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FRENCH LINE, THE(director: Lloyd Bacon; screenwriters: Isabel Dawn/Matty Kemp/Mary Loos/Richard Sale; cinematographer: Harry J. Wild; editor: Robert Ford; music: Walter Scharf; cast: Jane Russell (Mary Carson), Gilbert Roland (Pierre DuQuesne), Arthur Hunnicutt (Waco), Mary McCarty (Annie Farrell), Joyce Mackenzie (Myrtle Brown); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edmund Grainger; RKO Pictures; 1954)
“The film was made as an excuse to show off Jane’s anatomy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lloyd Bacon directs in a workmanlike manner The French Line as a burlesque musical. The film was originally made in 3-D, and came with an RKO teaser: “It’ll knock both your eyes out.” RKO created a censorship uproar when it released the film without a Production Code seal. The controversial scene is a revealing dance number performed by Jane Russell at the film’s end.

Jane Russell is Mary Carson, a cheery Texas oil heiress who takes a cruise to Paris pretending to be a model in order to get hitched to someone who is unaware of her vast wealth and will love only her and not her money. She’s tired of fortune hunters or being jilted by men who are afraid to marry her because she’s a tycoon. She quickly falls in love with a suave Frenchman Pierre DuQuesne (Gilbert Roland), a musical comedy star. This provides the excuse for some trite song-and-dance routines that look very familiar, as if they were taken from Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. The lighthearted film is helped a little by Jane’s wisecracking sidekick Mary McCarty, posing as the dress designer Jane models for.

The film was made as an excuse to show off Jane’s anatomy. It suffers from a vacuous and thin plot, stars who are not musically inclined, and relies too much on the shocks of seeing the star in a scanty costume to sell its product–something that might have been lewd back then but seems quite tame nowadays. Kim Novak made her first screen appearance with a bit part, seen briefly in an evening gown. Jane belts out tunes such as “I’ll Be Switched (If I Ain’t Gettin’ Hitched)” and the so-called risky number “Lookin’ for Trouble.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”