Lady of Burlesque

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Lady of Burlesque
Lady of Burlesque.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byWilliam A. Wellman
Produced byHunt Stromberg
Written byJames Gunn
Based onThe G-String Murders
1941 novel
by Gypsy Rose Lee
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
Michael O'Shea
Iris Adrian
Music byArthur Lange
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byJames E. Newcom
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 1, 1943 (1943-05-01)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$1,850,000 gross

Lady of Burlesque (also known as The G-String Murders and in the UK, Striptease Lady) is a 1943 American musical comedy-mystery film, produced by RKO Pictures and directed by William A. Wellman and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Michael O'Shea. It is a faithful, if sanitized,[1] adaptation of the 1941 novel The G-String Murders written by strip tease queen Gypsy Rose Lee.

Plot[edit]

A significant portion of the film is taken up with onstage performances, including comic bits and toned-down strip-tease acts. There is also a lot of backstage action not directly related to the evolving murder mystery but highlighting the characters and lifestyles of the performers and crew.

At a New York City burlesque theatre, performer Dixie Daisy (the stage name of Deborah Hoople, played by Barbara Stanwyck) is becoming an audience favorite with her singing and strip-tease act. Backstage, she has mixed interactions with other performers, some of whom are catty and jealous while others are quite friendly, especially Gee Gee Graham (Iris Adrian). Comic Biff Brannigan (Michael O'Shea) tries to get friendly with her, but Dixie turns him away, not having had good experiences with comics before.

During a police raid on the theatre for violating "public decency" laws, the backstage lights go out, and someone tries to strangle Dixie but stops when a stagehand comes by. A number of the performers and crew are thrown in jail, but the theatre's owner and producer S.B. Foss (J. Edward Bromberg) bails them out and awards each employee a share in the company to keep them with him. A few nights later, another performer, Lolita LaVerne (Victoria Faust), is found strangled with a g-string after a violent argument with her boyfriend, gangster Louie Grindero (Gerald Mohr). As a police investigation begins, however, the g-string believed to be the murder "weapon" goes missing, and a number of possible suspects, both from the theatre and outside-- including Dixie herself--come under suspicion. The coroner, though, reveals that Lolita's death was actually due to poison, and Biff reveals that he had hidden the g-string after someone had slipped it into his pocket, earning Dixie's appreciation. Biff, however, is arrested but released when new evidence is discovered.

When Biff and Daisy are onstage for a comedy skit, the body of another rival, Princess Nirvena (Stephanie Bachelor), falls out of a prop, also strangled with a g-string. The murders and related events begin to tie together, and Inspector Harrigan (Charles Dingle), the lead investigator, recommends shutting down the theatre for safety. Dixie, though, rallies the employees by reminding them that they all now have ownership stakes in the show going on.

Dixie remains behind as everyone else leaves for the night. The aged stagehand Stacchi (Frank Conroy) suddenly appears, confessing to the murders and preparing to attack Dixie. The police and Biff arrive on the scene and stop him, since Dixie and her friend Gee Gee had decided to set a trap for the killer. Biff fills in additional information, having discovered that Stacchi was actually Lolita's grandfather, driven to an insane hatred of burlesque performers. With all problems set aside now, Biff proposes to Dixie and she accepts.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was produced by Hunt Stromberg, costumes by Edith Head, and filmed on a 21-day shooting schedule on (rented) sound stages at RKO's Encino movie ranch.

The film depicted as much as censors would allow with respect to the nature of "bumps and grinds", as well as the slapdash nature of burlesque shows. When reviewing the film script, which still carried Gypsy Rose Lee's original title, Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code Administration, the movie industry's self-censorship board, commented, "We are concerned about the prominent use of the object known as the 'G-String' as the murder weapon. It is our impression that the use of this extremely intimate female garment will be considered offensive . . . "[1]

Soundtrack[edit]

Songs include "Take It Off the E String, Play It on the G String," by Sammy Cahn (listed as "Sammy Kahn") and Harry Akst, sung by Stanwyck.

Other songs include [2]

Reception[edit]

The film made $2 million[3] and earned a hefty profit of $650,000.[4][5][6]

Arthur Lange was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music Score of a Drama or Comedy Picture.[7]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Doherty, Thomas (2009). Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 9780231512848.
  2. ^ "Lady of Burlesque (1943) -- Soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "Variety (January 1947)". New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company. Apr 22, 1947. Retrieved Apr 22, 2020 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p. 339
  5. ^ Balio, Tino (2000). United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-299-23004-3.
  6. ^ "Variety (January 1944)". New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company. Apr 22, 1944. Retrieved Apr 22, 2020 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ 1944 Academy Award nominations and winners for films released in 1943 at Oscar.org

External links[edit]

Media related to Lady of Burlesque at Wikimedia Commons