Review: ‘Lady of Burlesque’

Although Lady of Burlesque is based on Gypsy Rose Lee's novel, G-String Murders, story plows an obvious straight line in generating the whodunit angles, and two gal burlesque performers are knocked off in succession before the culprit is disclosed. But gallant trouping by Barbara Stanwyck, colorful background provided by Stromberg, and speedy direction by William Wellman, carry picture through for good entertainment for general audiences.

Although Lady of Burlesque is based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s novel, G-String Murders, story plows an obvious straight line in generating the whodunit angles, and two gal burlesque performers are knocked off in succession before the culprit is disclosed. But gallant trouping by Barbara Stanwyck, colorful background provided by Stromberg, and speedy direction by William Wellman, carry picture through for good entertainment for general audiences.

Story centers around a burlesque stock company established in an old opera house. Stanwyck is the striptease star in process of buildup by manager J. Edward Bromberg, with Michael O’Shea the lowdown comedian who’s continually making romantic pitches to the girl.

Picture gets off to zestful start, with stage show background in which Stanwyck socks over ‘Take off the E String, Play It on the G String’, and Frank Fenton deliberately off-keys ‘So This Is You’. There’s a sudden raid and wagon backup; release on bail and then showdown to generate various motives for the coming murders. After swinging into the strange use of a G string for strangulation of the victims, it’s just a matter of time before the windup.

1943: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

Lady of Burlesque

Production

United Artists. Director William A. Wellman; Producer Hunt Stromberg; Screenplay James Gunn; Camera Robert de Grasse; Editor James Newcom; Music Arthur Lange

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Barbara Stanwyck Michael O'Shea J. Edward Bromberg Iris Adrian Marion Martin Pinky Lee

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