Jesse and I put the "Gone Fishing" sign up in the ticket booth and ran off to see Nic Ray's PARTY GIRL. Wowza! Show girls and gangsters!
NEW SCOPE PRINT! A smashing Scope print of a true cult film, beloved by nouvelle vague directors and French critics who saw it as the supreme statement of Nicholas Ray's belief in the redemptive power of love. (Fereydoun Hoveyda's essay on PARTY GIRL is a classic of Fifties Cahiers du cinéma rapture: “A brilliant film . . . There are torrents of inventiveness. Every sequence is a cascade of ideas. . . . It should be clear that I think PARTY GIRL is Ray's most interesting film to date.”) Set in Chicago during Prohibition, PARTY GIRL employs a gaudy mise en scène keyed to the colour red to capture the violence of the time and the torment of the relationship between syndicate lawyer Robert Taylor and showgirl Cyd Charisse, an Oklahoma chorine who wants to be a big city model but ends up a gangland moll. (Charisse's celebrated gams provide crazy tension with the horizontals of the Scope image, and contrast symbolically with Taylor's hobbled leg.) Contorted with contempt, Lee J. Cobb rages as mob boss Rico Angelo, shooting up a photo of Jean Harlow in his baroquely upholstered office, but his power ultimately proves impotent against the force of love. The film's atmosphere of bitter self-recognition (Charisse comments that both she and the lawyer are prostitutes), spangled spectacle, and acid-splashed violence is powerful, but Ray ensures the possibility of regeneration, most markedly in the Sirk-like healing of Taylor's affliction. “Ray's most beautiful film” (Joel Magny).