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"Let Me Entertain You" - Gypsy (1962) dir. Mervyn LeRoy

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Published on Jul 31, 2012

"Let Me Entertain You"
from "Gypsy" (1962)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay by Leonard Spigelgass
Based on the musical "Gypsy: A Musical Fable" by Arthur Laurents, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
The musical is based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee (Rose Louise Hovick), fittingly titled "Gypsy: A Memoir."
Starring Rosalind Russell as Rose Hovick and the aptly named Natalie Wood as Louise Hovick (Gypsy Rose Lee).

Synopsis: Overbearing stage mother Rose Hovick drags her daughters Louise and June (and an ensemble of singing dancers) across America, playing the same show over and over on the rapidly dying vaudeville circuit. As Rose's fortunes dry up, she pushes Louise into taking an available role as a burlesque dancer, to give her one last time in the spotlight. Louise soon becomes the world renown stiptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.

Scene context: Rose and her company are playing in a burlesque theatre as a ruse to placate the cops. It is the night of their final performance. Realising that the group is all washed up, Rose agrees to a marriage proposal from long time friend Herbie Sommers (Karl Malden). However, it turns out that one of the theatre's strippers has been detained and the manager is desperately seeking a replacement. Rose insists that Louise fill the spot. Herbie threatens to walk out on Rose if she goes through with it.

Comment: This was the only scene in the film that evoked any pathos for me. Wood's inadequacies as an actress map perfectly onto her character's timid premiere performance in the first part of this musical number. That she's a non-singer only serves to heighten the effect. I included the rest of the number for completeness' sake. The innuendos of the lyrics are obvious enough that they don't need a detailed commentary here.

Rose is the real focus of the film. Louise is little more than her puppet, a point made clear here by Louise's emotionless, marionette like gestures to the mirror, her hollow, almost disembodied speech and that robotic walk out to the stage.

Transcript:
ROSE: I'll get the music to the leader. Remember, you're a lady. And you are going to be a star!

LOUISE: Mama? I'm pretty. I'm a pretty girl, mama.

MANAGER: Come on, come on!
ROSE: You look beautiful!
TESSIE TURA: Just for luck, honey!
ROSE: Are you nervous baby?
LOUISE: What?
ROSE: I said, are you nervous?
LOUISE: No, mother.
MANAGER: Wichita's one and only burlesque theatre presents-
LOUISE: Mama?
MANAGER: -Gypsy Rose Lee!
ROSE: Her name's Louise!
TESSIE: It ain't anymore! Go on kid!

LOUISE:
Let me entertain you
Let me make you smile.

ROSE: Sing out Louise! Sing out!

LOUISE:
Let me do a few tricks
Some old and then some new tricks
I'm very versatile.
And if you're real good,
I'll make you feel good,
I want your spirits to climb.
So let me entertain you
and we'll have a real good time, yes sir,
we'll have a real good time!

MANAGER: Don't just walk, do something!
ROSE: Dip! Just dip!
MANAGER: Take something off!

LOUISE:
Let me entertain you-

ROSE: A glove! Give 'em a glove!

LOUISE:
-and we'll have a real good time, yes sir,
we'll have a real good time!

ANNOUNCER: The Alhambra theatre of Detroit is happy to present that lovely newcomer, Miss Gypsy Rose Lee!

ANNOUNCER 2: Philadelphia's Diamond Burlesque takes pleasure in presenting that lovely new star, Miss Gypsy Rose Lee!

LOUISE: Hello everybody, my name's Gypsy! What's yours?

ANNOUNCER 3: Minsky's world famous burlesque takes great pride and pleasure in presenting the queen of the striptease, the incomparable Miss Gypsy Rose Lee, in our salute to the new year!

LOUISE:
Let me entertain you.
Let me make you smile.
Let me entertain you
We'll have a real good...
And if you're real good,
I'll make you feel good,
I want your spirits to climb!
Let me entertain you,
and we'll have a real good time, yes sir!
We'll have a real good time!

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