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Cinema: Vanishing Act

2 minute read

The Stripper. To compound the fib implied in the title, Producer Jerry Wald has hauled a matron named Gypsy Rose Lee into a few scenes at the beginning of this screen version of William Inge’s 1959 play, A Loss of Roses. Fortunately, Gypsy does not strip; wearisomely, neither does anyone else. But Joanne Woodward gets guillotined.

That is to say, she gets it in the neck when her boy friend does a vanishing act from a traveling magic show, stranding the troupe in a Kansas tank town. But she looks around, notices that by gosh it is the very town she grew up in, and goes to live with Claire Trevor, who had been like a mother to her years before. Claire’s son (Richard Beymer) grudgingly moves out of his room onto a day bed. One night, after a fight with Mom, he goes out, gets drunk, comes home, jumps into his old bed by mistake. There follow scenes of Denunciation, Reconciliation, Fulfillment, Retribution and Ecstasy—not necessarily in that order.

The film makers have tied some fancy knots in the silver-cord theme of Inge’s original play, and some lines have been thrown in that are sure to make Inge cringe. Says Woodward to Trevor: “I shouldn’t tell you this; it might shock you.” Says Trevor to Woodward: “Don’t forget, I’m a registered nurse.” A Loss of Roses bumped through 25 performances on Broadway; as The Stripper, it doesn’t come off at all.

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