“Les Girls” won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design: Orry-Kelly; also received Golden Globe Awards (Musical/Comedy): Best Film, Best Actress (Kay Kendall)
After the success of "High Society," producer Sol C. Siegel engaged John Patrick again, this time instructing him to completely ignore Vera Caspary's original story, and start completely from scratch. "She said she was the highest paid writer in world because she got eighty thousand dollars for two words: Les Girls" - described Patrick, when interviewed for Patrick McGilligan's 1992 biography of director George Cukor.
With "A Star Is Born" on his C.V., Cukor seemed an ideal choice to direct a more full-fledged musical. Indeed, as evidenced by the numerous backstage moments throughout the film, the visuals are a further enhancement from the aforementioned film: soft makeup, rich colours, lens flares from incandescent bulbs, and softened stage spotlights given the same actor's perspective, along with waves of colorfully attired panicky dancers, ascending or descending staircases for the next act. Warner Bros' DVD contains a brilliant transfer of the film, preserving the creamy colours of 1957, including the radically designed bar for the Gene Kelly-choreographed number "Why Am I So Gone About That Gal?" which uses props and backdrops etched in black on white pen strokes, and several massive red brush strokes for swathes of Metrocolor crimson. Naturally the Oscar-winning costume designs benefit from Robert Surtees' exceptional cinematography, particularly the bizarre 'flower basket' bikini Elg wears during an audition, and the backless Can-Can gowns for the saucy "Ladies In Waiting" number.
The DVD's soundtrack has been cleaned up in a discreet 5.1 mix, with most vocals isolated to the centre channel, and Porter's big band score (co-orchestrated by a young Alexander Courage) booming from the front and rear speakers.
Like other entries in the Classic Musicals series, the DVD includes a brief featurette, "Cole Porter In Hollywood: Ca c'est l'amour." Hosted by Finnish dancer/actress Taina Elg, there's a nice flurry of behind-the-scenes stills, and Elg offers several personal anecdotes on Kelly (then involved in a divorce), Cukor, adapting from ballet to jazz dancing under task master Jack Cole, and the tight camaraderie of the female cast.
In addition to some production notes, the DVD also includes the film's anamorphic trailer - "Les Girls - Rhymes with Play-Girls" - and a vintage Tex Avery cartoon from 1954, about a 1,000 flea circus that's saved by a well-endowed flea clown ("Vive la France!").
This Warner Bros title is available separately or as part of a five-disc “Classic Musicals Collection – The Cole Porter Gift Set” which includes "Broadway Melody of 1940," "High Society," "Kiss Me Kate," "Les Girls," and "Silk Stockings."
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan