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Directed by Nicholas Ray

United States 1958 99 mins.

A latter-day mob tale made for glamorous MGM—ironic, at that most softboiled of studios—Ray follows the gritty gangster classics of the 1930s by crafting the center of Party Girl’s story on mafia lawyer Thomas Farrell (Robert Taylor), who has a sterling record defending crooks and murderers. Farrell, in the course of his work for archetypal boss Rico Angelo (Lee J. Cobb), meets Vicki (Cyd Charisse), a stunningly beautiful yet cynical nightclub dancer. Vicki and Farrell’s lives coincide at just the right time and they enter into an unspoken pact to help each other break free from the vicious cycles in which they’re caught. Rico, however, sees things much differently. “It’s hard to think of another [film where] two wooden actors are used more creatively and movingly than Robert Taylor and Cyd Charisse.”—Jonathan Rosenbaum.