Year Released: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 99 minutes
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Set in 1930s Chicago, “Party Girl” is laced with the familiar threads of the gangster flick: a tough mob lawyer and a cynical but leggy showgirl find love amid the fusillade of gangland warfare. But being an MGM release, the film is not a dark, noir thriller. Instead, the CinemaScope and Metrocolor production gives it a regal feeling at odds with the film’s efforts to establish an edgy, dangerous setting.
Nicholas Ray is credited as the director, but there is little here to confirm his trademark style. However, he manages to extract unexpectedly strong performances by Robert Taylor as the mob lawyer and Cyd Charisse as the showgirl. Taylor, normally a stolid presence, was far beyond his peak years by the time this 1958 production was shot. However, he offers a solid and captivating personality – watching this, it is difficult to determine whether MGM never adequately tapped his talent or whether this was just a late-career fluke. Charisse, a musical star in a rare dramatic role, also displays a range that was never obvious in her earlier roles. It is odd that she never received any follow-up dramatic roles of any worth.
“Party Girl” offers some violence as the mobsters rub each other out, but it is pretty tame by contemporary standards. In fact, the whole film is quaint and diverting – a disappointment for those who like hard-edged gangster fare, but entertaining for those who like old-school gloss and glamour.
Posted on June 29, 2009 in Reviews by Phil Hall
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