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Doll Face

Doll Face(1945)

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The working titles of this film were The Naked Genius and Here's a Kiss. Playwright and renowned stripper Gypsy Rose Lee is credited onscreen as Louise Hovick, which was her real name. Noting the billing, the Variety reviewer commented: "Pic could be exploited by use of the fact that Gypsy Rose Lee wrote the stage play, The Naked Genius, on which the script is based, and also by the fact that film has an autobiographical tinge in its story of a burlesque queen who writes the story of her life. But Twentieth Century-Fox, presumably fearing a boomerang, credits neither play nor authoress' w.k. [well-known] stage-name, merely listing pic as based on 'a play by Louise Hovick.'" Although a April 6, 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that producer George Jessel offered Lee a role in the picture, she does not appear in the finished film.
       In June 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that Carole Landis would star in the film, and that Jackie Gleason would have the "comedy lead." According to July 1945 Hollywood Reporter news items, William Eythe was scheduled to play the "romantic lead," and fifteen-year-old singer Hazel Dawn had been included in the cast. Dawn's appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, however. Dennis O'Keefe was borrowed from Edward Small's company for the film, which marked the screen debuts of Martha Stewart and Lex Barker. According to a August 3, 1945 Daily Variety news item, producer Bryan Foy filled in for director Lewis Seiler for three days while Seiler was ill.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library and the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the Breen Office refused to allow the studio to use The Naked Genius as either the title of the film or of "Doll Face's" autobiography. The PCA also strongly protested the depiction of "Doll Face" as a stripper and disapproved several screenplays submitted by the studio. In late July 1945, PCA head Joseph I. Breen cautioned studio public relations head Jason S. Joy: "Please have in mind that any time you undertake to identify a character as a 'strip tease' artist, you run the risk of giving enormous offense everywhere. People, pretty generally, look up [sic] the business of the burlesque shows-and, more importantly, the strip tease-as, possibly, the very lowest form of public entertainment, and this same viewpoint is reflected in the reaction of the Censor Boards."
       In August 1945, Joy replied to Breen, in regard to a conference concerning the film attended by studio and PCA officials: "All of us distinctly understood that the strip tease flavor in Doll Face was not considered by you to be a violation of the Code, but that you were merely (and earnestly) warning us that any reference to strip tease would get us into an awful lot of trouble." Although the PCA continued to protest the film's burlesque setting, it was eventually given a production code seal and encountered few problems with state or city censor boards. The Breen Office also disapproved the lyrics for "Chico Chico (From Porto Rico)," stating that it constituted "a burlesque of the Latin-American character, and hence as such would unquestionably give offense to Latin Americans generally." The song lyrics were changed slightly and later approved.
       According to the studio records, Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson submitted the song "True to the Navy" for inclusion in the film, and a production number featuring it was filmed. McHugh and Adamson had previously submitted the song to Paramount, however, which used it in their 1945 release Bring on the Girls. Paramount refused to license the song for use in Doll Face, and the number, which cost between $60,000 and $75,000 to film, had to be cut. In a December 1945 letter to Twentieth Century-Fox studio president Spyros Skouras, studio attorney George Wasson speculated that Paramount refused to license the song because Twentieth Century-Fox had obtained the distribution rights to Tales of Manhattan, which Paramount had desired, and because Twentieth Century-Fox had succeeded in getting clearance for the use of the title Sentimental Journey, which Paramount also wanted. The legal records also reveal that Irving Weissman filed suit against the studio, claiming that the song "Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)" had been plagiarized from one of his compositions. The case was dismissed in September 1948 by a federal court judge, but Weissman again filed suit through a state court. The disposition of the second suit has not been determined.