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Heller in Pink Tights

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on a novel by Louis L’Amour and full of witty exchanges and a striking visual style, the film follows a vaudeville troupe that stays one step ahead of the bill collector as it tours the frontier circa 1880. The central premise finds ringleaders Angela Rossini (Loren) and Tom Healy (Quinn) needing a more flamboyant act than normal in order to entertain the citizens of the wild West.

Heller in Pink Tights features a captivating if intriguingly awkward story born of an unusual number of powerful, creative voices behind the camera. The 1960 film's screenplay was co-written by Walter Bernstein (Fail Safe), whose blacklisting following his unfriendly testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee ended the year before with Heller star Sophia Loren's wartime romance, That Kind of Woman. The equally legendary Dudley Nichols (Stagecoach) shared writing credit; Carlo Ponti (Blow-Up), Loren's strong-minded husband, co-produced; and Hollywood Golden Age director George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story) presided over the odd, Louis L'Amour-based Western.

Loren plays Angela Rossini, leading lady in a down-on-its-luck, traveling theatrical company barely held together by founder Tom Healy (a sympathetic but largely miscast Anthony Quinn). Always staying a step ahead of creditors and lawmen, the troupe stops in a Wyoming town where a hired gunman, Mabry (Steve Forrest), "wins" the reckless Angela, who has long had a romance with Healy, in a poker game. Determined to keep her even as he eludes assassins, Mabry attaches himself to the dispirited Healy's company as it rides through dangerous Indian territory. The final act finds all the principals battling their way to a resolution behind the scenes of a play at a theater Angela has built for Tom with money she stole from Mabry. It's all a little clunky, but Cukor ensures a certain vitality in the proceedings, moves comfortably between striking shifts of comedy to intense drama, makes Loren look great, and exposes--to an unexpected degree--a psychological bond between Angela and Mabry. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Margaret O'Brien, Steve Forrest, Eileen Heckart
  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Writers: Dudley Nichols, Louis L'Amour, Walter Bernstein
  • Producers: Carlo Ponti, Lewis E. Ciannelli, Marcello Girosi
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007Y08TC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,057 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Heller in Pink Tights" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on December 2, 2005
Format: DVD
An odd western adapted - loosely - from a Louis L'Amour novel (Heller With a Gun,) directed by Academy Award winning director George Cukor (My Fair Lady copped the Oscar in 1964,) who was better known for more sophisticated, urban fare (Cukor directed Katharine Hepburn in nine movies,) HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS doesn't fit into any easy categories. It's the story of a traveling acting troupe in the old west, headed by Tom Healy (Anthony Quinn) and featuring the lovely Angela Rossini (Sophia Loren.)

Angela Rossini is based on a San Francisco actress named Adah Bertha Theodore, a legendary beauty who was known to the world, as one San Franciscan writer had it, as "the notorious, glamorous, beautiful, and infamous `Mazeppa'." Tom Healy is loosely based on her husband. One of them, anyway. A musician named Alexander Isaac Menken. A scene from `Mazeppa,' the show-stopping scene in which pink-tights clad Angela is strapped to a horse that gallops across the theater, is recreated in the movie. Exciting stuff, even if it's pretty obvious when they cut to the stunt double. In fact, the best stuff in this movie is the behind-the-scenes look at 19th century frontier theater.

I only know what the internet tells me about Adah Menken and the plot of Louis L'Amour's novel. Adah's beauty was legendary, and Loren is a good fit on that score. The movie's plot, which forces the troupe to stay one town ahead of their creditors, is, well, a little forced. Angela/Loren charms some of the flubbered and flustered town bankers into buying her a dress now and then, but the midnight escapes continue. Steve Forrest plays Clint Mabry, a hired gun who wins a little more than Angela should have gambled in a desperate poker game.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Russell C. Longmire on June 20, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an offbeat western that has always had a special place in my heart. They do not make them like this any more! The Healy Theatrical Troup travels the west dodging creditors, indians, and outlaws between giving performances that wow the audiences of small western towns. The scenery is picturesque. The acting is terrific. Quinn is great as the sensitive actor who leads the troup and loves Sophia (who doesnt). Steve Forrest is the outlaw who wins Sophia in a poker game and tags along to "protect his investment". And Sophia is at her best in a comedy that showplaces her strong points. Her early comedies have always been my favorites. It is a humorous well thought out piece that was long overdue coming out on dvd. Bravo!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 14, 2005
Format: DVD
Entertaining western comedy with the ever-lovely Sophia Loren. Anthony Quinn has a great role as Tom Healy, the manager of a touring Western theatrical troupe who is always trying to keep his star actress Angela Rossini (Loren) under control.

Colourful tale based on the novel "Heller with a Gun" by Louis L'Amour, deftly-directed by George Cukor (whose background in theatre served him in good stead in this backstage-flavoured story). As usual, Edith Head comes up trumps with her costumes (especially for the show-within-the-show). With Margaret O'Brien, Eileen Heckart and Steve Forrest. No extras but the 16:9 transfer should appease fans of this gem.
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Format: DVD
Often regarded as little more than a curiosity or a footnote to George Cukor's career after he disowned the studio's cut, Heller in Pink Tights turns out to be something of a gorgeously produced delight. Following Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren's travelling theatre company as they skip from old west town to town with their creditors and/or Indians in hot pursuit, it's in many ways more period backstage comedy than comedy western. Quinn is the impresario and Loren his flighty leading lady, the rest of the troupe made up of Edmund Lowe's ageing Shakespearian ("As a young actor I used to worry about my voice holding out. Now it's my kidneys"), Eileen Heckart and Margaret O'Brien as the mother-and-daughter act, with mother constantly trying to keep her daughter a mere 16 and emphasising that she was a mere baby when she had her, and Loren in a blonde wig as the flighty leading lady. When we meet them they're already on the run for the State Line to avoid one writ after she's run up a huge tailor's bill she can't pay, and things don't get much better for them when they reach Cheyenne, the kind of town when you can shoot a man but you can't make fun of marriage in a comic opera. It's there that, trying to ensure they at least have some money when they skip town, Loren loses her entire pot in a card game with Steve Forrest's hired gun - which is doubly unfortunate, since she put herself up as part of the stake. When they do their inevitable runner, he follows to claim his prize, and the money he's owed by Ramon Navarro's businessman for killing some troublesome miners. But Navarro wants to save some money by killing Forrest and Quinn is unaware of the bet...Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kay's Husband on January 9, 2008
Format: DVD
As you can tell from the other reviews, this is a film loosely, very loosely, based on one of Louis L'Amour's early western novels. I imagine the only enjoyment Louis derived from this film was the money received in exchange for using his book.

The book was published in 1955, and the book's title was Heller With A Gun, not the title of this film. The book languished in paperback from Fawcett Gold Medal mass market books for years before Bantam republished it in 1984, 20 years after being put on film. But in the book King Mabry follows the theatrical wagons after Healy has hired a killer as guide, on a hunch Mabry then follows behind the wagons assuming a 'guardian angel' role. Much different in most respects than the silver screen would have it.

For readers of Mr. L'Amour's book this film will seem very strange as the book is at its best a more serious work, however, the film, since it takes a more frivolous approach, can also be of interest. If for no other reason than with all these first rate actors now being either very old or very dead, a nostolgic air of sorts clings to it, and only the most 'die hard' L'Amour fans will find it objectionable.

Do what I did: read the book and see the movie, both in their own way are very enjoyable entertainment.

Semper Fi.
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