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The Girl Canu0027t Help It
The Girl Can't Help It (1956)
Movie
  • Director:
    Frank Tashlin
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Frank Tashlin,Herbert Baker
  • Cast:
    Tom Ewell,Jayne Mansfield,Edmond O'Brien
  • Time:
    1h 39min
  • Year:
    1956
A down-and-out gangster hires an alcoholic press agent to make his blonde bombshell girlfriend a recording star in 6 weeks. But what is he going to do when he finds out that she has no talent? And what is going to happen when the two fall in love?
Casts
Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Ewell Tom Ewell - Tom Miller
Jayne Mansfield Jayne Mansfield - Jerri Jordan
Edmond O'Brien Edmond O'Brien - Marty 'Fats' Murdock
Julie London Julie London - Herself
Ray Anthony Ray Anthony - Himself
Barry Gordon Barry Gordon - Barry the Paperboy
Henry Jones Henry Jones - Mousie
John Emery John Emery - Wheeler
Juanita Moore Juanita Moore - Hilda
Fats Domino Fats Domino - Himself
The Platters The Platters - Themselves
Little Richard and His Band Little Richard and His Band - Themselves (as Little Richard and his Band)
Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps - Themselves (as Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps)
The Treniers The Treniers - Themselves
Eddie Fontaine Eddie Fontaine - Himself

The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

According to Paul McCartney, he and John Lennon were underage when the film was released, and sneaked into the theater by wearing fake mustaches to make themselves look older. The movie is one of their earlier musical influences.

In this film, Eddie Cochran performs "Twenty Flight Rock". That song's influence was so great across the Atlantic in Liverpool, England, that Paul McCartney's ability to memorize the words and perform the song impressed John Lennon enough to ask him to join his group, then known as "The Quarrymen", which later became The Beatles.

The wedding dress that Jayne Mansfield wears was loaned to her to use for her real-life marriage to Mickey Hargitay in 1958.

Producers wanted Elvis Presley to perform in the movie, but Tom Parker demanded too much money for Elvis to sing one song.

Abbey Lincoln who is performing "Spread the Word" in the nightclub scene with Jayne Mansfield and Tom Ewell is wearing a costume that was previously worn by Marilyn Monroe in Blondinen bevorzugt (1953). Lincoln later admitted in an interview, she burned the dress in an incinerator.

In the opening scene, Fats is speaking to Tom about being homesick for the US and begins reciting a poem: "Breathes there a man with soul so dead... You know it?" and Tom nods. The line is from Walter Scott's poem "The Lay of the Last Minstrel".

On Wednesday September 18, 1968 The Beatles interrupted recording "Birthday" at Abbey Road Studios so they could go back to Paul McCartney's house to watch the British TV premiere of the film.

Teddy Randazzo, who performs "Cinnamon Sinner" with his group "The Chuckles", almost a decade later would compose "Goin' Out Of My Head" and "Hurt So Bad", mega-hits for Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Production began on the film in mid-September 1956 just as Jayne Mansfield was finishing up her Broadway triumph in the play "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" The film was made just in time to be released for the Christmas season in 1956.

This was the first of two comedies that Frank Tashlin adapted the screenplay for and directed which starred Jayne Mansfield, the other being Sirene in blond (1957) . Tashlin once said, "There's nothing in the world to me that's funnier than big breasts."

In the prologue, just after Tom Ewell mentions "...Color by DeLuxe" for the second time, he says, "Sometimes you wonder who's minding the store!" Frank Tashlin must have liked this phrase, because he directed the movie, "Who's Minding the Store?" which starred Jerry Lewis, seven years later.

Average Shot Length (ASL) = 10 seconds

Some reference sources and websites erroneously suggest that Bill Haley and the Comets appear in this film. They do not.

In Addition to McCartney & Lennon, Jimmy Page & Jeff Beck, Guitarists extradonaire and both in The British Invasion Band "The Yardbirds" ; both cited this Movie as a monumental Influence on them. Page was later to form Led Zeppelin and Beck has a solo Carreer unparalleled ! Beck described this Film as "Being The Best Rock & Roll Movie ever Filmed"!

As has been noted, Abbey Lincoln performs her number wearing a gown previously worn by Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Another costume from that film appears in a later scene backstage at the theater, when Tom Ewell passes a chorus girl on the stairs. She is wearing the outfit in which Jane Russell performed "Diamond Are A Girl's Best Friend" in the courtroom.

Yozshubei
Yozshubei
Wanna see when Little Richard(She's Got It-Ready-Teddy & Girl Can't Help It), Gene Vincent(BeBop A Lula),The Platters(You'll Never Know), and Fats Domino(Blue Monday)perform their hits live as the actually sang them in 1956? Wanna see campy Jayne Mansfied at her sexiest, wittiest best? Paradoies, sight gags and clever writing make the rocker musical an even better comedy, which has stood the test of time. Jayne bubbles over, while Tom(Ewell) bubbles under and somehow in the end they both bubble up to the surface and find happiness, kids.......... If this isn't enough Calander Girl Julie London does a sultry. teasing version of her hit Cry Me A River that will drive any man to drink. Check the cars out, I once owned one of those. See this movie twice to fully appreciate the music and catch all the gags, clever lines and parodies.
Kulwes
Kulwes
"The Girl Can't Help It" is a '50s comedy that is also a showcase for some of the rock 'n' roll acts of the day, including Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters, Gene Vincent, The Treniers, and many others.

Tom Ewell plays a down and out agent, Tom Miller, hired by gangster Fats Murdock (Edmond O'Brien) to make his girlfriend, Jerri Jordan, (Jayne Mansfield) a star. Turns out Jerri feels gratitude to Fats for helping her father, but she isn't in love with him; she doesn't want to be in show business, preferring domestic things like cooking; and she appears to have no talent. She looks great, though, and in some form-fitting gowns, she draws plenty of attention, and all the clubs want to book her. Concerned because she's tone-deaf, Miller has one of the songs Fats wrote in prison (the one in the subject is but one title) "Rock Around the Rock Pile" adapted into a novelty number so that all Jerri has to do is a high pitched sound. The song is an immediate smash. Miller, however, who was jilted by his client Julie London, now finds he and Jerri have fallen for one another. But Fats is still around.

This is a very, very funny send-up of rock 'n' roll and show business, with a marvelously deadpan performance by Tom Ewell, to whom the singing Julie London, in various costumes, is always appearing while singing "Cry Me a River" - on the staircase, in the bedroom, in a bar - a great bit. O'Brien, who performs his "Jailhouse Rock" mockery at the end of the movie, is hilarious.

The real star is the flashy Jayne Mansfield, who underneath that va-va-va-voom figure, blonder than blond hair and huge chest was a beautiful woman and a good actress. Mansfield, probably hired by Fox as a threat to Monroe, figured out early on that making fun of the bombshell image was her best bet. She had a lovely speaking voice and, in serious moments, a natural way of acting. She also radiated warmth. This film and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter," which she did on Broadway as well, are good testaments to her work.

Lots of fun.
Saintrius
Saintrius
Kids these days are not familiar with the problem we had in the fifties. We heard singers but to see them was rare- Little Richard didn't make it onto American Bandstand. So the big thrill of this film then was to actually see Little Richard, Fats Domino , Gene Vincent doing their gigs! the storyline was farcical and little more than a cover for the music but planting the music scenes in the movie was ingenious. Jayne Mansfield was luscious, even doing a caricature of a vamp. What else can one say? The new release DVD captures the wonderful color of the fifties- mauves and pink pastels everywhere. And Eddy Cochrane does his Elvis imitation and showing why Elvis was the King (and Little Richard the Queen) of Rock and Roll. Worth it for the history lesson- 1950's anthropology.
Anen
Anen
I always chuckle when comments moan about some film they review seriously which Helen Keller could tell is made to be a ridiculous comedy. Hey, like THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT for example. How's this for the full hurricane force of the fun of it all: On Saturday June 11th 2005, as part of the Sydney Film Festival, there was a screening at the 2300 seat Sydney cinema treasurebox THE STATE THEATRE. Guess how many turned up: go on...have a guess...give up? well would you believe...... 2300 people !!! at $12.50 a ticket!! all ready to shatter the chandeliers and lift the roof in unison shrieking and howling with glee at this hilarious musical farce designed to do no more than outrageously entertain. And it did. Maybe best seen like this in a crowded picture palace of good natured punters keen to have communal cinema bliss, but I do believe it was all the rage back in 1956 as well, with Jayne doing Marilyn and Ewell leering and looking sideways. Fab deluxe colour never looked better and with a roster of glamour clad stars, all giving us their all for the FOX/Tashlin schedule it works superbly for 91 minutes of pure 50s delight. Yes it is funny! It's supposed to be! Just enjoy it. Or move to Australia.
Quashant
Quashant
Some of the entertainment of this movie has been forgotten or been given bad marks by modern jaded viewers.It was my great privilege to view this film when it first came out at the neighborhood theater together with "Rebel without a cause".A privilege because such moments in movie viewing history just don't come along often.It was a Friday night and the theater was packed with a variety of juveys-hoods,roque's,frats,squares from high school down to my grade school.They were all there to witness a movie twin bill that would never be equaled again.When talking of that night my description is "The place was rockin".When the music came on it was as though the crowd was at a live concert.At school the following Monday the kids wern't trying to figure out James Dean's character from r.w.a.c. they were talking and singing about t.g.c.h.i.The slow witted girl that sat across from me in class knew by heart the words to the song Edmund o'Brien sang in the picture...I was amazed.Almost everyone agrees the music was good,I'm a little at odds with other comments.Till this day in my circle Jayne Mansfield was THE blonde of that era.She was cuter,funnier(her figure speaks for itself)than any blonde of that era.One reviewer used the word bubbly,that's a good description.At times she appeared on TV in bubbly character almost out of breath when speaking,she was a real card.Despite her eye popping outer appearance she generated a lot of laughter with her character.While some are trying to figure out if the other blonds were a symbol,sensuous,tragic,etc. there was no mystery to Jayne.She was funny and a real man's and/or boy's woman.So dynamic was her outer appearance some of her criticism may stem from jealousy.The movie at times was a bit bawdy and it's humor still should hold up today.When watching Jayne walk up the stairs a man's glasses crack, although still funny it can never be as hilarious as it was back then.In no way was it a fashion statement to wear glasses back then,it was a social stigma for young people.To hurt another youngster's feelings they were called 4 eyes if they wore glasses,an expression all but forgotten.So anyone wearing glasses was considered pretty much of a goon in the first place thus an even funnier scene in this movie.In the complete gchi song the words are spicy-She makes grandpa feel like 21....has a figure made to squeeze.Of the entertainers Fats and Little Richard were my favorites hands down.In fairness to the entertainers that some have referred to as copies or clones of Elvis they were what a lot of the public wanted at the time.This movie has very good color,may the viewer be fortunate to see a good copy.
Whiteseeker
Whiteseeker
This movie is a treasure and should be viewed by all serious movie fans, because there is nothing quite like it. Mansfield is perfection, Tom Ewell is his dependable funny self, plus all that music! I love Julie London's "Cry Me A River" the best. In any event, see this movie, even if the music is older than you are!
VizoRRR
VizoRRR
...with some rock n' roll thrown in for good measure. Tom Ewell does his exact same performance from The Seven Year Itch with Edmond O'Brian doing a Broderick Crawford impression, I liked that Jayne- who was obviously intended to be a foil for Monroe at her home studio of Fox - didn't try to act like Marilyn.

She came across as very natural and her "own self"- someone secure with who she was. There was a scene where she had to break down in tears and, well, I bought it.

However, the real star of the film was the music- from the awesome title track by Little Richard to Ray Anthony to Gene Vincent to a strange meta-cameo by Julie London (I had forgotten what a wonderful voice she had).
Zehaffy
Zehaffy
I saw this film when it was released in 1956. It was the first production for mainstream audiences to feature top R&B and R&R acts in color. My contemporaries were particularly delighted to see Little Richard, Fats Domino and The Platters on screen in color for the first time. I made a VHS copy from a cable TV screening, but later purchased a legal VHS release, only to find that the cable screening used a better copy, both audio and video wise.

The only complaint I have about the film is that every one of the musical acts is interrupted by dialog.

Despite that, especially for nostalgia buffs, it's still well-worth getting.
Cerana
Cerana
Scenes in this movie were either very interesting and funny or they were very stupid and annoying.There was no middle ground.

THE GOOD - One of the interesting parts was seeing some of the early rock performers such as Gene Vincent and Bluecaps, Fats Domino, The Platters and several others. It also was nice to see Julie London in one number. The humor was mainly provided by Tom Ewell, who played a role similar to the one he played in the much-funnier "Seven-Year Itch."

THE BAD - Annoying was Edmund O'Brien, who was parodying a loud-mouth gangster. Well, he was so loud and abrasive it became offensive after just a short time. Mansfield was okay. She was in the movie, obviously, for one thing: show off her mammoth breasts which, with the pointed bras of the day, looked just plain weird and unreal (yeah, I know...they were real!)

Despite the patches of humor and music, the movie as a whole dragged. It was hard to keep interest in this. For its time period, however - the mid '50s - I'm sure this movie must have freaked out a lot of people.
Danskyleyn
Danskyleyn
Anyone curious about the lighter side of the Eisenhower years needs to catch this candy-box confection. Yes indeed, it's classic R&R with a number of star crowd-pleasers at their peak—The Platters, Gene Vincent & His Bluecaps, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, plus the one and only Little Richard. And for the lounge lizard crowd, it's a sultry Julie London crying her trademark river. And, of course, no 50's look-back is complete without a busty blonde. Here it's a cartoonish Jayne Mansfield defying the laws of gravity with her twin gunboats.

And it's all put together by sight gag specialist Frank Tashlin showing why his years as a Disney cartoonist were not misspent. Okay, the 100-minutes gets a little plot-heavy toward the end, plus watching the glamorous Mansfield get all ga-ga over a nerdy Tom Ewell is itself a cartoon. Still, there's a usually dour Eddie O'Brien mugging it up in hilarious fashion, along with a deliciously deadpan Henry Jones trailing behind. I can't believe TCM gave the results only an average rating. Someone over there was asleep. On the contrary, this is one of the most lively and entertaining documents from that cold war decade. Thank you, Frank Tashlin and Twentieth Century Fox.
Fiarynara
Fiarynara
It was nice seeing some of rock and rolls earliest hit makers doing their thing at intervals throughout this otherwise lame comedy about a an alcoholic talent agent (Ewell) taking on a gangster's girlfriend (Mansfield) as a client. Problem is, she has no discernible talent except cooking. An even bigger problem: she and the agent fall for each other. Badly dated, made by Hollywood's old guard for an audience used to big bands, not rockabilly. Ewelll was much better in a film from the same period, The Seven Year Itch, with Marilyn Monroe, who could act rings around the inept Mansfield. Mansfield's only claim to fame was vaguely resembling Monroe. In all honesty, she he reminded me of a female impersonator. Skip this one.
Whitemaster
Whitemaster
Peroxide blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield sashays her way through a film whose main purpose is to exploit her sexual glamour, but which inadvertently functions as a stunning time capsule of early rock-n-roll music legends. The story is lightweight fluff, and easily forgettable. But the thematic content is anything but.

In a film of glamour and pizazz, the casting of old-man Tom Ewell in the lead role is the main annoyance, though the overacting of Edmond O'Brien is not far behind. The forced plot bumps and grinds along, with these two pitiful Hollywood has-beens trying, without much success, to call attention to their characters, a sad-sack agent and a cheesy fatso gangster. Who cares?

What makes the film worth watching is its historical significance, not only as a showcase for then-current singers and rock groups but, more importantly, as a harbinger of massive cultural change not fully realized until the following decade, and still having an influence fifty years later.

The film's music newcomers expressed an eclectic mix of doo-wop, be-bop, gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock-a-billy that, clumped together, defined early rock-n-roll, and which had its roots largely in Black culture. And White teens loved it. All of the pent-up themes and rhythms previously quarantined to a repressed subgroup thus blasted into prominence, threatening a banal and conservative mainstream.

Among the most electrifying performances are lively Little Richard, untamed Gene Vincent, the inimitable Fats Domino, the Platters with their cool melodies, and a bizarre-looking Eddie Cochran.

Matching the charisma of the era's new music and performers, the cinematography dazzles bright, vivid colors and in some scenes a strange color synthesis, as well as interesting camera angles and dissolves. The film's eye-popping visual garishness thus overlays implied social shallowness and racial depravity so characteristic of the Eisenhower 50s, putrid in its slavish conformity to outdated mores and customs.

Although the story and characters pivot around the visual site gags of voluptuous Jayne Mansfield and a troop of Hollywood has-beens, the film's thematic import lies in its use of avant-garde music as a means of cultural escape, which at the time no doubt seemed exploitative but now seems prophetic.
Miromice
Miromice
This movie is a historical masterpiece! It is one of the few 1950's rock'n'roll movies that include the best acts of the day, for example Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. The movie is also full of fun and it's quite entertaining. It also criticizes the music business of the 50's (anyone could be star).
Skyway
Skyway
Frank Tashlin's 'The Girl Can't Help It' is as much a valuable social document of 1950s rock 'n' roll as it is gaudy, cartoonish comedy.

The appearances of 50's luminaries such as Little Richard and Fats Domino give the viewer a strong impression of the vitality and raw power of rock 'n' roll and the film is, if nothing else, a strong piece of archive material.

The plot is somewhat slight but the cast all look as though they're having fun with the light-weight material. Tom Ewell is much more effective and bearable than he was as the whiney Richard Sherman in 'The Seven Year Itch' and is a joy to watch as the washed-up agent Tom Miller.

I don't know about other viewers but I found Edmund O'Brien's turn as Fatso incredibly irritating - all growls and bluster and his 'hit' Rock Around the Rock Pile was excruciating!

And so to Miss Mansfield. Jayne has a not entirely undeserved reputation as being little more than a peroxided pair of knockers, due in large part to her knack of picking rubbish film projects later in her career but here she is just wonderful. She gets the full A-list treatment from 20th Century Fox and looks and acts superbly. From her first appearance through those sliding doors dressed in a figure hugging white sequined gown to her famous sashay down the street in black wide-brimmed hat she is a cartoon character come to life. Leaving aside a few duff line deliveries, Mansfield is on the top of her game her as the seemingly talentless Jeri Jordan, who shuns celebrity for motherhood. Tashlin was well aware of Jayne's limitations as an actress and so everything she is required to do i n Girl she does extremely well and never looked better on film. It is sad to see Mansfield in such turkeys as 'The Fat Spy' after her turn in this classic although for those of you still needing proof that she could put in a dramatic turn, check out 'Too Hot to Handle'.

For fans of 50's rock 'n' roll, Tom Ewell and the wonderful Jayne Mansfield, look no further than 'The Girl Can't Help It'.
Fearlesshunter
Fearlesshunter
There's cutting-edge music in this one, a frantic Frank Tashlin classic from 1956. Jayne Mansfield has one of the great scenes in Hollywood history when she heads up to Tom's apartment to the accompaniment of the title track. This film rocks with performances by a youthful Eddie Cochran along with the sultry sounds of Julie London. Edmund O'Brien is marvelous as the gangster with a heart but it's the Ewell 50's cool that gets me.
Dolid
Dolid
In 'The Girl Can't Help It," Tom Ewell is a down and out agent hired by a gangster to turn his talentless girlfriend, Jayne Mansfield, into a star. Mansfield is certainly the highlight of the film. She turns in a very funny performance. On the other hand, Ewell seems to just be going through the motions at times, his performance is pretty flat (insert your own joke about Jayne Mansfield's anatomy here). However, there are some very funny scenes with Mansfield and Ewell. Overall the film is still very enjoyable. The soundtrack is awesome, a who's who of early rock n roll. Though, at times, the film makers seem to be stretching for excuses to include these rock cameos.
Mr.Twister
Mr.Twister
I can't believe that in the 34 prior comments, nobody mentioned that this film is a blatant rip-off of Born Yesterday. A man is hired to bring an ostensibly dumb blonde up to the requirements of a gangster. Hired gun and blonde fall in love and live happily ever after. Gangster is left in the lurch. But Born Yesterday was an intelligent treatment whereas this is just so much fluff. Technicolor transfer to DVD is deplorable. Natalie Kalmus would be rolling over in her grave. Check out the paperboy. Recognize him? But, it's historically interesting to see the roots of Rock 'n Roll. Also interesting is Ewell's introduction to CinemaScope, a new format at the time.
MARK BEN FORD
MARK BEN FORD
A few comments have been made about so called "live" early rock and roll acts in this movie. Sorry, folks. The bands and vocalists you hear are the real thing, but they are not playing and singing live, it's really just (gulp) lip sync and carefully acted out choreography while the actual hit records of the day are what you are hearing. I grew up with Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters, et al, in the 50's, saw many of these groups live, owned and know their actual recordings beat by beat, chord by chord, and can easily recognize the difference in live and lip sync. I remember the first time I saw this movie in the 50's, and was disappointed then that the sound was not really live. These movie performances are more polished, sanitized and somewhat stilted compared to the real thing live in the 50's. Pay attention and you'll find no real microphones are visible anywhere close to Little Richard or Fats, though the sounds from bands and vocalists are perfect and balanced (i.e, identical to their records), with no background noise even though there are crowds of people in several scenes. This is no knock on the movie, I like it a lot and am glad to see these artists on video, even though what you're hearing in the movie are music studio recordings and not live. Go find a copy of Little Richard's original 45 rpm record on the Speciality label and you'll realize what I'm talking about is true. It would have been impossible for this record to have been perfectly duplicated on a movie set. Nevertheless, it's good theater and an enjoyable movie for fans of good old early rock and roll.
Slowly writer
Slowly writer
The movie is made with high concept, and is also important historically because it captures rare images of early rock stars performing their music.

This movie would have been a pretty good comedy even if it was made without Jane Mansfield and selection of some of the best music to go with it. But the movie is masterpiece because it incorporates these and other cultural element in a clever way. The list of artist (listed below) reads like who's who of early rock and roll stars, and the images of them are precious cultural artifacts from that era.

Little Richard

Nino Tempo

Johnny Olenn

Eddie Fontaine

Three Chuckles

Abbey Lincoln

Julie London

Gene Vincent

Eddie Cochran

Edmond O'brien

Ray Anthony and his Orchestra

The Treniers

Ray Anthony

Fats Domino

The Platters Freddy Bell & the Bell Boys

Credit goes to Frank Tashin who produced, scripted, and directed this movie. The movie was ahead of its time, and without it, maybe the Beatles would have never formed. So it's cultural contribution is undeniable. The movie has a futuristic look to it, and some of the scenes had unusual visual ideas that was very cool ( like twin girls placed in mirror image to each other on the dance floor ), and hip cultural scenes like Jane Mansfield making soufflé for Miller for breakfast, and saying "Well it's made of eggs".

Jane Mansfield was a new kind of beauty that blew away beauty from previous generation like Rita Hayworth. She looks good from any angle in this movie. She plays the role of a dumb blond who can't sing, but she's only faking that she has no singing talent ( In real life she was also talented in singing, playing violins, and had an IQ of 140 ).

Country that can make a movie like this is a cool country. Country that was America.

A movie that deserves to be in everyone's video collection.
Nayatol
Nayatol
Garish but undeniably enjoyable comedy (including the unsubtle jabs at Mansfield's sex appeal) in which Tashlin provides a healthy barrage of inventive sight gags that put to good use his background as animator. And his cast is certainly willing: Tom Ewell basically repeats his role from THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH (1955), Mansfield is better than expected and Edmond O'Brien, most surprising of all, lets it all hang out as the wannabe music mogul/gangster. The performances by rock'n'roll artists (some of which have long since vanished from the public's memory) must have made it hip at the time but today tend to date it more than anything else...

I've watched Tashlin's other highly-regarded satire WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? (1957), also on Italian TV, but it's been so long that I hardly recall anything about it! In a way, it's a pity that Tashlin was too often relegated to directing star comedians like Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Doris Day, as he seemed quite capable of showing a greater range (rather in the Billy Wilder mould).
Ffan
Ffan
Jayne Mansfield's break-through in the film business came in the form of The Girl Can't Help It, less of a narrative film than a platform for a roster of top rock and roll musicians to showcase their acts and introduce the blonde bombshell as a sizzling new glamour-girl icon.

Faded talent agent Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) spends most nights soaking up free drinks and attempts to muster enough interest in the new rock and roll music to get back into the big time. When ex-con and gangster Marty 'Fats' Murdock (Edmond O'Brien) comes forth with an offer to make his girl friend Jerri Jordan (Jayne Mansfield) a singing star Miller scoffs at the idea. Experienced Miller is wise enough to know real talent and doesn't sense it with Jerri. Murdock entices Miller with a fat bankroll and Miller moves forward with promoting Jerri. But Jerri doesn't want a singing career. She's a home body and really just wants to marry a good man and settle down to raise a family. Managing to produce a hit record with a song that Murdock himself composed Jerri becomes a star, and Murdock becomes the target for a rival gangster with a vested interest in the music business. As bullets begin flying Jerri and Miller discover their love for each other and hope they can survive success.

Mansfield doesn't so much act in the movie as moves through it. By the time she made it to The Girl Can't Help It she was known as a model with a double digit atomic-powered figure, and had bleached her dark hair blonde like another celebrity icon Marilyn Monroe.

Mansfield was marketed as the alternative Monroe, but in a concentrated version. Her physical dimensions were more appealing to the obsessed American male, her screen persona was more vacantly 'blonde', and her personal life was checkered by heightened controversy with numerous husbands and a litter of children.

This flick moves along with the broad exposition and delivery of a bad Las Vegas act with plenty of corny jokes and rough humor to keep the flat-footed narrative buoyant. Clunky jokes about Mansfield's body, gangsters, rock and roll, and talent management are set up and delivered well by the trio of leads Tom Ewell, Jayne Mansfield, and Edmond O'Brien.

Adapted from Garson Kanin's novel "Do Re Mi" by director Frank Tashlin and Herbert Baker the narrative takes up about sixty percent of the movie. The rest of the film is an interesting document of the musical talents of the day. Ray Anthony, Fats Domino, The Platters, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, the Treniers, Eddie Fontaine, Abbey Lincoln and Eddie Cochran all appear as themselves in musical showcases during sequences as Tom shepherds Jerri through the entertainment landscape of the day.

Director Frank Tashlin cut his teeth directing cartoons, and the way he helms this flick shows it. The funny moments of male obsession as characters react to Mansfield are juvenile to say the least but the way he captures the musical talent is well done. The sequences are not very authentic as the Hollywood sound stages are all dressed in candy-colored details to brighten up the vapid story line. However the music is all authentic with all the performers coming across as intriguing charismatic talents.

One sequence in particular comes across with a special eeriness when the imaginary incarnation of Julie London sings "Cry Me A River" to a drunken Tom who had supposedly discovered the singer but lost her due to his alcohol abuse. This regret-driven hallucination is goofily presented but with Tom Ewell in the male role playing against the haunting voice of London it takes on substantial weight in the over-lit comedic world of the film.

Edmond O'Brien comes on a little too heavy as the ex-con gangster Marty 'Fats' Murdock who is bankrolling Jerri's entry into the music business. O'Brien doesn't delivery lines so much as he pounds them into the face of the viewer. This is in keeping with the character, and it offsets the more nuanced performance of Ewell and straight delivery of Mansfield, but at times it would be great to see him with a lighter touch.

You'll get some fun out of an initial viewing of this one. Don't expect it to change your life. On the DVD there is also a nice biography about Jayne Mansfield that will illuminate and enlighten, and is better than the feature in some ways.
spacebreeze
spacebreeze
"The Girl Can't Help It" is a cute little film--though not quite as funny and memorable as Jayne Mansfield's followup film, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?". But like this followup, "The Girl Can't Help It" works because it never takes its self seriously and it's a good fit for the talents of Miss Mansfield--and is well worth your time.

The film begins with Tom Ewell being approached by an ex-gangster played by Edmund O'Brien. O'Brien wants this agent to represent his girlfriend (Mansfield)--a lady he swears is talented. However, what her talent is isn't readily apparent--except for her extreme sexiness. At this point, the best portion of the film occurs--when you hear the Little Richard song "The Girl Can't Help It". You see Jayne walking down the street--and the crazy reaction she gets from guys is really, really funny. However, while IMDb says that the milkman is played by Phil Silvers in this scene, it is NOT. I have seen this bit actor in many films though his name escapes me--I just know he's not Silvers (plus he's too skinny). So will Ewell manage to maker her a star? Or will the VERY jealous O'Brien have to put a hurt on him--as he's inclined to think that other guys are trying to muscle in on his girl.

This is a lightweight comedy and would be worth seeing just for that reason. However, the film also includes lots of great cameos by various early rock 'n roll groups--a WONDERFUL bonus. For example, you'll see the Platters, Little Richard and Fats Domino! Clever writing, great music and fun. If only Mansfield had made more films like this one.
Jogas
Jogas
Nobody is going to award this screenplay awards for being anything more of a satire of the music industry, with scenery chewing main characters playing it big and obvious...no subtlety here, Jayne Mansfield, a stunning beauty, has the most restrained performance of all of the main characters. The '50s broad stroke comedy hasn't aged as well as other films, but, that is to be expected as the beloved popular music of the generation that produced this film gave way to the genre that was actually being satirized, Rock and Roll.

That being said, the film was AHEAD of it's time in showing artists doing their originals for a mass appeal production. AT THE TIME, segregation existed in both CONCERTS and RADIO. Some radio stations would only play Pennimen (Little Richard), Domino and other black artist's songs that white artists had covered...The inclusion of the the original artists was a bold and interesting move, as, even in film history, there had been films targeted for audiences by race in much the same way as was the radio practice of the time.

The influence of those assembled artists, even the ones that the dialog was mocking, for instance, Eddie Cochran, can still be heard over 40 years after his untimely death...Summertime Blues is STILL a rock standard, and classic rock stations still play Little Richard, Fats Domino, and the Platters...Even the faded ghost of the music that was passing (literally and figuratively in the movie), Julie London, has gotten re-issues of re-mastered material on CD recently.

An entertainment on many levels, this film still exudes an exuberance, and quite unintentionally, preserves a visual record of the musical legacy of artists from Jazz to Rockibilly to R&B to Early Rock...and the joy of those performances is still infectious in the 21st century.
Chuynopana
Chuynopana
The Girl Can't Help It will be forever stuck in the 1950s, but that's the way it has to be. The film opens with a character pushing aside with his hands, magically it would appear, the sides of the frame to open from 1:33 to 2:35 aspect ratio (or, in layman's terms, box to rectangle). From there it goes into a musical comedy shot in Cinemascope and color the way Fox productions had it at the time, with Jayne Mansfield as the busty blonde that practically everyone turns their heads to see, with exasperated Tom Ewell just slightly more confident than in the Seven Year Itch. But what sets it apart in the period is that it's one of the first Hollywood pictures to feature honest-to-goodness rock and roll music. Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and uh Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps! They're all here, belting away tunes to dance to, and opening up at least some of the doors for other rock and roll movies (not least of which Elvis, who would've fit in here).

And sure, the plot is silly, but it's a funny one, and it's led on by a full-blown ham in Edmund O'Brien's gangster Murdock. Seeing him in scenes is worth the price of admission, maybe even as much as for Mansfield and her 'assets'. He yells his way through some scenes, and then takes it down just a slighter notch for others, but it works to create the comic tension necessary. It's a "star-maker" fable where the hot number Georgia (or "Jerri" depending on the moment) is propped up by Murdock to become a star, but the agent, played by Ewell, falls for her instead. Does Jerri even have talent? All she can do is a weird horn call in the song "Rock around the Rock Pile", an ode to the Big House. It all leads up to one of those showstopper numbers in front a crowd of hungry kids- hungry to dance no matter how ridiculous it might be.

This is such a feel-good movie, and I say that with also noting it's not exactly "great art". You can go and watch on your own, but it's also fun with someone else who digs a good 50's escapist flick that takes itself only seriously enough to be substantial. This means, basically, you'll enjoy the songs, have some laughs (sometimes, perhaps, unintentionally), and can soak up the Fox studios atmosphere. Dated? In a way, but it's record of a time and place is second to the entertainment value. 7.5/10