The Very Thought of You: Andrea King in 4 Fabulous Unsung Film Noir Gems!

The seductive Andrea King was born France Georgette André Barry on February 1st, 1919 in Paris, before her mother relocated them to the United States.

Eventually she settled in Queens, NY. King eventually found her way to Broadway at the age of 13 where she performed between 1935-36 in Fly Away Home with Montgomery Clift. At the age of 18 she went to Chicago and worked in the Lilian Gish company’s Life with Father for two years.  It was in 1944, that Warner Bros. signed Andrea King to a contract, her first bit part was as a nurse in a scene with Bette Davis in Mr. Skeffington, then she appeared in The Very Thought of You where as Molly Wheeler – she had to be bitchy to Eleanor Parker, which she joked she hated doing “Wait a couple of months baby and you’ll be making double dates with me just like we used to!” King was cast in small roles during the war. The Warner Bros. studio photographers voted Andrea the most photogenic actress on the lot for the year 1945, the year she starred in God is My Co-Pilot. Jack Warner who liked to name his new stars had wanted to change her name to Georgia King to Andrea’s horror she ran to friend director Delmer Daves and cried telling him it was awful, and sounded like a Mississippi burlesque queen!

Andrea King’s portrayal of the angelic and strong minded Julie Holden in director Robert Florey’s Gothic horror The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) was perhaps my introduction to King’s beautiful persona. Co-starring with Robert Alda a year before they were to act together in The Man I Love (1947).

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) starring Peter Lorre, Robert Alda and Andrea King.

Sophie Rosenstein the acting coach had taken a strong liking to Andrea and when she left Warner Bros. and went to Universal, a lot of roles opened up for Andrea at Universal.

Andrea King’s first major role as Lisa Dorn whom Andrea in an interview with TCM said was a wonderful part, a real leading lady– “She was evil and she was kind. She was two people all in one” in Hotel Berlin (1945) afterwards she played stylish often ‘mysterious’ leading ladies or supporting roles as the ‘bad girl.’

Finally King got bigger, glamorous lead parts and appeared in a cross section of genres throughout the late 1940s and 1950s. She is remembered for five significant film noir roles, Shadow of a Woman (1946), The Man I Love (1947) with the legendary Ida Lupino, Ride the Pink Horse (1947) starring and directed by Robert Montgomery, Dial 1119 (1950) with Marshall Thompson and the even lesser known Southside 1-1000 (1950) with Don DeFore, that I decided not to cover at this time.

In the 1965 she appeared in The House of the Black Death, Prescription Murder (1968) tv movie and Daddy’s Gone A -Hunting 1969. Andrea King made the transition to television, most notably she appeared in the original 1953 broadcast of “Witness for the Prosecution” for Lux Video Theatre (1950) co-starring Edward G. Robinson. She worked well into the 1970s, (appearing in genres- horror & exploitation- where so many beautiful starlets inevitably roam-a subject I plan on writing about extensively in my piece “From Glamour to Trauma: Deconstructing the Myth of Hag Cinema in the not so distant future here at The Last Drive In) including appearing in the exploitation film Blackenstein 1973. 

Continue reading “The Very Thought of You: Andrea King in 4 Fabulous Unsung Film Noir Gems!”

Quote of the Day! From film noir’s dark & thoughtful Red Light (1949)

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Nobody does still waters run deep kind of tough more than George Raft.

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In Roy Del Ruth’s (The Maltese Falcon 1931 with Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez, Du Barry Was a Lady 1943, yes tis true The Alligator People 1959, Why Must I Die? 1960) Noir morality play Red Light, Raft plays Shipping boss Johnny Torno, who catches Nick Cherney (Raymond Burr in one of his most sinister roles) embezzling funds. Torno gets Cherney a term in San Quentin with just enough time to build a psychotic grudge.

Burr in Red Light

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Arthur Franz who’s not being attacked by a giant dragonfly or turning into a pants monster in Monster on the Campus 1958

Burr and Morgan

Morgan

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Arthur Franz as Jess tells his big brother Johnny as his last dying words that he’ll find the answer to his death in the hotel bible

But instead of planning to kill Torno, he decides to hit him where it will hurt more, he pays fellow inmate Rocky who’s getting out in a few days (Harry Morgan in one of the most menacing roles I’ve seen him play, he deserves a place at the bad boy table with Dan Duryea and Frank Lovejoy) to kill Torno’s younger brother, war hero and chaplain brother Jesse played by Arthur Franz.

Driven mad by the mystery of who shot his beloved baby brother down in a hotel room, Torno goes on a quest to find the bible where the name of Jesse’s killer is written. The cinematography and shadowy framework by cinematographer Bert Glennon ( The Red House 1947, House of Wax 1953) is tense and chilling, and all the performances are stellar. Including Gene Lockhart who plays co-owner of the 24 hours a day shipping company. The film also co-stars Virginia Mayo as Carla North who Torno enlists to help him track down his brother’s killer. There are some of the most brutal and uniquely violent moments in the film which is tempered by the question of vengeance and faith.

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Arthur Shields as Father Redmond. He was a wonderfully complicated anti-hero in Daughter of Dr Jekyll 1957
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Virginia Mayo as Carla wants to help George who exudes the ‘tormented man’, but he is too driven by revenge for having lost the only thing he truly loved… his kid brother Jess.

I couldn’t help but love Warni’s shared wisdom when he tells Torno who’s drinking himself into an angry stupor to let Jesse’s death go and move on with his life.

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Gene Lockhart as Warni Hazard tells Johnny Torno (George Raft)- “My old man used to say liquor doesn’t drown your troubles… just teaches them how to swim.”

Gene Lockhart as Warni Hazard “My old man used to say liquor doesn’t drown your troubles… just teaches them how to swim.”

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