Combustible Celluloid
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With: With Tom Ewell, Jayne Mansfield, Edmond O'Brien, Julie London, Ray Anthony, Barry Gordon, Henry Jones, John Emery, Juanita Moore, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, The Platters, Gene Vincent, The Treniers, Eddie Fontaine, The Chuckles, Abbey Lincoln, Johnny Olenn, Nino Tempo
Written by: Frank Tashlin, Herbert Baker
Directed by: Frank Tashlin
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 12/01/1956

The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Bosom Pals

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Former cartoon maker Frank Tashlin directed this live-action masterpiece, creating his own brand of artificial entertainment reality. It begins as a black-and-white square and expands into color and widescreen, and indeed Tashlin seems constantly aware of the elements of his medium, and is in direct contact with his audience. Star Jayne Mansfield is certainly voluptuous and sexy, but Tashlin makes her a sex symbol that has nothing to do with sex. She's capable of melting ice and making milk bottles boil over when she walks by, but she's also extremely tame, domestic, and even safe, cuddly. She plays Jerri Jordan, girlfriend to gangster Marty "Fats" Murdock (Edmond O'Brien), who wishes her to be a singing star. Murdock hires alcoholic press agent Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) to do that. While working clubs and showing off Jerri, she falls for Tom. Meanwhile, he discovers she can't sing, and so she becomes a squealing, high-pitched "siren" sound in a song about a prison break. Then, Murdock, who wrote the song, becomes a star, and Jerri gets her man. Many parodies have unsheathed their blades to skewer the world of showbiz, but this one uses a corkscrew! This film is also notable for its incredible array of 1950s-era rock stars performing their hits. They include Little Richard (with the title track), Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Fats Domino, the Platters, and more.

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