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The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)

Raoul Walsh's 20th Century Fox Cinemascopic, Technicolored, and heavily-censored drama was partly based on the 1951 novel by William Bradford Huie. The lead role was originally intended for Marilyn Monroe, but ended up played by well-stacked Jane Russell. Most of the film's exteriors were filmed on location in Hawaii (Waikiki Beach and environs).

The film's main point was to demonstrate how the 'democratized' American culture in wartime allowed a brothel prostitute-hostess to 'revolt' against societal norms and become rich. It was adult-oriented and specifically declared: NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.

The film's tagline asked the film's clearly unanswered (censored) question:

Why Did Mamie Stover Have to Leave San Francisco?

In the film's opening set in San Francisco in 1941, red-headed 26 year-old trashy heroine Mamie Stover (Jane Russell) was escorted from the city and delivered to the SF dock by a SFPD cop (Hugh Beaumont), presumably apprehended for pimping herself as a prostitute - an implied and unstated crime. She had a ticket on a steamer bound for Honolulu.

On shipboard, there were only two civilian passengers: Mamie and wealthy and successful science-fiction writer Jim Blair (Richard Egan) (with a portable typewriter) who was returning home. The Captain spoke about her to the writer - with warning signals:

"The cops just wanted to make sure she got outta town...Stay away from that one, it'll cost ya. She takes guys like you to the cleaners....This lady knows her business, except, she ain’t no lady."

When Mamie overheard "gutter talk" about her, she was miffed, but it wasn't unusual for her. She struck up a shipboard acquaintance on the freighter with Jim. She asked if he ever wrote biographies - he theorized that she was a pretty high-school graduate who had attended Leesburg, MI high school years earlier in 1936, a "Cinderella, but no gown, no coach...The men said she was hot as a smoke-stack...I know all about these shapely Cinderellas with their yearning hearts and what happens to most of them." He also told her: "You’re an interesting character study, Mamie." She noted his story-writing talent, as he wove her into one of his latest sentences: "Having a story written about you is almost as good as being a cover girl."

During the voyage, they played ring-toss on deck and shared a few passionate kisses, but remained in separate state-rooms. On their last night together, she told him how she would strive to make it big and become rich on the island. She also shared her employment intentions in Hawaii - to work at a place called the Bungalow with 20 or 30 other girls. When she told him her plans, he was unenthusiastic:

"Mamie Stover, the Anglo-Saxon bombshell among the hula-hulas.... Getting the honky-tonk off your back might be a big job when it comes time to go home."

She didn't care, as long as "the money rolls in," and she could return home some day and look down on all the people who thought she was poor 'white trash.' She asked if he would take her up to his "house on the hill" where he lived: "You could dress me up and teach me how to behave." He declined: "You can't be transported to a hill-top by magic, or on the back of somebody else....The answer is no."

When the ship arrived at the Honolulu dock, Jim parted from Mamie and gave her a $100 loan for room rent and help in acquiring a job - and she accepted: "Some people can afford to be respectable, but I can't." He was greeted by his refined, pure-bred, good-girl lady friend Annalee Johnson (Joan Leslie in her last feature film) - described as "somebody special" from the "hilltop," and his dutiful manservant Aki (Leon Lontoc).

The "Bungalow" - Advertised as Having
the "Longest Bar in the World" and "20 Beautiful Hostesses"

He was unable to meet her challenge of making a lady out of her when she found employment through connections with her old friend Jackie Davis (Jorja Curtright) as a dance-hall bar hostess (in the 50s, that was a euphemism for 'prostitute') at The Bungalow. The establishment was led and owned by blonde, humorless, butchy, cynical business-woman Madame Bertha Parchman (Agnes Moorehead) and managed by her strong-armed, white-suited Harry Adkins (Michael Pate) with thick glasses - the club's sinister, sadistic and cruel enforcer (and Bertha's lover on the side).

Inside the Bungalow with its bar and dance hall, Bertha emphasized: "The Bungalow is a respectable place. We sell drinks and dances and social entertainment." Adkins and Bertha described the four house rules for the 'hostesses' - (they were required to live on the premises, forbidden to have boyfriends or dates on the "outside," were not permitted to go swimming at Waikiki Beach or enter into the hotels, and could not possess a bank account). Girls would earn 30% on whatever they sold to make money. Before the eager male customers were let in, Bertha encouraged her girls: "Sell, sell, sell, whiskey and champagne. Smile it up, you new ladies, smile it up. Remember, smiles means money." GIs met with chosen hostesses in 20 private champagne rooms or suites equipped with a timer, a phonograph record player, a 2-person seating area, and a curtained back-room.

At her new place of work, Mamie dyed her hair a bright red color, and was advertised with her adopted nickname: "Flaming Mamie." After Mamie sent back Jim's $100 loan, he visited with her at the club and had to buy $20 worth of tickets to reserve some time with her. She asserted to Jim that her red-top hairdo was good for business: "Sells lots more tickets. They've been calling me flaming Mamie." She was pleased when Jim agreed to meet with her outside the club the next day, although her relationship with him would become risky. She was tarnished by her disreputable occupation - and the many prohibitions against her profession at the time.

When Mamie met with Jim outside the club for a second visit, she fanned a wad of bills at him amounting to $2,200 dollars, and boasted that she was averaging $40-50 dollars a night with her customers. Her ambition was to become rich and she wasn't ready to leave town and return home quite yet. Sharing a beachside picnic lunch and swim within view of Diamond Head in the far distance, she requested that Jim send a $200 check for her to her father to impress him - and overcame his resistance to keeping her money in a safe deposit box by kissing him.

2nd Visit - Beachside Picnic Lunch with Jim - With Some Passionate Kisses

During a third visit between them at his home on the hill, Jim realized that she had made it look like they were married as a ruse, pretending to be Mr. and Mrs. Jim Blair. She gave Jim a lame excuse: "I had to give my old man some explanation about why I left San Francisco. Well, I’ve been leavin’ too many cities lately. I wanted to keep him hopin', Jimmy. So I told him that I was married to some guy with a lot of money, and that he could keep braggin' me up downtown about how he was gonna buy him a house, and you know, servants and mint julips." She was very impressed by his home on the hill.

Rather than stay on the island with her reputation, he encouraged her instead to return home and impress everyone with her newfound wealth: "Take it and go home in style. Make the biggest splash in the town’s history." She had other ideas, and was bound to demonstrate that she could combat prejudices against herself and become rich there - her overriding objective in life - so that she could live like so many other upper-class, quality people: "I'm gonna live in a house just like this, maybe even bigger. You just wait and see. Jimmy, with enough money, you can buy anything!" The opportunistic Mamie predicted that she could become an avaricious war profiteer (something detested by Jim: "There are dirty names for people like that"). She responded that she was familiar with abusive names: "I'm used to dirty names."

He was fed up with being her "caretaker" for her bank account, and her incessant talk and obsession about making money: ("What kind of a yardstick is that? Don't you ever get sick of measuring everything, every human emotion, in terms of money?"). She reminded him of her poor upbringing as a have-not: "I was born with nothing, and was raised on lots more of the same." He apologized to her for being overly opinionated - and they hugged and kissed.

The two ran into conflict when her menacing boss Harry Adkins observed her returning to the Bungalow and being dropped off (with a kiss from Jim). He suspected that she was illegally dating - against house rules - and beat up Mamie (off-screen) in her room.

At the end of 1941 when a bombing attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, the panic sent islanders fleeing from their homes to seek shelter. Mamie realized that her dream of wealth might come to fruition: ("They’re all running scared, gettin' out, but not me. I'm gonna buy real estate with every dollar I can raise!"). Jim's first inclination was to race to Mamie's rescue in the Bungalow, where he told her that he was planning to enlist in the Marines.

While Jim was being trained for combat, Mamie immediately began to buy cheap real estate (with her saved-up cash) from those who were fleeing to the mainland and selling their properties for fear of a Japanese invasion. On a day pass before shipping out the next day, Jim invited Mamie to his place where she divulged that she had formed a real estate corporation in her name (STOMAM), to begin making a profit by renting out her acquired properties and land to the US government for needed military use.

To celebrate with a special evening together before he shipped out, Jim reserved a table-for-two at the outdoor ocean-side Diamond Head terrace at the Halekulani Hotel (an exclusive Waikiki resort), for dinner and dancing. Mamie's lifestyle conflicted with Jim's more conventional standards (and some looked at them with disapproval), but he had fallen in love with Mamie anyway ("You're the lady in this crowd, Cinderella"). They were interrupted when Adkins (Jim called him a "cockroach") saw the couple dining at the exclusive Waikiki resort, and Jim engaged him in a fight. When the military police became involved, they realized Adkins was about to assault a female Bungalow employee. Adkins was hauled off after he insulted Mamie and called her "a tramp and she's on the wrong side of town." Mamie was impressed by Jim's defense of her although she realized the odds were against them: "You can’t lick the whole island, Jimmy. I got a number on my back and they all know it."

To her surprise, Jim announced to her: "There aren’t going to be any more numbers on your back. You're quitting Bertha's tonight. I love you, Mamie. Not just in private, but anywhere and everywhere." At first she declined: "You mustn't ruin your life for me," but then he proposed marriage to her - after he had served his time in the 110th Infantry ("The world's a big place, with lots of room for us, but no more Bertha's"). He wanted her 'exclusively' for himself. She accepted his proposal and promised to leave The Bungalow that evening. She gushed: "I'm so crazy, dopey, happy. This just can't be happening to me, not to me!" She accepted his ring as he told her: "This makes it legal," before he entered the military grounds to begin service. Meanwhile, Bertha fired Harry after five years of service for endangering the Bungalow's longevity: ("I can't afford to have trouble with the military police. Once I'm placed off-limits, it's goodbye Bungalow").

With Harry out of the way and Jim off at war, Madame Bertha proposed: "Mamie, I'm gonna build you into the biggest thing this business ever saw. And I'm boosting your cut to 35%." Mamie was determined to still quit and prove herself on her own, via the love of a quality man: "I'm gonna prove you can be something you're not supposed to be." However, she was thoroughly tempted to ignore her man's 'exclusivity' contract and promise of marriage after the war, when Bertha argued that she could get Mamie a respectable mailing address, and have her become rich by making Mamie the dance-hall's star who would share 50% of the profits: "Show me a guy who ever objected to a dowry." Mamie accepted, while deceiving and lying to Jim about quitting and leaving the Bungalow.

GIs were lined up outside the Bungalow and extended around the block. The minimum ticket purchase was now $3.00, but the establishment was threatened with being closed for overcharging servicemen. Mamie used her seductive charms to sweet-talk and mollify MP Captain Eldon Sumac (Richard Coogan) and for a short while had a relationship on the side with the married man. In a sexy gown, Mamie performed a sensual version of "Keep Your Eyes On the Hands" - instructions for hula watchers. She also pressured Bertha to raise her share to 70%, while receiving $4,000 a month from her rentals.

Jim learned about her duplicity when he saw a photo of her life-sized six-foot pin-up poster, promoting her as a star attraction around the time of the Battle of Midway in mid-1942. After suffering a shoulder injury from a bombing, Jim returned for a short furlough to Hawaii to recuperate, and visited with Mamie at the Bungalow. Her continuing ambitions as a successful "working girl" - with wealth and social status - ultimately doomed their happiness (even though his claims really held no weight since she wasn't a hooker on the side, according to the sanitized film). She apologized and insisted they'd go away. She begged for them to start all over again, but it didn't matter to Jim, who summarized their world of differences - he was against her efforts to be ambitious, to get ahead and be rich, and to break society's norms and conventions:

Jim: "Anything for a dollar, Mamie? The flaming Cinderella.... Suddenly, I realize, you don't understand. All your life, you dreamed and prayed for money, and now you've got it, and you'll always want more and more...I couldn't hate you, not you."
Mamie: "Or love me either."
Jim: "We're different, Mamie. We don't think the same about how life should be lived."

Jim's Return to Confront Mamie at the Bungalow

After he abandoned her with no hard feelings, Mamie coldly told him that she had already achieved her goal of respectability: "Your time's up, mister. I don't need to get to the hilltop on anybody else's back. I'm there now, on the highest hill in the island in the biggest house." She removed his ring, and then began to sob, before a fade-out to black.

There was an abrupt transition to the short epilogue - Mamie (now a brunette) disembarked in San Francisco, in a financial situation similar to the one when she left the city. She was told again by the same policeman on the dock that she was not welcome: ("Mamie, nothing's changed, Mamie. You're still not welcome in San Francisco"). She told him that she was just temporarily passing through on her way to her hometown of Leesburg, Mississippi.

He told her that she looked like she hadn't done very well in Honolulu. She suggested that she had made a fortune but lost it: "If I'd told you that I'd made a fortune and given it all away, would you believe me?" - (punishment via the cruel dictates of the Production Code) - but he didn't believe her. She was driven in the police squad car to the airport for her return flight home.

Mamie (Jane Russell) Escorted by Police to the SF Dock

Mamie Stover on Board Freighter to Hawaii - Overhearing Gutter Talk About Her

Mamie's Acquaintance With Writer Jim Blair (Richard Egan)

Jim's Passionate Set of Kisses with Mamie On-Deck

Arrival in Honolulu - Jim Greeted by Girlfriend Annalee (Joan Leslie)

Mamie Inspected and Approved at the Bungalow by Madame Bertha Parchman (Agnes Moorehead)

The Rules Enforced by Bouncer Harry Adkins (Michael Pate)

The Newest Attraction - "Flaming Mamie"

Mamie - One of the Most Popular Hostesses

Mamie With Jim During His Visit to Club

3rd Visit At Jim's Home on Hill

After the Pearl Harbor Attack, Jim's Decision to Enlist

Falling in Love - Although Disapproved Of

Jim's and Mamie's Confrontation with Adkins

Jim's Marriage Proposal to Mamie

Mamie Breaking Her Promise to Jim - A Deal with Bertha For 50% of the Profits

"Keep Your Eyes on the Hands"

A Return to SF Enroute to Mississippi


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