25 May 2016 | blanche-2
for Betty Hutton fans
If you like Betty Hutton, you'll like "Incendiary Blonde," the story of Texas Guinan, made in 1945.
The story of the famous owner of the 300 Club (one of several she owned or co-owned), a speakeasy, at 151 W. 54th Street in New York City, is perfect for Hutton. Texas was a larger than life figure who started out as a chorus girl, appeared in silent films, and became most famous for being hostess of her club, which was patronized by people such as George Gershwin, Pola Negri, Mae West, Jeanne Eagels, Gloria Swanson, John Gilbert, Clara Bow, Gloria Morgan (Gloria Vanderbilt's mother) and many others.
Though constantly being raided by the police, she pulled in a fortune. She died of ulcerative colitis at the age of 49 in Vancouver, while on tour with her show, Too Hot for Paris, though the film doesn't end with her death or go into her tour.
I suspect the film is highly fictionalized, as it leaves out her three husbands, instead concentrating on an affair with Bill Kilgannon (Arturo de Cordova) who was married to a woman in a sanitarium and wasn't free.
Betty Hutton wears a series of gorgeous costumes and is able to use her big belt voice in songs like "Row, Row, Row," "It Had to Be You," and "Ragtime Cowboy Joe." She captures the essence of what Guinan must have been like: a huge personality, brassy, and glamorous.
Others in the cast include Barry Fitzgerald as Tex's father, Mary Philips as her mother (both her parents outlived her, and her mother died at 101), Charlie Ruggles, and Albert Dekker.
The end is a little unsatisfactory and may have been an alternate ending.
All in all, Hutton makes the movie, which is otherwise not much.