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Nicholas Ray
Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb
Writing Credits:
George Wells

Lawyer Tommy Farrell is a defender of crooks. Vicki Gaye encourages him to go straight, but mob king Rico Angelo insists otherwise.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 11/30/2021

• Trailer


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Party Girl [Blu-Ray] (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 3, 2022)

If you glance at the Blu-ray cover to the left, you would assume 1958’s Party Girl offers a bright, musical spectacle. With an image of a sexy, colorful Cyd Charisse, one wouldn’t anticipate a gangster flick.

However, that becomes the film’s focus, albeit one with a different slant given that Party involves females more than the average thriller. Party takes us to Chicago circa the 1930s.

Tommy Farrell (Robert Taylor) works as a lawyer who defends local criminals. He experiences some pangs of conscience in regard to his work, but he continues in this role anyway.

This changes when Farrell meets Vicki Gaye (Charisee), a professional dancer with whom he falls in love. Vicki encourages Farrell to go straight, but mob boss Rico Angelo (Lee J. Cobb) has other ideas.

Though Party revolves around the world of gangsters, much of that element resides in the background through the movie’s first two acts. Instead, those segments concentrate on the romantic narrative.

Matters changes for the film’s final third, as the gangster drama comes to the fore. Unsurprisingly, the best parts of Party stem from these scenes, mainly because they allow Cobb more screen time.

Without question, Cobb delivers the most compelling aspects of Party, as he embodies the mob boss in a terrific manner. Cobb makes Rico a broad, charismatic leader but also imbues the role with the appropriate menace.

Clearly the Rico character stuck with Brian DePalma. Via the scene in which Al Capone goes nuts with a baseball bat, 1987’s Untouchables would obviously emulate the Party scene in which Rico uses a “gift” to beat a subordinate.

Taylor also fares nicely as the weary, cynical Tommy. He gives the role the appropriate gravitas and allows us to see Farrell as a lost soul but not one devoid of potential for redemption.

Unfortunately, Charisse comes up short in terms of performance among the leads. She gives off the appropriate bitterness in her early scenes and creates a decent sense of romantic growth as the story progresses, but she just lacks the naturalism and realism of Cobb and Taylor.

It doesn’t help that Tommy looks way too old for Vicki. In reality, Taylor was only 11 years older than Charisse, but he feels more like her father than a romantic partner. Of course, women often go with substantially older men for power/money, but the “visual age gap” still feels tough to swallow.

It also becomes weird because the movie makes it clear that Tommy is supposed to be younger than Rico. While Cobb looked older than his 47 years circa 1958 as well, he still seems like a spring chicken compared to weathered old Taylor.

At least Taylor’s performance helps overcome some of these concerns, and director Nicholas Ray paints a pretty compelling drama overall. Party sputters only occasionally, and usually due to choices related to its leading lady.

Charisse’s main claim to fame stemmed from her talents as a dancer, so to fit her talents, Party shoehorns in a couple of stage performances for Vicki. These seem disconnected to the rest of the narrative and send the movie off-track for brief periods.

Still, most of Party becomes effective, largely thanks to its two lead male actors. It would fare better with a more competent main actress, but I nonetheless find a lot to like here.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Party Girl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not stunning, this was a largely pleasing transfer.

Sharpness mostly seemed positive. Some shots periodically tended to appear a little soft and ill defined, but those were the exceptions. The majority of the movie looked pretty accurate and concise.

No problems with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and neither edge haloes nor noise reduction created artificial distractions. The image seemed free from print flaws, which left it with a clean appearance.

Colors appeared fairly subdued but well-depicted. Outside of some stage production numbers, the tones rarely seemed particularly vivid, but they also fit the film and they showed the appropriate impact.

Black levels seemed dense and deep, while shadows were mostly smooth and appropriately visible. As a whole, Party offered a positive presentation..

As for the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Party, it worked just fine given its age and ambitions. Speech consistently appeared intelligible enough. Despite some reedy tones, the lines came across well enough.

Music lacked much heft, but the score and songs were acceptably lively and full. Effects also showed decent clarity.

Those elements didn’t pack much of a punch, but they were fairly accurate and tight. No issues with source noise occurred, so I thought the audio was good enough for a “B-“.

The disc includes the movie’s trailer but it lacks other extras.

Largely buoyed by two strong male leads, Party Girl offers a fairly solid twist on the usual gangster tale. Despite a lackluster turn from its main actress and some problematic choices, the film turns into a mostly involving mix of crime drama and romance. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio but it lacks bonus materials. It’s too bad the disc lacks supplements, but the movie itself succeeds.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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