Pal Joey (film)

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Pal Joey
Poster - Pal Joey 01.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by George Sidney
Produced by Fred Kohlmar
Screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley
Based on Pal Joey 
by John O'Hara
Starring Rita Hayworth
Frank Sinatra
Kim Novak
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lorenz Hart
Morris Stoloff (supervision)
Nelson Riddle
George Duning
(arrangements)
Arthur Morton (orchestrations)
Cinematography Harold Lipstein
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Jerome Thoms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 25, 1957 (1957-10-25) (United States)
Running time 109 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4.7 million (US)[1]

Pal Joey is a 1957 American musical film, loosely adapted from the musical play of the same name, and starring Rita Hayworth, 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."

When the picture was released in 1957, Rita Hayworth surprisingly received top billing over Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was, by that time, a bigger star, and his title role was predominant. When asked about the billing, Sinatra replied, “Ladies first.” As Columbia’s biggest star, Hayworth had been top billed in every film since Cover Girl in 1944, but tenure was soon to end, in 1959 with Gary Cooper in They Came to Cordura.

Pal Joey is 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.

Cast[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

Linda English (Kim Novak)

The setting is San Francisco; Joey Evans is a second-rate singer, a heel known for his womanizing ways (calling women "mice"), but charming and funny. When Joey meets Linda English, a naive chorus girl, he has stirrings of real feelings. However, that does not stop him from romancing a former flame and ex-stripper (Joey says, "She used to be 'Vera...with the Vanishing Veils'"), now society matron Vera Prentice-Simpson, a wealthy, willful, and lonely widow, in order to convince her to finance his dream, "Chez Joey", a night club of his own. Soon Joey is involved with Vera, each using the other for his/her own somewhat selfish purposes. But Joey's feelings for Linda are growing. Ultimately, Vera jealously demands that Joey fire Linda. When Joey refuses ("Nobody owns Joey but Joey"), Vera closes down "Chez Joey". Linda visits Vera and agrees to quit in an attempt to keep the club open. Vera then agrees to open the club, and even offers to marry Joey, but Joey rejects Vera. As Joey is leaving for Sacramento, Linda runs after him, offering to go wherever he is headed. After half-hearted refusals, Joey gives in and they walk away together, united.

Notable changes[edit]

The happy ending of the film contrasts with that of the stage musical, where Joey is left alone at the end.

The transformation of Joey into a "nice guy" departed from the stage musical, where Joey's character was notable for being the anti-hero.

The film varies from the stage musical in several other key points: the setting was changed from Chicago to San Francisco, and the stage Joey was a dancer. The plot of the film drops a blackmail attempt and two roles prominent on stage were changed: Melba (a reporter) was cut and Gladys became a minor character. Linda became a naive chorus girl instead of an innocent stenographer and some of the lyrics to "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" were changed. Also in the film, Vera Prentice-Simpson is a wealthy widow and a former stripper (billed as "Vanessa the Undresser") and thus gets to sing the classic song "Zip". (As that number required an authentic burlesque drummer to mime the bumps and grinds, the extra playing the drums is disconcertingly switched with a professional musician in a jump cut).

Song list[edit]

Of the original 14 Rodgers and Hart songs, eight remained, but with two as instrumental background, and four songs were added from other shows.[2]

  1. Pal Joey: Main Title
  2. "That Terrific Rainbow" - chorus girls and Linda English
  3. "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" (introduced in the 1939 musical Too Many Girls) - Joey Evans
  4. "Do It the Hard Way" - orchestra and chorus girls
  5. "Great Big Town" - Joey Evans and chorus girls
  6. "There's a Small Hotel" (introduced in the 1936 musical On Your Toes) - Joey Evans
  7. "Zip" - Vera Simpson
  8. "I Could Write a Book" - Joey Evans and Linda English
  9. "The Lady Is a Tramp" (introduced in the 1937 musical Babes in Arms) - Joey Evans
  10. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" - Vera Simpson
  11. "Plant You Now, Dig You Later" - orchestra
  12. "My Funny Valentine" (introduced in the 1937 musical Babes in Arms) - Linda English
  13. "You Mustn't Kick It Around" - orchestra
  14. Strip Number - "I Could Write a Book" -Linda English
  15. Dream Sequence and Finale: "What Do I Care for a Dame"/"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"/"I Could Write a Book" - Joey Evans

Soundtrack[edit]

The recordings on the soundtrack album featuring Sinatra only are not the same songs that appeared in the film. "The Lady Is a Tramp" is an outtake from Sinatra's 1957 album A Swingin' Affair!, while the others were recorded in mono only at Capitol Studios. The Sinatra songs as they appear in the film as well as those performed by Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak (both were dubbed), Jo Ann Greer (Hayworth) and Trudi Erwin (Novak) were recorded at Columbia Pictures studios in true stereo.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[3] 1958 1
Preceded by
The King and I by Original Soundtrack
The King and I by Original Soundtrack
UK Albums Chart number-one album
2 February 1958 - 22 March 1958
29 March 1958 - 26 April 1958
Succeeded by
The King and I by Original Soundtrack
The Duke Wore Jeans by Original Soundtrack

Critical reception and box office[edit]

Opening to positive reviews on October 25, 1957, Pal Joey was an instant success with critics and the general public alike. The Variety review summarized: "Pal Joey is a strong, funny entertainment. Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay, from John O'Hara's book, is skillful rewriting, with colorful characters and solid story built around the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart songs. Total of 14 tunes are intertwined with the plot, 10 of them being reprised from the original. Others by the same team of cleffers are 'I Didn't Know What Time It Was', 'The Lady Is a Tramp', 'There's a Small Hotel' and 'Funny Valentine'."[4]

The New York Times commented, "This is largely Mr. Sinatra's show...he projects a distinctly bouncy likeable personality into an unusual role. And his rendition of the top tunes, notably "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Small Hotel," gives added lustre to these indestructible standards."[5]

With box office receipts of $4.7 million, Pal Joey was ranked by Variety as one of the ten highest earning films of 1957.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[6][7]

Golden Globes

  • Best Film, Musical or Comedy (nominated)
  • Best Actor, Musical or Comedy (won, Frank Sinatra)

Writers Guild of America

  • Best Written American Musical (nominated)

Background[edit]

Gene Kelly had starred as Joey Evans on Broadway in Pal Joey. When Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn bought the rights for the motion picture, he wanted Gene Kelly, who was contracted to MGM. Cohn saw Rita Hayworth as Linda English. Billy Wilder expressed interest in Pal Joey as a picture for Marlon Brando (Joey), Mae West (Vera) and Rita Hayworth (Linda), Columbia Pictures passed. Pal Joey would be the last film with Rita Hayworth at Columbia Studios after a long career. Columbia began to give the star treatment to Kim Novak, after her success in Picnic and Pal Joey.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
  2. ^ Hollywood Musicals Year By Year, Green, Stanley, Revised and Updated, Schmidt, Elaine, 2nd Edition, 1999, ISBN 0-634-00765-3, p. 214.
  3. ^ "Chart Stats - Original Soundtrack - Pal Joey". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 24 Jul 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Pal Joey - Variety". Variety. 1 January 1957. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Movie Review - Pal Joey - Screen: 'Pal Joey' Back on Broadway; Sinatra Is Starred in Film of Hit Show - NYTimes.com". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "The 30th Academy Awards (1958) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  7. ^ "NY Times: Pal Joey". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Monder, Eric (1994). George Sidney:a Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313284571. 

External links[edit]