(director: Alfred E. Green; screenwriters: Gene Towne/based on the play
presented by Paula Stone and Mike Sloane/based on the
book by Hy
Kraft; cinematographer: William Bradford;
Morse; music: Johnny Mercer; cast: Phil Silvers (Jerry Biffle),
Rose Marie (Betty Dillon), Danny Scholl (Cliff Lane),
Judy Lynn (Sally Peters), Jack Albertson (Vic Davis),
Bradford Hatton (Mr. Parker), Johnny Coy (Tommy Phelps),
Dick Dana (Danny), Joey Faye (Pinky), Johnny Trama
(Little Man), Herbie Faye (Moe), Gloria Smith (Featured
Dancer), Walter Dare Wahl (Walter); Runtime:
100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Albert Zugsmith; United
"Silvers' role is loosely modeled after his good friend Milton Berle."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
of the hit Broadway show, that doesn't work as a film
because it's stage-bound. The low-budget film was shot
in five days on location in New York City's Winter
Garden Theatre, where the play was staged in
Silvers reprises his Tony award-winning role as the motor-mouth egocentric
Biffle, whose top-rated television show is doing
poorly among women in the 18 to 25 year range and the
Blendo soap sponsor, Mr. Parker (Bradford Hatton),
wants Biffle to find a girl to be Miss Blendo to
attract that demographic as viewers.
Silvers' role is loosely modeled after his good friend Milton Berle, who would do anything to get a laugh, was driven to succeed, his TV show was the most popular one at the time, and was a womanizer. Director Alfred E. Green ("Baby Face"/"Dangerous"/"The Jolson Story") just points the camera and lets Silvers loose and his blustery performance goes full blast with loads of burlesque gags. Writer Gene Towne bases it on the play by Paula Stone and Mike Sloane and the book by Hy Kraft. Johnny Mercer wrote the original songs. Problem is that the burlesque routines were outdated, even back then, and the labored corny jokes no longer affect modern audiences in the same joyous way they once did.
The thin plot has the
overbearing Jerry Biffle (Phil Silvers), a former 'top
banana' in burlesque, riding high as the star of a hit
TV comedy show. His cynical head writer Vic Davis (Jack Albertson) hands the star the
material for the new show and the star rushes off to a
department store with his comic flunkies in tow (Joey Faye, Herbie Faye, Johnny Trama, Johnny Coy
and Walter Dare Wahl), as
he signs autographs for his new book and meets his
department store model girlfriend Sally Peters (Judy
Lynn). However, before Biffle arrives Cliff Lane
(Danny Scholl), the handsome new baritone singer on
the show, arrives early and accidentally meets Sally.
The two fall in love at first sight.
Mr. Parker chooses Sally to
be the Blendo girl and wants her on the first show of
the new season. The sponsor hopes to attract the above mentioned
demographic and to stimulate further interest in the
show wants a publicity romance arranged between Jerry
and "Miss Blendo." The show is a success. A few weeks pass and the
love between Sally and Cliff grows stronger. But they
keep it a secret because they're afraid that the
piggish Biffle, who is also in love with Sally, would
fire Cliff if told the truth. Adding to the fireworks
is Sally's aggressive roommate Betty Dillon (Rose
Marie), who has her eyes set on Biffle and becomes
part of the show. What follows is the elopement
between Cliff and Sally, with the unwitting blessings
of Biffle. The self-absorbed star doesn't listen when
Cliff tells him the bride to be is Sally and in his
relentless search for laughs any way he could get it,
has their elopement be part of the show. The star goes
through a crisis when his show is canceled and Cliff
and Sally replace him. But keeping everything
good-natured, including the ribbing of Berle, things
get worked out in a feel-good way and there's a
standard Hollywood happy ending.
It was shot in 3-D, but
released as a normal 2-D film.
REVIEWED ON 9/28/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ