French Line, The (1953): Lloyd Bacon’s Romantic Musical, Starring Jane Russell and Gilbert Roland

Lloyd Bacon directed The French Line as a star vehicle for Jane Russell, produced  by Edmund Grainger, with Howard Hughes as executive producer.

Russell displays her singing, dancing, and comedic skills compensate only partly for the otherwise trashy picture.

Mary Loos and Richard Sale’s script was based on a story by Matty Kemp and Isabel Dawn.

It was shot in three strip technicolor and Dual strip polarized 3-D.

Russell plays Millionairess Mame Carson, whose oil empire either attracts men or scares them. When her fiancé Phil Barton (Craig Stevens) leaves her, Mame heads for Paris on the French Line’s Liberté with friend and fashion designer Annie Farrell (Mary McCarty).

Mame swaps identities with Myrtle Brown (Joyce MacKenzie), one of Annie’s models, hoping to find true love incognito. Aboard ship, she falls for French playboy Pierre DuQuesne (Gilbert Roland) who was actually hired by her zealous guardian Waco Mosby (Arthur Hunnicutt) to keep an eye on her fortune.

The movie was made at the height of Russell’s popularity, right after the huge success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Jane’s ample bosom was featured in the screen in 3-D,  stressing the point Howard used the tagline “J.R. in 3D. It’ll knock both your eyes out!” Her overly “revealing” costumes led to “Condemned” rating from the Catholic National Legion of Decency. The outrageous outfits were designed by Howard Hughes and RKO crew to display Russell’s physique.

Initially, the Breen Office refused to give the film the Production Code seal of approval, branding it “offensive” because of “indecent exposure” during the notorious dance number.

Jane Russell as Mary “Mame” Carson
Gilbert Roland as Pierre DuQuesne
Arthur Hunnicutt as Waco Mosby
Mary McCarty as Annie Farrell
Joyce MacKenzie as Myrtle Brown
Paula Corday as Celeste
Scott Elliott as Bill Harris
Craig Stevens as Phil Barton
Laura Elliot as Kate Hodges