An offbeat western that wanders about as aimlessly as its script, this Sophia Loren vehicle costars her with Quinn, the latter playing the sleazy manager of a seedy vaudeville troupe, circa 1880, who must constantly fend off creditors while trying to keep his threadbare show going. When he
and his actors hit Cheyenne to play in Mathews' theater, Quinn quickly learns that the wild town demands something other than sophisticated comedy; it's raw and raucous entertainment that the cowboys and drunks want. Accordingly, Quinn quickly adapts a version of "Mazeppa," casting Loren in the
role of the boy strapped to the galloping horse and letting the steed loose in the theater, so that the westerners can gawk at Loren as she passes by. Loren, meanwhile, takes a liking to local gunslinger Forrest, although she knows Quinn loves her. Quinn is tolerant of her dallying ways, playing
the waiting game. Loren next collects the troupe's much-needed salary from Mathews, only to lose it in a poker game in which not only the money, but also Loren herself, are the stakes. Loren is "won" by Forrest, but the forgiving Quinn does not upbraid her and instead sneaks the entire troupe out
of town. They are hotly pursued by Forrest, who intends to collect his spoils. However, just as he catches up with the struggling troupe, Indians attack the party. In the melee, Quinn loses his wagons and costumes, but the actors survive--thanks to Forrest, who takes them to a remote trading post.
Afterwards, Forrest discovers that Novarro, an old nemesis, is plotting to kill him and thereby avoid paying a huge debt he owes to his rival. Loren, persuaded by Forrest, goes to town and cons Novarro into paying off, but instead of returning the money to Forrest, she purchases a new theater for
Quinn and the troupe. Forrest is enraged and plans to kill the lot of them, but Novarro's gunslingers trap him before he can carry out his plan. Quinn saves his life and gets him out of town, telling him that he will pay him off when the theater is a success. With Forrest gone, Quinn turns his
attentions to Loren and proposes marriage. They go on with the show and their lives.
Despite the direction of George Cukor--here departing from his specialties, sophisticated comedies and "women's films"--HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS is a jumbled, fragmented film, with scenes that seem to have been tacked on as afterthoughts. Loren and Quinn, both miscast, give performances that are
alternately inadequate or inappropriate; only Lowe, Heckart, and former child actress O'Brien (here 21, and surprisingly good as the ingenue) are believable in their roles. Other assets include Amfitheatrof's fine score and Lipstein's cinematography, which is especially impressive in capturing the
splendid countryside outside Tucson, Arizona. The film and the Louis L'Amour novel from which it is derived are based upon the flamboyant theatrical career of Adah Isaacs Menken, whose perennial equestrienne role in "Mazeppa" became legendary in the 19th century.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: An offbeat western that wanders about as aimlessly as its script, this Sophia Loren vehicle costars her with Quinn, the latter playing the sleazy manager of a seedy vaudeville troupe, circa 1880, who must constantly fend off creditors while trying to keep… (more)