‘The Girl Can’t Help’ Blu-ray movie review


Directed by Looney Tunes, maestro Frank Tashlin embraced the musical comedy genre in 1956 with a compelling live-action rock and roll classic featuring a Cinemascope and DeLuxe Color visual smorgasbord.

Girl Can’t Help (Criteria, unrated, 2.36:1 aspect ratio, 98 minutes, $39.95) A dazzling home cinema debut in high-definition format has now been released, with a new, nearly pristine restoration extracted from the original 35mm camera negative.

Jayne Mansfield stars as Jerri Jordan, a reluctant, up-and-coming singer who embraces her platinum blonde bombshell.

Threatened by loud mobster Fats Murdock (Edmond O’Brien), musical agent Tom Miller (Tom Ewell, the lucky guy in “The Seven Year Itch” starring with Marilyn Monroe a year ago) is forced to make him a star, but Jerri’s All she wants to do is cook for Tom when he starts falling for her.

Despite their over-the-top comedy performances, the real stars of the movie are the cavalry of musicians unleashing this crazy new genre of music. The consistent and frenetic onscreen promotion features legendary performances from Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Fats Domino to name just a few.

The visual power of Tashlin and cinematographer Leon Shamroy are equally strong. As Jerri (a vivid embodiment of Jessica Rabbit) walks down the street in a very tight dress, delivery attendants find a piece of ice melting rapidly in her presence, often treating the film like a cartoon filled with saturated colors and offering loud silliness. or milk boiling over a bottle as an astonished spectator’s glasses crack.

Whether it’s on a hotel balcony or colorful white walls, a refrigerator, or Mansfield’s blond hair, images often feature a blue lighting bath. However, the colors referenced by singer Nino Tempo’s red dress, the sparkly purple curtains of a nightclub, Jerri’s red lipstick, or the bright red 1956 Lincoln Premier Convertible often explode on display.

Overall, audiences embark on a ridiculously fun and colorful nostalgia ride that might be impossible to believe could exist in the 1950s.

The best extras: Criterion offers a range of archival and newly created informational content, beginning with an optional commentary piece originally released with the 2006 DVD version of the film.

Viewers can listen to Toby Miller, a cultural studies expert and professor of film history at the University of California Riverside, to comment on the nuances of the narrative, perceived character motivations, and even psychological profiling. In his analysis he conveys and injects insights that certainly do not reflect the intentions of the filmmakers. His analysis becomes more interesting when discussing music artists and their careers.

For new stuff, start with a pair of disc jockeys – WFMU’s Gaylord Fields and Dave “the Spazz” Abramson – making each other laugh for 30 minutes as they dive into the history of early rock and roll movies, then focus on “The Girl.” He Can’t Help.” They cover the backstory of onscreen artists like The Chuckles, Nino Tempo, and Eddie Fontaine, and offer details on the production and cast beyond just the music.

Next, look to critic David Cairns on the shooting techniques and color strategies used by the director and cinematographer for 16 minutes to deliver an unmistakably vivid and somewhat surreal visual presentation, and then move on from the biographer to an informative, 14-minute biography of Mansfield. Eve Golden chronicles her rise and fall and her love-hate relationship with the press.

Also, viewers get a 2017 40-minute episode of Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember” podcast, which covers dead blondes and focuses on Mansfield.

Finally, the Blu-ray features a 21-minute interview with cult filmmaker John Waters about his love for film in 2004 and the early days of rock and roll. He packs no punches on a film he describes as “celebrating the beauty of bad taste” and filled with memories of Mansfield, singers and bands.

The pack also includes an article by film critic Rachel Syme and a 12-panel, folding brochure with information about the restoration.

And for more fun, a 12-page booklet features excerpts from Tashlin’s 1952 book “How to Create a Cartoon,” which visualizes the SCOT Art technique (square, circle, oval, and triangle), with a new introduction by historian Ethan de Seife.


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