Film Noir ♥ Transgressions 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
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.

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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.


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. [the 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!



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

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.
Gerd Oswald adapts Fredrick Brown’s titillating novel — bringing to the screen the gorgeous Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey, 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.
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 ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”

Jack Arnold’s The Tattered Dress (1957) “When I spill a drink on the carpet, my butler cleans up after me.” “When you spill blood, your lawyer is expected to do the same.” “Exactly”

Jack Arnold’s The Tattered Dress (1957)

A Woman and a Tattered Dress…that exposed a town’s hidden evil!

The Tattered Dress is a story actually utilizing the Noir canon of misdirection. The film appears like a melodramatic pulp fiction courtroom drama, yet its muted focus on the object as Charleen Reston and the ensuing crime is a ruse. The film wrings out the real underlying quality of its psychological thrust which winds up telling a very different story in the end.

This is a soft sleepy noir court drama that takes place in a wealthy Nevada desert town and might be considered quite the departure for Jack Arnold who is beloved for his memorable contributions to some of THE best 50s sci-fi cautionary tales. The imposing gigantism in Tarantula (1955) The vast shots of sand and open expanses left me wondering if the large ghastly spider would come creeping out yet again from behind a bolder in The Tattered Dress. Arnold is actually very well known for his contributions to the Western (No Name On The Bullet 1959) as well as several vintage television series such as Peter Gunn, Rawhide, Perry Mason, Mod Squad, and It Takes a Thief.

I particularly love Arnold’s transcendental masterpiece The Incredible Shrinking Man. (1957) And his colonial-inspired science fact/fiction, study of the savage jungle reaches with The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954).

To his sympathetic alien castaways in It Came From Outer Space. (1953) But consider that Arnold is also responsible for High School Confidential, (1958) The Glass Web (1953), Girls In The Night (1953), Man In The Shadow (1957), and The Mouse That Roared (1959), you see that he is a very versatile filmmaker with a vision toward social commentary.


The story is written by George Zuckerman and faithful Hollywood makeup artist Bud Westmore is on the crew for the makeup. Produced by Albert Zugsmith.

The film’s music is sensational. The overall vibe that swings between pulp melodrama orchestra and burlesque jazz is invigorating to the script. The score utilizes a Blues style Burlesque/ Show Tune Jazz using bassoon, oboe, horns, clarinet, piano timpani bass and viola, and a brass section.

Frank Skinner does the music and it’s supervised by Joseph Gershenson. With an uncredited musical contribution by Henry Mancini. (Charade 1963) Mancini was a genius known for countless film scores and musical direction for television. He died in 1994

It stars Jeff Chandler (Broken Arrow 1950 Merrill’s Marauders 1960 and Return To Peyton Place 1961) as the egocentric top criminal attorney James Gordon Blane, Jeanne Crain (State Fair 1945, A Letter To Three Wives 1949, Leave Her To Heaven 1945 and Pinky 1949) as his wife Diane, Jack Carson (Arsenic and Old Lace 1944  Mildred Pierce 1945 & Cat On A Hot Tin Roof 1958) as Sheriff Nick Hoak, Elaine Stewart as Charleen Reston, Phillip Reed as Michael Reston, Gail Russell  (Night Has A Thousand Eyes 1948 and Angel and The Badman 1947) as Carol Morrow, Edward Platt (the Chief on Get Smart) as Journalist Ralph Adams, George Tobias (American theater, film, and television character actor well known for his role as Mr. Kravitz on Bewitched) as Billy Giles, Roger Corman regular Paul Birch as Prosecutor Frank Mitchell, and the familiar, omni present television and film character actor Edward Andrews as Lester Rawlings a seedy, pompous defense attorney.

Jeff Chandler is stone-like, in fact, his features are rather chiseled in a way that makes his looks unreal, more like a marble statue spouting lines. Yet there’s something in his face that is equally compelling at times. It’s hard for me to divine it. Having done plenty of war and western films, I’m not as familiar with his work such as Cochise in Broken Arrow 1950 or Away All Boats 1956. I’d like to acquaint myself with his work more as I don’t want to stop on The Tattered Dress and assume Chandler doesn’t possess a range to his acting. He was the leading man opposite Joan Crawford in the melodrama Female on the Beach in 1955.

From The Vault: Female on The Beach (1955)


Back to The Tattered Dress!

Continue reading “Jack Arnold’s The Tattered Dress (1957) “When I spill a drink on the carpet, my butler cleans up after me.” “When you spill blood, your lawyer is expected to do the same.” “Exactly””