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The Girl Can't Help It DVD

Your July 2007 Random Movie Club Results Are In!

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Preshow Entertainment: GREAT STREETS: 5TH AVENUE


We began the evening with a documentary from the turn of the century (that's the year 2000) about 5th Avenue. Brian Stokes Mitchell, who rubbed us all the wrong way with his seeing-learning-and noticing-scripted-things-as-if-for-the-first-time schtick, was our host. We learned a lot about the street's history and visited places like the NY Public Library, the Lord & Taylor Christmas windows, and a Bed & Breakfast in Harlem. We all enjoyed it and learned a lot. I mean, who knew that the Washington Square Arch was named for George Washington?

Disturbing, however, was seeing the WTC in several shots. A year later, they were gone.

And now our feature presentation...

To say 1956's THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT is a funny movie is a lie. It's not. Maybe it was once, but it's not now. No, TGCHI is a labored catastrophe, lost in its own vision of glee. It's cartoon characters (more on this coming up soon) marooned in an Acme world.

Ex-slot machine king Murdock (Edmond O'Brien, yelling like the bastard child of J. Jonah Jameson and Mr. Spacely) wants alcoholic talent manager Tom Miller (Ewell), who once managed and fell for Julie London (Julie London), to manage his new discovery, Jerri Jordan (Jayne Mansfield). That way, when Jerri becomes a hit singer, Murdock can marry her. But Tom falls for her, and she for him, though neither dare say it. Murdock suspects it, though, so he has henchman Mousie (the great Henry Jones) tape their phone conversations. All this takes forever. Additionally, the plot point that Jerri can't sing makes its entrance a whopping two thirds into the picture, which is a long way to travel for that moment. And the twists and ribbon'n'bows at the end of the movie are all forced and silly.

Jayne Mansfield
And it's no wonder, as THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT was written and directed by Frank Tashlin (who did tons of great animation for Warners and Disney). But unfortunately, his cartoon vision doesn't translate to his live action movies. He crafted a misfire of a live action cartoon; when Mansfield walks by, milk bottles explode, blocks of ice melt, and eyeglasses shatter. The only thing missing was a bowtie spinning by itself. Tashlin even named these characters Tom and Jerri.


Amid the hackneyed plot, the film becomes a showcase for great recording acts like Little Richard, Abbey Lincoln, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Eddie Fontaine, Fats Domino, and (how's this for a bad name for a band?) The Chuckles. Each get to perform parts of their songs as the leads swim in and out of the scenes.

A year after wooing Marilyn Monroe in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, Tom Ewell is now paired up with the second-string Marilyn, Jayne Mansfield. They dress her in outfits to accentuate her frame, which is a non-existent waistline and a chest that can double for a TV tray.

I also thought it odd (yet kinda cool) that Tom Miller (a character) plays the ex manager of Julie London (a real person). Not so cool was when Murdock calls Tom to tell him to put on the TV. Eddie Cochran was on, singing . Murdock tells Tom "Okay, so Jerri can't sing. But that guy (Cochran on TV) doesn't have a trained voice either and he's one of the top record stars in the country!" But in real life, wasn't he just slamming Eddie Cochran? Was that nice? I mean, how do you think Eddie felt when he took his friends to see his new movie?

When the movie started, we all thought we were in for a treat. It began with Ewell talking to us about the movie, and removing the black bars on the sides of the screen to show us it's in CinemaScope, then adding DeLuxe color. Then the swinging title song gets the party started. And even the title had us: The Girl Can't Help It. Wow. Cool. But then, nothing. Only a mildly amusing line here or situation there. In fact, I'm not sure I even understand what the title means in relation to the movie. Such a lackluster endeavor that the highlight for me was seeing frequent SUPERMAN (the TV series) villain Milton Frome show up for a minute.

Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident 11 years later. The rumor was she was decapitated, but it was just her wig on the dashboard. Not a rumor was that her then three year old daughter was in the car and survived the crash. That's Mariska Hargitay.

I understand the movie's statements about the music business manufacturing stars, the obsession with Jayne's large breasts (and she wasn't just drawn that way), and infusing movies with the latest pop culture trends. And I get it, when this movie came out it was likely more exciting and relevant. But that doesn't make this movie fun or entertaining now. No not at all.

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