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She's Working Her Way Through College

She's Working Her Way Through College(1952)

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teaser She's Working Her Way Through College (1952)

Adapted quite loosely from James Thurber's First Amendment drama The Male Animal, this musical follows burlesque dancer Angela Garter, a.k.a. "Hot Garters Gertie" (Virginia Mayo) and her unconventional pursuit of a writing degree at Midwest College, "trading her shakes for Shakespeare" under the tutelage of Professor John Palmer (Ronald Reagan), much to the delight of B.M.O.C Don Weston (Gene Nelson) and the irritation of "Poison" Ivy Williams (Patrice Wymore). Mayo is a leggy, limber delight on screen, an un-dumb blonde who deserves the attention she commands in several song-and-dance numbers. And while dance partner Gene Nelson never joined the pantheon of other exalted screen hoofers -- he's most known for his role in Oklahoma! (1955) and for directing Elvis movies like Harum Scarum (1965) -- his physical command is palpable in every scene, including a gymnasium dance sequence with a boxer's speed bag. (The climactic plea for any woman -- even a former burlesque dancer -- to pursue any sort of education she sees fit is a pleasantly anachronistic moment of girl power.) A campy, uncomplicated, musical delight that's waiting to be rediscovered by a new generation of burlesque aficionados.

By Violet LeVoit

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