Newest Reviews
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan
Safe Spaces
Stanford Prison Experiment, The
Assassination in Rome
Castle Freak
Brother Bear
Raiders of Buddhist Kung Fu
County Lines
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Covert Action
Strangler's Web
House of Bamboo
Murder Me, Monster
Hell and High Water
Miserables, Les
Ritz, The
Girls of the Sun
Princess and the Goblin, The
Incredible Kung Fu Mission
Dirty Cops
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Son's Room, The
Evil Hits Evil
Blue My Mind
Assassination Nation
Newest Articles
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
  Lady of Burlesque Play it on the G-String
Year: 1943
Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Michael O'Shea, J. Edward Bromberg, Iris Adrian, Gloria Dickson, Victoria Faust, Stephanie Bachelor, Charles Dingle, Marion Martin, Pete Gordon, Frank Fenton, Pinky Lee, Frank Conroy, Lew Kelly, Claire Carleton
Genre: Musical, Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Sassy showgirl Dixie Daisy (Barbara Stanwyck) is a hit with the hot-blooded crowd at the former opera house turned burlesque theatre. Not least with cocky comic Biff Brannigan (Michael O'Shea) who is less than subtle about bagging her for himself. However, Dixie's popularity angers stuck-up diva Lolita La Verne (Victoria Faust) who is angling for the top spot. Further complicating matters is the return of the Princess Nirvena (Stephanie Bachelor), the show's former star. She once had a fling with theatre boss S.B. Foss (J. Edward Bromberg) and seems intent on blackmailing her way back to stardom. As if all that were not enough two performers are found strangled with a g-string and the cops latch onto Dixie as prime suspect.

Although Barbara Stanwyck never performed in a burlesque theatre the former Ziegfeld Girl's first triumph on Broadway was in a 1927 play called Burlesque. Stanwyck's performance led famed Broadway producer Arthur Hopkins to describe her as "the greatest natural actress of our time" although in theatre snob fashion he also lamented "one of the theatre's great potential actresses was embalmed in celluloid." Well, nuts to him. For while no Stanwyck classic compared to The Lady Eve (1941), Ball of Fire (1941) or certainly Double Indemnity (1944), Lady of Burlesque finds the Hollywood great on fine form, perfectly cast as a brassy broad, quick with a quip and as hard-boiled as she is sexy. Even so it was an odd assignment for William A. Wellman. More often thought of as a 'man's man' director, Wellman loved working with Stanwyck as did many directors won over by her staunch work ethic and ability to rough it out with the boys without the airs and graces common to many a movie star. Judging from the near-parodic tone of scenes like the police interrogation (where all the comedians keep wisecracking in the face of police suspicion) and shootout in the rafters (where the gunman really does shout "you'll never take me alive, copper!"), Wellman approached freewheeling mix of sex, murder and laughs as something of a lark. Even when strippers start dropping like flies it is never remotely serious.

Adapted for the screen by James Gunn (er, not the guy who made Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)), Lady of Burlesque was based on 'The G-String Murders' a novel written by real-life burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Famously portrayed by Natalie Wood in the musical biopic Gypsy (1962), based on her own memoirs, Gypsy Rose Lee also wrote Doll Face (1945) another movie about a burlesque queen. Less concerned with the murder mystery angle than backstage banter Lady of Burlesque's episodic plot throws in energetic song-and-dance routines (Barbara sings "Take It Off the E-String, Play It On the G-String", and Arthur Lange's score was nominated for an Oscar) and corny comedy (charmless Biff Brannigan's terrible routines show he has no reason to be that cocky) whilst upholding (or is it more fair to say, establishing?) all the clich├ęs we assume about old-time burlesque shows. You've got cat-fights galore where snarling strippers claw their way to the top, bitchy divas with phony accents, blonde bimbos prone to air-headed observations, lecherous comics, grouchy stagehands along with other seedy backstage types only with a sense of fun that suggests the movie Showgirls (1995) wanted to be. Albeit minus the fake breasts.

Wellman's fluid camera glides through glitter and pomp of the seedily glamorous milieu baiting the Hay's Code with frequent scenes of scantily-clad chorus girls shaking their stuff. It is worth watching for the outrageous costumes alone. The high camp factor makes Lady of Burlesque a crowd-pleaser but away from the silliness, Wellman stages some darker moments (while snooty songbird Lolita La Verne is slapped around by her brutal bootlegger boyfriend, Dixie sings loudly on stage to drown out her screams) while the story etches surprisingly poignant mini-portraits of desperate people on the lowest rung of showbiz. Barbara Stanwyck emphasizes Dixie's ability to empathize with these folks. While the police prove more snarky than sympathetic a key scene has Dixie rally her fellow burlesque performers to tough it out and protect their livelihoods. Aside from flaunting a sensational figure in racy outfits, Stanwyck imbues her brassy heroine with the same gutsy determination found in her more acclaimed roles.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2310 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (3)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: