Films to see before you strip…

June 22, 2008

Okay, so you all know I wrote a stage adaptation of The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee… but have any of you seen the film? ‘Lady of Burlesque‘ sees our ecdysiastic heroine replaced with Barbara Stanwyck’s Dixie Daisy (I called my lead Dixie Lee!) who gets up to the same crime solving adventures as our own Gypsy does in the book. Although not the greatest film in the world; it’s a wonderful insight into the world of American Burlesque houses in the 1930’s/40’s for anyone without the time or patience to read the book. As with most risque films of the period (Tod Browning’s classic ‘Freaks‘ as a prime example) the censors went to town and deemed it too racy for contemporary audiences.

If you have read the book then you’ll realise just how tame it is – especially to modern eyes that have seen the likes of ‘Showgirls‘ and ‘Striptease‘! In the book there were inferences of lesbian police officers and the methods required to stop your breasts from dropping – none of that for Miss Stanwyck though! The end of the film, despite its age, still chills me to the bone just as the book does (the book more so… there’s talk of stuffing a body into a dressmakers dummy…) and I have to say it’s worth watching for any Burlesque aficionado.

When talking about BurlyQ films how could I not mention one of my all time favourites? Right up there with ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes‘ and ‘Gigi‘ for it’s feel-good factor and musical score; the wonderful life story of one of my favourite gals – ‘Gypsy!‘ (the Natalie Wood version of course…) Based on her memoirs it recounts the story of Rose Hovick, a very famous stage mother who pushed her girls into the limelight whatever the consequences. The result? Miss Gypsy Rose Lee, who as we all know boys and girls – became possibly the biggest name Burlesque had ever seen. Unless you’re a big fan of Bette Midler and prefer filmed versions of Musicals to actual films – I’d suggest not bothering with the remake – it really doesn’t stand up in comparison.

Of course one thing left out of the musical was the speculation that Rose Hovick was actually a lesbian that shot and killed her lover, amongst other things… but I guess that wouldn’t sell as well in 1962!

My advice? Get dressed up in your favourite frock – pour yourself a glass or two of something bubbly – and indulge in an evening of some vintage Burlesque. It. feels. fabulous!

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