16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"I'm no good ... nobody wants my cigarettes!",
This review is from: Les Girls (DVD)
This film is a treasure. It isn't just a lush, vibrant showcase for minor Cole Porter and major dance routines; it's also a delightful romantic comedy with a clever twist. The one point where I disagree with Amazon's review by Robert Horton is this: the film is a peak outing for director George Cukor. Everyone understands their role perfectly; each actor is well cast and plays well off the others; each gets the most out of a sharply written script.
The film is basically three accounts of the same story (as in Rashomon), each from the obviously self-protecting viewpoint of a different person. You might expect this to be tedious or redundant, but it's skillfully done, with very little repetition, so it's fresh each time. The title of the film comes from a musical/dance revue troupe based in Paris, run by and starring American Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly), and featuring three wonderful and very different women, "Les Girls." Nichols, judging from the three stories, falls in love with each of them. There are strong hints, though, along with some inconsistencies, that suggest none of the stories is the whole truth, and that none is too far from the truth either.
Horton (and others I see) is right to single out Kay Kendall, a beautiful tall thin glass of comedic, vocal and dance talent who would steal the show if the others weren't also at the top of their game. I wonder how much of her drunk scenes was improvised: her take on Bizet's Carmen (which leads to the perfectly tossed-off line I put in my title) is hilarious. She's the only-slightly-proper British corner of the Girls.
The other two Girls, the very French (though actually Finnish) Taina Elg and the All-American Mitzi Gaynor, are also beauties and real all-around talents. The song and dance numbers are great fun, especially the "Ladies in Waiting" romp that the Girls take center stage in. Kelly and Gaynor also have a memorable number, choreographed by Kelly himaself (the rest were done by Tony winner Jack Cole), which is built around a parody of Marlon Brando's motorcycle gang persona from The Wild One.
The costumes and wardrobe live up to the Parisian setting (and the Oscar they won for Edith Head), a pleasure to look at. The orchestrations are full and fun, especially for the Brando parody, with its rich saxes and punchy brasses. The film looks gorgeous on DVD. A great treat.
The main DVD extra is an 8-minute behind-the-scenes piece about the film narrated by a much older and still engaging Taina Elg, well put together and well worth watching. There is also an extended trailer (which informs us twice that "Les Girls" rhymes with "playgirls") and a cute 1954 cartoon short called "The Flea Circus," which concerns a troupe of singing and dancing fleas, not otherwise related to the main feature.