Product DetailsThe Helen Morgan Story, a musical bio of the great 1920s torch singer, begins with a scene of flappers and jazz babies spontaneously dancing on a train. If you can buy into that kind of crazy history, you might just enjoy this tuneful 1957 drama, the rise-fall-comeback of a tragic showbiz figure (which neglects to include the tragic final act). Ann Blyth, who'd garnered an Oscar nomination for playing Joan Crawford's ingrate daughter in 1945's Mildred Pierce, is Helen Morgan, the Prohibition songstress for whom perching atop a piano became a signature pose. We watch Morgan's early successes crooning in speakeasies, and her wrong moves in her personal life; seems the lady just can't help lovin' a no-good gangster, played by Paul Newman (still very early in his career). Newman's character keeps showing up, like a bad penny, even after Helen is taken up by a wealthy (and married) lawyer, played by Richard Carlson. The many heartbreaks eventually lead to alcohol addiction, which killed the real Morgan in 1941, although the film stops short of her unfortunate ending. Morgan's success in the original production of Show Boat goes by quickly, but the movie includes a decent roster of songs from various stages of her career. Michael Curtiz directed, and his dark eye (and Ted Tetzlaff's widescreen black-and-white cinematography) gives the movie a pleasing film-noir overlay.
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