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Sunday, September 11, 2011


A musical gloss on THE MALE ANIMAL, Elliot Nugent & James Thurber’s once popular, if toothless, satire of college politics, tenure & football, sounds like a pretty good idea. Virginia Mayo gets the tone just right as a burlesque star who ditches the runway to hit the books, and she sure looks great as a low-down Madame DuBarry in the big finale. As her campus mentor, Professor Ronald Reagan (on his way out @ Warners) earns a ‘C-‘ on his delivery of the script’s pseudo-Shavian dialogue (a long drunk scene completely defeats him*), but the rest of the cast is lively. Phyllis Thaxter underplays charmingly as Ronnie’s disappointed spouse & Don DeFore, who played a footballer in the 1942 filming, is suitably thick as a gridiron alumni. Best is Hollywood’s ‘regular guy’ song & dance man, Gene Nelson, who gets a big athletic showcase number. What biceps! If only the songs were less dreary and the near-rhymes less painful. And the sets! Where did these cheap looking things come from? Acme Amateur Theatrical Rental Co.? LeRoy Prinz, who staged all the musical numbers, plays around with the bargain-basement budget, but the over-all direction of H. Bruce Humberstone only confirms his hack status. (And check out this super creepy French poster.)

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Reagan’s big climactic speech sounds suspiciously like a coded plea for a liberal agenda against McCarthyism! A great clip for political ironists.

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