Monday, September 29, 2014

Footlight Serenade (Gregory Ratoff, 1942)

More than any other classical Hollywood genre, the musical affords directors the opportunity for displaying the male body and nowhere is that more apparent than in the "I'm Still Crazy For You" number from Footlight Serenade (Gregory Ratoff, 1942).
That's John Payne getting a rubdown and then some from Betty Grable. It may have been part of his star text to display his beauty so nakedly. Just check out the photo with which IMDb saw fit to represent him. Nevertheless, "I'm Still Crazy For You" indulges in a role reversal typical of the musical with a de-cheesecaked Grable the aggressor wrestling Payne's near-nude flailing body.

And it ends on an even itchier note as the couple face away from the camera for the last line of the song and a bit of dialogue thereafter, sweat glistening off of Payne's back. Head-scratching but delightfully queer.
Other selling points include a typically excellent performance by Victor Mature as an unstable love interest. The Medveds were high when they nominated him for The Worst Actor of All Time in The Golden Turkey Awards (Richard Burton won). He was one of the greats, outclassing everyone in this film and capable of using his agitation with the profession to lend his characters a slight psychotic edge. And keep an ear cocked for "Except with You," a Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin nugget begging for a country remake.



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