Pal Joey (1957) – George Sidney


Frank Sinatra seems to be playing a version of Frank Sinatra in this highly enjoyable musical that is the next recommendation from my screening of The Jazz Singer for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book.

Filled with great tunes, almost every single one of them I knew (included one I sang at a friends’ wedding), playful dialogue from Sinatra, and two gorgeous leading ladies in Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak this film is sheer class, and highly enjoyable. It’s based on the stage production of the same name and follows likeable, but a bit of heel, Joey (Sinatra) as he arrives back in San Francisco looking for a job crooning or MCing a show.

He happens into a club on the Barbary Coast where an old friend, Ned (Bobby Sherwood) and worms his way into the act, with his eye set on the lovely Linda English (Kim Novak, looking absolutely stunning in this film!).

His mouth gets him into trouble, and lands him a bit of a role as a boy toy for rich widow and ex-show girl, Vera Prentice-Simpson (Rita Hayworth). He finds himself caught between the two, as well as a dog, named Snuffy, when all he really wants, he thinks, is to open his own club, Chez Joey.

In the end though, he realizes he’s in love, and what is he willing to sacrifice to get it, or seeing as this is a Hollywood musical, I’m sure there will be happy endings all around.


The music is great, and I was singing along with every song, and I had no idea that this is where most of them had originated from. Sinatra is hilarious, he’s got his delivery and throwaway lines down perfect, and it honestly seemed, and I mean this as a compliment, that he as simply playing a caricature of himself.

Novak, whom I will always associate with Vertigo, is funny, endearing, and so very lovely in this film. And you can’t help but feel a little sorry for her, knowing her character can’t resist Joey’s charm; though she does hold her own against him occasionally, especially when they’re supposed to go to dinner, and she gets him to spend his loot on something else…

And the dog!

Snuffy steals scenes from Sinatra whenever he can, leaping from the bed right before Joey enters, to take up his assigned sleeping spot in a drawer, or dunking his own bagel in coffee. Hilarious!

But it is the music that truly  makes this film, and it is filled with tunes that have become standards,and for a reason, there are filled with melody, singable lyrics, and emotion, and all of them are perfect for singing in the shower.

In the words of Joey, this one bewitched, bothered and bewildered me.

Have you seen it?

And did I mention Kim Novak in this film?!



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