Party Girl

Screening on Film
Directed by Nicholas Ray.
With Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb.
US, 1958, 35mm, color, 99 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

In his last Hollywood studio production, Ray once again effortlessly combines seemingly incompatible genres into a captivating synthesis of his lasting thematic preoccupations. A Technicolor crime drama, Party Girl offers a glossy and extravagant vision of Depression-era gangsterdom, enlivened by two dance numbers performed by a smoldering Cyd Charisse. The story of two unlikely outsiders pitted against a hostile world, Party Girl centers on the strange love affair which blossoms between Charisse’s self-loathing chorus girl and Robert Taylor’s crooked lawyer, hinting at the restorative powers of love. Ripe with sexual undercurrents and symbols, Party Girl features a remarkable turn by Lee J. Cobb as an overheated mob boss, a violent false father spewing Freudian fire and brimstone. Ray’s always-impressive use of color is brilliantly amplified, lending his gangster film a saturated hyper-reality equal to his operatic Westerns.

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Nicholas Ray. Hollywood's Last Romantic

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