Plot: Jimmy (Charles Quigley) is the sports reporter for his local newspaper, but he longs for more substantial stories and would love to cover the crime beat. He is sent out to interview some women hoping to become models and he talks with Ann (Julie Bishop), a sharp young woman who fails to get hired. After she is turned down, she decides to go back to her women’s baseball team, where she can earn a little thanks the sponsorship of a local drugstore. As he looks into the baseball team, Jimmy learns more about the man who sponsors the team and his reporter radar goes off, as he suspects not all is at it seems with the drugstore. When one of the players turns up dead, Jimmy and Ann aren’t convinced it was no mere accident, but need proof. Is there some kind of shady dealings from the drugstore’s owner and if so, can Jimmy crack the case before more people suffer unfortunate accidents?
Entertainment Value: This is a brisk, fun blend of baseball and murder mystery that has a lot of old school, b movie charm. The narrative is passable and unravels an interesting suspense yarn, but it is the cast that makes Girls Can Play shine, as most of the prominent performers bring enthusiasm to their roles. The movie opens with a sharp exchange between our reporter and baseball star that has a great old school comedy vibe, with fast paced dialogue and over the top mannerisms. I mean, the scene involves an ice cream cone to the face, which is always fun. I do think some of the tonal shifts are a little on the jarring side, going from rapid fire humor to elements of crime, including murder, but it doesn’t dampen the entertainment value. I can also see why the movie does this, as with under an hour of run time, the narrative doesn’t have the luxury of time to weave an intricate web of intrigue. So we have an interesting mystery, some laughs, and a little romance, so I think Girls Can Play deserves a solid recommendation.
The cast here is fun to watch, but the performances are light and often even silly, so this isn’t going to bowl anyone over. I think most of those who visit Girls Can Play will do so based on the presence of Rita Hayworth, who made this movie before her break, but still shows some of the screen magic she would later master. She doesn’t have the lead role, but her character is a prominent one and she is given chances to shine, so her work here isn’t a minor role. Her performance is fine, but it is her charisma and beauty that stand out. Even at this stage of her career, it was evident she had that special spark to be a star, even if it wasn’t fully formed at this point. Charles Quigley is fun as a dopey reporter and Julie Bishop often steals the show as the fast talking Anne. The two have some fun scenes together and again, while the performances aren’t technical showcases, the enthusiasm more than compensates. The cast also includes Patricia Farr, Gene Morgan, John Tyrrell, and John Gallaudet.