The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) – Frank Tashlin

The first recommendation following my screening of Jailhouse Rock for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film is the very enjoyable The Girl Can’t Help It starring the stunning Jayne Mansfield.

The film follows an alcoholic PR man, Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) who used to the top of his game, and could find the next big thing. He’s hauled in by a small time gangster, ‘Fats’ Marty Murdock, who has a proposition for him.

Murdock has his eye on his would be girl, Jerri Jordan (Mansfield) to be the next big thing, and wants Miller to promote her.

Throwing the two of them together is great, as through wonderful comedic moments it becomes very obvious that the two are beginning to fall for one another. Miller is a pro, and despite his best efforts, he doesn’t think Jerri has what it takes, she’s good-hearted, naive, stunning, and can’t carry a tune to save her life.

From there the story rocks and rolls its way to its predictable happy ending and does so with a sense of fun.

Mansfield is nothing short of drop dead gorgeous, Ewell makes for a very funny, and unlikely romantic lead (which just makes it work all the more) and there are fantastic performances every few minutes by some of the big names of the 50s. There are numbers by Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, The Platters, and some lesser known artists as well.

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Wonderfully packaged, and from the beginning it plays with a sense of fun, this film was incredibly entertaining, despite its predictability. It’s just fun.

And then there’s Mansfield. ‘Nuff said.

The music, the story beats, the almost tongue in cheek humour, it all works, and this soundtrack, when it came out must have been huge, as it was one of the first rock’n’roll soundtracks to come along.

This is my kind of musical, great songs, and it’s not so much of a musical, because none of these musical numbers come out of nowhere – the music doesn’t swell and all of a sudden everyone knows how to dance, instead the music is all performed and adds a raw vibrancy to the film.

I think, this one probably would have packed the teenyboppers in at the time of release, and was probably viewed more than once by its audience.

Once again, this book brings me a film that I had at least heard of, but had never seen, and I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Can’t wait to see what they have coming up next.

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