Joey Evans Speaks

Hey, this is gonna kill ya – I’m now a big-time movie reviewer.  Let me tell you how this event came about.  This bum, Mel What-his-name found out I’m still kickin’ and that some crazy outfit called Twilight Time is bringing out the story of my life – you know, that classic 1957 flick, PAL JOEY…Anyways, knowing that the whole megillah was based on my buddy John O’Hara’s book, which was, in turn, simply a collection of my letters to you…Well, he thought that I could do a better job than he could by handing over our recent exchanges…  “You got emails?” he asked me.  “Email-schmee-mail!”  I don’t go in for that.  I like sending postcards.  Glad you saved ’em…So here we are in print.  And he gets the credit – and I don’t get a dime!  Whatta bum!  Since this is the case – could you possibly spare a c-note?  Just to tide me over.  As you know, I’m always having cash flow problems.  As ever,

Your pal,                                                           

Joey

Let me tell you something that you might have been unaware of.  Billy Wilder – yeah THAT Billy Wilder was the guy who wanted to bring my story – Joey Evans unvarnished – to da screen.  He had just had an altercation with Paramount studios, whom (sic) wanted him to soften the German release prints of Stalag 17!  Since Wilder’s folks met their end in the holocaust, this didn’t seem kosher (and I don’t blame him!), so he left rather acrimoniously (how’s that for an $8 college word?  I’m comin’ up in the world).  Wilder further gives them the ice pick in the puss by freelancing at Fox, resulting in a little panache called The 7-Year Itch.   Oh, brother, remember that?  Marilyn Monroe and that dress in the subway grating?  Wowie–wow-wow-wow!

So he ventures to Columbia and Harry Cohn, who naturally welcomes him with open arms.  Then the fireworks began.  As you know, I’m a hoofer by trade, but Billy had other notions.  Gene Kelly became a star because of me – when the whole shebang exploded on Broadway in 1940.  But he wasn’t part of Wilder’s picture – at least the moving picture.  “Who then?” asks Cohn.  “Marlon Brando!” exclaims Billy.  Cohn looks like he’s about to have a fit.  Me – I’m ecstatic.  BRANDO doin’ yours truly.  Hell, the guy pulled off Julius Seezer (sic), so why not Joey Evans?  Cohn admits that Marlon can line ’em up proper, so he grits his teeth and relents.  “But Brando can’t dance” he tells Wilder.  Wilder replies, “Not to worry – we’re making him a night club comic.”  Cohn wonders how Marlon will play op Rita Hayworth, who has a couple of pictures left on her contract – and whom he’s more than dyin’ to get rid of.  “Doesn’t matter” sez Billy.  Hayworth is out.  “Who then?” asks Harry.  “Mae West,” sez Wilder.

Now let me tell ya something quickly.  Harry Cohn is what the carriage trade refers to as “uncouth.”  He proudly tells everyone that he can pick a winner by scratching his rear end.  It’s true – when his behind gets an itch – he knows he’s got a box office hit.  Some writer once said that the world’s problems could be solved by simply wiring the planet to Harry Cohn’s ass!  Is that a killer or what?  Well, Harry’s feeling something in his keester, but it ain’t an itch.

“MAE WEST!” he shouts.  She’s like a 1000!  And she made a picture here years ago that almost ruined me!”  “That’s because it was a piece of crap!”  sez Billy.  Harry calms down ’cause he knows this a genuine fact.  Now everyone’s still agog by singin’ and dancin’ Brando from Guys and Dolls, but Harry ain’t convinced.  “Can he sing dem songs?” he asks Wilder.  “Doesn’t matter – we’re throwing them all out.  They’ll only be heard as background music!”  Throwing out Rodgers and Hart tunes?  A musical without music!  Jeez, now even I’m pissed!  Forget about throwing out the R & H stuff – Cohn throws out Wilder.  Columbia remained the only major joint he never worked at.  Ain’t that a kick in the head?

Your pal,

Joey

Wait till ya hear the latest.  They’ve brought in George Sidney – who’s done quite a few hot musicals at MGM…And here’s the topper.  Guess who’s playin’ me?  SINATRA!  That’s right, Frank Sinatra!  Sidney had done Anchors Aweigh with Francis (and Gene Kelly, the original me) at Metro – resulting in one of Frankie’s biggest early movie hits.  So they get along.  Frank and Sidney are co-producing with Columbia.  Harry Cohn’s already expecting the worst.  Frank’s still hurtin’ from not getting On the Waterfront, which coincidentally starred Brando; he’s also seein’ red from being downgraded to Marlon’s wing man in the aforementioned Guys and Dolls – where Brando got the big songs, and Frank, basically got bupkis!  So beatin’ out Brando kinda makes Frankie happy.  Therefore all is quiet on the western front.  Frank not only insists that Hayworth stay in – but gets top billing (“She IS Columbia Pictures!”).  And yours truly is now a saloon singer (which, considering Frank’s participation, is rather apt, don’t you think?).  Dancer-comic-singer.  Who knew I was so multi-talented?  Because of this, the R & H score remains intact; in fact, they’re adding some more tunes.  And Frank approves of Kim Novak as the younger mouse.  Who wouldn’t – I mean, have you seen her?  They got along in The Man With the Golden Arm – that was a corker, wasn’t it?  “Confidently, I’m stacked!” she tells him.  She ain’t kiddin’!  Va-va-vroom!

I know you’re probably thinking that because of all this action that I’m rolling in dough.  Not so – it’s all in what they call transit.  So I still could use that century.  If you’ve already sent it, terrific!  If not, please remit same, as my hotel tab is rapidly reflecting the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.

Your pal,

Joey

Maybe it’s me, but something in the screenplay irks me…They kept a lot of the original dialogue and I feel a bit sad about one recurring line of which Hayworth refers to Frankie.  She keeps callin’ him “Beauty.”  Now, don’t get me wrong – I think he’s a decent enough looking specimen…maybe average-plus.  But BEAUTY?  Is it my imagination or does it sound like sort of a snipe?  Couldn’t they have replaced it with, “Hey, blue eyes?”  I know it’s a minor point, but I sorta feel bad for Frank.  Then again, it could all be a swell-head deal.  I mean, he’s not only starring, but co-producing.  So I guess they can call him anything he wants.  Hell, they could call Rondo Hatton “beauty” if he was starrin’ and co-producing.

Your pal,

Joey

The supporting cast is aces.  One of my favorite broads, Barbara Nichols is in it an’ she’s beyond fantastic.  All the babes are something to write home about.  One of Frankie’s pals, Hank Henry plays the owner of the club movie-Joey sings at.  Their relationship is very much what I perceive the Sinatra-Cohn splice to be like.  When Frankie dedicates “The Lady is a Tramp” to Hayworth, Henry bops his noggin in the wall.  What a hoot!

The lines are mostly million buck zingers.  Some rough stuff.  “Can I offer you any aid?” asks some old dame to Frankie upon his lighting in Frisco.  “What kind of aid do you have in mind?” he replies definitely referring to the bedroom variety.  I’m also not sure if movie-Joey ain’t getting it on with his landlady…some ancient twist named Elizabeth
Patterson.  You’d know her if you saw her.  Been in pictures forever…Even before pictures…when they just had cave paintings.  I’m glad we don’t know fer sure, as this is one case where things are best left to the imagination.

The words movie-Joey speaks are yours truly to a “T.”  Fits Frankie like a glove too.  This, and correct me if I’m wrong, is like the perfect Frankie Sinatra vehicle.  It’s like the first Rat Pack picture – but without the Rat Pack!  Do you get what I’m saying?  Script is credited to Dorothy Kingsley – a broad!  Can this be?  Ya think maybe it’s some guy fronting with a mouse name?  Let me know, as I value your opinion – also your rubles, of which I still have not received any of same.

Your pal,

Joey

The picture’s a pip!  Breaking all records.  Snobs and bums love it!  They’re linin’ up!  Kim Novak is driving me crazy!  She an’ Frankie are great together.  Kim seems to always bat one outta the ballpark when making a picture in San Francisco – although, speaking from experience, I think the ending in this show may be worse for her in the long run than the one in Vertigo.   Take a gander and give me your take.  I’m wondering if you sent me that lifesaver in cash – which could explain why I never got it.  You should never do that.  Also a check is likewise a no-no, as my current status at the local vault is of the persona-non-grata variety.  A money order is the best way to go to save…

…Your pal,

Joey

Have you ever seen a Blu-Ray?  Again, in the words of my movie counterpart:  Wowie-wow-wow-wow!  And with a few extra WOWS to boot!  It’s so clear and sharp – I’ve never seen a picture like it!  You can almost reach out and touch the cast of characters – and with so much prime female pulchritude on display, there’s plenty you wanna touch!  It was shot by this guy, Harold Lipstein, a very nice fella of the Jewish persuasion who never quite got his due (although he’s been around for years).  From being on-location with the company, I know first-hand how hard this shoot was – what in Technicolor an’ all.  To say nothing of the nighttime stuff, which looks sensational as well.  Trust me, that ain’t easy to achieve.

I don’t know who these Twilight Time characters are, but I think that they may be giving the paying public too much.  They’ve included the PAL JOEY trailer, which, in and of itself, is almost worth the price of admission.  It’s like a little extra movie – what we moguls call a featurette.  It has Sinatra talking to the audience – giving them a lesson on how to be hip, via a chalkboard and pointer lowdown on what they call Joeyisms…all based on moi!  Didn’t know I could talk French, did ya?

If that’s not enough, they’ve got a fairly-recent (2010) ten minute short, entitled Backstage and at Home with Kim NovakI’D like to be backstage and at home with Kim, if you know what I mean! Man that broad is talented.  Makes her clothes, lives with these artists, loves horses and dogs and painted these crazy murals on her walls.  I once painted my old man’s garage, and, let me tell ya, it’s no walk in the park!

But there’s more!  They got the sound available in either standard stereo or 5.1 surround.  I’m not sure what that means, but both come off great.  They’ve also got another thing called IST.  Personally, I prefer a BLT, but you know how I can always eat.  IST means that you can listen to just the music by George Duning with arrangements by Nelson Riddle.  And that includes the vocals!  I don’t have to tell ya that this ain’t chopped liver!  It’s like getting the movie and a separate soundtrack album for one price!  I don’t think that’s fair.  Shouldn’t they be charging more – and shouldn’t I be getting a nice slice of this swag?  I’m sure you agree with me.  Know any cheap lawyers?  Ha, ha.

Oh, an’ I gotta mention this – PAL JOEY is a limited run of 3000.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone.  Don’t know about 3000, but my run’ll be limited to 2021 – if ya don’t come across with that hundred, which I desperately need now more than ever.

As always,

Your pal,

Joey

PAL JOEY.  Color. Widescreen [1.85:1; 1080p High Definition]; 5.1 or 2.0 DTS HD-MA.

Twilight Time/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Columbia Pictures Industries. SRP:  $34.95

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