Cast & Crew
Charles Robert Keane
In London, a young, attractive woman named Joan dreams of becoming a glamorous Hollywood star. Counting on career assistance from her uncle Warren, whom she believes to be an important man in Hollywood, Joan spends most of her money on a one-way fare to Los Angeles. Upon her arrival, she learns that Uncle Warren is merely an unemployed short-order cook. Dismayed but nonetheless determined to succeed, Joan quickly finds work as a model for a lurid detective magazine. She also meets an agent, Larry, who begins grooming her for eventual movie stardom. When Larry takes Joan to a cocktail party at a movie producer's home, Minter, a sleazy publisher, recognizes her from her modeling work and deliberately pushes the buxom Joan into the swimming pool to create a photo opportunity. Initially embarrassed, Joan quickly recognizes the publicity value of the situation and begins posing, wet to the skin, for photographers. Although Larry is angered by the incident and drops her as a client, Minter reaps great financial rewards from publishing the revealing photos and later offers Joan work in a series of "quickie" films. The films are cheap and exploitative, but Joan loves the work and soon finds herself making a lot of money. When Minter tells her she is headed for legitimate stardom, however, Joan unexpectedly feels hemmed in and lost. Confused, she calls her friend Ruth, a fellow actress in Minter's films. Ruth suggests a visit to a sunbathing colony, deeming it the perfect panacea for lonely, insecure career girls. Joan is skeptical, but Ruth explains that girls in their position have two choices: to marry and cling to a spouse for security, or to "try to take a new strength from nature, simply, like God's creatures do, without any false shams or coverings." Taking a cue from Ruth's own apparent serenity, Joan agrees to accompany her to a sunbathing colony called the Swallows Club. Although disconcerted at first to see nude people playing checkers, doing laundry and playing volleyball, Joan soon begins to feel at home, responding to the sense of friendship and freedom around her. Refreshed by her visit, Joan returns to Hollywood, where she continues working for Minter and dreams of earning better parts. One day, Larry surprises her with the announcement that he has gotten her an interview for a small but good role in a major film. While on her way to buy an expensive outfit for the interview, Joan stops for a hitchhiker, who proceeds to knock her unconscious and steal her life's savings. Broke and battered, Joan is forced to miss the interview. After this setback, Larry suggests a new approach: he will try to attract Hollywood offers by making Joan "the most photographed girl outside of the movie business." Joan poses for endless "cheesecake" shots and becomes a minor celebrity, but is reduced to working as a stripper to pay the bills. Finally, Larry comes through with a firm offer of a role in a big film. On the first day of shooting, the female star, who is jealous because set photographers asked Joan to pose for stills, starts a vicious fight with Joan on camera. Photos of the fight are picked up by the wire services, and the suddenly famous Joan is promptly signed by a major studio to a seven-year contract. After a frustrating period of inactivity, during which she offsets her feelings of futility and emptiness by playing volleyball at the Swallows Club, Joan is hired to replace an ailing leading lady on a major film. The film, which opens with a gala premiere at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, is a hit. Joan is happy to have her dreams realized, but lonely for Larry, who no longer handles her career, and for Ruth, who feels overshadowed by Joan's success. Her loneliness increases when she discovers that Larry and Ruth have gotten married without inviting her to the wedding. Joan's second starring vehicle is also a hit, and the studio raises her salary, enabling her to buy a Hollywood mansion. Now that she has finally achieved stardom, Joan reflects on her rise to fame and wonders if the disappointment and heartache were worth it. She decides that it was, even if she is still alone. She is able to deal with her problems by returning often to the Swallows Club, where no one asks anything of her and where, while swimming nude, she is able to find her own special meaning.
Charles Robert Keane
H. E. Barrie
Makeup artist Mel Berns's name is misspelled Burnes in the onscreen credits. The film does not use synchronized sound, but contains voice-over narration, spoken by the character "Joan" throughout. Although onscreen credits include a copyright statement for Woodburn Productions, Inc., the film was not registered for copyright. According to an April 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was acquired by Manhattan Films International for distribution in the Western states. Career Girl marked the film debut of June Wilkinson.