Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (5)
| Top Critics (4)
| Fresh (3)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (1)
Gallant trouping by Barbara Stanwyck, colorful background provided by Stromberg, and speedy direction by William Wellman, carry picture through for good entertainment for general audiences.
Nothing more than a mystery melodrama with a backstage setting. Not a good mystery exercise either.
Although a stream of hard-boiled wisecracks keeps things amusing, the plot gets tied up in the usual dreary whodunit business of providing motives for all and sundry.
It isn't without some zip, though you have to wonder why the producers bothered when the censors demanded that the dancers be shown only from the neck up.
Although Babs had her some little personal experience in the burlesque game, and though she gives it her "that's show business!" all here (there's one scene she dances onstage that'd play any modern day medium ya got) she cannot save this "backstage at the burlesque"/murder whodunit that suffers from a screenplay that, while quick with the witty one-liners, unfortunately plays fast and loose with the intended conclusion.
An errant film with very little going for it except that at the time it was supposed to be shocking. It doesn't have much else to back it up except for the fact that it is led by none other than Barbara Stanwyck, who plays the beautiful and bodacious Dixie Daisy who is a burlesque headlining performer at a striptease theater called Old Opera Theater. Much of the film showcases inferior numbers from the singer and dancer, as well as comedienne, with many scenes backstage to show the voluminous costumes of her counterpart actresses. The film itself mostly takes place in the theater, and doesn't try to explore the characters or their performances as much as it should have. Everyone, including the leads, are so two dimensional and drab, a hard feat to accomplish in a film about striptease artists. The film soon varies into hard boiled detective thriller, but never is smart or intriguing enough to be true noir. Instead it stumbles on clumsy dialogue and plot devices which only serve to lengthen this film into ninety minutes. The humor is even humdrum, as this was in the days of the Hays Code and stays mostly family friendly throughout. If it had been as bawdy as a Mae West, really this film would have sizzled, but Stanwyck is given very little to work with. The only adult content is a hinted affair between the manager and a dancer who was blackmailing him, and the fact that several girls are being strangled to death with G-strings. The book that this was based upon was written by Gypsy Rose Lee, which doesn't give it any prominence and actually serves to cheapen it all the more. Stanwyck had earlier portrayed a performer in Ball of Fire, and in that film there was a lot more production value, better music, and more genuine a character with great humor. Stanwyck started in this line of work and it only makes sense that she would go back to it time and again in films, but this was just not the shocker it was meant to be, and in that, it suffers as a dull picture.
Saucy little mystery with a great collection of 40's blond wisecracking dames and of course the great Stanwyck. Even the usually vapid O'Shea is more animated and entertaining than his norm, this is probably his best screen performance.
This is a funny and interesting look at the old burlesque shows. If that interests you, I recommend seeing this movie.
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