Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Stanwyck struts her stuff

LADY OF BURLESQUE (1943). Director: William A. Wellman.

"Grand opera bring crowds like this into the place? Goils! That's what the public wants!"

Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee's novel "The G-String Murders" was the basis for this movie that takes place in a faded opera house that's been turned into a venue for burlesque performers. Dixie (Barbara Stanwyck) is new but has already become a popular draw  [Stanwyck isn't much of a singer but she still sounds better than Dietrich]. She keeps dodging passes by the persistent Biff (Michael O'Shea) because she's had bad experiences with comics. But both of them have other things on their minds when the snooty Lolita La Verne (Victoria Faust) is found murdered in the dressing room. Charles Dingle plays the police detective who comes to the theater to investigate; Iris Adrian, even more vulgar than usual, is Gee Gee; Stephanie Bachelor is the heavily [and phonily] accented "Princess;" and Gloria Dickson is the heart-broken Dolly, whose secret husband, Russell (Frank Fenton), is one of the worst singers I've ever heard. Pinky Lee and Marion Martin are also in the cast as an unlikely couple. Stanwyck is as good as ever, the other actors are all competent and game, but this trifle isn't particularly compelling as a mystery, hasn't very many laughs, and becomes tiresome long before the conclusion. O'Shea later did the TV series It's a Great Life.

Verdict: Stanwyck is always interesting, but this isn't one of her better vehicles. **.

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