U.S.A. • 1957 • COLOUR • 109 MIN

Drawn from John O’Hara’s acerbic short stories, Pal Joey is the sardonic tale of an unscrupulous singer on the make. This was very much a vehicle for Sinatra in his 1950s musical prime, in which he was teamed with both Rita Hayworth and his co-star from The Man with the Golden Arm, ‘personal friend’ Kim Novak. Pal Joey also allowed Sinatra to in some way inhabit the musical persona that audiences loved from his Capitol recordings. It’s a scintillating showcase for his vocal performances, utilising a brilliant Rodgers and Hart song score that of course includes Sinatra’s definitive rendering of The Lady Is a Tramp. The film also reunited Sinatra with veteran director George Sidney (they had made Anchors Away together a dozen years earlier), which is undoubtedly why it has such panache and verve. Aside from his vocal talents, Sinatra gives arguably his greatest dramatic performance in a musical as the lounge-singer heel determined to find fame and fortune.

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