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"She gets too hungry for dinner at eight..."

  • Jul 1, 2011
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Joey Evans (Frank Sinatra) is a two-bit night club singer, womanizer, and cad. He lands in a San Francisco saloon and starts romancing a wealthy older woman (Rita Hayworth) and sweet chorus girl (Kim Novak).

When I saw this movie in 1957 I fell head over heels for Frank and the sophisticated night club scene, but now Frank's Joey seems like a heartless sleaze, the clubs are cheap, and the movie is hopelessly dated. It was made at the height of Frank's ring-a-ding-ding movie popularity, though, and he still charms despite playing a mean-spirited and selfish loser who is outweighed by both of his co-stars.  Poor Rita looks drab and tired, a far cry from her earlier glory days. Kim is lovely (without those thick eyebrows from "Vertigo"), but her singing voice is a disaster and she isn't much of a dancer. A beatnik-style dance featuring both ladies is just embarrassing.

On the plus side, the songs are terrific. The show is filled with memorable Rodgers and Hart tunes such as "The Lady is a Tramp," "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," "I Could Write a Book," "There's a Small Hotel," and "My Funny Valentine."

The movie is glossy and pretty with lavish gowns and furs and picturesque San Francisco as a location, but is definitely a product of its time. What was once ultra-cool and sophisticated now seems tawdry and pathetic. Good songs, though.

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About this movie


Pal Joey is a 1957 film distributed by Columbia.[1][2] It is loosely adapted from the musical play of the same name; it stars Rita Hayworth (top billed), Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak. Jo Ann Greer sang for Hayworth, as she had done previously in Affair in Trinidad and Miss Sadie Thompson. Kim Novak's singing voice was dubbed by Trudy Erwin. The director is George Sidney and the choreographer is Hermes Pan.

Considered by many critics as the definitive Frank Sinatra vehicle, Sinatra won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role as the wise-cracking, hard-bitten Joey Evans. As to be expected the musical arrangements are particularly fine, with some near-perfect Nelson Riddle charts for the Rodgers and Hart standards "The Lady is a Tramp", "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "I Could Write a Book" and "There's A Small Hotel."

Pal Joey is also one of Frank Sinatra's few post-From Here to Eternity movies in which he did not receive top-billing, Sinatra deciding himself to allow Rita Hayworth this honor stating, with regards to being billed "between" Hayworth and Novak, "That's a sandwich I don't mind being stuck in the middle of."

Along with being a strong box office success, Pal Joey also earned four Academy Award nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

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