review for Verna: USO Girl on AllMovie

Verna: USO Girl (1978)
by Bruce Eder review

There's a great deal good about the acting in Verna: USO Girl -- good enough to transcend its television origins and make it worth repeated viewing. And it starts with Howard Da Silva's portrayal of the impresario trying to organize a USO troupe, reacting to the audition of the title character in the opening scene. It extends through Sally Kellerman's understated performance as a veteran performer and Da Silva's hard-edged associate, and into Sissy Spacek's beguiling charm as that title character, an ugly duckling of a showgirl who hopes to make it by sheer determination. And the thoughtfulness and care of this production extends right down to the clever visual trickery done with the opening credits that draw us into this endearing mix of war story and backstage drama. This is the kind of piece on which PBS built its modern reputation for excellence, drawing on a mix of talent old (Howard Da Silva, original author Paul Gallico) and new (Sissy Spacek, William Hurt), and weaving it all together seamlessly.