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Film / Pal Joey

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Pal Joey is a 1957 musical film directed by George Sidney, starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak.

Joey Evans (Sinatra) is a lounge singer and emcee who winds up in San Francisco looking for work. He talks his way into a burlesque nightclub on the Barbary Coast and through sheer force of will gets a job. Joey cuts a swath through the chorus girls but develops a special fancy for the most innocent one among them, Linda English (Novak).

Joey and Linda wind up working a society party with the rest of the gang from the nightclub. Joey is surprised to recognize the host of the party, society matron Vera Prentice-Simpson (Hayworth); she used to be a burlesque stripper, "Vera Vanessa the undresser...with the Vanishing Veils". Joey reacquainted himself with Vera the rich widow and romances her, seeking to get her to set him up in his own nightclub, "Chez Joey". Joey and Vera become lovers, and she agrees to bankroll his club—but he's still got a thing for Linda, and Vera doesn't like it.

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Loosely based on a 1940 play of the same name by Richard Rodgers and Moss Hart.


Tropes:

  • Bathtub Scene: Linda taking a bubble bath, with a band-aid over the door so Joey can't peek (their rooms share a bath).
  • Big Breast Pride: Linda says this when, while drunk, she accepts Joey's offer to do the striptease number.
    Linda: You're right, I do have a good shape. Confidentially, I'm stacked.
  • The Casanova: Joey apparently has sex with every single chorus girl in the nightclub.
    Joey: She's not my type.
    Ned: They're all your type, Joey.
  • Colorful Song: "That Terrific Rainbow", in which the girls of the nightclub chorus are introduced singing about different colors while different colored spotlights shine on them.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Gladys does this when she brusquely interrupts Joey's conservation to demand to know why he abandoned her sister in Fresno.
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  • Establishing Character Moment: Joey is introduced being run out of the last town he was in for having been caught dating the mayor's underage daughter. (He swears he thought she was legal.). He's established as a rapscallion.
  • Fanservice: Fanservice: The Movie. Pretty much the whole film is Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak in a series of tight dresses and other revealing outfits, with a lot of half-naked chorus girls thrown in for good measure.
  • Fanservice Extra: So many chorus girls!
  • Hangover Sensitivity: After waking up with her very first hangover, a distressed Linda wonders why anyone drinks.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After finally realizing that Joey really does love Linda, Vera arranges for Linda to catch him before he leaves town, so they can be together.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Vera is a former stripper and an example of All Women Are Lustful who is perfectly ok with keeping Joey around as her boy toy. She also smokes and drinks. Linda is vaguely virginal, has never taken a drink, is horrified when Joey suggests she do a striptease in the club, and is very self-conscious when she does it in rehearsal.
  • The Musical Musical: A musical about the performers in a nightclub.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Seriously, Fanservice: The Movie...this is what Linda's wearing at the point that Joey calls a halt to her striptease.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Joey and Linda walking off towards the Golden Gate Bridge, talking about their future.
  • Pretty in Mink: Linda models a mink at the charity auction where Joey meets Vera again; Vera wears a series of furs throughout the movie.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Almost every dress either Linda or Vera wears is this.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Vera and Joey kiss; cut to Vera in bed later, obviously post-coital.
  • Shower Scene: Still more Fanservice as one of Vera's numbers involves her taking off her robe and getting in the shower.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: A panicky Linda asks this, word for word, when she wakes up hung over in Joey's bed.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Vera did this in the backstory before she landed a rich husband. Linda does this in rehearsal and is down to her corset by the time Joey calls a halt.
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