My Thoughts: The Girl Most Likely (1958)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Girl Most Likely (1958) marked the end of an era over at RKO. It was the final film produced at the studio where Ginger completed the bulk of her filmography in the 1930s. Universal bought the rights to release the Jane Powell vehicle after its studio folded. But before I discuss some of my thoughts on this musical, I need to point out that it is a remake of the 1941 film Tom, Dick and Harry, directed by Garsin Kanin and starring the multi-talented Snirgor Greeg, I mean Ginger Rogers. (If you didn't get that reference, you should probably go watch Tom, Dick and Harry).

Although originally uncredited, backlisted writer Paul Jarrico provides the screenplay of The Girl Most Likely. He wrote the screenplay for Tom, Dick and Harry as well. This remake also marks the final installment in star Jane Powell's musical filmography. To add to the "lasts" here, The Girl Most Likely was the last of Mitchell Leisen's film directorial credits, and as a coincidence, Tom, Dick and Harry was the last film that Garson Kanin directed at RKO. So it is safe to restate that this story altogether is associated with the end of an era in a lot of ways.

As for my personal thoughts on The Girl Most Likely, I was not impressed. Some parts were kind of charming, albeit poorly executed. The fact that it was produced as a musical seemed rather unnecessary to me. There were times when I would have my full attention on the film, when a musical number would pop up out of nowhere, unneeded to progress the plot line, and I would think to myself, "oh yeah I forgot this was a musical." Oddly enough, I did somewhat appreciate the Tom, Dick and Harry tributes peppered throughout. A few of the scenes had a script and layout identical to that of the musical's predecessor, and for that I think that Una Merkel, Frank Cady, and young Judy Nugent were casted very well in their respective roles.

Jane Powell plays teenage Dodie Stevens (sounds like Janie too), who has her head in the clouds, dreaming of one day reeling in a wealthy Mr. Right and won't seem to settle for anything less. She brings nothing but added charm to a film that desperately needs it. Her internal thoughts are often displayed as musical numbers in the form of dream sequences throughout the film as she struggles to make a decision on the man of her dreams between her three options played by Tommy Noonan, Cliff Robertson, and Keith Andes.

Mitchell Leisen directed my favorite Ginger Rogers film in 1944, Lady in the Dark. I expected more from The Girl Most Likely for that reason. I think Lady in the Dark is spectacular and skillfully executed. That is also a musical that deals with internal struggles visualized as dream sequences, only with much more depth. The Girl Most Likely did not bring that home for me.

The always adorable Jane Powell does not disappoint in this film, it is just a film that is not quite at the level of the many timeless MGM productions in which she starred before it. While I would not recommend it to someone seeking out a fun musical that will have you singing its songs for days to come, I would if you are a fan of Tom, Dick and Harry and are curious as to how it could have been remade into a musical and how they worked in many tributes to the original.

For more takes on this film, I highly suggest checking out Laura's review of it over at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings and Jessica Picken's over at Comet Over Hollywood.

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