‘The Velvet Touch’ on TCM

The Velvet Touch, a murder-mystery melodrama set in the world of New York stage folk, stars Rosalind Russell as a star of light comedies desperate to break into serious roles. It plays on Turner Classic Movies on July 22. Here’s the feature I wrote on the film for the TCM website:

At the beginning of The Velvet Touch (1948), a murder mystery with psychological edges starring Rosalind Russell as Valerie Stanton, a Broadway leading lady of light comedies, Stanton contemplates a change: to star in a “serious” play, Hedda Gabler. Her long-time producer/director Gordon Dunning (Leon Ames) is caustic as he tries to talk her out of leaving him to act for a rival: “He thinks an audience will pay to sit and watch a smart, sophisticated comedienne like you play a tortured, neurotic woman who kills herself because true love has passed her up.” While it’s not exactly analogous to the career of leading lady Rosalind Russell, the comment does reverberate. A serious actress with solid stage and screen bonafides, Russell had found her greatest success in comic performances in such films as The Women (1939), Take a Letter, Darling (1942) and especially, His Girl Friday (1940).

The Velvet Touch brings her back to her Broadway roots, in a way, and to the kind of career-woman roles in which she excelled before hitting it big as a snappy, street-smart comedienne. Valerie Stanton is a confidant sophisticate in the elegant world of New York celebrity, a woman who moves through society with the deft aplomb of someone used to playing the part offstage as well as on. (The film’s title may refer to the gloves she always wears in public, part of the costume of the star persona.) But behind the façade of poised contentment is a frustrated career actress anxious to challenge herself with a demanding role, and a woman who is, perhaps for the first time, in love.

Read the entire piece here.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

2 thoughts on “‘The Velvet Touch’ on TCM”

  1. I saw the VELVET TOUCH on KTLA in LA in 1956. I have seen it many times since. The most fascinating thing about it is the music played as the audience arrives for Val’s starring role in HEDDA GABLER near the end of the film. The music is heavy, classic-sounding and its last strains are heard as the curtain descends on the play within the movie.
    Do you have any idea who composed this piece and whether it is available on CD or vinyl? I know Harline did the score. Did he write this wonderful theme or was it really from some classic work? Thanks.

  2. I’m afraid that I don’t know anything about the music for this film. You might trying searching for soundtrack sites and discussion groups and see if any of those folks can give you any information.

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