“Now You See It, Now You Don’t” This Gun For Hire 1942; A look at Veronica Lake


by Janet Roitz | See: All, Ladies of the Nightclubs, Video Gallery

TRACK 3 in the series, LADIES OF THE NIGHTCLUBS. Popular San Francisco singer Janet Roitz and vocal coach Sean Martinfield take a look at the musical side of Veronica Lake in the 1942 film noir classic, THIS GUN FOR HIRE. The film was a box office bonanza for both Miss Lake and her handsome co-star, Alan Ladd. The screenplay, adapted from the novel “A Gun For Sale” by Graham Greene, included a musical number which was intended to exploit the sexual charms of its leading lady. Composer Jacques Press (whose previous assignments had been for screen soprano Deanna Durbin) was hired to come up with a tune that would flatter the long-haired beauty but not compromise her vocally. The lyrics by Frank Loesser seem tailor-made to the musical/magic act performed by Lake — who dazzles the viewer in a stunning see-through gown tailored by Edith Head. The Studio decided to leave the singing to Martha Mears whose many dubbing credits include “White Christmas” (for Marjorie Reynolds) in the iconic scene with Bing Crosby. “Now You See It, Now You Don’t”, is a bright and charming piece of fluff. The song has more potential than meets the eye. A classy stripper could easily use it as a ramp number. Though credited with just the lyrics, the composition definitely has the Frank Loesser touch — that individual magic which would be recognized and celebrated in his later Broadway musicals: Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Most Happy Fella. We took the song apart and agreed it deserves a second listen. Fans of THIS GUN FOR HIRE will revel in the Lead Vocals of Janet Roitz and the faithful band arrangement presented by John Clark (bass), Noel Jewkes (clarinet), Ken Muir (piano), Ernie Rideout (accordion). “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” is an illusive but fascinating gem. — Sean Martinfield

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