“Party Girl” (1958) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Tue, October 29, 2013 04:15 PM est. Not closed captioned. *NOTE*:A TCM programming day begins at 6:00am EST on the calendar day listed and runs to 5:59am EST in the morning on the next day. Hours listed at 12:00am to 5:59am EST in your reminder will be shown on the NEXT calendar day.
Nicolas Ray uses color in this movie like some directors use dialogue. It is spectacular to look at with reds and blacks predominate all through the film. It is old-fashioned in it’s appeal to the film noir lover. This is the last film Robert Taylor did for MGM, and it is a great performance. The character of Tommy Farrell is, if you excuse the pun, tailor made for Taylor. Again he is the man with a secret past, as he has been in other film noir classics such as the High Wall, and Rogue Cop, two of his better roles. He is a mob attorney who is drawn to the “fastest way,” which in this case is working for Rico Angelo (Lee J Cobb). Cobb is always wonderful to watch and his role here is one of overstated ignorance, and brutal power. Tommy walks with a limp due to a childhood accident, and hates women because of his ex-wife’s repulsion of his crookedness. She destroyed his masculinity, by denying him access to both her bed and her love. He meets Vicki, played well by Cyd Charisse, at a party given by Angelo, takes her home to find her room mate dead in a bloody tub scene. He is drawn to her, but chases her away telling her “a girl deserves what she can get,” after Vicki wants him to return money given to her by John Ireland at the party.
She follows him to court and watches as he uses his limp to get sympathy from the jury, freeing murderer Ireland. His unique approach also includes the use of an old simple watch that he tells the jury was given to him by his father while he was in the hospital as a boy. It is the secret to his success with the jury. She tells him if that is what he wants “pity” then he has hers. He snarls at her telling her to get out. Afterwards he goes to the club where she is a dancer, every night finally taking her home, and telling her about his past with the wife. They fall in love and that is the beginning of the end for Farrell. She wants him to quit, he can’t. He does go to Europe to have his hip fixed and they vacation, until Rico summons him back to Chicago. There is finds that Rico has a job for him, defending a young gangster who Farrell refers to as a “dog with the rabies.” He tries to leave only to find that Rico will disfigure Vickie if he doesn’t go along. Reluctantly he agrees and in the pursuit there is a massive machine gunning down of the young gangster and his associates.
Farrell escapes unharmed, and goes to Vicki, telling her they must run. She refuses, and the cops take them both to jail. In the end he rats on Rico to save Vicki, he thinks, until he is taken to a broken down meeting hall, where Rico presents Vicki to him, wrapped in bandages. They unveil her still perfect face, but also a bottle of acid, which Rico tells Tommy he will use if he doesn’t take back the testimony. The cops were tipped where to find Rico, and they attack the hall with a hail of bullets causing Rico to tip the acid on his own face, falling to his death through a plate glass window. Vicki and Farrell leave, meeting the District Attorney on the way, with Farrel giving his watch to Kent Smith, “as a remembrance.”
The wonderful thing about this performance by Taylor is that his looks only add to the sadness of the character, his blue eyes showing the conflict within this man. Still magnificent to look at we feel for his plight with the crooked body, not be able to love again until Charisse loves him as is. Taylor is just great here, a mature, restrained Tommy Farrel, in love at last but conflicted about his job, and how he gets his money. A must see film noir. Revew by Mamalv, United States for the IMDB.
MGM did right with Robert Taylor’s last picture for them. It is one of my favourites and unfortunately the last of his openly romantic roles, he thought he was too old for them! Yes, it was the end of an era when he left MGM.
I’m confused. Wasn’t Cattle King his last MGM picture? Or do I have that wrong? I do like Party Girl, especially after having hip surgery. The Tommy Farrell character is very real to me. All the best.
Would not like to argue the point with anyone about this, but I do remember it was promoted as his last film with MGM when it premiered here (Melbourne). I have a vague recollection, which I have just consulted my reference books to confirm, that he went back to MGM to complete a deal for 2 further movies he owed MGM after they parted company. The Hangman (1959) and Cattle King (1963) were made but were realitively low budget films with limited release. In fact I do not think Cattle King was released here, and I only caught up with it on TV. Technically you are right tho about Cattle King being his last MGM film. Hope this ends your confussion. Cheers.
By the way did you get any joy with Song of Russia?
June, I think you’re right about “Cattle King.” I remember reading somewhere that the editors made RT’s name bigger than usual as a farewell tribute. I sent “Song of Russia” to a specialist place in Oregon and they finally got back to me to say that they could transfer it but that it wouldn’t stop rolling so I told them not to bother, as it would have cost $40. It is on You Tube now. I appreciate your sending the tape very much and I wish it had worked out. You can’t do decent frame snips from You Tube. They do have some late RT “Death Valley Days” episodes. There’s one where he is wearing a shirt outside his pants during the introduction and there is no setting, just the sky behind him. I wonder if this is what they filmed on the day Ursula talks about in her book. The producer came to the ranch and did some filming shortly before RT’s death and it was very good for him. Thanks again for the tape.
Judith Evans Hanhisalo
Hi Judith and June,
As far as I know, and according to some sources, “Party Girl” was the last movie under Bob’s 25 year contract with MGM. As June says, after his contract expired he got a deal for 2 further MGM movies, the first being “The House of the Seven Hawks” and the second, “Cattle King” (in fact, “Return of the Gunfighter” is also an MGM production, but this is a TV film). However, I’ve also found sources stating that “Party Girl” was already part of a 3-movie deal he made for MGM as a freelancer, so I don’t know for sure. Anyway, I always loved “Party Girl”!
Judith, I’d like to watch those “Death Valley Days” eps you mention. I don’t think, however, they ever used the footage Ursula talks about in her bio. Could you send me the links of those eps to my email address?
Just finished Party Girl.. I know I scene if before. Watched it again! Great acting by Robert Taylor.. Loved it!
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Becky, Mr. Taylor didn’t use any devices or anything to help with the limp. It was all pure acting. He was the best. Judith