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Because movie-going tastes had begun rapidly changing by 1957, LES GIRLS ($20) probably wasn’t as successful as it might have been had it been released a few scant years earlier. In the cinematic scheme of things, LES GIRLS also marked Gene Kelly’s swan song as a leading man in an MGM musical, as well being the last time that the legendary Cole Porter would compose songs for a motion picture. With all of that in mind, LES GIRLS is really more of a comedy with musical numbers, than an actual screen musical. However, the film’s comedy literally sparkles because of the presence of the beautiful Kay Kendall, an actress of tremendous comedic gifts, whose career wasn't allowed to achieve its full potential.

Utilizing the same storytelling device as Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMON, LES GIRLS tells wildly different versions of the same story as the events of a particular summer are "remembered" by the various participants. The film opens with Lady Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) being sued over the memoir that she has written about her days as a performer in a trio known as Les Girls. Former costar, Angèle Ducros (Taina Elg) claims that Sybil’s memoir is slanderous fabrication, with nary an ounce of truth in it. During the trial, Sybil and Angèle are each called upon to give testimony, which allows them to recount (via flashback) the summer in question, during which headliner Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly) and Les Girls were on tour together. While the Cole Porter tunes for LES GIRLS aren’t the best of his career, the film does feature one standout musical number- Why Am I So Gone About That Gal, in which Kelly gets to do a hilarious spoof on Marlon Brando, as well as demonstrate his amazing dancing prowess with costar Mitzi Gaynor.

Warner Home Video has made LES GIRLS available on DVD in a wonderful looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is the absolute best that I’ve ever seen LES GIRLS look in the home venue, with the image appearing nicely crisp and well defined. The film element used for the transfer is very clean; displaying very few age related anomalies or blemishes. A grain structure is occasionally noticeable, but never particularly pronounced. Colors are quite nice, and while the hues don’t display the saturation of IB Technicolor, there are times that the MetroColor elements appear quite vibrant. Blacks appear deep, whites are clean and the contrast is smooth. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout.

For this release, LES GIRLS has had its soundtrack upgraded to the 5.1 channel variety of Dolby Digital. Considering its vintage, this is a very nice sounding track; fidelity isn’t up to modern standards, but it is very pleasing nonetheless. The forward soundstage tends to dominate the mix, with the songs and music having a nice stereo presence. As for the rears, they supply a bit of ambient and musical fill to the track. Dialogue is always fully understandable and clean sounding. A French monaural track is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some very nice extras. Cole Porter In Hollywood: Ca, C'est L'Amour is a nine minute program hosted by Taina Elg that looks back fondly on the production of LES GIRLS and costar Kay Kendall, whose fire was prematurely extinguished. Also included on the DVD is the French themed Tex Avery cartoon Flea Circus, awards listing and a theatrical trailer.

While not the perfect musical, LES GIRLS is indeed a comic delight with five musical numbers thrown in for good measure. Warner has done a fine job with the DVD presentation, so there is nothing disappointing on that front. Recommended to genre buffs, Gene Kelly fans and those who remember or want to discover the effervescent Kay Kendall.



Les Girls (1957)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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