Incendiary Blonde (1945): Marshall’s Musical Biopic, Starring Betty Hutton

Directed in Technicolor by George Marshall and loosely based on true story, the musical biopic Incendiary Blonde stars Betty Hutton as 1920s nightclub singer Texas Guinan. 

The movie’s title is a play on incendiary bombs being used in World War II.  The score, written by Robert Emmett Dolan, was nominated for the Best Scoring of a Musical Picture Oscar.

In the first chapter, a tomboy named Mary Louise “Texas” Guinan lands a job with a Wild West show after proving she can ride a bucking bronco.  The rodeo’s new owner is Romero “Bill” Kilgannon, who promotes Texas after the publicity she gets from saving toddler’s life from a runaway wagon at a show.

Tim Callahan comes along, pressin for a job as the show’s press agent by promising not to tell that Texas’s “heroism” was a staged act; a midget pretended to be the endangered child.

Meanwhile, Tim falls in love with Texas, but she prefers Bill, unaware that he is legally bound to an institutionalized wife. Tim ends up marrying Texas and promoting her new career on stage in New York.

A gangster acquaintance, Joe Cadden, takes control of Nick the Greek’s nightclub in New York, making Texas his star. Her fame grows, but a feud develops between Cadden and the Vettori racketeering brothers, leading to threats against Texas and Tim.

In the end, Bill saves her life, but is arrested and sentenced to jail. His own wife passes away, making him free to marry again, but by that time, Texas discovers that she has a fatal condition.

Cast

Betty Hutton as Texas Guinan
Arturo de Cordova as Bill Romero Kilgannon
Charlie Ruggles as Cherokee Jim
Barry Fitzgerald as Michael “Mike” Guinan
Albert Dekker as Joe Cadden
Eduardo Ciannelli as Nick the Greek
Bill Goodwin as Tim Callahan

Credits

Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Joseph Sistrom
Written by Ken Englund and James Edward Grant, screenplay by Claude Binyon and Frank Butler
Music by Robert Emmett Dolan and John Leipold
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Edited by Archie Marshek
Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date: July 25, 1945
Running time: 113 minutes

Note

I am grateful to TCM for showing this musical on January 22, 2020.