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

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Mamie Van Doren and Paul Anka
GIRLS TOWN (1959). Director: Charles F. Haas.

Now here's a weird one. Busty Silver Morgan  (Mamie Van Doren) is accused of killing a guy and sent to "Girls Town," which is not a reform school but a home for young ladies who have gotten in trouble with the law and which is run by nuns! There she meets Mother Veronica (Margaret Hayes of House of Women); Vida (Gloria Talbott); tall, gawky Flo (Peggy Moffitt); and Serafina (Gigi Perreau), who has a semi-demented crush on singer Jimmy Parlow (Paul Anka). Talbott practices judo on Van Doren when the latter gets out of line, and Anka delivers a punch to fellow singer/cast member Mel Torme who is, incredibly, cast as a leather jacket-clad borderline thug who goes drag racing at one point! Torme does not sing, but Anka does his "Lonely Boy" and, unfortunately, takes a pitiful stab at "Ave Maria." He fares much better, however, than Cathy Crosby, who makes little impression as the "girl singer." Other cast members include Sheila Graham, who barely appears as another nun; and offspring Jim Mitchum, Harold Lloyd Jr.,( who is killed off early) and Charles Chaplin Jr., who only have minor roles. Elinor Donahue [Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare] of Father Knows Best shows off serious acting chops as Silver's younger sister; Van Doren is Van Doren. Anka and Torme give adequate performances. The Platters sing one number, but for some inexplicable reason the lead singer's face is never shown -- we only see his hands and his back! The orchestra leader Ray Anthony plays a private eye investigating Van Doren. She and Torme were both in The Big Operator with Mickey Rooney.

Verdict: You won't want to miss a single second, but maybe you should miss it anyway. **.


Gary R. said...

Does Paul Anka resemble a young Harvey Keitel throughout the course of the movie, or just in that particular shot you used?

Co-stars Mamie Van Doren and Ray Anthony were married in 1955, but divorced the same year GIRLS TOWN was released.

angelman66 said...

Paul Anka and Mel Torme with Mamie Van Doren? Need to see this one for sure!
Mamie was very active on her Facebook page until recently; I hope she is still in there pitching; she just turned 87!! We don't have Marilyn or Jayne or Diana Dors, but we do have Mamie and Carroll Baker still holding the blond bombshell torch!


William said...

Gary, I didn't get any Harvey Keitel vibes from Anka in the movie, but they are very, very different types. I didn't realize that Mamie and Ray were married.

Chris, I'm glad to hear that Baker is still around. Mamie Van Doren is 87 -- wow! I hope she makes it to 90. Even as a senior she was still pretty sexy.