Pal Joey [DVD] [1957]

This Columbia DVD release of Pal Joey shows that while this is far from star Frank Sinatra's best picture, it may just contain his most iconic film role. This Technicolor backstage musical features Sinatra as a low-class womanizer with a sentimental heart of gold who is able to sing all the emotions he can't express through speech. While the film of Pal Joey butchered both John O'Hara's bitingly cynical novella and his Broadway musical, the movie features beautiful San Francisco locations and plenty of great Rodgers and Hart songs. If the movie doesn't measure up to its origins, on its own terms it still remains a vastly entertaining, star-studded Hollywood musical and its soundtrack (scored and orchestrated by Sinatra's chief arranger Nelson Riddle) is among the finest of the 1950s. The DVD does an excellent job of highlighting the jazzy musical numbers into separate chapters, and though the widescreen anamorphic print may show some minor touches of wear and tear, overall the transfer is beautiful. The perfectly balanced Dolby Digital 2.0 is in the original mono and it sounds great when fed through a stereo system. On a side note: Sinatra was the number-one box-office star during the mid-'50s, but he graciously gave top billing to Rita Hayworth (over the studio's objections) since this movie marked the end of the troubled star's illustrious career with Columbia Pictures.
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Special Features

  • Interactive menus
  • Languages: English, Portuguese
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
  • Talent files
  • Vintage advertising
  • Original "Hep Cat" trailer
  • Bonus trailers
  • Scene selections


Pal Joey
The John O'Hara/Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Broadway musical Pal Joey created quite a stir during its original theatrical run in 1940. Here we had a heel of a hero who sleeps with a wealthy older woman in order to realize his dream of owning his own nightclub, and who breaks the heart of the girl who truly loves him when she impedes his plans to get ahead. Blossom Time it wasn't. Due to the seamy nature of the plot and the double- and single-entendre song lyrics (especially the original words for "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", which you aren't likely to hear on most mainstream recordings of this tune), Pal Joey could not be faithfully filmed back in the 1940s. Even this 1957 version, made at a time when movie censorship was beginning to relax, was extensively sanitized for public consumption. Ambitious singer/dancer Joey (Frank Sinatra) is still something of a louse, but a redeemable one. The relationship between Joey and his older benefactress Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth, who was actually a few years younger than Sinatra) is one of implication rather than overt statement. And Joey's true love, chorine Linda English (Kim Novak), is as pure as the driven snow, who vehemently expresses distaste at having to perform a striptease. The Rodgers and Hart songs ("I Could Write a Book" the aforementioned "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered") which seemed so cynical and ironic back in 1940, are given the typically lush, luxurious Hollywood treatment (many of the tunes, notably "There's a Small Hotel", were borrowed from other Rodgers and Hart shows, a not uncommon practice of the time). Pal Joey is nice to look at and consummately performed, but don't expect the bite of the original play, or the John O'Hara short stories which preceded them. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Rita Hayworth
    Rita Hayworth - Vera Simpson
  • Frank Sinatra
    Frank Sinatra - Joey Evans
  • Kim Novak
    Kim Novak - Linda English
  • Barbara Nichols
    Barbara Nichols - Gladys
  • Image coming soon
    Bobby Sherwood - Ned Galvin

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