Cinema of yesteryear Pin Up Girl | Sunday Observer
Retro reviews:

Cinema of yesteryear Pin Up Girl

8 November, 2020

There were great musicals from Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. And during the war years of the 40s, several noteworthy joyful musicals from Hollywood had a US War Hero as the lead male character, which resonated with the times to build morale in the American public and their need to celebrate their heroic forces.

Pin Up Girl directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and produced by William LeBaronis a romantic musical comedy from 1944 which has Hollywood screenqueen Betty Grable playing the lead role of Laura Lorraine aka Lorry Jones, with John Harvey playing the young celebrated Navy War Hero Tommy Dooley who becomes enamoured with Laura and in turn, becomes Laura’s true love interest, despite the fact that she has on routine said ‘yes’ to nearly 500 young men who had proposed marriage to her during her days of being a hostess at a USO canteen in Missouri, where she performs as a singer and also signs photographs of herself as a pinup girl for soldiers who adore her.

The story begins with a musical number that elevates the mood with song and dance in a USO canteen where Laura and her best friend Kay Pritchett, played by Dorothea Kent, work as hostesses. The girls have taken jobs as stenographers in the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. but Laura with her creativity for storytelling tells the soldiers that they are going on a USO tour.

The gregarious bunch of servicemen turn sad hearted and insist that they will accompany her to the station to ceremonially bid her farewell. However, while on the train, Laura tells Kay that before they arrive in Washington, D.C., she has planned for the two of them to go to New York City and get an experience its lavish night life.

At the Big Apple

On arriving in the Big Apple, they see a large public gathering to welcome Navy hero Tommy Dooley who fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal. Delighted to see the lively social climate in New York City, the girls plan an evening at the opulent Club Chartreuse.

However, they are not allowed entry without reservations. Laura puts her creative senses to work by telling the doorman that they are the guests of Tommy Dooley who is due to arrive at the club. Coincidentally, Dooley is in fact to come to the club that evening and the two ladies are immediately escorted to a reserved table.

Unaware that Dooley is best friends with the club’s owner Eddie Hall Laura and Kate are assumed to be escorts for Tommy and his friend Dud, when the two young navy heroes arrive. Dooley and Dud believe Eddie has set them up on blind dates with the girls, and they lavish the girls with champagne. Dud believes the two women are actresses. And Kay, in her drunken state tells them she and Lauraact in a Broadway play.

A hilarious sequence of events unfolds soon after where Laura has to keep up the facade she has built up which, however, also paves the way for her to shine on stage as a theatrical singer who captures the spotlight! Following the memorable evening, Laura leaves for Washington D.C the next day with Kay.

The young lovers vow to keep their romance alive. But Dud accidentally writes down the address to reach Laura and Kay on a notebook that belonged to one of the girls which leaves with them!

A despondent Tommy Dooley arrives with Dud in Washington D.C to work at the US Department of the Navy, saddened that he will not be able to get back in touch with Laura. His superior officer tells him to not be distracted by love interests and tells him that women are trouble.

Unknown to Dooley, Laura and Kay are now working as stenographers at the Department of the Navy. But when Laura overhears how Dooley’s superior officer disapproves of him being involved with her, she is quick to adopt a new name as ‘Lorry Jones’ and continues working at close quarters with Dooley as his stenographer while artfully depriving him the opportunity of recognising his bespectacled stenographer as the vivacious and dolled up glamour girl that he had a romantic evening with in New York City!

A spate of amusing events unfolds after Laura’s sharp mind and quick thinking sets the stage for her to lead dual roles in Washington D.C. One is as a nondescript stenographer working at the U.S Department of the Navy, and the other is as the glamorous pin up girl club singer who is Tommy Dooley’s girlfriend who reunites with him after supposedly calling the Department of the Navy and leaving him a message with his stenographer ‘Ms.Jones’!

However, a strain of trouble brews soon as one of Laura’s former admirers arrives in Washington after seeing how she has made the big time as a club singer, determined to marry her as he claims Laura is his fiancé! This revelation leads Dooley to become despondent thinking that Laura never really loved him but played him along while being engaged to be married! Laura sets the record straight that she had over the years in jovialness said yes to many a servicemen who proposed to her at the USO canteen and that she is spoken for.

All is resolved

However, Dooley is introduced to the claimed fiancé of Laura by one of Laura’s competitors at the club as the man engaged to marry Laura and disaster falls upon the thriving romance.

Distraught Dooley calls off the love affair with Laura and decides to show her that he is not heartbroken over her deception, by taking his stenographer to the club where Laura performs and gets them a table close to the stage so as to be seen by Laura when she performs! Panic brews as Laura is nowhere to be found when the show starts and everybody begins to think the worst since she has not arrived at the club nor contactable despite the best efforts of the club’s management.

However, all is resolved in the final scene with misunderstandings being clarified, dual identities being revealed and the celebrated lovers reuniting to create a vibrant finale.

A movie with spectacular elements of entertainment, such as sensational tap dancing performances, brilliant roller skating dances and awesome performance sets, ‘Pin Up Girl’ is a romantic comedy that will woo you into the charm of Hollywood musicals from the golden era. It is a retro movie worthy of celebration.