Film Noir ♥ Transgression Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Sigmund Freud

“Ladies and gentlemen- welcome to violence; the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains sex.” — Narrator from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Faster Pussycat
Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
Cul-de-Sac
Françoise Dorléac and Donald Pleasence in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-sac 1966
the Naked kiss
Constance Towers kicks the crap out of her pimp for shaving off her hair in Sam Fuller’s provocative The Naked Kiss 1964
Shock Corridor
Peter Breck plays a journalist hungry for a story and gets more than a jolt of reality when he goes undercover in a Mental Institution in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor 1963
CapturFiles_3 copy
Bobby Darin is a psychotic racist in Hubert Cornfield and Stanley Kramer’s explosive Pressure Point 1962 starring Sidney Poitier and Peter Falk.

THE DARK PAGES NEWSLETTER  a condensed article was featured in The Dark Pages: You can click on the link for all back issues or to sign up for upcoming issues to this wonderful newsletter for all your noir needs!

Constance Towers as Kelly from The Naked Kiss (1964): “I saw a broken down piece of machinery. Nothing but the buck, the bed and the bottle for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw.”

Griff (Anthony Eisley) The Naked Kiss (1964): “Your body is your only passport!”

Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux in Repulsion (1965): “I must get this crack mended.”

Monty Clift Dr. Cukrowicz Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) : “Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion.”

Patricia Morán as Rita Ugalde: The Exterminating Angel 1962:“I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”

Ann Baxter as Teresina Vidaverri Walk on the Wild Side 1962“When People are Kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it.”

The Naked Venus 1959“I repeat she is a gold digger! Europe’s full of them, they’re tramps… they’ll do anything to get a man. They even pose in the NUDE!!!!”

Darren McGavin as Louie–The Man With the Golden Arm (1955): “The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.”

Baby Boy Franky Buono-Blast of Silence (1961) “The targets names is Troiano, you know the type, second string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache to hide the facts he’s got lips like a woman… the kind of face you hate!”

Lorna (1964)- “Thy form is fair to look upon, but thy heart is filled with carcasses and dead man’s bones”

Peter Fonda as Stephen Evshevsky in Lilith (1964): “How wonderful I feel when I’m happy. Do you think that insanity could be so simple a thing as unhappiness?”

Glen or Glenda (1953)“Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even a lounging outfit and he’s the happiest individual in the world.”

Glen or Glenda
Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda 1953

Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live (1961):“I like a messy bed.”

Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) Island of Lost Souls: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969): “Sex dominates the world! And now, I dominate sex!”

The Snake Pit (1948): Jacqueline deWit as Celia Sommerville “And we’re so crowded already. I just don’t know where it’s all gonna end!” Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Stuart Cunningham “I’ll tell you where it’s gonna end, Miss Somerville… When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.”

Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)“Aren’t those crimes horrifying. And yet -so fascinating!”

Julien Gulomar as Bishop Daisy to the Barber (Michel Serrault) King of Hearts (1966)“I was so young. I already knew that to love the world you have to get away from it.”

The Killing of Sister George (1968) -Suzanna York as Alice ‘CHILDIE’: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know” Beryl Reid as George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”

The Killing of Sister George
Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George Susannah York and Beryl Reid in Robert Aldrich’s The Killing of Sister George 1960

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)“You can’t get blood out of an illusion.”

THE SWEET SOUND OF DEATH (1965)Dominique-“I’m attracted” Pablo-” To Bullfights?” Dominique-” No, I meant to death. I’ve always thought it… The state of perfection for all men.”

Peter O’Toole as Sir Charles Ferguson Brotherly Love (1970): “Remember the nice things. Reared in exile by a card-cheating, scandal ruined daddy. A mummy who gave us gin for milk. Ours was such a beautifully disgusting childhood.”

Maximillian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin in Return From The Ashes 1965: “If there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.”

Euripides 425 B.C.“Whom God wishes to destroy… he first makes mad.”

Davis & Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bring to life two of the most outrageously memorable characters in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

WHAT DOES PSYCHOTRONIC MEAN?

psychotronic |ˌsīkəˈtränik| adjective denoting or relating to a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics. [1980s: coined in this sense by Michael Weldon, who edited a weekly New York guide to the best and worst films on local television.] Source: Wikipedia

In the scope of these transitioning often radical films, where once, men and women aspired for the moon and the stars and the whole ball of wax. in the newer scheme of things they aspired for you know… “kicks” yes that word comes up in every film from the 50s and 60s… I’d like to have a buck for every time a character opines that collective craving… from juvenile delinquent to smarmy jet setter!

FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…

THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!

I just got myself this collection of goodies from Something Weird!

weird-noir
There’s even this dvd that points to the connection between the two genres – Here it’s labeled WEIRD. I like transgressive… They all sort of have a whiff of noir.
Grayson Hall Satan in High Heels
Grayson Hall -Satan in High Heels 1962
mimi3
Gerd Oswald adapts Fredrick Brown’s titillating novel — bringing to the screen the gorgeous Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee and Harry Townes in the sensational, obscure and psycho-sexual thriller Screaming Mimi 1958
The Strangler 1964 Victor Buono
Victor Buono is a deranged mama’s boy in Burt Topper’s fabulous The Strangler 1964
Repulsion
Catherine Deneuve is extraordinary as the unhinged nymph in Roman Polanski’s psycho-sexual tale of growing madness in Repulsion 1965

Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Noir took a journey through an even darker lens… Out of the shadows of 40s Noir cinema, European New Wave, fringe directors, and Hollywood auteurs, brought more violent, sexual, transgressive, and socially transformative narratives into the cold light of day with a creeping sense of verité. While Film Noir pushed the boundaries of taboo subject matter and familiar Hollywood archetypes it wasn’t until later that we are able to visualize the advancement of transgressive topics.

Continue reading “Film Noir ♥ Transgression Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”

Screaming Mimi (1958) Part 1: Ripper vs Stripper…

Screaming Mimi 1958 starring Anita Ekberg


Anita Ekberg-Actress, Goddess and kitten lover!

Yolanda and her Great Dane known as “DEVIL” ouch!!!!!!!!!!

Screaming Mimi 1958 A psycho-sexual KINKY/ FILM NOIR, Starring the Swedish Love Goddess Anita Ekberg, Phil Carey, Gyspsy Rose Lee, Harry Townes, and features the music of The Red Norvo Trio

Screen Play by Robert Blees Based on the book by pulp writer,  Frederic Brown.

Frederic Brown- Mystery Pulp Novelist

Frank A.Tuttle is responsible for the ultra realism set direction (From Here To Eternity, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Elmer Gantry ,The Caine Mutiny, Straight Jacket and Dead Heat on A Merry Go Round, Marooned and Thriller’s Dark Legacy episode ‘61) Not to be confused with director Frank W. Tuttle This Gun For Hire 1942, A Cry in The Night 1956. The musical score is conducted by Mischa Bakaleinikoff.

This film to me falls under my definition of the noir canon. It’s extremely stark use of counter black and white space. The distinctive style that uses prominent shadow and brightly contrasting whites. The crime theme, psycho-sexual component with several unsavory or damaged personality types. The coded gay characters, such as her step brother Weston and Gypsy Rose Lee’s character “Joann ‘Gypsy’ Masters and younger lover, who waits tables at El Madhouse. The Identity crisis. These are all methods of the film noir canon, especially the beautiful black-and-white noir cinematography of Burnett Guffey, And a shower scene that predates Hitchcock’s Psycho 1960 by 2 years!

It is said that Dario Argento’s iconic Giallo film Bird With The Crystal Plumage 1970 is loosely based on Brown’s book. The Screaming Mimi is a mystery novel by pulp writer Fredric Brown. It was first published in 1949.

  • Describing a female individual who screams a lot.
  • A nickname for the Nebelwerfer, a piece of German World War II rocket artillery

A Quick Overview:

Exotic dancer Virginia Wilson almost dies at the hands of an escaped maniac with a big knife. He attacks her while she is in the outside shower stall on her step-brothers property. Brother Charlie Watson sees what’s happening and shoots the killer dead in front of the traumatized Virginia. She is put into an institution under the care of Dr. Greenwood a psychiatrist who tries at first to administer therapy until he becomes obsessed with his beautiful patient.

He falls in obsessive/love with her and begins to takes over her life, having a Svengali like hold over her consciousness. After changing her name to Yolanda, she insists on continuing her career and winds up as the newest rage at the El Madhouse nightclub. The club’s sassy owner is portrayed by Gypsy Rose Lee who plays ‘Gypsy’. The traumatized Virginia is suspected of a series of murders with one common theme. There is an element of fetish as, each victim had purchased a contorted sculpture of a woman called the Screaming Mimi. This sculpture happens to have been created by her step-brother Charlie, you know, the one who was also responsible for shooting her attacker. Now enter the picture  handsome columnist Bill Sweeny who falls for Virginia/Yolanda, knowing that she is hiding a deep dark secret, and sets out to uncover the truth! And so the film goes, with all it’s fabulous cheap thrills and B-Movie appeal. And a Great Dane known as ‘Devil”….!

The Ocean crashes against the rocks, the foamy surf is narrated by satiny whispering flutes and French horn. A contorted statue of a highly stylized feminine form, overemphasizing her breasts and what Jung considered her anima, the inward subconscious primal essence, thrusts itself to the forefront of the screen! A bluesy jazz trail of horns bring the credits along. Directed by Gerd Oswald (The Outer Limits original series 1963, A Kiss Before Dying 1956 and Crime of Passion 1957) This is an interesting period in film making of the 50s that is fresh because Gerd Oswald allows the film’s direction to touch on several kinky items such as perversion, Fetish, bondage, homosexuality and a Lesbian subtext, amour fou and serial killers. The film creates several varying viewpoints, the Male Gaze, the female Gaze and the Collective Voyeur.

The waves break against shore, bringing with the tide, the figure of a beautiful blonde goddess, emerging from the water, as if being spit out of the primordial blue rapturous ocean’s mouth. Running up the sands to greet her little terrier who stands waiting patiently then running along side his girl, up the stone stairway from the sandy beach, now in the lead.

The mood is blissful, hazy and untroubled. He leads her to the outdoor wooden shower stall. She is glistening, washed by the recent swim, her gorgeous white teeth bare a maiden’s smile. Her little dog in a pointer’s stance, becomes rigid in the brush, sensing something or someone rustling in the bushes. He starts to bark at the unseen presence. She laughs and tells Rusty not to get so excited, that it’s just a rabbit. But we can see far left of screen a shadowing figure at first a black form, and then starting to emerge. As Rusty starts to confront the figure, the screen switches back to the girl. Off screen the little dog cries out in distress, and her beautiful face begins to tighten.

The dark form, becomes a grimy, grubby, sweaty man, now straightening up from a crouch, a wildly disheveled fiend who stands up but makes no sound, apparently just having killed Rusty, now setting his burning stare upon the naked Virginia with merely the beach worn wooden shower between her and her attacker. She screams in abject terror, framed by the shower, her black swim suit, and lace panties hang over the edge, her under things dangling there, letting us know that she is vulnerable. She is laid bare. He begins to move closer unaffected by her screams. In the foreground a shorter, older looking gentleman is aroused by the screams, and walks out onto the front porch, realizing what is happening we see him run back into the house. As the attacker draws closer to Virginia, we see the back of his soiled shirt reads HIGHLAND SANITARIUM. He is an escapee from the local lunatic asylum, and now he’s wielding a large butchers knife about to strike out at the defenseless girl.

The Screen shot shows us a hairy hand puddled with blood as he holds the knife as close to her face. The screams still escaping her beautiful lips, her blonde hair still salt curled from the ocean.Is the blood from her little dog Rusty? He again thrusts the large blade toward her, but we are shielded by the wooden shower stall. She tries to push herself out of the stall. Pushing toward her attacker still screaming, oblivious to the blood stained knife, pushing pushing the door, trying to flee.

This shower scene actually predates Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho by 2 years!

Suddenly the other man on the porch Charles Weston, Virginia’s half brother, comes out holding a rifle. He aims his gun, but the fiend manages to plunge the knife into Virginia’s chest. We see her face conform to the pain, a little weakened and stunned by the actual blow.

Out in broad daylight this horrific slaughter box on the beach, under the suns rays, burning the blood from red to burnt sienna, we can only imagine in this black and white film noir of twisted psycho sexual regression and utter senseless barbarity. Her white creamy face, her beautiful full lips, she sinks downward inside the wooden stall like a coffin. The musical direction is dire. The horns cry out for release.

We hear a gunshot, the shot is framed from the mans knees down to the wooden planking of the floor, as he falls into a huddled lump of institutional denim and crazed sweat. As his back remains to us, stiff and lifeless, we see the bare feet of Virginia standing next to him. She comes out of the stall wrapped in a white robe. Clutching her head, her fingers grasping in between strands of her fear soaked hair. The man in white approaches her. Realizing that she is holding the bloodied knife now, she drops it onto the floor, hands open and up in the air, staring down at the weapon. The man in white stands there still holding the rifle. She holds her hands up to her face and then collapses into shock.

Continue reading “Screaming Mimi (1958) Part 1: Ripper vs Stripper…”