The Girl Can't Help Iti is straightforwardly an exploitation vehicle, built out of Mansfield's bosom & waistlineii (in a thick sauce of rockabilly voices) wrapped in the silliest of slapstick scripts (which somehow manages to work unexpectedly well).
The self-obvious reason this film was made is the substantial visual cachet all the celebrity singers of the radio era enjoyed at the time. Most people had never seen any of the people audibly involved, though they had heard them, willingly and lots of times, and so they were a cinch to buy a ticket. On that logic Fox added the hottest ho on their roster as a sort of ad-hoc MC/goofster (with Tom Ewell behind her for reinforcement), transparently reasoning (I suspect judiciously) that it'll merit-wash her at least as much as she'll kavorkaiii-wash them.iv
This is why and wherefore the silly script works so well : by beating everyone to the punch it leaves little footing for effectual rejection, for which reason this humble "bad" script might in fact be the best script ever written, in the strict sense of its fitness to purpose (and the fine-ness and excellence of the definition of that purpose), thereby incidentally illustrating in the sharpest light imaginable the difference between copywriting and literature.
Watching it can't possibly hurt anything ; if you manage to make it through the whole thing without falling asleep (a challenge I failed), your mental model of the 50s will be substantially enriched.
PS. Abbey Lincoln's intervention is outright idiotic (some xtian bs), but her boob-squeezing antics quite delightful. Too bad she bought the whole pantsuit line of idiocy, she could've been a great star.———
- 1956, by Frank Tashlin, starring Jayne Mansfield in her fucking prime alongside pretty much all the artillery 20th C-Fox could scare up (excepting Elvis, who asked for "way too much") : Julie London, Ray Anthony, Fats Domino, The Platters, Little Richard & Band, Eddie Fontaine, Gene Vincent, Abbey Lincoln, Johnny Olenn, Nino Tempo, Eddie Cochran... even those obnoxious upstarts The [Three] Chuckles are in there. [↩]
- Something quite like
- No, this isn't the right word. At first I had "sex" written in there, but it's not right, sex can denote either physiology or anatomy, tits or copulation, neither being the point. "Gender" is inadequate as it suggests a number of dichotomies uncontemplated in context. "Hot" (or "cool" for that matter, same difference) ain't it either, because there's many kinds of hot and we're discussing a very specific one among them. Some ad-hoc-ism, perhaps a portmanteau like successexful or w/e in that vein seems too clunky. What'd be the word you'd use to describe what I have and you wish you had here ? [↩]
- Early Hollywood was very much a strip club, but one that managed to build itself up, entirely through cannibalizing every show biz value they could land their hands on.