Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {The Girl Can't Help It}

If last week's film was a satire about becoming famous for no reason, then this week's is about rising to the top of the music industry, despite having no talent.
However, The Girl Can't Help It (1956) does have more cameos (keep a look out for Phil Silvers and Betty Grable) plus these guest performers:
The story begins with Tom Ewell being invited to the Park Avenue apartment of former gangster "Fats" Murdock. You can tell that he's a gangster because he wears only wears hideously ugly jackets.
Tom Ewell plays Tom Miller, a former top agent and talent scout, now burdened with several large debts and bar bills. He drinks in order to forget that when he drinks he hallucinates and sees Julie London singing in his kitchen.
Fats makes him an offer he can't refuse: turn Jayne Mansfield into a star in six weeks and in return he will pay off all of Tom's debts and an advance on his 10% commission. Fats explains that he wont marry Jayne Mansfield until she's a "somebody".
Jayne Mansfield on the other hand, is only marrying Fats because he got her father out of a life sentence. She doesn't want to be a star, she just wants to be a housewife and mother.
This is the start of one of the most famous walking scenes in film history. If you look closely at her dress when she's walking, you can she that her belt is deliberately on backwards.
How to tell if you've had a fun night out and can't recall what happened: if you wake up wearing your pyjamas and the bow-tie you were wearing last night.
Tom Miller's Guide to Creating Demand for One's Client, Regardless of What They Do:

1) Wear a perfect fitting evening gown, preferably with sequins. Hit every night club in town.
2)Wait until the club's owner is at the reservations stand. Have the client walk past him the the way to the powder room.
3)Have the client visit the powder room for several minutes then walk past the owner again on her way back to the table.
4)When the owner comes to the table to ask questions, have the client answer everything with "Ask my Agent". The client and agent will then leave the club and the agent will chuckle on the way out the door and say to the owner: "You couldn't meet her price". Above all, never reveal what the client actually does as an act.

Guess who sings the title song and then performs "Reddy Teddy" later on.

The only trouble is that Jayne Mansfield may look like a star, but she can't actually sing (or can she?). Fats, of course, can't believe this. So, he writes a song for Ray Anthony to perform that has Jayne Mansfield impersonate a siren.
While they are cutting the record, Fats moves into the jukebox business and soon he has a monopoly on the jukeboxes in New York. (Warning: some records do get smashed in this picture. Viewer Discretion is Advised)
I long for the return of Automats. Wouldn't fresh fruit be better to get out of a machine than chips and candy.
Naturally, Jayne Mansfield becomes a star. Neither she nor Tom are happy with this, but the more important question is whether or not Fats is happy with this outcome.
I like the pastels and nautical imagery that are used in her apartment sets.
Ah, yes. The inevitable what's-this-strange-man-doing-in-your-bed-wearing-your-brother's-pyjamas scene. Always so much fun to watch.
There's also a sock-hop near the end with some well-dressed and realistic teenagers.
Don't you wish that Fats Domino had performed at your high school dance?

Jayne Mansfield does wear exaggerated Fifties fashions in order to show off her exaggerated figure, but I love her clothing in this because she wears a wide variety of the most popular fashions of the decade.

And don't worry, everyone gets their own happy ending in the end.
Here's the trailer:


Andi B. Goode said...

This is definitely one of my all-time favourite movies. I've been meaning to do a Silver Screen Sunday on it for AGES but have been too lazy to screencap it. ;] My DVD has an interview with John Waters talking about Jayne which is just fantastic.
-Andi x

Susan said...

OH, my gosh, Jayne Mansfield passed on her good looks to her daughter, Mariska Hargitay. She looks just like Mariska in the picnic photo!