[Last Film I Saw] Les Girls (1957)

Les Girls poster

Title: Les Girls
Year: 1957
Country: USA
Language: English, French
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Director: George Cukor
Writers:
John Patrick
Vera Caspary
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Music: Cole Porter
Cast:
Gene Kelly
Kay Kendall
Taina Elg
Mitzi Gaynor
Jacques Bergerac
Leslie Phillips
Henry Daniell
Patrick Macnee
Rating: 6.1/10

Les Girls 1

It is also known as Cole Porter’s LES GIRLS, a tremendously fun-packed vaudeville directed by George Cukor, which is configured in the RASHOMON-esque love affairs among the leader of the dance troupe Barry Nichols (Kelly) and his three “les girls” the French Angèle (Elg), the British Sybil (Kendall) and the American Joy (Gaynor).

The film opens in London, a libel lawsuit springs 3 sides of the story, first from Sybil’s angle, then Angèle tells a completely different story, finally Barry comes to the fore and wraps up the case with his truth-revealing recount, yet what is the truth? (as a man holding a billboard written the said words consecutively appears in front of the courtroom). Each story is elaborated with the narrator’s own premeditated embellishments which lean toward their favour, frustratingly, viewers will never get what had happened in lieu of many contradictions galore, and surely it is not the film’s true intent neither.

Cole Porter’s music numbers and Jack Cole’s choreography are the mainstay, each girl is squarely allotted to one-third of the leading status of their story and each consummates a distinctive pas de faux with Kelly, Elg is exotic and bewitching, Kendall is demure yet loopy, but it is Gaynor, who stuns with her ultimate dance routine with Kelly, she is a top-notch dancer, and although all three women are imbecilic to some extent and Barry is a philandering swine, her Joy is the closest one with a speck of wisdom, her tactic to Barry’s insincere proposal is golden, alas she will soon capitulate to an abominable male-skewing plot device of a fake heart condition. As a film actress, Ms. Rex Harrison, Kendall stands out among the rest, embalms a scent mingled with mild hysteria and glacial indifference to a larger-than-life character, two years before her untimely death due to myeloid leukaemia at the age of 33. Gene Kelly, on the contrary, is past his prime, mostly delegated to the foil of three ladies’ show pieces. But he has the luck to kiss all the three beauties, so, it is a bad deal for him I guess.

Porter’s ear-friendly ditties are charmingly mellifluous, there are superlative musical materials and Cukor’s direction is executed in moderate discretion, but the fussy and preposterous storyline is a major turn-off, not to mention the badly organised courtroom confrontation and the final hypocritical reconciliation, yuk, it is an insult to the female gender, I cannot squeeze a smile when it ends, but I will go to youtube and watch the splendid musical performances alone.

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