(director: Robert Wise; screenwriters: story by Cordelia Baird Gross/Isobel Lennart; cinematographer: Russell Harlan; editor: George Boemler; music: Ray Anthony; cast: Paul Douglas (Rocco), Jean Simmons (Anne Leeds), Anthony Franciosa (Tony Armotti), Julie Wilson (Ivy Corlane), Joan Blondell (Crystal St. Clair), ZaSu Pitts (Mrs. Shea), Percy Helton (Charlie), Neile Adams (Patsy St. Clair); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Pasternak; MGM; 1951)

“Even the rhinestones look fake when they sparkle.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Robert Wise disappoints by directing this unmoving and unconvincing romantic melodrama whose flat direction lowlights this Damon Runyonish-like story, which comes off like a dull version of Guys and Dolls. It’s based on Cordelia Baird Gross’s short stories and written by Isobel Lennart. Though it’s helped a little by some lively nightclub sounds, as the curvaceous nightclub singer Julie Wilson belts out the wonderful rendition of “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.”

Prim schoolteacher (Simmons) takes a part-time, second-job as secretary to an ex-bootlegger and horse playing gambler, Broadway nightclub owner (Douglas), who has a heart of gold despite his tough outer appearance. She falls in love with Douglas’s younger partner (Franciosa), despite his reputation as a womanizing ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ type. Franciosa fires her because he doesn’t think she belongs in a nightclub, but she is rehired by Douglas. He keeps a protective watchful eye on her, as Simmons has gained Douglas’ confidence by her exemplary character and by straightening out his questionable bookkeeping practices and by becoming the most popular one in the club. She also helps an immigrant busboy (Rafael Campos) become an American citizen, and helps a sexy chorus dancer (Neile Adams) realize her dream as a chef. It all ends up in a predictable romance between Simmons and Franciosa.

The comedy is forced, the situation is uninteresting, and even the rhinestones look fake when they sparkle. A host of film celebs make cameos from ZaSu Pitts to Joan Blondell.