Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 01/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is worth watching over and over again, if only to see Sinatra's rendition of "The Lady is a Tramp", which he sings with riveting style and musical finesse.
Based on a book and play by John O'Hara, it boasts some snappy dialogue and a fabulous Rodgers and Hart score, with songs like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", "I Could Write a Book", "What do I Care for a Dame ?", "Plant You Now, Dig You Later", "Happy Hunting Horn" and "That Terrific Rainbow". Rita Hayworth does a sumptuous "Zip" (I love the way she uses her lavish Jean Louis gown in the number), and Kim Novak is absolutely stunning singing "My Funny Valentine". Novak was one of the loveliest and most underrated stars to ever grace the silver screen, and this was her second film with Sinatra, having done the dramatic "The Man with the Golden Arm" two years earlier.
The film only received some Oscar nominations (Art/Set Direction, Costume Design, Editing, Sound), but Sinatra did pick up a 1958 Golden Globe Best Actor/Musical-Comedy for his part as Joey, the womanizing, fast talking, con-man singer, who goes from town to town, leaving debts and broken hearts behind; Sinatra makes the most of the part, and one cannot imagine anyone else that could have played Joey to such perfection.
Terrific direction by George Sidney and choreography by Hermes Pan complement this trio of great stars and splendid music, with the backdrop of San Francisco and Harold Lipstein's cinematography.
Total running time is 109 minutes.
Gorgeous women, gorgeous cinematography....and Sinatra!
Anthony Paul | 01/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just recently bought the DVD of Pal Joey. I had never seen the movie before and didn't know what to expect. First, I'll comment on the DVD quality. The picture quality is beautiful, and trust me, you can't have it too clear to see the beautiful Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak, or the 1957 views of Frisco. The soundtrack is mono and causes one to wish that it was filmed in Dolby Digital stereo sound...but I guess we'll have to make do. Besides, if you are using a good sound system, the songs sung by Sinatra come to life magnificently. You will wish that he sang more in the film. His voice is at it's musical peak in 1957 and his artistry is staggering. Sinatra portrays the playboy role with a wonderful comic sense (he won a Best Actor Golden Globe) and you can't help but like him. Although the script is tame in comparison to recent films (Thank God!), it still insinuates plenty and is very coy and sexy. It has some very interesting camera work that gives it a modern feel, ex. : check out the angle that Sinatra is filmed at when he is singing Lady is a Tramp. All in all a wonderfully fun film, that looks terrific on DVD. I just wish they would hurry up and get more of the Sinatra catelog on DVD, especially Hole in the Head!"
California Cold and Damp? Who Knew?
Gregor von Kallahann | 05/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've been trying to catch up on my old musicals lately. It's a genre I didn't quite grow up with and have always been a little ambivalent about. Never could get a handle of those "walking down the street and bursting into song" musicals. But PAL JOEY is not of that particular mold. Most of the songs are "natural," in the sense that Joey is a nightclub singer. Rita Hayworth's number, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is the only number that doesn't take place in a club setting, but then again people in love have been known to sing to themselves in their boudoirs, so that's OK too.Most of the reviews for this film stress the fact that the original Broadway play was considerably darker, and the main character much more of a louse than the cheeky nice guy Sinatra plays here. Given the era (the late 50s), this is hardly surprising, and it's easy to guess how the edgier theatrical version actually played, even if you don't know the "book."Sinatra is fine as the cheerful heel Joey. Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak are lovely and sexy as rivals for Joey's affections. Character actors like Barbara Nichols and Hank Henry milk their smallish roles for all they're worth. Director George Sidney was a veteran of several classic musicals, including SHOW BOAT, TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY and THE HARVEY GIRLS, so he's on familiar turf here, and it shows.The Rodgers and Hart score is great, but the numbers are not as many as you might hope. Still there's "My Funny Valentine," the aforementioned "Bewitched...," and, the highlight, Sinatra's definitive take "The Lady Is a Tramp." Well, worth 111 minutes of your time."
Classic Rodgers-Hart Songs Provide Framework for a Swinging
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 06/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If Frank Sinatra had a signature role in his long movie career, this must be it because he plays one of his coolest cats in this fairly adult 1957 musical drama based on a book by John O'Hara. However, it's better remembered for the fourteen songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, many of which became Sinatra standards. Written by Dorothy Kingsley, the rather slight story has the crooner play womanizing nightclub singer Joey Evans who keeps losing jobs because cad that he is, he likes to fool around with married women. Joey lands in San Francisco and finagles his way into a job as singer and emcee at a dive called the Barbary Coast. There he meets innocent Linda English from Albuquerque, a chorine who refuses to strip and just wants to be a torch singer. In typical Sinatra swinging fashion, Joey flirts with her but plays hard-to-get. One night, both are recruited for a charity show held at a posh Nob Hill mansion. The hostess is Vera Simpson, a former striptease performer who has since become a wealthy society matron. Sparks fly between Joey and Vera but only after mutual acts of humiliation. He breezily moves in with her on her yacht, and she decides to fund his pipe dream, owning a sophisticated nightspot she dubs "Chez Joey". Never one to leave his cards on the table, Joey hires Linda to sing, and you can guess the rest as the inevitable romantic triangle takes the expected turns.
Directed by George Sidney (Anchors Aweigh, Viva Las Vegas), it plays out rather lugubriously with nary a surprise, but the songs are mostly gems. Sinatra knows how to play heels, though Joey never gets hard-boiled enough to develop a true edge. On the upside, he sings "There's a Small Hotel", "I Could Write a Book" and best of all, "The Lady Is a Tramp" to a guardedly smitten Rita Hayworth well cast as Vera. Even though at 38, she was actually younger than Sinatra, she cuts a coolish (and shapely) figure as a jealous patroness despite the unflattering camera angles. It's just a shame that the story doesn't respect her character much, especially at the very end. However, when she literally lets her hair down, it's a relief to see her old seductive self in post-coital bliss as she lip-syncs "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" (sung seductively by Jo Ann Greer). As Linda, Kim Novak - a year away from Vertigo - fares less well as she looks tentative and oddly blank-faced during her big number, "My Funny Valentine" (sung sonorously by Trudy Erwin). But we all know it's really Sinatra we want to see perform, and from that respect, a lot of the movie plays out like one of his 1960's TV specials. The only extras on the 1999 DVD are a couple of trailers and talent files for the principals. An intermittent entertainment, it's definitely a product of a bygone era."