"Doll Face" Carroll is an entertainer looking to expand her reportoire. After a failed audition, where she is recognized as a burlesque performer from the Gaiety Theatre, her manager and fiancé Mike Hannegan suggest she writes an autobiography to project a more literate image and he hires Frederick Manly Gerard as a ghostwriter. Doll Face agrees on the condition she is allowed to dedicate the book to Mike with "For the love of Mike".
Another performer in the burlesque show, Chita Chula, remarks that if the book is a success and Doll Face leaves the show it will probably have to close down. Mike then decides to produce a Broadway show of his own with the financial aid of the performers themselves. Frederick offers to put up any money missing. Chita Chula (portrayed by Carmen Miranda) is skeptical she can pull it off, but Mike assures her she'll "probably wound up being another Carmen Miranda!", something Chita Chula perceives as an insult.
Mike leaks word on the book to the press and, riding the publicity, argues the show got all the press it needs and that the book, although all but finished, needs not to be published. Doll Face, however, decides to go through with it and goes to Jamaica with Frederick for some final touch-ups. Boat engine trouble leaves them marooned on an island and, when Mike finds them, he misreads the situation and breaks up with her. Without "Doll Face" as headliner, the Gayety Theatre struggles and Mike is forced to finally shut it down.
Doll Face releases her book The Genius DeMilo and when Mike sees she dedicated the book to Frederick instead of him, he regrets leaving her. After Doll Face refuses to talk to Mike, he sends a lawyer to stop her show in the middle of opening night, since she is under contract not to appear in any show not produced by him. She agrees to see him and he asks her forgiveness. After they reunite, she tricks the producer of her show to give Mike a 25% share and co-producer credit so the show can continue.
The film is based on the 1943 play The Naked Genius written by Gypsy Rose Lee.Vivian Blaine as Mary Elizabeth (Maybeth) "Doll Face" Carroll
Dennis O'Keefe as Michael Francis "Mike" Hannegan
Perry Como as Nicky Ricci
Carmen Miranda as Chita Chula
Martha Stewart as Frankie Porter
Stephen Dunne as Frederick Manly Gerard (credited as Michael Dunne)
Reed Hadley as Flo Hartman
Stanley Prager as Flo's aide
Charles Tannen as Flo's aide
George E. Stone as stage manager
Frank Orth as Peters
Donald MacBride as Ferguson (lawyer)
Robert Mitchum as passenger (uncredited)
Vivian Blaine - "Somebody's Walking in My Dream" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Perry Como and Martha Stewart - "Somebody's Walking in My Dream" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Perry Como and chorus girls - "Red Hot and Beautiful" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Vivian Blaine and male quartet - "Red Hot and Beautiful" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
"Eighty Miles Outside of Atlanta"
Perry Como - "Here Comes Heaven Again" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Perry Como and Vivian Blaine - "Here Comes Heaven Again" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Perry Como and Martha Stewart - "Dig You Later (A-Hubba Hubba Hubba)" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
Carmen Miranda, Bando da Lua and chorus - "Chico Chico" (Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Harold Adamson)
"The Parisian Trot" (Music by Lionel Newman, lyrics by Charles E. Henderson)
Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson had also submitted the song "True to the Navy", but it did not make it into the film because Paramount refused to license the song.
Production and filming
The working titles of this film were The Naked Genius and Here's a Kiss. The Motion Picture Production Code did not allow the studio to use The Naked Genius neither as the title of the film nor as title of "Doll Face's" fictional autobiography.
The Production Code Administration also strongly protested the depiction of the lead character as a stripper and several screenplays submitted by the studio were not approved. In late July 1945, Production Code Administration head Joseph I. Breen cautioned studio public relations head Jason S. Joy:
"Please have in mind that any time you undertake to identify a character as a 'strip tease' artist, you run the risk of giving enormous offense everywhere. People, pretty generally, look up [sic] the business of the burlesque shows--and, more importantly, the strip tease--as, possibly, the very lowest form of public entertainment, and this same viewpoint is reflected in the reaction of the Censor Boards."
Playwriter and renowned stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee, was credited onscreen using her real name Louise Hovick. The Hollywood Reporter (6 April 1944) wrote that the producer George Jessel had offered Lee a role in the picture, but she did not appear in the film. According to The Hollywood Reporter (June 1944), Carole Landis would star in the film and Jackie Gleason would perform the "comedy lead", and yet another news item (July 1945) reported that William Eythe was scheduled to play the "romantic lead", and that fifteen-year-old singer Hazel Dawn had been included in the cast. However, Dawn's appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Dennis O'Keefe was borrowed for the film from Edward Small's company. Doll Face was the screen debuts of Martha Stewart and Lex Barker.
Producer Bryan Foy, filled in for director Lewis Seiler for three days while Seiler was ill.
Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson submitted the song "True to the Navy" for inclusion in the film and a production number featuring it was filmed at a cost between $60,000 and $75,000. However, McHugh and Adamson had previously submitted the song to Paramount which had used it in their 1945 film Bring on the Girls. Paramount refused to license the song for use in Doll Face, and the musical number had to be cut. In a December 1945 letter to Twentieth Century-Fox studio president Spyros Skouras, studio attorney George Wasson speculated that Paramount refused to license the song because Twentieth Century-Fox had obtained the distribution rights to Tales of Manhattan and clearance for the use of the title Sentimental Journey, both of which Paramount also wanted.
According to the legal records, Irving Weissman filed suit against the studio, claiming that the song "Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)" was plagiarized from one of his compositions. The case was dismissed in September 1948 by a federal court judge, but Weissman again filed suit through a state court. The disposition of the second suit has not been determined.
The studio Twentieth Century-Fox reportedly paid Louise Hovick (Gypsy Rose Lee) much money for the rights to The Naked Genius. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "some one (not Miss Hovick) made a terrible deal. [...] the only distinction in its writing is a persistence in grammatical mistakes. The only remarkability about its pattern is a monotonous fidelity to form." and "Forget the plot, and concentrate on the production numbers performed with gusto by Blaine, Como, and Carmen Miranda."
"A very surprising choice, I think, is Carmen Miranda for "Doll Face". Not that she isn't one of out best dancers, and certainly one of our most persuasive personalities, but she is so different from Joan Blondell, who created the role on the stage in "Naked Genius" from which "Doll Face" is taken" said Louella Parsons.
The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that "The film has its faults, chiefly technical (...) Dennis O'Keefe makes a handsome, hard-hitting manager and performs with great sincerity. Perry Como sings in an even more attractive manner than hitherto, and Vivian Blaine is more than adequately attractive, if a trifle too polished, as the "burleycue" blonde. Carmen Miranda appears in a straight part with only one singing number. The innovation is not a success, but the fault is the director's not Carmen's."
The film was released on DVD in June 2008 as part of Fox's "The Carmen Miranda Collection."