The great musicals of the late Fifties have a curtain-call feeling to them, a sense the artists knew their champagne was about to be confiscated... And of all the era’s big-budget jewels, few give me sharper pleasure than Les Girls. There were plenty of “three girls” movies in the Fifties, but none of them are as sizzlingly adult as this gender-flipped Rashomon about three showgirls vying for the caddish heart of Gene Kelly, the song-and-dance man who runs the troupe.
We’ve all learned, supposedly, to be more sensitive and thus to be a touch affronted at Hollywood’s flip treatment of alcoholism. But I find I’m rarely that bothered by Arthur Housman doing his detailed dipso routine in Laurel & Hardy films. Kendall playing a solitary drinker who gets riotously blotto a la Judith Hearne is a bit stronger. But she does play it magnificently.