Contest Girl (1964)

Contest Girl (1964)

“You take someone from nowhere, you give them something… Then when the party’s over, you say, ‘You’ve lost — go home!'”

A pretty typist (Janette Scott) from Bristol is persuaded by a smitten journalist (Ian Hendry) to enter a local beauty contest, and soon finds herself competing for the title of Rose of England.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aspiring Stars
  • Beauty Contests

More commonly known by its original British title (The Beauty Jungle), Contest Girl is notable as one of the earliest films to expose the sordid, media-drenched world of competitive beauty pageants. Director Val Guest does a fine job showing how easily a young woman from a humble background can get sucked into the cut-throat scramble for fame and luxury, and Janette Scott is appropriately wide-eyed and pretty as the central character, who quickly ditches her fiance and working-class family in exchange for a bit of glamour and excitement.

Unfortunately, an ongoing subplot in which Scott must fend off Hendry’s amorous advances fails to generate much interest, primarily because there’s so little chemistry between the two leads; instead, we’re left to focus on Scott’s inevitable education about the cruel realities (who knew?) of competitive pageantry. Fans of Guest’s eclectic body of work will likely be curious to check this obscure little film out; others, however, needn’t bother.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An effectively cynical presentation of the beauty pageant racket
  • Ronald Fraser as Hendry’s photojournalist friend

Must See?
No. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Contest Girl (1964)

  1. Not a must.

    First viewing.

    Having just rewatched the terrific pageant film ‘Smile’, I approached ‘CG’ with some apprehension, wondering if it would come with a script as incisive. The good news is, in its own way, ‘CG’ equally maintains that, behind the scenes, contests/pageants can be essentially fraudulent and hold little to smile about.

    Alas, unlike ‘Smile’, ‘CG’ does not have the added benefit of being dark satire and does not explore its subject matter much through the parts that make up the whole. For example, whereas ‘Smile’ gives equal time to everyone from participants to judges to organizers, ‘CG’ takes very little focus from Scott…and the frustrating relationship she has with Hendry. As a result, ‘CG’ leans toward bland in terms of impact.

    It’s an ok movie – I wouldn’t call it a waste of time. But I wouldn’t call it all that memorable either.

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