Varietease

  • 1954
  • 1 HR 05 MIN
  • NR

Inspired by the success of Jerald Intrator's STRIPORAMA, legendary pin-up photographer Irving Klaw — who also did a brisk business in short films of lingerie-clad models dancing, wrestling and otherwise carrying on — made two feature-length burlesque films of his own. This is the first, and features a mix of baggy-pants comedy, songs, novelty acts...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Inspired by the success of Jerald Intrator's STRIPORAMA, legendary pin-up photographer Irving Klaw — who also did a brisk business in short films of lingerie-clad models dancing, wrestling and otherwise carrying on — made two feature-length burlesque films of his own. This is the first, and features a mix of baggy-pants comedy, songs, novelty acts and erotic dance/strip numbers that stop short of actual nudity. The movie's stars are legendary stripper Lili St. Cyr, who's featured throughout (which isn't the case in STRIPORAMA, in which she appears only in a self-contained short called "Cinderella's Love Lesson") and model Bettie Page, who is, if anything, more famous today than at the height of her pin-up popularity. There's no framing story, just a series of acts emceed by singer Bobby Shields, who also does an embarrassing Be-bop number and sings a drippy ballad called "Broken Toy," first straight and then in the styles of various "popular recording stars," including Frankie Lane and Nat King Cole Among the featured numbers are Page's harem dance, a vigorous can-can number by Twinnie Wallen and a series of "backstage" vignettes of St. Cyr trying on various articles of sexy clothing and fussing with her hair and jewelry. Singers Cass Franklin and Monica Lane do two duets (they're good, in a very mainstream '50s way), and Christine Nelson, a pert blonde with a huge, scary mouth, does a comedy singing number about being always a bridesmaid, never a bride. "International sophisticates of the dance" Baro & Rogers do a comic ballroom dance filled with pratfalls, and Peppe & Roccio do a straightforward Spanish number with castanets. The oddest number involves curvy redhead Chris La Chris doing a vampy dance in a slinky, black sequined dress, apparently for a slender young man who watches from a table. "How did you like my dance?" she asks. "I liked it very much," he replies. "But you know, if I was a woman, I could do a dance that would hold any man." La Chris dares him to prove it, and he returns as "Vickie Lynn," wearing a dress very like hers, and proceeds to do a similar dance. The movie ends with Lili St. Cyr doing one of her patented classy strips, followed by an exotic dance. Overall, this well-shot film is probably as close as a contemporary viewer is going to get to the experience of going to an early '50s burlesque show.

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