Sartorial Screenings V! Lady of Burlesque


Preshow Robert Osborne moments:

I love Barbara Stanwyck and I love vintage noir/crime novels. I’ve actually read the book this one was based on- it’s Swanns Way by Proust.  The G-string Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee. A neglected classic. If any of you are big with your local PTA, why not suggest it for the 2017/2018 school year required reading?

Ready? Of course you are! Today at Cinema Grievous we proudly review:

Lady of Burlesque!!

Today we will explore the seedy underbelly of Burlesque in a converted opera house down on it’s luck-  but a new face has appeared to save the day! Dixie Daisy (her real name of course. Parents- please think about the road you set your kiddies on with these names- Lolita is never going to be the name of an environmental  lawyer. My 2 cents)   credits

Seedy times people, seedy times. But they give the people their best!

1st act

Edith Head does the principal costuming for Stanwyck- but lets show some love for the fabulous salute to the ceiling fans that Flossie is wearing:

Flossie

At last! Dixie is busting thru this paper womb of propriety and bringing her sassy strip work to the stage. She’s our headliner, so of course the old guard resents her ‘easy’ path  to sleazy stardom! But she’s no flooz! She’s clawed her way to the  …umm….top with grit, hard work and double jointed knees! Note the appearance of the fox pelt- we still maintain the working girl illusion that pelt=CLASS!

1st appear

Dixie will now perform her signature song by the Oscar winner composer Sammy Kahn.

Let it Snow

Come Fly with me

The Tender Trap

When Somebody Loves you

It’s been a Long , long time

Right….it’s one of his lesser known classics, tho equally memorable:

Take it off the e string, play it on the g-string! A song that I feel is sadly underused in kiddie dance recitals. Lets retire Itsy Bitsy and see those kids twerk dispassionately to a classic!

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Ah- here comes the action! Biff Brannigan- vaudeville comic has his eye on Dixie- but she has no interest in him. Comics are trouble! No good louses that leave you with the check and a one way ticket to Tulsa. She’s not biting his hook!

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Gypsy Rose Lee perfected the art of the intellectual strip- more provocative that skin baring, me thinks.

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Here Barbara does more singing and strutting than baring, BUT she does actually start pulling her stole apart so by the 3rd minute, dare I say it- you will see her bare muff. Yes, I am an equal mix of shame and snorty laughter at my own ribaldry…..

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Let’s pause a moment to make a timely reminder. Men, a muff tossed at your head is still not a consent. Thank you. Back to our story.

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The audience fails to notice she’s still wearing more than the average person wears to grocery shop.

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Now, let’s talk about what we all know about stripping. It’s degrading to women and It’s a place where women form lasting, satisfying relationships and mentor each other and form complex and unbreakable bonds. Stay in school kids.

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Our plot is also carried along by the ventilation system- something so important is a flesh den, err- legitimate theatre. The men’s dressingroom is directly below. Male strippers you ask?  Um, yeah, no. The men are all comics. Only women entertain with their bodies, dummies. Gees!? Today the girls are very upset about their plumbing and it’s upsetting the boys too. Seriously. Their only sink in the girls dressing room is broken. Damn, did you think I meant….?

Lola

This little man-trap is our tension source in the plot. She thinks she’s a great talent too good for this place! She’s got a mobster boytoy and one of the comics is writing the perfect play for her ascent to the big time! Hmmm….I hope nothing bad happens to her.

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Dotty is really not much more than fluff to our plot, but how could I not show this???

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For me, the entire movie could have been just watching these girls wander around in the official Busby Berkley fetish strip club. But enough about my needs. Lets get back to Lola- the burr in everyone’s pasties.

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Well, Angel has had enough! She comes after Lola- the other girls intervene but only because they are bored. Not because they like Lola. Nobody really likes Lola. For the record, I’ve never been in a fight, but I’m assuming I would climb out-of-the-way too.

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You know who doesn’t like strippers? These two. Lets pause here so I can share how much I love these two actors- they are amazing character actors that just are so underutilized in this- I’ve labelled them so you can track them down and enjoy. I’ll be checking back to quiz you later.

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The girls don’t like them much either. Not for the judgemental ogling. That’s their meat and potatoes.  It’s Stacchi and his crappy pipe smoking. Stacchi is not his real name- no one bothered to ask him if he had a real name. So sad.

After kicking Lolas butt, Angel hydrates as she should. Just as Hollywood taught  us that hookers are strong advocates of flossing, strippers can’t stop raving about hydration!

Angel;

We as an audience already sense the blooming chemistry of Dixie and Biff. Or Diffie, or Bixie or whatever. Here they are headed to the stage for the big number!

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Were you thinking they changed the title because ‘g-string’ was not a code approved title? Well, I’m starting to think it’s because ‘murder’ didn’t actually happen?! Come on people, get the violence going, wills ya?

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Oh dearie dear! The cops have raided our fine establishment! Now according to Burlesque by-law 500B, all theatre employees must be warned of Bacon scented in the building with a red light that is triggered by a backstage member who sees them. Hence, places of ill-repute are called ‘Red Light’ districts. Ok, I made that last sentence up. It sounded great, tho and I was on a roll. Red lights are used in prostitute districts because the tint gives the TB suffering hookers a rosy glow. Ok, thats not true either, I think. just get back to the movie, m’kay?   Biff and Dixie display teamwork as they try to discretely finish their set and leave the stage without shackles.

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Dixie hot-foots it back to the dressing room to get her chapstick and lucky troll doll before the police spot her.

Oh, crap! A phantom creepo has grabbed our heroine and is trying to kill her! He tries to strangle her, but all the noise and commotion- while making a good diversion, is too distracting for him. She escapes!

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Well, the cops round everybody up and try to haul them off- their boss being a very good guy, rents limos to take them to the pokey in style. So class. Afterword he treats them to a steak and egg breakfast and gives them each a share in the Opera House! Merriment and job loyalty secured!  Dixie would like to talk about whom might have tried to give her the 10 digit necktie and I’d like to discuss how she can wear lower bodiced dresses to breakfast than as a professional chaunteuse.

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Dark cloud! Lola’s mobster boyfriend doesn’t show up until the party. He ignored her 1 phone call from the hoo-scow! Jerk! Look at his tiny weasel stache! OOOO- he’s trouble! But Lola is in trouble with him- he knows about her playwright guy on the side and takes a poke at him! Lola is unamused, but her accessories are on point. 5 minute break while I see if I can make any of Grannies pearls into a bowtie. Oh, crap! I have a jeweled turtle I can wear climbing out of my blouse bunny area! Score!

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So, lets recap-

no one likes Lola

Angel significantly dislikes Lola

Lolas boyfriend is mad at her and her side piece

Lola has great jewelry

Someone tried to kill Dixie in the dark

Bifff persuades Dixie to go out for a beverage with him. She dons her best Warden of the North Wookie fur and goes. He doesn’t pay and she doesn’t smile. biff2

Well, back to the grind, as they say!  Now it took me a bit to figure this out, because these are burlesque gals not the club strippers we see now who only need a shoe box to store their costumes. I think these gals are climbing the walls to get to their fancy bits. Huh. I should have used that line for an audience shot.

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Lola is very upset today about the Asian sterotypes who work nextdoor and peep at her. Now I’m no expert on these things, but you still can’t throw bottles at people who watch you undress in front of a window can you? I mean, they never make the girls pay for their moo-goo, so maybe the guys thought it was a little quid-pro-chow action. Well, something to tell Judge Judy about.

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Dixie does not like this one bit! She snaps at Lola and establishes herself as a suspect…..if anything should ever happen.

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Dixie trots across the alley to check on the restaurant telling even more people how much Lola harshest her mellow. Oh-and is suddenly alone in the dressingroom/hostel upon her return.

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Ah, here comes more tension! Apparently Dixie has only been there a few weeks and this little saucy Sputnik’r was HER spot on the marque prior! hedy

Whatevs.The other girls smell Arkansas on her.

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But she has her good points, I’m sure.

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Biff and Dixie continue their fine vaudeville work.

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Meanwhile, Lolas playwright sidepiece is skulking around the ladies dressingroom in a robe he stole from Jeremy Irons.

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Dixie is still breaking it down on stage-

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Dixie heads back to the suspiciously empty dressingroom with a message for Lola- who is late for her curtain. Oh, no!Who could have forseen such?

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Lola has been strangled by her own g-string! How appropriate. Dang, tho, she looks lovely.  Inspector Straitlace arrives and after he fingerprints Dixie, they all gather to trample any evidence left laying around. Lola we can only assume is also still lying around. She’s past tense now. So she can’t lay now. I think.

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Stanwyck comes very close to calling the cop  a ‘big mug’ in this scene. I’d have supported her choice. Everyone has announced that they heard, saw, enjoyed Dixie and Lola scrapping. Neglecting to mention that it was their only hobby as a group.

Biff realizes during the questioning that the g-string that the cops say they didn’t see is in  his pocket! He’s got to ditch that thong!! But Dixie catches him with it and assumes the worst! No, not that he is a cross dresser! That he killed Lola! Side note- have the producers ever seen a g-string? Did they just tell the prop guy to wad up some uphostery fringe and go with it?

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Finally they get to go back to work, but things have changed! Nikita the Unpure has stolen the main spot on the bill! How did she do it? Hard work and dedication or is she really seeing the mobster on the side and blackmailing their union friendly boss? I’m thinking it’s this really cool whip/strip she does!

whip 1

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Its not too fetishy, is it?

whip3

meh

Oh come now Ladies- that was pretty stinkin’ cool.

Dixie confronts the boss and finds out that yes, Nikita has something on him.

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Dixie hits the watercooler and ends up bonding with the backstage lech. He’s been at the theatre since it was a real opera house and even sang. But that was years ago. Bitter, angry years ago. I’m sure that means nothing to the plot and is just a character development moment. Stripper with VPL- isn’t that an oxymoron?

lech

Ah, here comes Biff and he has news- like a really old newspapoer kind of news, but Dixie gets distracted by practically anything that isn’t Biff. biff4

Oh if only they worked as well offstage as on-

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EEK!

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Oh this looks bad! Nikita has been strangled inside the prop coffin that Dixie uses! Who has access to the prop closet? Who has access to Nikita? Who’s going to do the DEVO tribute now?

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Well, here comes the inspector- lets see if Biff can keep it in his pockets this time?!

suspects

Grumpy prop guy has found a clue! A torn up picture in the supposedly locked prop cage! Our suspect is shortwaisted! What does it mean? It means she can’t wear crop tops without some sort of pendant necklace to give the illusion of a longer torso! No, to the plot! What does it mean to our plot! No ideas.

mama

The police wants to close them down since there’s a killer on the loose. But like Andy Hardy- who also likes to wear a thong- they are going to put on the show!

close

Just a thought. They were all headed home when Dixie rallied the troops. All headed home half dressed.

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Well, its time for everyone to leave the theatre for the evening and turn out all the lights and make it extra dark and creepy and you know. But first, some bonding.

hat

Ahem.

hat 2

Whatever.

hat3

Hey, who turned off the lights? Dixie is all alone in the dressingroom! Oh my! Honey that is not the great and powerful OZ!

oz

He’s trying to strangle her and muttering something about legitimate theatre is about Pain and Russian writers! This is jazzy smut! In rush Biff and the coppers- it was a fancy trap!

tyrap

How did Biff know?It was the newspaper and the photo! The newspaper talked about Lady Stacchi the golden throated opera singer with a tragic end. The picture was the same as the one of Lolas Mama! Stacchi couldn’t stand the idea of his granddaughter being a skanky burlesque flooz! He killed every flooz he could lay 2 hands on! Dixie was next!

hos

Well kids, of course they end up together and the Opera House goes on. Lovely.

th

One more thing. I just want to say that I don’t think Burlesque or Vaudevillians are floozies. I was just being my snarky self.

photo credits: little me with an assist from Amazon prime…..

Sartorial Screenings! Faithless!!!


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This morning we will return to the 1932 with Tallulah Bankhead gem- Faithless. This went on the dvr because of it’s leading man- Robert Montgomery- little  me loves some Robert Montgomery- he, Franchot Tone and William Powell are the trinity of testosterone in my dvr.

The set up: spoiled heiress gets what every depression audience wants to see- her money gone and her virtue smeared….but in great frocks, of course. We begin-

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Yay! Oh, wait no- it’s not so great in America- but Carol Morgan- socialite orphan is riding high.

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Publicity shot of Carol at home:

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Carol is spending like she has no common sense! oh, dear!

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Carol put the brakes on and think of all the orphans that will be neglected if you can’t help them and the Morgan Home for neglected girls has to close! They will walk the streets! FORESHADOWING!!!!

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Carol has a fine loving man in her life- Bill! He makes a good living in advertising and he has a strong chin and fine character. He also likes to nap.

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Get up Bill!

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Yes, yes, of course Bill. But Bill soon learns that society will assume that he is Carols kept fancy man! He is now barraged with news people- much like that poor bakery worker sap who dated Cher back in the 90’s.

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Bill knows Carol is a virtuous woman who will step down into his world and let him take care of her. But Bill starts to doubt it as he sees how her friends assume he is just her purse carrying boy toy!

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Think about your life Bill!

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Bill and Carol have a fight that of course ends with her pouting and him looking deep into her glassy eyes and vows to never argue again occur. They are in a rut! The pattern repeats itself like an episode of Hoarders. But he sends her flowers and they carry on.

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Huh. What could the bank want in the height of the depression? Probably just letting her know her new checks are in.

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Screen shots of this movie don’t do the costumes justice- here’s what you wear to find out you are on skid row. Shh- don’t wake the pelts.

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Carol has lost the farm….and the yacht and the maid and a world class Hummel statue collection. Poor Carol. Who can she turn to? Well, after seeing Bills apartment and being shown a can opener, Carol has issues about their love.

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Carol is still a name and a face- trash with cash are begging for her to grace their tables and parties to bring up their social stock. She jumps on the first flea she sees! But she begins to gamble and borrow money and make bad choices! Carol is losing her way- without Bill to ground her. Bills brother thinks he has Carols number-

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Carol- stop betting, take your last scraps of dignity and go home- didn’t you read your Edith Wharton? This won’t end well!!!!

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Carol is all ‘Unhand me new money creepo- I’m a Morgan!’ Good girl Carol- he is clearly not having honorable Bill-like intentions! Carol has had it for the night- oh, here’s her host to tuck her in!

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Carol gets the hint and packs up all the towels and baby soaps she can grab and exits stage right in the middle of the night- but who is this lurking by the Ficus? It’s Weasel Gotrocks!

Bowing to his oily pressure, she accepts money, jewels, liquor and a maid from him and some other things….you can guess.

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If I had to be defiled by Commodore Brillcream, I’d wear this too!

dress

Carol spends lots of time drinking and trying not to see the Commodore naked. One evening Bill finally finds her address and arrives to see his old sweetie at her apartment.

A fracas ensues! Bill meets her keeper and gets the big picture. She tries to follow him, but the Commodore holds her back and it’s not pretty.

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Her resolve is set, but Bill is gone. She leaves without her fox pieces and tries to be an honest woman. She’s kind of bad at it. She ends up in a crappy boarding house selling her t-straps to the land lady for soup money. Oh- none of that was a metaphor. She really did.

23  Oh, the Coincidence fairy arrives and here comes Bill- looking strapped and strapping! He is no longer in the ad game- he’s a laborer. Look at those hunky callouses! He can’t leave her like this-

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They marry and move into a different rooming house and they combine his  sterno and her hotplate. Again, not a euphemism, just the 30’s. Bill hears about a job- it’s in trucking! Hurray! They celebrate and he heads off to learn the lingo.

But the job is available because the bosses fired the regular union crew to pay new drivers less. Bill has his pride, but he also has Carol. He takes the job.

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These drivers are not understanding Bills lack of union sentiment. He was probably a Taft voter. Tsk, tsk. They try to reason with him. Harshly.

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This is unfortunate. Carol must get a job to help out or the landlady will throw them out, broken spleen and all! Carol tries hard to find a job. She only gets one offer. It’s a little play for pay situation with the local lunch counter owner. She takes it. Bill needs that spleen brace!

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Carol wrestles with her moral qualms like she did on the sofa with the Commodore! BUt practicality and a word from her landlady helped her decide.

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Carol hits the alley. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Uh oh- Carol tries to get one more month of spleen rental for Bill when she bumps into another guy- but it’s Bills brother! He chastises her like the pope at an all you can eat buffet. I don;t know what that means exactly, but he was quite rough on her. She runs the other way right into the billy club of Sargeant Clancy!  He hears her story- and even knew some girls from the Morgan home- he is touched by her Venice to Vice sob story. He has a plan!

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Carol waits tables and in 35 payments, Bill gets to keep his spleen! Happy ending?

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While Carol is working the graveyard shift, Bills brother finally finds them and he tells all! Carol has brought your spleen with her vagina Big Brother!!!

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Uh, oh. Carol arrives home- to find her indiscretion all revealed. She is full of shame and extra fries she snagged off plates.

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Well, hey, who hasn’t hooked for a good cause, I mean really, Bill- aren’t you meant to be together? Didn’t she have the best intentions? Of course she did. Of course he took her back.

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Sigh. Ain’t love grand?

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photo credits: little me with an assist from TCM!

Sartorial Screenings 3- The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown!


In the true spirit of Howard Hughes film technique-plot will be sacrificed here for gratuitous shots of Jane- who’s nightgown really isn’t all that fuzzy, sadly.

Alright, buckle up and have your popcorn ready, this is a doozy!

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Laurel is a  major star! An independent woman who rules her own destiny and loves cigarette pants- as all powerful women do! She knows her worth and packages it accordingly! Let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s count how many times Jane has to blow or suck on something in the first five minutes to establish her character development, shall we?

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Laurels new film is a glorious historically accurate sex romp thru the Bourbon period. Her last film was mostly tequila based, so this is a nice change for her. Her producer and studio boss are very excited about this film loosely based on the life of St Catherine.

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Laurel is torqued off because her bath tub scene got cut by the censors for not meeting their ‘suds to bazooms ratio’.

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Look it up kiddies- it’s a thing! Laurel refuses to come to the opening tonight until that calgon orgy is put back in. She knows art and how to sell it! Grandeur studios was built on Laurel Stevens bust! Seriously- they’ve been able to expand 3 times in 5 years!

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Meet- aw, heck, I forgot her name. She’s a retired actress who provides sassy yet loving candor to Laurel in exchange for light housework and getting to eat anything in the fridge. Lets call her Maureen. She is wearing a fabulous belt! laurel is dressing for the opening- but slowly- so we can see her fabulous movie star home- look at all the ficus!

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Laurel uses this scene to explain to Maureen that sex appeal is a tool and that you don’t  need a man- it’s all career and fancy lamps! Oh, phone call!

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Ok, off we go- time to hit the premiere and dazzle the masses!   What could go wrong?

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You will NEVER believe this! A nefarious man is waiting to abscond with Laurel! What a thing to do on the opening night of The Kidnapped Bride!!

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Meet Mike and Dandy: an ex-con and his friend who believes in his good heart. They are kidnapping Laurel to get money to start over. I’m not sure they’re a couple, but maybe.

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Meanwhile- the producers are being grilled by the faux Hedda Hopper about Laurel and whether or not they are cheesy enough to stage a ‘napping on the night of the premiere! But they are as shocked and upset as soulless studio people can be.

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Laurel is forced to put on this lovely velvet cape by her kidnappers. Seriously- whats up with this? It doesn’t conceal her or keep her from seeing her whereabouts or anything- were they just worried about her getting a cold? Do they want to kidnap one of the 7 dancing princesses?

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Well, when they arrive at the hideout- Laurel makes a brave escape attempt and her druid cape impedes her- maybe there was a point after all.

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Laurel is carried into the house and forced to listen to Dandy unveil the plot!

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Oh, you two are twisted weasels! They have truly creepy plans indeed! Dandy is going to force Laurel to wear this Lanz nightgown and play a frisky game of ‘what big _____ you have’ with them. She’s going to need so much therapy after this- you know Patty Hearst was given a very similar nightie in plaid. Look it up.   12

Laurel soon realized that not only is Mike evil- he thinks he’s Perry Como! It’s now time for the sensitive exposition talk about how Mike was an innocent man framed by the justice system and now he is marked for life and can’t do anything but continue down the perditious path. Poor Mike.

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Meanwhile- Laurel, ever the professional, is practicing for her next movie- where she plays a high wire artist with Rory Calhoun- ‘Cleavage under the Big Top’…..

15  16  This film has it all, suspense, athletics, early American furniture….

Meanwhile Maureen finds evidence that Laurel couldn’t have left of her own free will and rushes to show the studio guys!

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Laurel tries all of her best wiles to get her Perry Como impersonating abductor to release her. She nearly throw out her back trying to saunter in his dead Grandmothers negligee but they are hardened er, desperate criminals!

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Mike the excon had to register with his parole officer and was smart enough to leave the hideout as an address. When Detective McBride shows up to check on Mike- who he believed was innocent all along, but still a ne’er-do-well, Laurel tries out her expansive lung capacity on him-

IMG_8476.JPG Wow- that was close! luckily Mike keeps her from escaping and locks her in the ‘Young Brides 4 piece all mahogany look veneer bedroom suite’.

IMG_8568But she is always listening…..

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Over a strangely long period of time for a public figure to be missing and only noticed by 4 people, Laurel, Mike and Dandy form a bond and enjoy long walked on the beach, toast and wearing each others clothes and wigs.

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They decorate their tiny display Christmas tree and do all the other things one routinely does with their kidnapper. Yes, they paint each others nails alot.

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At last the deal is made with the studio to ransom Laurel using a price by the pound. The ransom will be delivered and Mike and Dandy will go off to Mexico! By now, The faux Hedda cannot be put off- she knows something is up! So does detective Mcbride and oh, it’s about to all get crazy and misunderstandings will commence!

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But what about Mike? He isn’t really a kidnapper- he’s misunderstood. What about Dandy? He’s just a low-level airport worker that wants to go to Mexico. If they take the money, they’re really crooks and what about Laurel? What about how she feels about Mike? What about Dandy and how I’m thinking he feels about Mike in the novel, but was edited it out of the film by the uptight Hays board?

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Now it’s Christmas day and Dandy has a gift for Laurel- no it’s not another nightgown- it’s a really odd purchase for a bachelor man to bring his hostage, but hey, Dandy- you be you!

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Oh, whats that noise? It’s a car, possibly the police or the neighborhood watch coming for Dandy!

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Oh, carollers. That was close!

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Well, the big day arrives- Maureen has all the money in a very generic suitcase and Dandy has his generic swap suitcase ready- he is ready to make the drop as they say.

But second thoughts are brewing all around. Mike- about becoming the thing he has denied for so long- a criminal.

Laurel- about being used by the studio like she is just a commodity! But she has no doubts about the fabulous lacy catsuit with chiffon skirting that Dandy bought her- it’s delish!

33No, we can’t do this! We must stop Dandy! Time for a madcap chase thru the streets in a stolen police car!!

IMG_9030They find Dandy in the breakroom- abusing the companies generous break policy- Dandy is the reason minimum wage is so low.

IMG_9048.JPGThe police arrive and so does Maureen and the studio people! Fire laws are clearly not followed and they are going to arrest Mike and Dandy! Oh no! Think Laurel, think!

IMG_9054.JPGLaurel announces that it was all her idea and the boys are her publicity team! The suitcase is full of old newspaper and a stray girl scout uniform that Dandy can’t explain, but nothing criminal in most states! Yay! Laurel and Mike will be together forever and Dandy will live with them until they find out. Ah, love.

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photo credits: little me, with an Amazon assist. All images remain the property of the original owner.