds his new digs are next to Linda's, with a shared bathroom in between them.
So far, their relationship is what I would call prickly. Joey has no problem flaunting his attraction to Linda, but she's guarded after bearing witness to his egotism and intense womanizing. It doesn't help that his immoral ways consistently prove to work for him when they shouldn't. At the club, all of the chorines are wrapped around his finger, doing his laundry and cooking for him. Only the bitterly sassy Gladys (Barbara Nichols) is unfazed, she and Joey trading brutal barbs whenever their paths cross. Linda
 pretends that she's immune, and I think for the most part she is, but then Joey brings her on stage and puts his arms around her as he sings "I Could Write a Book" and Linda feels herself melting. Who could blame her with Joey's piercing blue eyes burning into her and his flawless baritone crooning in her ear? Leave it to him, though, to end the spell when they get offstage. "How does it feel to work with the star?" he asks, her smile fading.


Living next to each other doesn't make the situation any better. One day during her bubble bath, Joey asks through the door if she wants to go get dinner. Hesitantly, she says yes. On their way to the restaurant, they see a cute little dog in a pet store window, a dog they had bonded over briefly a few scenes ago.
Still trying to work Linda, Joey lies and says he used to have a dog just like that named Snuffy. Linda acts like she buys the sob story and insists that Joey buy this dog instead of spending his paycheck on buying her dinner. Point to Linda. Joey isn't thrilled at first, but he can't resist the adorable pet for long. It's an interesting parallel: Joey and Snuffy, Linda and Joey. There's a thesis paper in there somewhere.

Ever since that night at Vera's, Joey has been promising Mike that any day now, Vera will come to the club, hopefully bringing in a classier clientele by talking up the place to her high-falutin' friends. One evening, it seems like everything is still going Joey's way when Mrs. Simpson actually does show, with a group of friends in tow. Joey glibly greets her and talks up his career -- he's just working here to help out a friend -- but hearing his life story isn't why Vera is here. Oh no, she wants revenge for embarrassing her at the
party, so she announces that she and her friends were slumming it for fun and they abruptly leave.

Fed up, Mike wants to fire Joey, who makes him a deal: if he can't get Vera to come back by Saturday, he'll quit, but if she does show up, he gets a raise. He then tries a different tact on Vera by going to her house, informing her that her joke cost him his job, and telling her that he was simply interested in her "M-U-N-Y, money."

A few days pass and it's Saturday. The club is closed and Vera was a no-show, so Joey is now unemployed. Feeling sorry for him, Linda expresses her sympathies and accepts his invitation to dinner. But wait, there's a knock at the club's door! Yep, Vera has arrived, dressed to the nines in soft orange. (Should redheads wear orange? Discuss.)
The more I watch Pal Joey, the more I realize that Joey's huge ego isn't completely unfounded. Women do fall at his feet. He is a great singer. His plans do work out, for the most part. He either has insane luck or off-the-charts charm, probably both. When Vera sits down to watch Joey perform a number, you think it'll be something wildly romantic to complete Joey's seduction and ensure Vera's patronage. But no, this guy has the guts to cockily sing "The Lady is a Tramp," not even trying to soften the song's content as he blatantly calls Vera a tramp. Her reaction shots are filled with
disapproval, while Mike is having a heart attack at Joey's insult.

Joey has zero chance at keeping his job, right? Obviously you haven't been paying attention, because Vera's scowl slowly turns into a smile as she lets Joey charm her. Instead of walking out in a huff, she joins him for some slow dancing once his number is over and coos "Come now, beauty" when she's ready to leave with him.

In his book Sinatra in Hollywood, Tom Santopietro is crazy for this scene, gushing that "Like any true artist, Sinatra delivers the unexpected, putting across what is usually an uptempo finger-snapper with true lyrical depth, making love to Vera through the song... The song keeps gathering momentum, layer upon layer, image upon image, until Vera is totally seduced, right along with the audience. Best of all, when Sinatra reaches the penultimate lines -- 'She's broke, but it's oke' -- he leaves out the rhyme, joyfully swinging 'She's broke' and then expressing the nonforthcoming rhyme with an insouciant yet joy-filled shrug of his shoulders that tells you Joey has it all under control. It's a startling, original moment... Forget the rest of the film and Sinatra's great performance -- for this sequence alone, he fully deserved his Golden Globe Award as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical." Watch the clip above and see if you agree with Mr. Santopietro. Also, if you're a fan of Sinatra and enjoy his movies or want to get a better appreciation of them, I recommend Sinatra in Hollywood highly. It goes through his filmography movie by movie, and while it's more opinion-based than I would like, its focus on Frank's acting is admirable and very welcome.

Back to the picture. Vera takes Joey to her yacht, which of course is named after her. The scene is a power play on Vera's part, her reminder to Joey that she has what he wants: M-U-N-Y, remember? He may be able to sing prettily, but she could crush him if she wanted to -- hell, she already got him fired and almost sent him out of town.

The dynamic between Joey and Vera is almost dangerous, both of them stubborn and
confident and always convinced that they have the upper hand. In reality, though, they're terrified. Vera loved her husband but now she's left alone with only superficial friends to keep her company. Joey is dying for the chance to prove that he's a success instead of feeling like a hack performing in cheap clubs. He confides in Vera that he'd love to open a nightclub and be his own boss.
It's a moment of vulnerability that he has to undermine when Vera says that her husband has been dead for two years and he replies that "two years is a long time between drinks." Her slap just spurs him on and they share a heated kiss that the censors make the film fade out on. But we all know what happened after that smooch.

And if we didn't, the next scene makes it obvious as Vera wakes up in a negligee with a big smile on her face à la Scarlett O'Hara. Rolling in the bed and suggestively arching her back, Vera sings "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," a number that's supposed to be about Joey's prowess in bed but because of the censors it becomes more vague. She could be singing about her lust for Joey, or she could be realizing that she's falling in love with him.
For a film as cynical as Pal Joey, I would say it's the former. She found a guy who could, um, satisfy her and she's thrilled about it. The fact that she keeps lounging around during the song recalls what she was doing the previous night. Hayworth looks ravishing, as always, but to confine her to her looks is a detriment to the caliber of her talent. She was a tremendous actress and Pal Joey is a fine example of it.
Walking around a room with a dreamy-eyed look could be cloying, but Rita does it with wit and charm. "Bewitched" ends with Vera jumping in the shower, so "sensual" is definitely an adjective I must employ too. To see proof that Hayworth could command the screen, or if you just want to see a ridiculously constructed shower, click here.


Over at Joey's, he tells Linda that he's moving out of the apartment and into Vera's yacht. Plus, he's taking the whole staff at the Barbary Coast Club and moving them to his new nightclub up on classy Nob Hill. Linda can't hide her disdain for Joey getting mixed up with Vera, but ironically he sees this as his shot at freedom so Linda's feelings will just have to be shrugged off. Signalling that he's really losing his autonomy rather than gaining it, Joey gives Linda Snuffy, who they
basically co-parented.

Driving up to his club and seeing the words "Chez Joey" in neon convinces him that his sacrifices are worth it... except that they aren't. Within seconds we see that Joey has only put himself into a smaller cage. Vera supervises his every move, even dictating what clothes he wears.

Everyone at the club knows who the real boss is,
making for a rather tense atmosphere. When Vera enters the room, you can practically hear the characters holding their breath as they embarrassingly watch Joey's dignity get chipped away. When she witnesses Joey talking to Linda after rehearsals, things get worse. Joey dismisses Linda as one of the "mice," his derogatory term for the chorus girls, but Vera is no dummy.

Her insecurity is confirmed when Joey gives Linda "My Funny Valentine" for the floor show. It's the most elegant number at the club and a great showcase for whoever gets to sing it. Seeing Joey be unable to look away from Linda as she rehearses, Vera orders him to fire her. Considering she's bankrolling the club, he can't exactly refuse, but he can't follow through on it either.


So, instead of standing up to Vera, he tries to get Linda to quit by taking away "My Funny Valentine" and giving her the strip routine -- after all, she's "the best-built mouse in the joint and we might as well take advantage of it." Angry, Linda calls Joey out for his cowardice and storms away after telling him he should name the club after Vera.

Later that night, Joey is relaxing on his yacht when a
very drunk Linda pops up. She accepts the stripping job and, to confuse Joey even more, she passionately kisses him before passing out. She wakes up the next morning mortified and hungover, but grateful that Joey was a gentleman and didn't try anything. They kiss again and Linda says she will still go through with the stripping, as long as it was Joey's idea and not Vera's.

From the way I see it, Linda shouldn't agree to do the number at all. It's degrading and so out-of-character. Does she do it just to be at the club with Joey? There has to be a better way to stay close to him than this. Her decision never sits right with me, but maybe that's the point. Watching her uncomfortably do the number, losing more and more clothes while everyone leers, is distressing, especially for Joey who yells for her to stop before she can take off her corset.

His interference comes as a huge relief, as neither him nor us can stand to see Linda do something so demeaning. "I shouldn't have let you do it," he tells her in her dressing room. "Fix your face and put on a dress. We're going to do a love song." Joey's protest infuriates Vera and once again she wants that "mouse" gone. If Joey refuses, she'll close the club.
Unable to compromise his integrity for maybe the first time in his life, Joey declares that he's his own man and he won't defer to Vera anymore. The club is closed down before it even opens and Joey is forced to put his dream on hold again. Remember the good old days when he used to always get what he wanted?

Linda goes to Vera's to try and fix things, claiming that there's been nothing between her and Joey, which is at best a half-truth. The women couldn't be more different, Linda exhibiting unwavering faith in Joey and Vera always expecting the worst. "Joey's better than you think! He's better than he thinks!" "Nobody's better than he thinks!" Vera sees Joey and Linda's platonic relationship as more threatening than a consummated one, citing Joey's discomfort at her undressing as an example of his strong feelings.
Vera will consider opening the club, but only if Linda leaves town, which she agrees to.

At the yacht, Joey is packing his clothes, deliberately leaving out the monogrammed ones from Vera, who appears to tell Joey that she'll give him back the club, and even floats him the idea of marriage. "I've got a big flash for you, Mrs. Simpson. You and me ain't going nowhere... I'm doing you a big favor. It'll take more than a gold band and a two-bit license to make an
honest man out of a bum like me."

Genuinely upset, Vera leaves. Joey goes to look at the club one more time and fantasizes his struggle between Vera and Linda in "What Do I Care for a Dame?" Pal Joey is filled with strong performances, but this one falls a little flat.
We've been seeing Joey stuck between the two women for most of the picture, so this number doesn't add anything new to plot, except for Kim Novak's horrendous hair extensions. I normally hesitate to say that a musical number could be cut, but "What Do I Care for a Dame?" could have used the scissors. It was actually supposed to be a more elaborate number with more dancing from the ladies (Novak worked especially hard to look good next to Hayworth, who had danced all her life). I'm not sure why they cut it down.

With his suitcase in hand, Joey silently says goodbye to his club and begins walking away. Across the street, we see Vera's car drive up and Linda gets out with Snuffy. Joey tells her to scram, claiming that he's no good for her. "Well, look, you asked me to do a love song with you. What are you trying to do, crawl out of it? I thought we were pretty good together." "Are you out of your mind or something? You know what you'd be letting yourself in for? I'd probably brush you off before we got to the station. Why don't you beat it?" She keeps walking with him, though, and ignores his pleas for her to leave until he can't take it anymore and they kiss. "I could use a girl in my act, give it a little class." "Well, how about my billing?" "Well, it'll be Joey Evans and Linda English." "How about Joey and Linda Evans? It's shorter." They then happily walk arm in arm towards a sunset.

This ending was certainly not the original one from the stage show, which found Joey all alone as he moved on to the next town. The Production Code was still in effect and they toned down much of the film's content, including sanitizing song lyrics. Surprisingly, much of the score was transferred to the movie, with four other Rodgers and Harts tunes added in: "My Funny Valentine," "There's a Small Hotel," "I Didn't Know What Time it Was," and "The Lady is a Tramp."

Pal Joey boasts one of the strongest musical scores I've ever heard. Its soundtrack was one of the first I found when I started buying vinyl records, and it seriously felt like I uncovered gold. Sinatra was at his best, and while I wish I could say that Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak sang their own songs, they didn't. What frustrates me is that Hayworth actually had a good voice, so why the studios never let her use it is beyond me. She was dubbed by Jo Ann Greer, and Novak was dubbed by Trudi Erwin. Although the voices aren't there, the ladies' presences are and that's what makes their numbers memorable for me.

An infamous aspect of this film is that Frank Sinatra deferred top billing to Rita Hayworth as a sign of respect. In his words, "For years, she was Columbia Pictures!" While that's sweet, ageist Hollywood reared its head by casting Rita as Sinatra's older paramour although she was three years younger than him, a fact that rightfully bothered the actress. Regardless of that, I think Rita was spot-on casting. Vera is sexy and experienced, just like the woman who played her. She was glad to get Pal Joey for one simple reason: she wanted out of her contract to Columbia and this picture would fulfill it. It was also her final musical, after such hits as Cover Girl and Down to Earth.

Pal Joey was the second film to pair Kim Novak and Frank Sinatra, the first being 1955's The Man with the Golden Arm. Novak is a polarizing actress, I've found. Everyone seems to agree that Vertigo was her best performance, while everything else she did was awful. I couldn't disagree more. Something about the actress fascinates me -- she always had a heartbreaking aura around her, it just makes me want to give her a hug. From interviews I've seen her give, she's a very sensitive and vulnerable person, pouring a lot of herself into her acting. I guess that's why I feel like I have to constantly defend her -- an attack on her acting is like an attack on her as a person. I enjoy her work in Pal Joey, in other words.

Watching the film for this post, I was struck by the magnitude of shots that focus on Joey's gaze. His concentration on looking at women is almost unsettling in its potency, but then he'll give a little smile or raise an eyebrow and it becomes wildly attractive. It takes a charismatic actor to pull this off, and Sinatra more than meets the challenge. When his baby blues look at you, you stay looked at.
But what's also great about this characteristic is when it is applied to Linda. In many scenes, the couple miss making eye contact. On Linda's part, it's on purpose. She doesn't want to admit her feelings for this cocky jerk, particularly since she seems perplexed by them herself. At the beginning, her looks are to appraise Joey. She refuses to let him catch her glances because they would stroke his ego. Towards the end, they're more loving as she worries about him and the path he's going down with Vera.

For Joey, his staring is more primal and carnal... at first. He's never afraid to let Linda meet his gaze -- really, he invites it. As the film goes on, his looking is still sensual, but now it comes from a place of love rather than lust. Well, there's still some lust, this is Joey after all. But sleeping with Linda no longer becomes the end-all-be-all. When he watches her perform "My Funny Valentine," he appears pensive and maybe even slightly confused at his newfound feelings. He even
cracks a warm smile once or twice.

The next time he watches Linda perform, it's the strip number. If this had been in the movie's first hour, Joey would have been more than happy to ogle the beautiful blonde. Now, though, he is unable to sit still. He tries looking everywhere but the stage until he reaches his breaking point.

Director George Sidney zooms in uncomfortably close to Sinatra's face when he demands that she stop and he moves out of the camera's frame as if he doesn't want the audience to look at him during this low point. When he goes to Linda's dressing room to check on her, her embarrassment keeps her from looking at him and she cries.
Joey gently takes her face in his hands and forces her to look him in the eyes for once. Funnily enough, Pal Joey's most tender moment stems from a woman stripping, marking a turning point in Joey and Linda's relationship, as well as a sign of Joey's transformation into a decent guy.

Pal Joey may lack the bite its stage predecessor had, but it's far from the likes of classic Hollywood's sunny musicals. Santopietro nails it when he writes that "director Sidney and screenwriter [Dorothy] Kingsley establish a realistic, somewhat seedy backstage atmosphere, complete with hardboiled chorines who talk at the same time they're chomping down on celery, all the while exchanging barbs with Joey that are not in the least bit affectionate. Just like Joey, these dames have been around the block a few dozen times."

In regards to the character of Joey, Santopietro scoffs at the studio's effort at softening up Joey by adding in Snuffy, saying that despite that, "Sinatra never stoops to begging for audience approval of the 'gee, Joey's not really such a bad guy' school. He's always got his eye on the horizon for his next opportunity... Only Sinatra's charm -- the vulnerability an audience always sensed in him, no matter how rotten the character -- enables Joey to generate any audience sympathy."

A fun, interesting film, Pal Joey is the best example of the Sinatra persona. If you ever needed to introduce someone to the work of Frank Sinatra, either his acting career or his singing one, this film is your one-stop shop. It's available on Netflix Instant right now, along with other fantastic Sinatra films in honor of his 100th birthday. There's sure to be one you'll enjoy!











With love,
Michaela

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I'm ecstatic to say that this post is part of the Sinatra Centennial Blogathon, celebrating the one and only Francis Albert Sinatra for his 100th birthday, which is December 12th. If you want to read my birthday post for Sinatra last year, you can click here. Happy birthday, Frank!

Comments

  1. Great review and pictures. I guess the biggest difference between Gene Kelly's Broadway performance and the film with Sinatra would be the emphasis shifting from Kelly's dancing to Frank's singing. I love the Rodgers & Hart score. Terrific songs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that score just wonderful? While it would have been fascinating to see Gene Kelly in the film version, considering that Cohn wanted him in the early 1940's, the Production Code really would have tampered down the material a lot, I think more so than this 1957 version. Plus, it's kind of cool that Kelly's buddy Sinatra got the part in the end, and it's a major boon for us the audience to see such a marriage between a characters and its actor.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. Wow, fantastic piece, Michaela - thanks so much for this wonderful contribution to the birthday blogathon. Although Gene Kelly didn't get to re-create the part on film, 'An American in Paris' does owe a lot to 'Pal Joey', with his character torn between the older and younger woman. Anyway, must agree with you that Sinatra is perfectly cast here and that the soundtrack is fantastic.

    I also agree that Novak deserves a lot more credit than she seems to get - I recently saw 'Kiss Me, Stupid' on the big screen and thought she was very good in that. Anyway, you've made me want to see this again as soon as possible"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not a big fan of Kiss Me, Stupid, but I thought Novak did a great job. I never made that connection with An American in Paris, but you're right. Man, wouldn't that be an interesting double feature? Thanks again for having such a great blogathon topic -- can't wait to read the other entries!

      Delete
  3. Excellent article. Frank hit it out of the park. I understand your feelings about Novak and echo them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear there's another person in Novak's corner! One of these days I'd like to write a post dedicated to her. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I love the costumes in this film, and think Rita Hayworth was a perfect casting choice. I can see why she'd be miffed about playing a woman older than Frank, but she's SO GOOD in this role.

    Overall, I'm not a huge fan of this film, but you've given me lots to think about the next time I see it. However, I enjoyed your review very much. Thanks for sharing all the background info, especially the connection with Bob Fosse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure! Pal Joey can be an acquired taste, I know, so if I gave you a new perspective in any way, I'm thrilled. I'm happy to know that you enjoy Rita! She was fabulous, and she's certainly a plus for the film.

      Delete
  5. This was a great review, and I also loved the look into the film's history. It's always interesting to think about what certain films could've been like had different choices for the leads been used instead of the ones we're familiar with. Antiheroes can also be more fun to watch sometimes than obvious good guys, since their characters are more complex and they have to work harder to earn audience sympathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I like antiheroes once in a while, and they can be interesting if they're played well enough. That's why Sinatra's Joey Evans is so great -- he's portraying the guy as straight as he can without looking at the audience and saying "Please like this guy! He's actually decent!" He lets us come to this realization at the same time that his character does.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  6. I love Pal Joey as well, and even though adoring Sinatra, I can't stop thinking what it would have been if Bob Fosse had starred. The only time I saw him on film was in The Little Prince, doing the "snake" performance, and I was impressed with his body control - a Fred Astaire disciple, no doubt!
    And I agree that Pal Joey is great to introduce people to Sinatra! It is difficult to imagine Gene Kelly and an anti-hero.
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Kisses!
    Le
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt Pal Joey would be very different if Bob Fosse was the lead. That dance in The Little Prince is a great example of Fosse's style. If you're interested in seeing more of his work, I would definitely check out "From This Moment On" from Kiss Me, Kate (a small but important step in his career) and the alley dance in 1955's My Sister Eileen. I'm sure there are many examples online, but those two are my favorites. At some point I need to write about Fosse's early Hollywood career -- there's some interesting stuff!

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete

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