Pal Joey (1957)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Musical Romance  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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It took Pal Joey 17 years to get from Broadway to Hollywood, largely because the original source material was a little too racy for filming in 1940. The film still softens the story and characters a bit, but it maintains the tart, snappy flow of the dialogue. Indeed, Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay adds even more of that flip, smooth arrogance to the dialogue, even if structurally it's slightly weak. George Sidney directs in sleek style that perfectly complements the movie's star, Frank Sinatra. It's a classic Sinatra performance, detached and casual, which changes the character from the play's loser trying to play out of his league to someone who -- no matter what the script may say -- can take on anyone that comes his way. But as long as he's singing -- especially archetypal Sinatra songs such as "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "I Could Write a Book" -- such changes don't matter. He's matched by gorgeous Rita Hayworth alternating between fire and ice, and, even though dubbed, making "Zip" a riot and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" steam up the screen. Kim Novak is game, but she doesn't stand much of a chance up against these two. The songs, by Rodgers & Hart, are absolutely first-rate, and they're presented here to their best advantage. Overall, Pal Joey is a stylish and winning musical presented with a great deal of panache.