Lady of Burlesque (1943)

 “Makes me want to leave the wife.”

burlesqueDixie Daisy (Barbara Stanwyck) is the hot new number in a burlesque show. As Dixie, Barbara Stanwyck wears a see through sarong and performs the song Take it off the E string, put it on the G string to a packed house with an audience of middle-aged men who go crazy every time she wiggles her hips. Dixie’s big problems are an amorous comic, Biff Brannigan (Michael O’Shea), battling burlesque dancers, and a rival with a fake Russian accent. But Dixie’s problems become suddenly more serious when following a police raid, a showgirl shows up dead strangled by her very own lacy g-string. The murder investigation points to Dixie as a main suspect.

Based on the novel The G-String Murders written by Gypsy Rose Lee, The Lady Of Burlesque is an amusing glimpse at life both on and off the stage of a ‘risque’ burlesque show. The murders take place amidst the chaotic lives of the performers, and some of the very best scenes are in the dancers’ changing rooms as the women reveal their ambitions, jealousies and viciousness. This is a very different sort of role for Stanwyck, and the film really is great fun to watch. Most of the burlesque employees see this stint on the burlesque stage as the prelude to making it to the big-time, so an air of amateurish hope reigns amongst the employees. This mood adds to the film’s lighthearted approach, and some of the dancers wave to their boyfriends in the audience while others try to hog the stage. My Alpha DVD is passable quality. The black and white film is a bit grainy, but nothing that seriously interferes with enjoyment. Directed by William Wellman.

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