Pin Up Girl
Cast & Crew
Joe E. Brown
Beautiful Lorry Jones is the favorite hostess at the local U.S.O canteen in Missoula, Missouri, where she performs and signs photographs of herself for the adoring soldiers. Lorry routinely accepts the marriage proposal of any soldier who asks, and her latest suitor, Marine George Davis, does not realize that the flirtatious, fibbing Lorry has no intention of marrying him. Lorry and her best friend, Kay Pritchett, take civil service jobs to become stenographers in Washington, D.C., but Lorry tells everyone at the canteen that she is going on a U.S.O. tour. Kay reprimands Lorry for lying, but is persuaded by her to visit New York City for one night before reporting for work. When they arrive at the train station in New York, Lorry and Kay watch a welcoming committee greet Tommy Dooley, a Navy hero of the battle of Guadalcanal. That night, the two women try to get into the Club Chartreuse, but are told that women without escorts are not allowed. Lorry then tells headwaiter Pierre that they are meeting the celebrated Tommy and his pal, Dud Miller, and Pierre shows them to the best table in the club. Unknown to Lorry and Kay, Tommy is old friends with Eddie Hall, the club's owner, and is expected to arrive shortly. Eddie, who believes that Tommy invited the girls, lavishes them with champagne, and when Tommy and Dud arrive, they think that Eddie set them up with Lorry and Kay as blind dates. Dud believes that the women are actresses, but before Lorry can tell the truth for once, the drunken Kay states that they are in the Broadway musical comedy Remember Me . Molly McKay, Eddie's jealous star singer, is suspicious of Kay's claim, but Lorry, who gives her name as Laura Lorraine, easily performs a number from the show. Tommy and Dud happily spend the rest of the evening dancing with their "blind dates," and in the morning, see them off at the train station. The men inadvertently lose the girls's address, and as two weeks pass, Lorry and Kay fret over not hearing from their beaus. Lorry is bored by the simple life of a stenographer but soon has her hands full when Tommy and Dud arrive in Washington, where they are to report on their combat experiences. Chief Barney Briggs assigns Lorry to take Tommy's statement, and, not wanting Tommy to know that she lied to him, Lorry disguises herself so that Tommy will not recognize her as "Laura Lorraine." Lorry arranges for Tommy and the glamorous "Laura" to have a date, and after Tommy declares his love for her, he tells her how important it is to him to have a girl who is "on the level." Upset, Lorry states that she is giving up the stage and returning home, and so Tommy arranges for her to get a job at Eddie's new club in Washington. Molly is infuriated by the arrangement, but sees an opportunity to get rid of Lorry when George, who has seen her picture in the newspaper, arrives and states that he is Lorry's fiancé. Eddie, however, is thrilled to learn that Lorry is a popular pin-up girl, and uses her photograph, in which she poses in a bathing suit, to advertise the new show. On Lorry's opening night, Molly introduces Tommy to George, and the angry Tommy leaves the club without seeing Lorry. When Lorry learns what has happened, she tells George that their engagement is not real, and in her stenographer clothes, asks Tommy to give "Laura" another chance. Tommy refuses and instead asks Lorry to accompany him to the club, where he can show "Laura" that he has gotten over her. At the club, Lorry performs in her stenographer clothes, thereby revealing her true identity to both Tommy and Eddie. After Tommy learns that she is not engaged to George, Lorry leads an elaborate marching drill. As she and Tommy exchange smiles, she realizes that he has forgiven her.
Joe E. Brown
B. S. Pully
J. Farrell Macdonald
Paul S. Fox
James V. Monaco
Joseph C. Wright
Pin Up Girl, which was made to capitalize on Grable's wave of popularity, was shot in glorious Technicolor in 1943 and released in May of 1944. Grable plays flirty Lorry Jones, who does her bit for the boys in uniform at a Missouri U.S.O., singing, autographing photos of herself, and promising to marry any soldier who asks her. Lorry and her friend Kay are moving to Washington D.C. to work for the government, but she tells her hometown fans that she's off on a U.S.O. tour. Before they report for work, the girls spend a night in New York City, where they meet war hero Tommy and his pal Dud, and Lorry spins another tall tale, pretending to be a glamorous Broadway star. Of course, Lorry's elaborate fantasies provide one complication after another, but the convoluted plot is just an excuse for elaborate production numbers with songs by Mack Gordon and James Monaco. Among the standouts are a sultry, jazzy "Apache" number danced by Grable with choreographer Hermes Pan, and the title song, crooned by Grable and danced by the Condos brothers. Raye and bigmouth clown Joe E. Brown provide the comic relief.
Pin Up Girl should have been another highlight, part of the excitement surrounding Grable in 1943 and 1944. Instead, it was something of a disappointment. With all of Fox's top male stars in the military, the best the studio could come up with for a love interest was John Harvey, a stage actor appearing in his second film, who had no charisma and little chemistry with Grable. (Harvey made one more film, then returned to the stage. He later became an agent.) Some of the musical numbers, such as an interminable roller skating routine, fell flat. Critics were not kind. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called Pin Up Girl "a spiritless blob of a musical, a desecration of a most inviting theme." Grable herself called it one of her least favorite films. But bad reviews did not keep the fans away. Pin Up Girl was one of the top box office hits of 1944, and Fox's biggest moneymaker of the year. As far as her fans were concerned, Betty Grable could do no wrong.
Director: Bruce Humberstone
Producer: William LeBaron
Screenplay: Robert Ellis, Helen Logan, Earl Baldwin, based on the story Imagine Us by Libbie Block
Cinematography: Ernest Palmer
Editor: Robert Simpson
Costume Design: Rene Hubert
Art Direction: James Basevi, Joseph C. Wright
Music: songs by James Monaco and Mack Gordon
Principal Cast: Betty Grable (Lorry Jones), John Harvey (Tommy Dooley), Martha Raye (Molly McKay), Joe E. Brown (Eddie Hall), Eugene Pallette (Chief Barney Briggs), Dorothea Kent (Kay Pritchett), Dave Willock (Dud Miller), Marcel Dalio (Headwaiter), Condos Brothers, Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra
by Margarita Landazuri
Pin Up Girl - Betty Grable is the PIN UP GIRL on DVD
Grable stars as Lorry Jones, a young woman who entertains at the USO center in her hometown of Missoula, where she is so popular that at least five hundred servicemen have asked her to marry them--and she says yes to all of them, believing that none of them are really serious. Despite her hometown popularity and the work she's already doing for the war effort, Lorry wants nothing more than to get out of Missoula and go to the big city -- so she and her friend Kay (Dorothea Kent) secure jobs in the steno pool at the war office in Washington. But not wanting to disappoint her many admirers among the servicemen by telling them the truth about leaving to do office work, Lorry tells them that she is going out east to join the USO show, which intends to feature her in a cross-country tour.
Lorry and Kay set off by train for Washington, both of them expected to report for work on Monday morning. But with the weekend ahead of them, the adventuresome Lorry decides that she and Kay should stop off in New York for some excitement before settling into the office rut. Their first encounter happens in the train station, where they stumble into a crowd of hundreds of fans who are waiting to see the arrival of Tommy Dooley (John Harvey), a sailor whose heroism at Guadalcanal has made him a national celebrity, along with his pal Dud Miller (Dave Willcock). Lorry and Kay get to witness the arrival, an event is brought to an abortive end when local celebrity Molly McKay (Martha Raye) shoves herself to the forefront of the crowd and spirits the boys away for her own.
Still looking for new experiences, later in the evening the girls try to enter a swank club, but are turned away by a surly maitre d.' The always resourceful Lorry tells him to let her date, Tommy Dooley, know that they were turned away when he arrives. The invocation of Dooley's name causes an instant sensation, and club owner Eddie Hall (Joe E. Brown) swoops down on the girls and gives them the best table in the house, along with champagne and gifts. While Kay is sweating out Lorry's lies, Lorry takes the whole thing in her stride, figuring that the club can't prove that they don't know Dooley, and there really isn't any way for them to get into trouble. In this she's quickly proved wrong: Dooley and Dud actually show up at the club because it just happens to be where Molly is performing, and are ushered to the table, where they are delighted to find the girls, assuming that the club has provided them with with escorts. Unable to curb her penchant for spinning tales, Lorry tells Tommy that she's a Broadway performer whose show has just closed, and about her plans to join the USO. She thinks little of this, believing that she'll never see Tommy again. But what she doesn't realize is that he's already become enamored with her: so much so that after Molly has performed her first number, she joins the table and is openly annoyed to find that Tommy only has eyes for Lorry.
When the girls finally catch their train to Washington, leaving the obviously smitten Dooley and equally smitten Dud behind, they take up their mundane posts as stenographers and attempt to settle down to work. But Lorry is stunned when Dooley shows up at the office, and she is assigned to him to take down all he knows about the "Jap tactics" he's learned about while fighting. Not wanting him to know that she's a lowly steno, Lorry quickly dowdies herself up (or down, depending on how you look at it) and pretends to be Miss Jones (apparently, all the distinctive Lorry has to do to look completely different is cross her eyes). Despite the importance of his work, Tommy finds it impossible to carry on because he is so love-sick for Lorry. The resourceful "Miss Jones" takes it upon herself to re-unite the pair—and clean up some of Lorry's lies..
Betty Grable's musicals were never meant to be more than an entertaining froth to entertain a war-weary public, but Pin-Up Girl is like a beer that's been poured incorrectly, leaving a glassful of foam. Everything seems bloated about the film, with musical numbers stretched to the breaking point: particularly egregious is the "Red Red Robin and Bob Bob White" number, which includes an interminable roller skating ballet (performed by the "Skating Vanities"), which seems as if it's been lifted from another film. Matters are made worse by a screenplay that is surprisingly poor, especially given that it was meant for one of Fox's major stars. For example, the secondary characters of Kay and Dud, who are constant onscreen companions to the leads through the first half of the film, disappear halfway through the film without explanation.
Despite its faults, Pin-Up Girl is carried quite a way on Grable's star power. It is a delight just to see her, even if you're aware that she could've done better. John Harvey is so fresh-faced and guileless that it is entirely believable that he would fall in love with someone over dinner. And it's always a pleasure to see Joe E. Brown, whose scenes with Raye provide some of the film's funniest moments.
Warner Bros.' new DVD has been transferred from source material that is in excellent condition, despite a couple of spots where the source has faded. The audio is in splendid condition, with a rich, full tone and strong bass. Dialogue and vocals are perfectly clear. The disc includes an audio commentary by film historian Richard Schickel, a deleted scene, still photo gallery, original theatrical trailer, and collectible lobby cards.
For more information about Pin Up Girl, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Pin Up Girl, go to TCM Shopping.
by Fred Hunter
Pin Up Girl - Betty Grable is the PIN UP GIRL on DVD
Betty Grable was seven months pregnant when this musical was completed.
The working title of this film was Imagine Us. The title was also listed as Pin-Up Girl in contemporary sources. According to an October 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, Linda Darnell and Don Ameche were tentatively set for the leading roles when Twentieth Century-Fox purchased Libbie Block's short story. Although the news item also announced that Block would be adapting her story for the screen, studio records indicate that she did not work on the picture's screenplay. After the studio decided to make the story a musical starring Betty Grable, its premise was changed to take advantage of Grable's status as the most popular "pin-up girl" of World War II. The famous photograph, in which Grable, clad in a bathing suit and high heels, looks over her shoulder at the camera behind her, became one of the most indelible images of the era.
Hollywood Reporter news items noted that Richard Arlen conferred with producer William LeBaron and director Bruce Humberstone about appearing in the picture, and that James Engler tested for the leading role opposite Grable. According to a June 10, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, Angela Blue and Virginia Maples assisted Hermes Pan in working out "dance patterns" for the film, which then were to be taught to Grable. Although both Pan and Blue are listed on the CBCS, Maples' appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A June 29, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Pan would direct routines featuring the Roller Skating Vanities, of which Gloria Nord was the star, but Nord's appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed.
Other actors included by Hollywood Reporter news items in the cast are Helen Craig, Mae Marsh and Ruth Clifford, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Hercules and Dolly, "midget comedy weight-lifters" who were included in the cast by a Hollywood Reporter news item, do not appear in the final picture. Although a April 20, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that "This Is It," "Tell Us More" and "Little Caballero" were among the songs written by Mack Gordon and James Monaco for the production, they were not included in the finished film. Pin Up Girl marked the feature film debut of band leader Charlie Spivak. Actress Martha Raye and dancer Nicholas Condos were married in February 1944 and divorced in 1953, although Condos continued to act as Raye's personal manager until his death in 1988.