Pal Joey (Columbia 1957 with Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak)

USA / Columbia – Essex – Sydney / 109 minutes / 1957

Writers: Lorenz Hart, Dorothy Kingsley, from the book by John O’Hara / Cinematography: Harold Lipstein, Walter Holscher / Music: Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart / Producer: Fred Kohlmar / Director: George Sidney

Cast: Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, Kim Novak, Barbara Nichols, Bobby Sherwood, Hank Henry

Frank Sinatra plays handsome, talented nightclub crooner and downright cad Joey Evans in this colourful Oscar-winning musical showcase from George Sidney ( Half a Sixpence , Annie Get Your Gun ).

Joey is as cool as they come: a ladies’ man in every sense with the ability to carry lines such as “That dame looks pretty well arranged to me” and “I don’t want a singer; I’m interested in legs not tonsils” without so much as a wry smile.

But he’s also broke, with his dream of owning a nightclub as real as some of the lines he spins. After being booted out of town for causing an incident with the mayor’s daughter, Joey winds up in San Francisco determined to find his rightful place amongst the nightclub glitterati. He wangles his way into a job as MC of Henry’s Club and then into the life of rich widow Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth), an ex-stripper with as much wily bravado as Joey himself. Vera needs a man around and Joey wants his club so the two join together in a business-like liaison that’s doomed to failure.

When Joey employs the entire staff of his old haunt, including love interest Linda English (Kim Novak), and then refuses to sack the beautiful young singer, Vera closes down Joey’s club but later relents and eventually brings the two lovers together.

The original book by John O’Hara portrayed Joey as far less likeable than Sinatra’s loveable rogue but the star, who won a Golden Globe for his performance, is faultless. As the Daily Mirror said, his role is “the smoothest, slickest, raciest, finest performance he’s ever given.” The film is built around some great musical numbers including Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered , My Funny Valentine , and probably Sinatra’s best ever version of the classic The Lady Is a Tramp.

Hayworth and Novak didn’t do their own singing – Hayworth mimed to Jo Ann Greer and Novak to Trudy Erwin


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