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This 1956 comedy stars Tom Ewell as showbiz agent Tom Miller. He is approached by ‘Fats’ Murdock (Edmund O’Brien), a gangster who wants Miller to turn Murdock’s girlfriend, Jerri Jordan (Jayne Mansfield) into a singing star. There’s just a couple of problems – Jerri can’t sing, and she doesn’t actually want to be a star. And then there’s the growing attraction between her and Tom…

This film is basically a light-hearted comedy, with plenty of great rock ‘n’ roll music thrown in. In truth, the plot is pretty thin – it’s really just an excuse to showcase some songs from the likes of Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters and more.

I quite enjoyed it, but it’s not a film I would rush to watch again. Tom Ewell is actually more sympathetic in this role than in The Seven Year Itch, where he starred opposite Marilyn Monroe, although The Girl Can’t Help It is nowhere near as entertaining as that film, which was released just a year before this one. Jayne Mansfield is fine – and actually very funny – as Jerri Jordan, and her figure in a tight red dress that she wears in the film has to be seen to be believed! However, I found Edmund O’Brien quite irritating; he was just very shouty and over-the-top. I accept that this is a comedy and the character is supposed to be something of a stereotype, but he grated on my nerves after a (short) while.

Nonetheless, this is quite an entertaining caper, with a predicatable ending, and some great music. Worth watching once, especially for fans of the rock ‘n’ roll genre.

Year of release: 1956

Director: Frank Tashlin

Writers: Garson Kanin (book), Frank Tashlin, Herbert Baker

Main cast: Tom Ewell, Jayne Mansfield, Edmund O’Brien

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This is one of Marilyn Monroe’s most popular films – and it’s easy to see why.  Tom Ewell plays Richard Sherman, a married man whose wife and son go away for the summer, and he finds himself tempted by the beautiful woman (Marilyn Monroe) who moves into the apartment upstairs from where he lives…

This film appears in the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 comedies, and it deserves its place.  Marilyn looks stunning and again shows off her comedic skills. Tom Ewell is brilliant as Sherman – a part that could easily have been annoying in the hands of a less skilled actor.  Sherman talks to himself incessantly, and is constantly imagining himself being an irresistable object of affection for women.  The two actors work really well together, and have a real chemistry, but the whole time the viewer is reminded that Sherman is really something of a dreamer.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments in the film, and Marilyn with her blend of childlike innocence and woman-like seductiveness, really shines.  From the moment she first appears on screen, she makes the character her own, and it’s really hard to imagine any other actress playing this part.  Special mention also to Robert Strauss, who plays a slovenly janitor; he only takes a small part in this film, but is very funny.

So what happens at the end?  Well, you’ll just have to watch it to find out – and if you haven’t seen this classic comedy yet, I definitely recommend that you do so!

Year of release: 1955

Director: Billy Wilder

Writers: George Axelrod (play), Billy Wilder

Main cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes, Robert Strauss

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