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GIRL CAN’T HELP IT, THE (director/writer: Frank Tashlin; screenwriters: Herbert Baker/from the novel “Do Re Mi” by Garson Kanin; cinematographer: Leon Shamroy; editor: James B. Clark; cast: Tom Ewell (Tom Miller), Jayne Mansfield (Jerri Jordanas), Edmund O’Brien (Marty “Fats” Murdock), Henry Jones (Mousie), John Emery (“Legs” Wheeler), Juanita Moore (Hilda, the maid); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Tashlin; 20th Century Fox; 1956)
“A pungent satire on the worlds of PR and rock music.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Frank Tashlin (“Son of Paleface”/”Artists and Models”/”Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?) directs and cowrites with Herbert Baker a pungent satire on the worlds of PR and rock music. It exploits Jayne Mansfield as a sexpot, who wiggles her way through the role as the dumb blonde with a heart of gold. In one memorable visual gag, she holds up two bottles of milk to her heaving breasts. The films other delight, are its 17 rock numbers performed by the likes of such 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll icons Little Richard (She’s Got It-Ready-Teddy & The Girl Can’t Help It), Fats Domino (Blue Monday), the Platters (You’ll Never Know)), and Gene Vincent (BeBop A Lula). The gaudy pastel De Luxe Cinemascope, the amusing cartoonish style, the rock music performances and the many comic sight gags, make this an entertaining nostalgia film.

Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) is a small-time down-and-out NYC theatrical agent, who gets hired by has-been gangster from Long Island, Fats Murdock (Edmund O’Brien), to make his well-endowed girlfriend Jerri (Jayne Mansfield) a singing star in the next six weeks. Fats, once the ‘slot machine king,’ pays off Tom’s debts, and tells him he wants to make Jerri a star so that she’s a somebody he can marry. Fats bellows he can’t marry a nobody. Jerri aspires only to be a housewife and raise a large family. Tom is warned to keep his hands off Jerri, but you can guess how that turns out.

Fats while serving a term in federal prison for income tax invasion composed “Rock Around the Rock Pile,” which will become the song that makes Jerri a star.

The one-joke film, mostly witless, skewers the day’s pop culture scene and those who used it for a means to fame and fortune, and lets us see how the actual rock ‘n’ roll stars of the 1950s performed back in the early days.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”