The Helen Morgan Story
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From the moment the film begins to unreel with its Broadway marquee titles you know you are in for a good old-fashioned tearstained campy drama. Loosely based on the life of Helen Morgan, who is most famous today for creating the role of Julie in the groundbreaking "Show Boat" in the 20's. The film centers on her rise and fall as well as her unrequited love for gangster Larry Maddux.
Playing the title role is Ann Blyth who does her best to give Helen all the pathos, drama and tragedy required in such a story. She does a fine job but one can't help but recall her best work as Veda in Mildred Pierce. Some years earlier.
The real stars of the show are comedian Alan King, TV star Cara Williams and a new guy to pictures by the name of Paul Newman. These three pros take a filmland formula and mix it until it explodes.
Alan King is quite a fine actor as well as a gifted comedian. He imbues the character of Benny Weaver, Larry's partner with life and humor. As Helen's best friend and Benny's moll Cara Williams shines.
But the best performance is given by a very young Paul Newman who shows us just what he could do with the good for nothing huckster role. He soars in the role and gives us a preview of some of the better roles he will fill out in the future from Fast Eddie to Hud.
The black and white cinematography by Ted D. McCord is stunning as are the sets and costumes. And the Warner Brothers orchestra makes the mono soundtrack burst its boundaries to near stereophonic sound.Read more ›
Now for the good stuff: the music. Morgan introduced or performed many outstanding American songs from the golden age of 1926-1933 and many are represented here, recorded on the best sound-stage in Hollywood, with magnificent arrangements by Ray Heindorf and his staff, and featuring Gogi Grant, who receives full screen credit and was pictured on the cover of the best-selling soundtrack album (RCA were no fools: she had just been voted Most Popular Female Singer of 1956 and this was her first major release on their label).Read more ›
Inspired by Polly Bergen's searing performance as Morgan in a "Playhouse 90" TV special which aired earlier that same year, producer Jack Warner geared THE HELEN MORGAN STORY as a showcase not for actress Ann Blyth, but rather the popular singer Gogi Grant, whom he employed to supply Blyth's voice for the musical numbers--if the truth be known, Blyth's own singing would have sufficed.
In the tradition of a backstage soap-opera, the more tawdry facts of Morgan's life were glossed over (the "Playhouse 90" screenplay reflected Morgan's life in a more accurate light, having Morgan's mother Lulu as a consultant). Paul Newman plays her stormy boyfriend; Blyth shines (especially in the recreations of the "Show Boat" stage production), and the soundtrack springs to life with such Morgan standards as "Why Was I Born?", "Bill", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".
The supporting cast includes Richard Carlson, Gene Evans, Alan King and Cara Williams. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of my favorites. I was hoping it would be in color, but that is ok. I will accept that.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the best movies I've ever seen, with fine acting by all, especially Ann Blythe and Paul Newman.Published 4 months ago by Gary Zoellner
The music is outstanding and Gogi Grant's singing for Ann Blyth is amazing and very touching. The story of the time, so true. Read morePublished 10 months ago by joyce forte
As always a fabulous performance by Paul Newman and Ann Blyth!!! I loved it!!Published 10 months ago by Diedra L Wilson
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