The Girl Can’t Help It
- Tom Ewell as Tom Miller
- Jayne Mansfield as Jerri Jordan
- Edmond O’Brien as Marty ‘Fats’ Murdock
- Henry Jones as Mousie
A wild and funny satire on the emerging rock n roll music industry of the 1950’s, Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It is a colourful, eventful and rocking comedy musical. It may be dated in some ways, but the comedic performances and music keep it a watchable experience.
Tom Miller is a down on his luck talent agent who hasn’t discovered a singing sensation in years and drinks heavily as a result of these crises. He is approached by mobster Marty Murdock, also referred to as Fats. Having been released from jail, he wants Tom to do a job for him. He wants Tom to turn his attractive, curvaceous and seemingly gullible moll Jerri Jordan into a star in under six weeks. The one hitch is that Jerri can’t sing and freely admits this fact to Tom. Jerri says she just wants to be a wife and live a life of domesticity, but with Fats as a partner this seems impossible. Daunted by what Fats could do to him if he doesn’t oblige, Tom agrees to the task, little realising he will get more than he originally bargained for. Matters become very complicated as Tom begins to fall for Jerri and Fats begins to suspect something about the two. Witty lines, satiric barbs and a host of cameos from many of the music stars of the 50’s heyday all come together in The Girl Can’t Help It.
Frank Tashlin brings his experiences from working in cartoons to the film and shoots it sumptuously in CinemaScope. His skill at larger than life spectacles is perfectly suited to the piece and brings an exuberance and vibrancy to the work. His eye-popping use of colour and blending with rocking music is shown to full effect when Jerri wiggles down the street in a figure-hugging dress and sends men into a frenzy, causing a man’s glasses to break and ice from the cooler to thaw in her curvaceous presence. The musical interludes of the film are outstanding and showcase the talents of many a 50’s singing sensation in inventive ways. Most of the humour in The Girl Can’t Help It comes from the satiric vibe aimed at the underhand world of the music industry and the script nicely gives this a fresh spin. Some of the story may be dated and more than a little silly at times, but these are minor flaws in a cracking musical comedy with visual flair.
Tom Ewell manages to be funny and sympathetic as the down and out Tom, whose life becomes more complicated because of his involvement with Fats and Jerri. The gorgeous Jayne Mansfield brings sexy energy to the part of the seemingly dumb blonde bombshell, who isn’t as dim as people think she is. Mansfield owns the film with her seductive shimmy,witty lines, girlish squeals and quiet intelligence that is masked by her beauty. Edmond O’Brien brings humour and a little menace to his part of Fats, his many outbursts at those around him a particularly funny occurrence. Henry Jones is quietly amusing as the enforcer of Fats, who isn’t as tough as he sometimes looks and has a decent heart.
A rollicking satire on rock n roll, The Girl Can’t Help It can’t quite escape its age but is still a whole lot of fun because of the performances and soundtrack.