Last month I watched two 1955 Diana Dors movies on TCM: “As Long as They’re Happy” and “An Alligator Named Daisy”. To be honest, I watched ALaTH but could only make it through the first 20 minutes of “Daisy” before giving up completely. While these movies are usually billed as Diana Dors movies, she’s not the star. Jeannie Carson is the rightful star of both movies.
In ALaTH, Carson plays one of three daughters of uptight British businessman John Bentley (Jack Buchanan). All three daughters are driving their father mad with their romance-based shenanigans. The youngest daughter tricks a big American singing star to come to the Bentley’s home and musical hijinks ensue.
The American singing star is Bobby Denver, played by singer Jerry Wayne. His gimmick is that he cries while he sings, which makes the girls swoon in a very hormonal way. His character reminded me that, as a kid, my parents once told me about an American 50s singer who really did cry when he sang. Now I have to wonder if they saw this movie and thought Jerry Wayne cried when he performed in real life, or if Wayne’s character is based on a real person, or what.
John Bailey, the father, is played by the ultimate stage professional Jack Buchanan. His role is to fulfill a standard British comedy element: “It’s not funny until the old guy gets hurt.” He does some dancing in the film and while he is a little stiff, he’s not bad. It’s almost unbelievable he died less than 2 years later from spinal arthritis.
Diana Dors shows up when we’re well past the 1 hour mark in the film, and she just plays herself, a sexy singer type. She’s gorgeous and she can certainly carry a tune, but there’s very little to her role.
Diana Dors was hugely popular in the 50s and 60s. She began acting as a young teen and had her first notable role in 1948’s “Oliver Twist.” In the late 50s she married Richard Dawson and began starring in dozens of television roles. She worked solidly until her death in 1984 of cancer. By the way, she’s the bombshell in the gold dress on the famous “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, the one everyone thinks is Marilyn Monroe.
Some delicious Diana Dors in glorious 50s color:
More Diana Dors:
A few clips from “As Long As They’re Happy” on this short tribute video here.
And a great post over on Pour 15 Minutes D’Amour.
I only know Diana Dors from the Beatles cover and the fact that she was born in Swindon, where the XTC members are from. But I’m enjoying the clips on youtube of her!
I think there really was a 50s pop star who cried while he sang. Was that Johnny Ray?
Yes, it was Johnny Ray! Google wasn’t helping me any. I guess this Bobby Denver character was supposed to be a Johnny Ray kind of singer.
Wikipedia says Ray was known as “The Nabob of Sob”. HA!
I love Diana Dors, although it’s her later movies that I love most. She made some great horror and exploitation movies late in her career, such as Nothing But the Night and Swedish Wildcats. She developed into a wonderful and very underrated character actress.
I love Diana Dors! I’ve always adore her and I think she had the most beautiful hair. I believe Diana would have been more famous if she were given more noticable films but perhaps Marilyn Monroe eclipsed her.
Michelle, you’re absolutely right about Diana Dors not getting the roles that would have gained her more respect as an actress.
Like Raquel Welch a few years later she had trouble overcoming the Sex Bomb image, and both actresses had the misfortune to give stunning performances in movies that were hated by the critics and the public (Diana Dors in Swedish Wildcats and Nothing but the Night, Raquel Welch in Myra Breckinridge and Kansas City Bomber.
Oddly enough, I have a new Diana Dors post or 2 coming up, so it’s neat that this (slightly older) entry is getting comments. I saw Dors in “Unholy Wife” last night, and of course I have things to say about it!
I’m still kicking myself over missing her appearance in “Deep End” on TCM a few months ago. I missed the first few minutes of the film and missed her, apparently. What a screwed up movie that was.
I think I have a copy of Unholy Wife somewhere. I must look for it.
I think you’d like it, it’s very noir, but Farrow isn’t the most subtle director in the world.
The only Farrow movie I’ve seen is The Big Clock. Which is great fun, but definitely not overly subtle!
Interesting discussion about Diana Dors and how she was mistaken for Monroe on the Sgt Peppers album cover. Some Brits refer Marilyn Monroe as the American Diana Dors!
I found another site talking about the tight dresses Diana wore but they forgot to post her in that mermaid dress she wore when visiting the Queen (now that dress is should be a trademark “Diana Dors Dress”).
A 1992 bio written about her mentioned she chose to star in various dreary film noir kind of movies, I didn’t like watching her in those, prefer the ones that show her as glamourous. But maybe that stifled her, as portrayed in the biomovie in early 60s her agent said, “the blonde bombshell is dead, older people forgot about you, young people laugh at you…”
For me, I find Diana Dors fascinating, I was awestruck how she looked in that “Diana Dors Dress” mermaid gown. I like how she sings Come By Sunday (I heard some of the lyrics were changed when she did the song, original too racy?)
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