Sunday, January 28, 2007

Torontobloggin': The Girl Can't Help It

For people in Toronto, next week there's a chance to see the work of one of the directors I'm always babbling about.

On Saturday, February 3 at 2:00 p.m., the Toronto Cinematheque will have a screening of the Frank Tashlin film The Girl Can't Help It at Jackman Hall.

Terry Teachout recently wrote about seeing this movie for the first time:

I also watched Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It, the movie that made Jayne Mansfield a star. Not only had I never seen it, but I’d never seen any of Mansfield’s other movies—she was only a name to me—and I found her unexpectedly charming.

This inspired me to take a look at the BBC documentary on Mansfield that airs on Ovation from time to time. To my astonishment, it included a snippet of a Fifties kinescope in which Mansfield can be seen playing the first movement of Vivaldi’s A Minor Violin Concerto, Op. 3, No. 6. (You can view a poor-quality transfer of the same snippet by going here.) This concerto is often played by students—I played it in high school—and though her performance isn’t very good, it isn’t hopelessly bad, either.

How strange that so touchingly earnest a creature should have gone to Hollywood and become a big-chested blonde bombshell! Only in America…

One bit of trivia about this movie that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere: when this project was originally announced in the trades, it was as an adaptation of Garson Kanin's novel Do Re Mi, a satire of the music industry and specifically the jukebox business. The star was to be Bing Crosby. By the time it started filming, Crosby had pulled out and Kanin's story had been completely dumped (he's not even credited in the film); the only thing they kept was the idea of gangsters getting involved in the jukebox racket. A few years later, Kanin adapted Do Re Mi as a Broadway musical, starring Phil Silvers.

Update: Speaking of Silvers, I've heard several people (including the guy on the DVD commentary) insist that he plays the milkman in this scene, but it sure doesn't look like him to me. Maybe a big-screen viewing will settle that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like Silvers, as he appeared in MGM's 1950 "Summer Stock" picture. But is it really him? Seems like a waste of his talent to use him in just one tracking medium shot.