The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown

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The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown
FuzzyPinkNightgown.jpg
Lobby card
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Robert Waterfield
Screenplay by Richard Alan Simmons
Based on The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown
1956 novel
by Sylvia Tate
Starring Jane Russell
Music by Billy May
Cinematography Joseph LaShelle
Edited by Archie Marshek
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • August 21, 1957 (1957-08-21)
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown is a 1957 American comedy film made by Russ-Field Productions and released by United Artists. It was directed by Norman Taurog from a screenplay by Richard Alan Simmons, based on a novel of the same name by Sylvia Tate.[1]

The film stars Jane Russell, Keenan Wynn and Ralph Meeker.

Plot[edit]

Movie star Laurel Stevens (Jane Russell) has made a new film. It is called The Kidnapped Bride and gives a brainstorm to a couple of small-time crooks, Mike (Ralph Meeker) and Dandy (Keenan Wynn), to kidnap Laurel.

While they take her to a Malibu beachfront hideout, agent Barney (Robert Harris) and studio chief Martin (Adolphe Menjou) can't figure out why Laurel's a no-show at the premiere. Gossip columnist Daisy Parker (Benay Venuta) is dying to know, too, so a decision is made to avoid a scandal at all costs and not report Laurel missing to the police. Mike and Dandy want a $50,000 ransom. Laurel is insulted, feeling she's worth ten times that.

Laurel also fears this thing could hurt her career by looking like a publicity stunt. When Los Angeles police sergeant McBride (Fred Clark), who once sent Mike to prison, comes to Malibu to do a routine check on him, Laurel alters her appearance and pretends to be Mike's girl. The studio finally goes to the cops and also offers a $100,000 reward. The ransom money is taken to the airport, which is where the not-too-bright Dandy has a job. McBride notices a portrait of Laurel at the studio and suddenly realizes where he's just seen her.

Laurel has begun to fall for Mike for real. This time when McBride shows up, Laurel knocks him cold. She and Mike steal the cop's car and race to the airport. They get nabbed by the cops, but dim Dandy has picked up the wrong suitcase. There is no crime so there are no arrests, particularly since Laurel and Mike are now in love.

Jane Russell as blonde movie star Laurel Stevens

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

At the time of its release, "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown" received mixed reviews, The Mirror News wrote, "...a belabored attempt at comedy which never comes off. The pace is slow. While both Miss Russell and Mr. Wynn gallantly try for laughs, Meeker labors in a heavy-handed tough-guy fashion, completely at odds with the work of the others." [2] But Ruth Waterbury of the L.A. Examiner said that although "...'The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown is no classic among comedies. It's just a good natured romp, which treats nothing with reverence and it will do you nicely for a summer's day amusement. Waterbury praised Russell saying, "Miss Russell spoofs the glamour type she herself has been. She spoofs Hollywood, press agentry, even love. What's more she makes you throughly enjoy it," but called Meeker the biggest weakness of the movie saying, ".. a fine stage actor though he is...he is too "straight" in his work, and screen comedy appears not to be his forte."[3] The Hollywood Reporter called it an "amusing farce" but also said "that the farce is not sustained; it is occasionally abandoned altogether for some semi-serious romantic scenes that tend to break and confuse the mood," but applauded Russell saying, "[she] is responsible for the greater part of the picture's success, both in comedy and romance." [4]

Jane Russell in a publicity photo for The Fuzzy Pink Nightown

Trivia[edit]

In 1954, Jane Russell formed a production company with her husband, Bob Waterfield, called Russ-Field. They signed with United Artist for a six-picture deal and for tax purposes, Jane could only appear in half of them. Their first production in association with Voyager Productions was Gentlemen Marry Brunettes—a film Jane Russell did not want to make, but United Artist insisted that she star in the production as part of the Russ-Field deal. "Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" fared poorly at the box office. Their next two productions Run for the Sun (1956) and The King and Four Queens (1957) starring Clark Gable both made money.[5] For Jane's next film, she chose "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown," with the star in the lead role of Laurel Stevens.

Director Norman Taurog wanted Dean Martin in the role of Mike[6] but the role went to Ray Danton. However, Danton was suddenly let go from the picture. As reported by columnist, Harrison Carroll "...troubles have come up on the picture, Ray Danton playing opposite Jane, came down with a severe attack of laryngitis. He has worked only two and a half days. The company doesn't want to wait, so they are getting a new actor for the role."[7] In early 1957, Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson reported, "The 'laryngitis' announced for Ray Danton's bow-out as Jane Russell's leading man in 'Fuzzy Pink Nightgown' turned out to be the fuzziest announcement of the year. The real reason Ray's out of the cast: after looking at the rushes, Producer Bob Waterfield decided he was too young for Jane. Ralph Meeker is now playing the role." [8] Ray Danton was born in 1931, while Miss Russell was born in 1921. Ralph Meeker was born in 1920.[9]

About the movie, Russell wrote in her autobiography; "Norman [Taurog] saw the picture as strictly a Technicolor camp, while I had the mystery and romance of it in mind, in black and white. It should have been one way or the other, but as it turned out, it was neither. That was one time the star should have had nothing to say, I guess, because Norman would have made a comedy in color with Dean Martin in his first semi-serious role - which he's done fabulously since - and the publicity alone would have pulled it off. Or we should have had another director....Norman still got his slapstick ending, but it just seemed old fashioned without color. The picture was neither fish nor fowl, but I still liked it.".[10] Despite her honest assessment of the movie, Jane considered "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown," along with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) as the two favorite films of her career .[11]

"Fuzzy Pink Nightgown" bombed when it was released in the fall of 1957 and its failure marked the end of Russ-Field Productions.[12] The movie didn't post a profit until the early 1960s due to frequent television airings.[13] Today the movie can be seen on Netflix and Amazon Prime (as of May 2016) where it has become a cult classic.

Imperial records released an LP soundtrack recording of Billy May's jazzy score at the time of the film's release and it later became a collector's item. In 2012, Kritzerland Records released May's soundtrack on CD along with Alessandro Cicogini's score of A Breath of Scandal.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown on IMDb.
  2. ^ Mirror News, August 22, 1957
  3. ^ LA Examiner August 22, 1957
  4. ^ Hollywood Reporter, July 29th, 1957
  5. ^ Jane Russell: My Path and Detours An Autobiography
  6. ^ Jane Russell, My Path and Detours: An Autobiography, Franklin_Watts 1985
  7. ^ "Behind the scenes in Hollywood" column by Harrison Carroll, syndicated, December 26, 1956
  8. ^ Flashes From Filmland column by Erskine Johnson, January 12, 1957
  9. ^ IMDB.com
  10. ^ Jane Russell, My Path and Detours: An Autobiography, Franklin_Watts 1985
  11. ^ People Magazine, October 28, 1985
  12. ^ Jane Russell, My Path and Detours: An Autobiography, Franklin_Watts 1985.
  13. ^ The RKO Gals by James Robert Parish - Encore Film Books, 2014

External links[edit]