Sixty-one years ago today, the film Heller in Pink Tights premiered. Directed by George Cukor, starring Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn and guest starring Ramon Novarro. Even at the time of it’s release, Variety wrote: “… George Cukor puts tongue in cheek to turn an ordinary story into a gaudy, old-fashioned western satire with gleeful touches of melodrama.” You have to see this film.
Title: Heller in Pink Tights
Directed by: George Cukor
Produced by: Carlo Ponti, Marcello Girosi
Written by: Dudley Nichols (writer), Walter Bernstein (writer), Louis L’Amour (novel)
Starring: Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Margaret O’Brien, Ramon Novarro
Music by: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography: Harold Lipstein
Edited by: Howard A. Smith
Production company: Paramount Pictures
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: March 1, 1960
Running time: 101 minutes
In the 1880s, followed by bill collectors, the Healy Dramatic Company arrives in Cheyenne to play at the west’s grandest theater. Continental actress Angela and owner-manager Tom Healy head a troupe that includes Della as ingenue, her mother, a character actress, Lorna, and a grand old Shakespearean ham, Doc Montague. After a creditor arrives, Angela collects a night’s receipt from a man named Pierce, the theater owner. She risks it all in a poker game with gunslinger Clint Mabry, puts herself up as collateral, and loses.
That night, the drama company left Cheyenne, with Mabry following them on his own horse. After meeting on the road in Indian country, in spite of Angelia’s objections, Tom Healy agrees for Mabry to join them. During the halt, everyone would likely be killed by three Indians, but, at the last moment, Mabry guns down two of them and the last one escapes. With no time to spare, the team leaves along with the horses, leaving the cart and other things behind. Soon, the Indians return to attack after receiving news about them from the one that got away. After a long trek, the fleeing theater team finally reach the mountains.
Meanwhile, De Leon of Bonanza, who hired Mabry to kill three persons in Cheyenne for a contract of $5000, refuses to pay the money to him. De Leon hires another three people to kill Mabry before he can return to take care of him. One of them comes through the mountain road in search of Mabry while the other two wait at another location.
After crossing the mountain peak, the team stops for a rest near a spring. Tom, Angela, and Mabry become involved in a quarrel, and Angela confesses that she lost herself to Mabry in a poker game. Consequently, Mabry claims her as his property, which upsets Tom.
When Angela is by the fountain, Mabry approaches her, as does Tom. From a distant spot, one of the gunman, hired by De Leon, shoots Tom, thinking he is Mabry. Mabry catches up with him and learns of the De Leon contract on his life.
Finally, they reach a nearby city where Tom suffers from a high fever due to his wound. Tom decides to break up the drama company and tells Angela to go back to her own place, where, after selling the horses, he will send her share of the money to her.
Mabry asks Angela to help him get the $5000 from De Leon. She collects the money and decides to wait in Bonanza for a suitable time when Mabry can join her. Out of the $5000, Mabry tells her to keep what she lost in the poker game.
However, De Leon instructs his two spies to follow her and get the address where she is staying. As she comes out of De Leon’s office, on the opposite side of the road, she sees that the theater is for sale. She purchases it with the $5000, and decides to name it after Tom, or “Healy’s Theater”.
After recovering from his wounds, Tom, and the other team members, come to Bonanza. With great surprise, they see the theater. Upon entering, they observe Angela rehearsing. They all share a happy reunion and eventually stage the drama “Mazeppa” to great success.
Mabry arrives to claim his money from Angela, and she confesses that she spent it all on the theater. As a result of the success of their production, she eventually returns the original money to Mabry. However, Mabry eventually is noticed by De Leon’s henchmen, and Tom aids his escape.
Finally, in the empty theater, Tom impatiently waits for Angela, as she is missing along with Mabry. She finally arrives and assures Tom that she settled all monetary differences with Mabry by mortgaging the theater. Surprised, Tom asks her how she could do this when it is in his name. She replies that she signed the contract as Mrs. Thomas Healy. Tom takes her into his arms, and they happily depart.