Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Hmm …

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Maybe Mallon should have stuck with his stated subject — the epistolary novella. His view of the film is at odds with that the critics and audiences in 1957, when the film was released. It was a box office smash and a critical hit as well. The New York Times’s critic wrote that "This is largely Mr. Sinatra's show...he projects a distinctly bouncy likeable personality into an unusual role. And his rendition of the top tunes, notably "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Small Hotel," gives added lustre to these indestructible standards."[

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see Thomas Mallon crop up again. He's been publishing books and articles about literary diarists and letter-writers since 1970 or so, to my knowledge. Reliably interesting even when I have to quibble with him. He's a good choice to introduce a reprint of Pal Joey.

    I mostly agree with him about the movie. Reshaping the story to fit Sinatra, by making the character a crooner instead of a hoofer, is already a little off, though understandable. But the production really suffers by substituting that "bouncy likeable personality" for what Joey really was, a heel.

    The acerbity was what gave the Broadway show distinction. But '50s Hollywood had its revenge: the movie was a big hit; the stage show a comparative flop. (It did better when revived in a later era. The public had moved on and caught up.)

    Now the book returns as a Penguin Classic. And the publisher is launching it in part by . . . a gala screening of the movie. A slice of irony.