Archive for the 1950s Movies Category

Quick Cuts: Special RAY HARRYHAUSEN Edition!

Posted in 1950s Movies, 1960s Horror, 2013, Animated Films, Dinosaurs, Fantasy, Quick Cuts, Science Fiction with tags , , , , on May 17, 2013 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTS:  Ray Harryhausen Favorites
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, and William Carl

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome to another edition of QUICK CUTS.  Today we remember Ray Harryhausen, who passed away last week at 92.  I think we can all agree that when it comes to stop-motion animation in the movies, Harryhausen was a true artist and visionary.  No one did it better than him.

Earlier in the week, L.L. Soares and I did a formal tribute to Mr. Harryhausen. To honor him today in a special edition of QUICK CUTS, we look back at some of our favorite Ray Harryhausen movies, monsters, and scenes.  Joining us this time is William Carl.  Okay, gentlemen, let’s get started.

What’s your favorite Ray Harryhausen movie and why? 

WILLIAM CARL:  VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969).

Gwangi vs. Elephant in THE VALLEY OF GWANGI  (1969)

Gwangi vs. Elephant in THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)

ARRUDA:  One of my favorites

SOARES: Mine, too.

CARL:  Not only did this movie have cowboys and circuses, but it also had dinosaurs!  This was like a mash-up project created by my pre-pubescent mind at about eight years of age.  The women were beautiful, the men were rugged, and the scenes of the monster rampaging were very well executed.  I still watch it at least once a year, and I still cheer on the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

L.L. SOARES: T. Rex, yeah! Marc Bolan rocked.

CARL: Not the band. The dinosaur in the movie.

ARRUDA:   THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) is my favorite.  I love the Cyclops, the colorful print, the rousing music score by Bernard Herrmann, Nathan Juran’s brisk direction, and Torin Thatcher’s performance as the evil wizard.  I just like the whole package. And of course Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects are some of his best.

SOARES:  I think my favorite one is 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957). I’ve just always been a fan of the creature from Venus, the Ymir, and not only does this movie revolve around Harryhausen’s creation, but you really care about the stop-motion monster by the end, unlike some of his other creatures.

Cyclops vs. Dragon in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD

Cyclops vs. Dragon in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD

ARRUDA:  Next up: What’s your favorite Harryhausen creature and why? 

I have to go with the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, as well.

CARL:  Nice choice

SOARES: Copy cat!

Ymir vs. Elephant in 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH

Ymir vs. Elephant in 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH! What did Harryhausen have against elephants, anyway?

ARRUDA:  Followed closely by the Cyclops in 7TH VOYAGE and Medusa in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). 

SOARES:  What are you doing picking more than one?  This is QUICK CUTS!  Our answers are supposed to be brief.

ARRUDA:  I know.  I just can’t help myself.

But the Ymir is my favorite because it’s a cool monster, an alien from Venus.  We don’t see too many of those, which makes him unique.  I would have loved to have seen him in more movies.  He deserved a better fate!

CARL: I agree with you.  This is a tough choice, but like you guys, I would say the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957).  The expressions Harryhausen managed to create on this beastie’s face made it seem all the more terrible when it is killed.  You can see all the pain and fear in its eyes.  Plus, it was completely unique and not based upon any other existing monster like a dinosaur or a mythical creature.  It was a true original.

SOARES:  As I stated before, the Ymir is my favorite as well.

I also really like the movies Harryhausen worked on that revolve around mythology, especially JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) and the SINBAD movies. He created some great creatures for these!

ARRUDA:  See, it’s not easy picking just one, is it?

Last question.  What’s your favorite Harryhausen movie scene and why?

SOARES:  The obvious one is the battle between Jason and the skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. But that might be a little too obvious. I also liked scenes in the Sinbad movies where creatures fought each other, like the Centaur vs. the Griffin in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973), or the Cyclops vs. the Dragon in THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.

CARL:  Oh, my favorite scene was definitely the scene in VALLEY OF GWANGI, where the cowboys rope and capture the dinosaur.  

Cowboys lasso a dinosaur in THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)

Cowboys lasso a dinosaur in THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)

 ARRUDA:  Yep, this is a very exciting scene.

CARL:  It’s a scene that is still thrilling today in its weird mixture of action, western, horror, and sci-fi elements.  Come on, we have rodeo cowboys roping a huge monster like it was a calf.  Plus, for sheer expertise, this scene is flawless in its animation execution and its combination with the live footage.  Those lassos are animated in half and real in half, but it all flows so seamlessly you really buy into the ridiculous notion that these guys are roping a dino!  I think I need to go watch this again right now.

SOARES:  Sit back down.  We’re not finished yet!

CARL:  But I can hear dino roaring already!

ARRUDA: We’re almost done.

Well, obvious or not, my favorite scene is the sword fight between Jason and his men and the skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.  It’s probably the most ambitious scene Harryhausen ever created.  It’s fascinating to watch, and intense to boot.

Second would be—.

SOARES:  Second?  Who said anything about second?

ARRUDA: —  the Medusa scene from CLASH OF THE TITANS. I really don’t like this movie all that much, but this scene is one of Harryhausen’s best.  Eerily lit, with an ultra-creepy Medusa slithering about, it makes me pine for an all-out Harryhausen horror film, of which, sadly, there is none.

And third—-.

SOARES:  Third?  You’re cheating!

ARRUDA:  — is the giant crab scene in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), which is a riveting sequence.

Sorry, I couldn’t limit myself.  There are just too many Harryhausen gems.

SOARES:  Are you through now?

ARRUDA:  Yep, I’m done.  Hey, where did Bill go? 

(William Carl’s seat is empty)

SOARES:  Looks like he left early for his T-Rex date.

ARRUDA:  Hmm. I just thought of another question.  Which Harryhausen creation would you most want to have lunch with?

SOARES:  A better question would be which Harryhausen creation would most want to have you for lunch!

ARRUDA:  True. On that note, let’s grab some food.  I’m hungry.  I’m in the mood for a giant crab salad sandwich.

SOARES:   I’m on a diet.  I’ll just have soup and Krakens.

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares and William D. Carl

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Bill’s Bizarre Bijou Helps a GIRL ON THE RUN (1953)

Posted in 1950s Movies, 2013, B-Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Carnival Chills, Crime Films, Dancing Girls!, Femme Fatales, Film Noir, Gangsters!, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , , , , on February 14, 2013 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

GIRL ON THE RUN (1953)

girl-on-the-run-movie-poster-1958-1020302380

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

Film noir is one of my favorite sub-genres in the industry.  With its double crossing dames, doomed heroes, dark shadowy alleys and sets, and general bad attitude, the noir genre contains the darkest mysteries in an already shrouded playing field.  Films like DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), DETOUR (1945), THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946), and the amazing OUT OF THE PAST (1947) established the guidelines of noir, although pulp fiction books and magazines had been promoting such grimy, sordid tales for many years.

Along comes 1953, and with it, one of the grubbiest, sleaziest film noirs of all time – GIRL ON THE RUN.  This one takes place in a traveling carnival, therefore making it – what? – carny noir?  Hoochie coochie crime drama?  In any case, it’s a real find, and it’s a hoot and a half if you’ve imbibed earlier in the evening.  Which I highly recommend.

The titles roll over the strains of John Phillips Sousa, and we get a look at the carnival, complete with Ferris Wheel, funhouse (with a laughing clown that’ll give you nightmares for weeks), a merry-go-round, and, most important, a burlesque coochie dancer show!  A hen-pecked man escapes his wife and makes for the girlie show, where they gyrate with feathers sticking out of their butts like cut-rate exotic birds, with black kitty-kat masks, and sequined bras and grandma-panties.  A dwarf, Blake, (played by Charles Bolander who was also in DARK INTRUDER, 1965), runs the carnival and hangs out behind the coochie tent with the main girlie attraction, Gigi.  He discovers that a vice probe on the carnival has been suspended and the reporter who instigated the investigation has been fired and is on the run from the mob.  A beat cop also goes behind the curtain to keep an eye on things, making the little guy furious.  Turns out, the editor in charge of the paper that called off the investigation has been murdered, and the sarge thinks the young reporter who was fired did it.  The reporter, Bill Martin (played by TV’s Captain Midnight himself, Richard Coogan) and his girlfriend, Janet, luckily happen to be right behind the curtain while this conversation takes place.  He needs to hide in the carnival to prove his innocence and someone named Reeves’s guilt.  Janet is standing by her man, but she also needs to hide.  The cops are everywhere in the carnival, so they require disguises.  So, Bill becomes a boxer in the fighting tent and Janet puts on the sequined black bra and granny-panties and mask of the coochie chorus line.

The dwarf among the girls.

The dwarf among the girls.

After the show, the dancers cackle like a bunch of hens, watched over by an older woman who smokes cigars and cracks wise.  Soon, its costume changes (exposing just enough leg), and they’re out front with the barker.  “All right now folks,” he shouts, “Take yer time.  Don’t hurry.  We don’t want ya’ to hurt yourselves.  I now give you a cavity of beauty, a peerless pulchritude all set to entertain you.  A treat for the lovers of real art.  An exhibition to make the old feel young and the young feel better!  Six tantalizing morsels of loveliness from every corner of the world” (Cut to a lip-smacking bull lesbian in the crowd watching the show enthusiastically!)  “I now present to you . . . hey, this ain’t a show for boys.  This is for adults only.  All right boys, beat it.  Come back in ten years.”  We then get treated to six slightly overweight dancers trying to look exotic.  Fatima of the Veils; Dolores, who shows the boys a little rumba; as well as the horsiest face ever committed to celluloid, Miss Pineapple of 1953 aka Love on the Dole!  It’s actually a lot of fun to watch these time-capsule dancers who strut their stuff and bare just enough skin to earn a PG rating nowadays.  We finish with the star, Gigi, from Paris (Kentucky).

Bring on the dancing girls!

Bring on the dancing girls!

Reeves visits the dwarf, who’s angry at the presence of all the cops when the whole vice investigation has been called off.  Reeves is looking for Janet, who’s seen too much . . . like a murder?  Reeves starts obsessing over Gigi.  While the old woman, Lil,  who oversees the dressing and undressing of the girls, helps Janet turn into a coochie dancer.   Janet asks, “Is that all you expect me to wear?”  The old woman asks, “You ain’t deformed are you?  Put it on!”  Turns out, Janet knows about a girl from the chorus line that Reeves “got in trouble” last year and who disappeared, so Reeves is actually in charge of running the town as well as the prostitutes out of the carnival.   Lil hates Reeves as well, because she’s married to his boss, and Reeves will do anything to be Mr. Big on top of the town.

Blake the dwarf talks turkey to Boxer Bill.

Blake the dwarf talks turkey to Boxer Bill.

The dwarf, Blake, blackmails Reeves for twenty thousand dollars, because he has a lot on Reeves, although we don’t know what.  Meanwhile, Lil convinces the other girls to circle their pasties around Janet to protect her from Reeves’s prying eyes.

Bill Martin, reporter (remember him?), becomes a volunteer to fight the champ in the boxing ring, almost knocking the big galoot unconscious.  He was supposed to take a dive, but instead he becomes the new champ attraction!

Gigi goes into her dance, and we see why she’s the star of the burlesque show.  Yowza!  Wearing bat-wing veils and a leather bikini, she gyrates to a sultry sax solo.  And, hey. . . in the audience . . . is that?  Steve McQueen?  From THE BLOB (1958), THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963), THE SAND PEBBLES (1966), and BULLITT (1968)?   It is!  In fact, it was his first role in a feature.  He doesn’t say anything, but it’s freaking Steve McQueen, so the movie just got fifty percent cooler.

The dwarf strikes an uneasy alliance with Bill, offering him a job until they get over the state line.  Bill accepts, but not before Janet has to dance semi-nude in public.  Oh, the shame!  The horror!  But she nearly pulls it off.  Reeves, however, can count, and he notices there’s an extra girl in the hoochie line.  Lil goes after Reeves with her fingernails, and he shouts, “After twenty years, you’re interfering with my life again!”  Reeves figures out Janet is the witness, and a trap is set for Bill using Janet as bait!  But the leering dwarf wants to save her . . . if she’ll do something for him.  Wink wink, nudge nudge.

The double crosses and the fights keep coming until the bodies start piling up.  Lil narcs on Reeves and his soiled past, Bill may be throwing Janet over for another dame, the dwarf seems to be lying to everyone in America, and Gigi has her own agenda.

The script by Arthur J. Beckhard (who previously wrote Shirley Temple movies for God’s sake!  CURLY TOP and OUR LITTLE GIRL, both 1935 – shame shame shame, Mr. Beckhard!) and Cedric Worth is a muddle.  The pacing is all over the place, although it never seems slow.  The dialogue is mostly hateful and bitter, which makes everything better.  The photography is suitably dark, and the carny atmosphere is sordid and grimy.  The actors all do what they can with the material, but it’s kind of a hopeless cause.

Girls girls girls!

Girls! Girls! Girls!

GIRL ON THE RUN is a really fun little carny noir that zips along for its brief 64 minute running time.  You get a somewhat complicated plot with little back story, a shooting, slimy, mustache twirling villains, catfights, rescues,  insane plot twists, and more double crosses that you can shake a scary clown at.  Whenever things get slow, they bring out the dancing girls!  And really, what’s wrong with that?  One part of Gigi’s act is so good, they show it twice.  Plus, a cameo by Steve McQueen and boxing and corrupt cops.   Now, that’s entertainment.

And did I mention it has dancing girls?

I give GIRL ON THE RUN three coochie dancers out of four.

© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: THE DISEMBODIED (1957)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1950s Movies, 2012, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Femme Fatales, Jungle Horror, Voodoo Movies, William Carl Articles, Zombies with tags , , , , on September 27, 2012 by knifefighter

BILL’S BIZARRE BIJOU

By William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:

THE DISEMBODIED (1957)

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

The 1950s gave the discerning male viewer a long string of beautiful women in science fiction/horror B-movies, early scream queens who graced our drive-in theater screens and gave adolescent boys one more terrific reason to watch scary flicks.  Susan Cabot, Mara Corday, Marla English, and the wonderful, immortal Beverly Garland were but a few of these monster-menaced madonnas, and they were each great in their own way.  But nobody ever held the screen like the wonderfully campy Allison Hayes.  This dark-haired beauty knew exactly what kind of ‘films’ she was headlining, and she knew how to vamp it up while onscreen.  Whether she was being sent back in time and getting accused as a witch (THE UNDEAD, 1957), aiding a psychotic hypnotist (THE HYPNOTIC EYE, 1960), or growing to gargantuan proportions and stalking her tiny husband Harry (ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, 1958), she gave it her all with a wink at the camera and a body to die for.  One of my personal favorites in the Allison Hayes oeuvre is the 1957 voodoo jungle flick THE DISEMBODIED, where Miss Hayes turns the heat up to a sultry eleven!

THE DISEMBODIED opens with credits rolling over footage of a woman’s hands manipulating a voodoo doll, wasting no time in getting to the meat of the picture.  When the camera rolls back, we find the raven-haired Allison Hayes using rope to strangle the doll while she watches her husband, Dr. Carl Metz (John Wengraf of GOG, 1954 and THE RETURN OF DRACULA, 1958) choke on the front porch.  He orders his manservant, Suba, played by Dean Fredericks (PHANTOM PLANET, 1961 and LIGHT IN THE FOREST, 1958), to get him water, and Suba catches the wife, Tonda (aka Allison Hayes), in the act of tossing the strangled doll into a cabinet.  She slinks out onto the porch in her black dress and plays nice with the hubbie.  Still, she is distracted by the jungle drums, and she longs to take a walk into the trees.  The drums say that three white men approach (like the three main characters already introduced aren’t white?), and that one of them is injured.  The idea of white men gets Tonda all hot and bothered.  “Why should they not be allowed here?” she cries.  “We see no one.  It would be a nice change.”

A famous scene featuring Allison Hayes from DISEMBODIED.

In the jungle, surely enough, Suba takes shots at the three men, over their head to scare them away, but Tonda, intrigued by these strangers, slinks over to them and overrides her husband’s orders.  They bring the men into the rather lavish hut, and Dr. Carl gets to work on the lion-attack victim.  Dr. Carl, assisted by Tonda, operates on the man using his own techniques.  The leader of this exploration party is Tom Maxwell, played by tall, dark, and much handsomer than Dr. Carl, Paul Burke, star of the NAKED CITY TV series (1960-1963).  He runs into Tonda on his walk, and she explains “The natives are a very strange people.  They distrust what they do not understand.”  He says, “I’m rather curious by nature.  I don’t understand how a young, beautiful woman can be happy living out here in the jungle.”  She purrs back, “How do you know I’m happy.”  As he leaves, Suba emerges from the bushes, and Tonda accuses him of spying on her.  He says, “You make love to white man?  Maybe I tell the doctor.”  She starts to seduce Suba, and he calls her a “Bad, bad woman!”  Still, he kisses her passionately just in time for his wife to walk up to them.  Tonda finishes the kiss with a rough slap.  There’s a lot of slapping in this movie.

Tonda waits till her husband’s asleep, then she goes into the room of the injured man and performs voodoo jungle mojo  on him while he slumbers.  In minutes, she is in a sarong, writhing to the jungle drums, surrounded by dancing natives while Suba lays zombified on an altar.  The white men go into the jungle to watch the sweating, boogieing Tonda as she slaps Suba in the chest with a live chicken!  Then, she stabs a little doll of the injured man.

Voodoo can be lethal in THE DISEMBODIED.

In the morning, the two white men are shocked to find their buddy has almost completely recovered and his wounds are healed.  Even Dr. Carl seems surprised by the miraculous recovery.  Suba’s body is discovered by his wife, and she points the finger at Dr. Carl, who comforts her by slapping her.  The body looks like it was killed by a lion, except his heart was cut out.  Could it have something to do with Tonda, Suba, and the squawking chicken slap?  Hmm.

Deciding something is up, the jungle guide Gogi (Paul Thompson, star of numerous jungle non-epics) and the other white guy (played by Joel Marston of HEAVEN CAN WAIT, 1978 and THE LAST VOYAGE, 1960) decide to run back and get their Jeep, circle around the jungle, and pick up their injured friend.  This seems like a cue for Tonda to make nice-nice with Tom.  It also allows time for Tom and Dr. Carl to discuss voodoo and the transmigration of souls from one body to another.  Hmm again.

During a ceremony to help Suba’s soul pass on, the unconscious lion victim gets up and walks outside into the jungle to the ceremonial voodoo grounds.  When he approaches the newly widowed Mara, she recognizes something in him, even as he takes up a huge knife.  He goes after Tom, just as Tom and Tonda are playing tonsil hockey, and they fight until Tom knocks his friend, Joe, back into a coma.  When he regains his senses, he is speaking a jungle language which only Tonda understands.

Tonda weaves a deceptive web against her husband, framing him for the voodoo she willingly practices, making it look as if he hypnotizes her at night and forces her into the jungle.  Mara, in the meantime, figures out that her dead husband Suba’s soul is now in the white man Joe’s body.  She takes him away with her into the jungle.  When Gogi and the other white guy get back, they all decide to leave in the morning and consider Joe as dead.  When Tonda finds out everyone is leaving her alone with her husband the next day, she dons her sexiest outfit, sans bra but with a big knife on her belt, and she attempts to seduce Tom into taking her with him.  Her efforts pay off, and Tom vows to help her.  Next, she tries to convince Tom to murder her husband, using every seductive charm she possesses.  “Tom, you’ll do it.  You’ll do it because you love me.  Because you want me.”  Well, this is too much for Tom, and he gets a good slap on her face.  She cries, “Beat me if you want to, but don’t leave me.  Don’t hate me!”  So much for women’s liberation!

Will the men escape from the evil voodoo priestess or will they end up as jungle fodder?  Will Tonda convince Tom to kill Dr. Carl, or will he wise up to his wife before she does something else to him?  And just what happened to Suba’s soul in a white man, and his widow?  Before the movie is over, we’ll see knifings, betrayals, a spear in the Jeep, more seduction, more voodoo rituals, crazed bongo drummers, and hints about where Dr. Carl found Tonda.  Oh, and at least one more good slap across a face.

THE DISEMBODIED is a fun little movie, capably directed by Walter Grauman, who went on to a prolific television career, directing everything from STEVE CANYON to THE FUGITIVE to MURDER, SHE WROTE.  The low budget shows in the very few sets and the flat black and white photography, but everything is done as well as possible on a budget that wouldn’t cover the caterer on a Hollywood production of the Fifties.  The script was by Jack Townley, who penned this at the end of a long career in which he wrote 114 different movies and TV shows, and it’s a little slow, but there are a couple of nice twists, even if the dialogue is stilted.  Originally on a double bill with the killer tree island flick FROM HELL IT CAME (1957), this would have been a night of jungle terror that probably terrorized nobody except small children.

Let’s face it, the reason to see this is Allison Hayes in all her seductive glory.  Every move she makes is cat-like and sexualized.  Every glance contains a multitude of suggestive innuendos, and her voice is as smooth as velvet.  Plus, she looks terrific in a leopard print sarong and a halter top!  She’s so much fun, she makes up for any plot holes and slow spots in the film.

Allison Hayes in all her glory.

Sadly, Allison Hayes’ health deteriorated in the 1960s, and she died in 1977 due to blood poisoning caused by calcium supplements given to her by her doctor.  She was only 46 years old.

Warner Archive has issued a beautifully restored print of THE DISEMBODIED.

I give the film three chicken slaps out of four.

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou Listens to THE SCREAMING MIMI (1958)

Posted in 1950s Movies, 2012, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Crime Films, Film Noir, Giallo, Mystery, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , , , on August 2, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

By William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

THE SCREAMING MIMI (1958)

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes!

What do you get when you take a respectable novel by a legendary writer, mix in a beautiful ex-Miss Sweden, and the world’s best known stripper (and musical theater role-of-a-lifetime)?  Go ahead and toss in the director of A KISS BEFORE DYING (1956) and numerous OUTER LIMIT episodes and the guy who penned the screenplay for FROGS (1972).  You get THE SCREAMING MIMI (1958), a whacked-out, nearly adults-only movie that skirts exploitation while titillating audiences with copious teasing moments.

Statuesque Anita Ekberg (ARTISTS AND MODELS, 1955 and KILLER NUN, 1979) stars as Virginia Wilson, an exotic dancer from New Orleans who is introduced to us taking a shower on the beach.  Va-va-voom!  Rusty, her dog, keeps barking at the bushes until he is killed by a madman with a huge knife who has escaped from an asylum.  As Virginia fights him off while he tries to rape her, her stepbrother shoots him dead with his shotgun!  She goes mad and is admitted to the Highland Mental Health Hospital.  She believes that she killed her attacker.  What an opening!  That’s the first four minutes, folks!

Through therapy, she gets better (or does she? Duh-duh-DUHHHH).  Even in the mental institution, she’s incredibly beautiful, and her psychiatrist falls in love with her, and the feeling is mutual.  “Please don’t leave me,” she begs, claiming she’ll do anything he says.

Meanwhile, her stepbrother, Charlie Weston (Romney Brent – THE VIRGIN QUEEN, 1958 and TO HELL WITH HITLER, 1940) teaches sculpture in New Orleans.

Virginia gets a job at a nightclub, El Madhouse, as Yolanda Lange!  The hostess of the club, Joanie, is none other than Gypsy Rose Lee, world famous stripper and the eponymous basis for the musical GYPSY.  Faster than you can sing, ‘Let me entertain you,’ we are in the nightclub and the Red Norvo Trio (oddly enough, actually a quartet) play jazz while the bartender yodels bad opera.  The waiters dance like the Nicholas Brothers.  Playing the hostess, Gypsy Rose—I mean Joanie—tells a customer to “Drink up!  My rent is due!”  She glad-hands the room before introducing Yolanda, who does an exceptionally erotic dance for the late Fifties, involving two ropes hanging from the ceiling.  It’s like Circus of the Stars with more bump and grind.  The crowd goes wild, which makes me wonder how strong their drinks were.

Anita Ekberg dances up a storm in THE SCREAMING MIMI

Joanie runs across the room to greet a journalist she knows, Bill Sweeney, played by Phillip Carey who was also in I WAS A COMMUNIST FOR THE FBI (1951) and a longtime regular on (the soap opera) ONE LIFE TO LIVE.  He congratulates her on not getting raided yet.  Joanie tells him Yolanda is the greatest thing ever in nightclub history (whhaaaat?), and she introduces them.  They meet cute in her dressing room where she’s bought a new dog, a huge beast named Devil.

Yolanda and her Great Dane, Devil.

Bill interviews her thusly:

Bill Sweeney: How tall are you, Yolanda?
Virginia WIlson (aka Yolanda Lange): With heels or without?
Bill Sweeney: With anyone. Me, for instance.

Suave, Bill, very suave.

He discovers a twisted sculpture by her dresser, a woman contorted in pain, mouth open wide in terror.  She introduces her manager, Mr. Green, her ex-psychiatrist!  He’s played by Harry Townes, a veteran TV actor with more than 150 shows under his belt.  After the press leaves, he shoves Yolanda/Virginia and tells her she must always do what he says, no matter what, no questions.  He yells at her about having the sculpture; he’s told her to destroy it.  He wants her to make enough money so they can go to Europe, so no more men stare lewdly at her, so he can be a doctor again.  She is completely under his spell.

Cut to later that night—Yolanda is discovered in a state of shock, stabbed in the side and stomach, protected by her fiercely loyal Great Dane (“A great dame with a Great Dane,” one man calls her).  Bill gets her to the hospital, but something is bothering him, so he does what anyone would do—he takes a trip to the newspaper morgue.  Searching through old copy, he finds a story about another exotic dancer who was murdered a few months ago, and she was found with the exact same sculpture next to her when her body was discovered.  Hmmm…

While Mr. Green and Yolanda continue diving deeper into their toxic relationship, Bill tracks down the sculptor who created the Screaming Mimis, and it is none other than Virginia/Yolanda’s stepbrother.  He based the art figurines on Virginia when he rescued her, screaming, naked in the beach shower.  He insists the sculptures are a kind of therapy for him, but he was always sad that Virginia died in that hospital.  It appears Dr. Green and Virginia lied to him to get her out of the asylum and out of the country.

When Bill returns to New Orleans, he is seduced by Yolanda, despite the eternal interference of Dr. Green, who appears more fixated than ever on his former patient.  Will Yolanda run off with Bill and leave the obsessed psychiatrist?  Who killed the first dancer and attempted to murder Yolanda?  What is the connection of the Screaming Mimi statues?  It all comes to a head in a twist ending you’ll catch if you’ve watched carefully.  Don’t expect me to tell you who did it!

The legendary Gypsy Rose Lee introduces Anita Ekberg and Phillip Carey in THE SCREAMING MIMI

Mention must be made of the exquisite camerawork by the fabulous Burnett Guffey, who shot many great classics, such as FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962), THE INFORMER (1935), and Hitchcock’s brilliant and underrated FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940).  The winner of two Oscars, Guffey brings a really brilliant look to THE SCREAMING MIMI.  There’s a terrific seduction scene in a hotel with a blinking sign outside the window.  The room is lit only by the buzzing neon, and when it goes dark, it goes dark for a daringly long time, tightening the tension.  Is someone kissing someone or killing someone?  You actually find yourself squinting to see.  Also, Anita Ekberg is shot in a sort of halo-like light throughout the film, especially that long golden hair of hers, which could be a character itself.  It takes a somewhat pedestrian script and raises it to a whole other level.

The acting is uniformly fine.  Ekberg, no great actress, is quite good in this, although she seems to be in shock or catatonic through most of the feature (probably a good move on the director’s part), but it’s Harry Townes as Mr. Green who impresses the most.  He oozes sexual frustration and twisted morality.  Every line in his face is etched there by this woman he needs to protect, needs to own.  Hell, even Gypsy Rose Lee is fine.  She seems to be having a grand old time smoking and playing cards and insulting everyone.  She does sing an entire song in the movie at one point, and she proves she should stick to dancing and stripping.  The song, ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ is dreadful anyway, but with her off key mumbling, she should have been booed off the stage.  She does know how to work that fringe dress when she starts dancing, though!  Interestingly enough, Gypsy Rose Lee wrote a novel, a thriller called THE G-STRING MURDERS in 1941, which was turned into a movie, LADY OF BURLESQUE (1943) starring Barbara Stanwyck!  Life does indeed imitate art.

Plus, if that great musical score sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the classic music from ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) by Leonard Bernstein!  Yes, sometimes even the most famous scores were recycled as library music by the studios, and THE SCREAMING MIMItook full advantage.

THE SCREAMING MIMI was based on a book by the legendary mystery writer Fredric Brown.

THE SCREAMING MIMI is a fun mystery that somehow straddles the line between the film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s and the Italian giallo of the 1970s.  It contains all the femme fatales, the luckless people pulled into bad situations, the shadowy streets and hotel rooms of the film noirs while exploiting the sordid sexuality and twisted psychology of the films of the giallo genre.

I give THE SCREAMING MIMI three beach showers out of four.

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl

Quick Cuts: What’s Your Favorite Science Fiction Movie?

Posted in 1950s Movies, 1970s Movies, 2012, Aliens, Apes!, Apocalyptic Films, Classic Films, Dystopian Futures, Quick Cuts, ROBOTS!, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , on June 22, 2012 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTS-  Favorite Science Fiction Movie
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Nick Cato, Mark Onspaugh and Garrett Cook

 

With the recent release of PROMETHEUS (2012), audiences got to watch a big release science fiction movie—the first in a while.

Today our panel of Cinema Knife Fighters is asked:  What’s your favorite science fiction movie of all-time?

*****

MICHAEL ARRUDA:

Several films jump out at me right away.  Three of my all-time favorite science fiction movies are from the 1950s:  THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956), and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), with THE THING probably my favorite of the three.

From the 1960s it’s PLANET OF THE APES (1968), from the 70s it’s ALIEN (1979), and that’s about it.  I realize these are pretty standard picks, but they happen to be the ones I like the most.

My favorite of all time?  I’d probably go with PLANET OF THE APES.  I actually saw it at the movies when I was four years old!  So, it’s been in my consciousness for a long, long time!”

 *****

GARRETT COOK:

My favorite sci-fi movie of all time is FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956). It retells Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in the space age, and deals with the destructive power of repression and anger. Anne Francis is stunning, Walter Pidgeon is anguished and Leslie Nielsen is a surprisingly effective space hero.

Great monster too.

*****

NICK CATO:

This was VERY hard, but I think I’ve got it!

While not a special effects extravaganza or action-packed offering, FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966), a UK-lensed adaptation of the classic 1953 Ray Bradbury novel, has haunted me since the first time I saw it as a young teenager.

I was captivated with “Fireman” Guy Montag’s struggle to not burn books (as per his totalitarian government’s orders) and his eventual decision to join the rebels who are secretly committing books to memory. The film’s themes of censorship and freedom are timeless, and few sci-fi films offer as much food for thought. The ending has also stuck with me almost as intensely as the conclusion to the original PLANET OF THE APES (1968), despite it not being as shocking.

 

*****

MARK ONSPAUGH:

I have several:

Best All-Around SF: BLADE RUNNER (1982)—Where do I start. It’s  just wonderful.


Best Old School SF: FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) —Robbie the Robot, Anne
Francis, the Krell and a Monster from the ID! That’s SF, baby!

Best SF Comedy: BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) —So funny, such a perfect script,
and everyone gives such a great performance—Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover—never better.

Best SF Horror: ALIEN (1979), ALIENS  (1986) and THE THING (1982, the John Carpenter version with special effect by Rob Bottin)
Runners-up: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (’56 and ’78) and THE FLY
(1986, the Cronenberg version)

Best SF Romance: SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) —So great, from the story by
Richard Freaking Matheson to Chris Reeve and Jane Seymour as time-crossed lovers.

*****

L.L. SOARES:

This one is actually kind of easy. My favorite science fiction movie, and my favorite movie, are one in the same. A little flick called A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) by director Stanley Kubrick. Watching it for the first time, I sat there convinced that I had seen the closest I would ever find to cinematic perfection. The acting, the storyline, the visuals, the music, it all clicked with me. Plus some of it is downright disturbing.

For those who don’t know, it’s the tale of Alex (Malcolm McDowell in an amazing performance), a teenager in a not-so-distant future London where teen gangs dress up in costumes and go around perpetrating the most horrific crimes, seemingly without repercussionsthat is, until Alex is arrested and sent to prison, where he volunteers for a new kind of “therapy” that tries to implant within him a severe aversion to violence. Does the process work? See the movie and find out. (Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, which also deserves some attention)

Needless to say, Kubrick made another science fiction masterpiece, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), which has its own list of merits to recommend it, but A CLOCKWORK ORANGE always seemed more human to me. More visceral.

Another big favorite of mine is A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975), directed by L.Q. Jones and based on the classic novella by Harlan Ellison. This time we’re brought to another future where the world has been rocked by nuclear war, and for some reason more teenage gangs survive the big drumroll. A young Don Johnson plays Vic, who survives on his wits, and the help of his telepathic dog, Blood.

RUNNERS UP would include: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968, which I already mentioned above), BLADE RUNNER (1982, probably the best Philip K. Dick adaptation to date),  the original ALIEN (1979 – no matter how much I enjoyed PROMETHEUS, it didn’t even come close to Ridely Scott’s ALIEN), and of course 1968’s PLANET OF THE APES, which is just brilliant.

 

—END—

 

Criterion After Dark: GODZILLA (1954)

Posted in 1950s Movies, 2012, Classic Films, Criterion After Dark, DVD Review, Garrett Cook Articles, Godzilla, Japanese Cinema with tags , , , , on February 14, 2012 by knifefighter

CRITERION AFTER DARK: GODZILLA (AKA GOJIRA) (1954)
Review by Garrett Cook

Art snobs and Ebert acolytes were recently given what, for them, must have been a nasty shock. The company from which they bought their treasured Goddard Blu-rays had betrayed them. The chilled, sacred quiet of Bergman country had been broken by the sound of thundering pop culture stomping over their fantasy world of cinema segregation. Begging Jim Jarmusch to intervene with his newly constructed superbanality ray, they watched as their notions of cinematic purity came crumbling to the ground like so many Tokyo office buildings. Riding on the back of my childhood messiah, Godzilla, I laughed and laughed and laughed. And I know that a fair share of Criterion fans, horror buffs and geeks laughed with me.

The induction of Ishiro Honda’s  GODZILLA (1954) into the Criterion Collection seems like a strange decision. Some might think it was to pander to the mainstream or to get genre fans to start buying Criterion DVDs. Others may see it as a decision similar to Criterion’s choice to induct Michael Bay’s ARMAGEDDON (1998), as a chance to show them the rampant absurdity and kitschiness of a silly, silly genre. And what sillier genre is there than the Japanese giant monster movie? This is a film genre that brought us a towering Frankenstein monster tossing rocks at a triceratops/puppy hybrid, sasquatches wrestling in the sea with a running commentary by Nick Adams, and a fire-breathing turtle fighting a talking shark submarine. Putting one of these films on the same shelf as  8 ½ (1963) or PIERROT LE FOU (1965) is going to make some cinephiles cringe. Particularly those who instinctually check Roger Ebert’s website to find out if movies are any good. Ebert has led me to some fine films, and, during his Amazon Associate Days, my favorite brand of oatmeal, but those who read his 1 and a half star tirade against the film will be incredulous about its Criterion status and its merits.

GODZILLA is my idea of an art film. Crisp black and white, strong message, transgressive politics, mutable reality and moments of deep visual poetry. When a lot of us think of Godzilla, we think Technicolor stomping and giant spider wrestling. We think flying through the air on a cloud of radioactive fire toward a sentient Lovecraftian slag heap from space. But this is not where Godzilla came from. Godzilla, (or as I prefer to call it, GOJIRA, its proper Japanese title) is a film about impossible choices, forbidden love, social responsibility and questions of divine forgiveness.

The film begins on a shining sea, bathed in shadows. The sailors on a fishing boat gather around and listen to a melancholy tune played on harmonica. There is a flash of light and the boat is aflame. And lives are over. And nobody knows why. The opening goes beyond being an expressionistic portrayal of a fishing boat destroyed by bomb tests (one of the catalysts for the film), but a suitable metaphor for any number of the victims of war. Even soldiers find their lives snuffed out in short order—lightning-quick explosions of mines or IEDs ending their existence in the blink of an eye. The terms are clear; this is not a movie about a man in a rubber suit. Though when you finally get a look at Godzilla, you can see how it could be.

Godzilla himself looks nothing like most viewers will remember him. The creature is truly menacing in black and white, facial features vague, texture and topography cancerous, a creature of spikes and bumps and deformities. It is not dinosaurian, draconic or friendly or cute; it’s an abomination, a demon whose motives cannot be fathomed and whose primitive mind will not accept reason or compassion. The more I look at this creature, the more amazed I am that it became the kid-friendly critter I grew up with. The transition is something like Karloff’s creature’s evolution into Herman Munster. He looks as much like an irradiated dinosaur pissed off at being awakened by atomic tests as he could. It seems unlikely that this creature could be stopped by anyone, especially the film’s reluctant and traumatized heroes.

The film’s protagonists all have relatable real world problems. Doctor Yamane, the paleontologist (Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura, who was sensational in 1952’s IKIRU) has to choose between knowledge and helping to keep his country safe. His greatest discovery is something unfathomably terrible and a threat to mankind itself and he goes through a great deal of anguish. His daughter Emiko (Momoko Kochi) is in love with sailor Ogata (Akira Takarada), but engaged to brooding one-eyed scientist Doctor Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), who has drifted away from her, consumed with guilt over the military applications of his invention. Even with the apocalyptic threat outside, the love triangle manages to hurt, the ethical conundrums of the scientists seem meaningful.

Hirata’s performance as Dr. Serizawa has always been one of the most appealing aspects of this movie for me. A sad, Byronic, but loveable character—a Victor Laszlo with the finer points of Rick Blaine—Serizawa  has the weapon that can destroy the monster but hates himself too much to use it and hates what the world could do with a weapon like this. His concern is a valid one. If the atomic bomb could wake up and mutate a monster like Godzilla, then what could his more powerful weapon do? He’s terrific. It’s the kind of acting one would think wasn’t necessary in a giant monster movie, but the kind of acting that really makes it work.

GOJIRA stands out for showing the human costs of this devastation. Not just in the anguish of Serizawa, but in the damage caused by the monster. You see mothers clinging to their children, telling them it’s all right because “they’ll be with daddy now,” you see victims in a hospital, mutated, burning and dying. You see the land scorched and the city ruined. In most giant monster movies, you watch the creature stomp around awhile until somebody comes up with a clever idea and kills it. GOJIRA isn’t like that. The creature ruins a city until a ruined man can find the courage to fight it. It’s great horror and it hurts like hell.

You want to see the movie in the cleanest, best format possible. You want to get the full effect of Akira Ifukube’s iconic music with great sound. You want it to look as good on your shelf as a movie of this caliber can look. Sony’s previous release of GOJIRA and its American counterpart, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (the bastardized version we first saw in the U.S., with added scenes featuring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin~ your intrepid editor), had good commentaries, slick packaging and good special features. If you have it or you would like a cheaper alternative to Criterion’s version, you may not feel inclined to purchase The Criterion Edition. But, Criterion provides great features, a no doubt beautiful transfer and cover art by Bill Sienkewicz.  This is very much on my list for the next 50% off sale. If you don’t have this movie and you want to see it the best way you can, get The Criterion Edition. The DVD version is only $23.98 at the Criterion Store and the Blu-ray not much more. This is geek culture history, a film that crosses the line between sci fi and art film, really getting the treatment it deserves. Criterion has done a great thing.

© Copyright 2012 by Garrett Cook

The original Godzilla (1954) may not be as cuddly and kid-friendly as you remember.

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: THREE BAD SISTERS (1956)

Posted in 1950s Movies, 2011, B-Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Exploitation Films, Family Secrets, Scream Queens, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , on September 15, 2011 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

By William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

THREE BAD SISTERS (1956)

Welcome to BILL’S BIZARRE BIJOU, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.


This week, we examine the forgotten 1956 potboiler, THREE BAD SISTERS (“What they did to men was nothing compared to what they did to each other!”). Part film-noir, part sexy soap opera, THREE BAD SISTERS spins the sordid story of the Craig family. Patriarch Marshall Craig dies in a plane crash, despite the best efforts of his pilot Jim Norton (John Bromfield of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955) and THE FURIES (1950)) to save his life. This leaves three sisters (only two of which are truly ‘bad.’) Gorgeous Marla English (THE SHE CREAUTURE (1956), RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS (1956)) plays Vicki Craig, a nymphomaniac who drips with sexual innuendos and tight fitting outfits. “I graduated summu cum laude from Embraceable U,” she proudly purrs when she meets our pilot. Marilyn Monroe look-a-like Kathleen Hughes (IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953), CULT OF THE COBRA-(1955)) is second sister Valerie, first shown enjoying getting slapped around. This sadomasochistic streak defines her character as she plots and connives, grinning wildly at everyone else’s misfortune. The good sister, Lorna, is played by Sara Shane (TARZAN’S GREATEST ADVENTURE (1959)), who is the executor of Daddy’s millions and is engaged to boring, steadfast family lawyer George, played by Jess Barker (Mr. Susan Hayward and star of SCARLET STREET (1945) and THE NIGHT WALKER (1964)). There’s also an old Aunt Martha (who doesn’t do dreadful things), who suspects our hero pilot of purposefully killing her brother Marshall, and she’s played by great Hollywood character actress Madge Kennedy (THEY SHOOT HORSES DON’T THEY (1969) and LUST FOR LIFE (1956)).


When news of her father’s death is read on a radio broadcast, wicked Valerie starts putting her nefarious plans into motion even as she lounges in post coital bliss in the arms of a sailor. She hires Jim Norton to seduce her good sister Lorna then drive her to commit suicide, which probably wouldn’t take much. Lorna and Jim meet cute on the top of a cliff where Lorna is about to take a dive into the rocks. You see, the Craig family is plagued by suicide and mental illness, which explains why Marshall tried to grab the plane’s controls and Norton had to wrest the plane back, only not in time to save his boss. Before you can say “King Lear Revisited,” Norton’s actually falling for the lovely Lorna, Vicki is trying to woo our studly, square-jawed pilot away from Lorna, and Valerie is putting out rumors and setting everyone in the household against each other. Jim talks Lorna into marrying him, and he gains power of attorney over the estate. But is he only after the money or does he actually love his new bride? By the end of the film, there are fist fights, cat fights, a great jazz combo scene, horse riding “accidents”, two car chases, a disfiguring riding crop whipping session, Brett Halsey (HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS (1958), and ATOMIC SUBMARINE and GIRL FROM LOVER’S LANE, both 1960) in a small bit as a Vicki-shunned pin-up artist, and a lot more packed into a speedy 76 minutes. When we get to the off-putting, abrupt happy ending, two of the three sisters are dead. Guess which ones?

Although somewhat predictable, the film drives ahead at full speed and it gets a huge boost from its wonderful B-movie heaven cast. All three starlets playing the sisters are sexy as hell, and they appear to be having a ball vamping it up and spouting such lines as:

“It takes a woman to hang onto a man like Jim, not a psychopath!”

“Speaking of dullness, what do you think of our Lorna?”

“I only get kicks from a man when I know I’m stealing him from another woman.”

“What price competition now, DARLING?”

Kathleen Hughes is especially effective. With her Marilyn Monroe poses and parted lips, she exudes sex and sadism. In one scene, she takes a riding crop to another character and laughs and smiles while beating the heck out of her victim. She positively has a Big O when two men get into a fistfight over her.

And let’s not forget John Bromfield, who’s pretty handsome as well. An early bodybuilder, the film shows him shirtless or in wet swimming trunks several times, upping the beefcake factor more than most Fifties films. His clipped speech pattern and slightly awkward mannerisms place him solidly in the pantheon of film-noir lunkheads.

The film’s loaded with fun twists and witty lines by way of a smart screenplay by Gerald Drayson Adams, who wrote dozens of B-budget oaters and many episodes of the TV shows CHEYENNE and MAVERICK. Competently directed by Gilbert Kay, who mostly worked in television Westerns, I believe the real credit for the glossy look of the picture probably belongs to Howard Koch, the producer. The film looks and feels like one of its big budget brethren, which is understandable when you realize Koch also produced THE ODD COUPLE (1968), AIRPLANE! (1980), and executive produced THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962). The sun dappled photography by Lester Shorr (TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN (1969) and numerous episodes of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY) makes this the brightest film noir ever, other than the classic LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945). The terrific jazz score is by the great, recently deceased Paul Dunlap, who also composed scores for (the Sam Fuller classics) SHOCK CORRIDOR (1953) and THE NAKED KISS (1964), as well as I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957), among many others. The jazz is hot, like the ladies and the undercurrent of sexual danger, and it works beautifully.

THREE BAD SISTERS is available on Netflix Streaming, and I highly recommend it for noir lovers and admirers of high camp DYNASTY-esque soap operas. I give it three riding crops out of four. Definitely worth watching, especially if you like scream queens from the 1950s.

© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl