Pharaoh’s Curse is a 1957 American horror film directed by Lee Sholem (Tobor the Great and Superman and the Mole Men)
Character actor George N Neise plays the obsessed archaeologist Robert Quentin as part of a team of American archaeologists who unwittingly awaken a three-thousand-year-old ancient curse while excavating the tomb of a Pharaoh that is rumored to be cursed. Unlike the embodiment of the traditional mummy in the Universal franchise, one of the expedition members (Alvaro Guillot) falls prey to the vengeful spirit of the mummy seeking revenge on those who have desecrated his tomb. It needs to feed on fresh blood to sustain itself which makes it more vampiric than a mummified fiend. Rather than its victims being strangled by rotting bandaged hands, they are left with bite marks on their throats and an odd trace of mold on their necks.
The film starts off at a British outpost nestled in the heart of Egypt. An officer receives strict orders to locate an unsanctioned archaeological expedition and compel them to return to Cairo promptly. En route this small contingent of British soldiers crosses paths with an eccentric Egyptian woman who cryptically warns of dire consequences should they fail to halt the expedition in its tracks. But when they arrive at their destination it’s too late. The archaeologists have not only stumbled upon the tomb of the Pharaoh but have also dared to unseal it, unleashing a malevolent force, and one of the expedition members undergoes a ghastly transformation into a creepy old geezer in pajamas resembling a desiccated mummy-like figure that can’t seemingly be killed.
Pharaoh’s Curse stars Mark Dana as Captain Storm, Diane Brewster as Sylvia Quentin, Ziva Rodann (Macumba Love 1960) as Simira, Ben Wright, and Terence de Marney as Sgt Smolett.
Paranoiac is a 1963 as part of British psychological horror film produced by Hammer directed by Freddie Francis and scripted by Jimmy Sangster.
The story centers around the wealthy Ashby family, who reside in a large, secluded mansion on the English coast included are the Ashby siblings, Simon (Oliver Reed) and Eleanor (Janette Scott), who are haunted by the tragic death of their parents in a car crash several years earlier. They live under the care of their guardian, Aunt Harriett (Sheila Burrell).
Many years prior, a tragic car accident claimed the lives of two affluent parents, leaving their three children in the care of an eccentric aunt. However, just a few years later, one of the sons seemingly took his own life, leaving behind a fragile and emotionally unstable daughter and a spoiled, belligerent son who indulges in alcohol, exhibits emotional volatility, and behaves abhorrently in every way imaginable.
The sister, who was never a paragon of mental stability, becomes convinced she has encountered her dead brother, Tony, despite all evidence to the contrary. When Tony (Alexander Davion) unexpectedly resurfaces sometime later, doubt lingers over whether he is truly the lost sibling or a cunning impostor. This unexpected return sends Reed’s character spiraling further into madness, accentuating his already unstable and erratic behavior. Paranoiac co-stars Maurice Denham and Lillian Brousse.
The Psychopath 1966
The Psychopath is a uniquely creative and disturbing British horror offering from Amicus produced by Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky Released in 1966, it was directed by Freddie Francis with a screenplay by Robert Bloch. The film revolves around a series of gruesome murders that shock the tranquil streets of London. Each victim is found with a doll placed near their lifeless body, bearing a striking resemblance to the deceased and their method of execution.
Beginning with Reinhardt Klermer, a middle-aged amateur violinist is on his way to meet his friends who play together as a chamber quartet when a red car runs him down – repeatedly. The unseen murderer leaves a doll in Klermer’s likeness which even includes a miniature violin case. On the scene is Inspector Holloway portrayed by Patrick Wymark, who takes charge of the investigation and believes the murder is most likely committed by one of Klermer’s ensemble. Until, they too are killed (poisoned, stabbed, and hanged) accompanied by dolls, that are tokens of their death left at the crime scene along with their dead bodies. Holloway discovers that each of the victims had given evidence against a convicted war criminal whose bizarre paralyzed widow (Margaret Johnston -Flora Carr in Night of the Eagle aka Burn, Witch Burn 1962) and her curious son Mark (John Standing) seem likely suspects. Both the queer Von Sturms are collectors of dolls. Also under suspicion are Louise Saville (Judy Huxtable) and her fiance (Donald Loftis), because one of the victims was Louise’s father who did not approve of their getting married. Holloway even finds a doll with his likeness but that doesn’t stop him from getting at the truth.
There are some very effectively creepy moments and the art direction of Von Sturm’s doll-infested house is perfectly macabre. Perhaps there are those who will find this game of cat and mouse giallo cliche but the final scene of the film still causes a shudder in me that still seems to linger. The puzzle is solved but it’s nearly an excessively unpleasant revelation that left me with a queasy shudder at the end.
Detective Superintendent Holloway portrayed by Patrick Wymark, takes charge of the investigation, and he soon discovers that the victims are all connected to a past crime. As he delves deeper into the case, he unravels a web of dark demented secrets.
As Holloway races against time to catch the elusive killer, the film keeps the audience on the edge of their seats with its suspenseful atmosphere and a chilling score by composer Elisabeth Lutyens and pulp fiction-style layouts by cinematographer John Wilcox (The Third Man 1949).
The Possession of Joel Delaney 1972
The Possession of Joel Delaney 1972 is an unsettling American horror film directed by Waris Hussein. The movie is often noted for its exploration of supernatural and psychological horror elements, which align with the distinct characteristics of horror films from the early 1970s.
Norah Benson (played by Shirley MacLaine), is a successful career woman living in New York City. Her life takes a disturbing turn when her brother Joel Delaney (played by Perry King) becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit.
Joel, once a gentle and caring family man, starts exhibiting violent and erratic behavior. He begins to speak in a strange and menacing voice, displaying a complete personality change that terrifies Norah. Desperate to understand and help her brother, she delves into the mystery surrounding his possession.
As Norah tries to grapple with her brother’s transformation as she investigates, she uncovers a sinister connection between Joel and a mysterious woman from the city’s underworld named Alvean (played by Lovelady Powell). Alvean seems to hold the key to Joel’s possession and the dark forces at play. Like many horror films of the 1970s, the movie incorporates elements of cultural and social commentary, reflecting the anxieties that arose in that decade of filmmaking.
Phobia is a 1980 psychological thriller directed by John Huston and starring Paul Michael Glaser. Glaser plays a psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross, involved in a radical new therapy and comes under suspicion when his patients are murdered, each according to their individual phobias. The film co-stars John Colicos, Susan Hogan, Patricia Collins, Lisa Langlois, and Alexandra Stewart.
Parents 1989 is -excuse the pun – a delicious black comedy/social commentary/horror film directed by Bob Balaban. The film’s appropriately bizarre title for its Germany release was ‘Daddy ist ein Kannibale’, or ‘Daddy is a Cannibal!’
The story is set in the 1950s and follows a young boy named Michael Laemle (Brian Madorsk). Michael Laemle is the young and curious protagonist of the film. He’s a sensitive boy who becomes increasingly suspicious of his parents’ behavior. As he unravels the dark secrets of his family, he becomes the audience’s passport into the disturbing world of the Laemle household. Michael’s transformation from innocence to paranoia is a central theme in the film. Sure it’s not missed that the surname of the family in this movie is “Laemle”, a likely nod to Carl Laemmle Jr. producer of such horror classics as Frankenstein 1931, Dracula 1931, The Mummy 1932 and The Invisible Man 1933.
He starts to become suspicious of his parents, Nick (Randy Quaid) and Lily (Mary Beth Hurt), as he notices their peculiar behavior. His father works for a meat company, and the family consumes a lot of meat themselves, but Michael suspects that it might not be ordinary Grade-A choice cuts of beef. As he grows increasingly paranoid, he dives deeper into and uncovers disturbing secrets about his parents and their gruesome eating habits. They are cannibalistic murderers.
Parents is a unique and unsettling blend of black comedy and horror that delves into themes of conformity, the American family, and the dark underbelly of suburban life.
It serves as a satirical commentary on the conformist values of 1950s suburban America and portrays a seemingly idyllic family and neighborhood, which hides a disturbing and taboo theme of cannibalism. The film explores the idea that beneath the facade of normalcy, people may be repressing their darker impulses. Parent’s dark humor is at the core essence of Balaban’s film. It finds absurdity in the mundane and macabre doings of the Laemle family’s life. The contrast between the sunny, idyllic facade and the nightmarish truth is skillfully woven into the narrative to evoke simultaneous astonishment and amusement, played for both shocks and laughs. Its unconventional take on suburbia has endeared it to dedicated aficionados of offbeat, cult cinema. The eerie retro visual paintings of 50s American living, photographed by cinematographers Ernest Day and Robin Vidgeon, and the provocative score by Jonathan Elias contribute to the film’s overall sense of unease.
Nick Laemle: Michael, are you ready to behave? I thought I’d tell you a little story? Want to hear a story? I’ll tell you a little story and I want you to shut up until I’m finished.
Michael Laemle: [Tied to a chair by his father] You eat people.
Nick: I’ve been watching you, Michael. You’re an outsider, you’re not like them. You’re like us.
Michael: I don’t love you any more.
Lily Laemle: Yes, you do.
Nick: We’re bound for life, no matter how much you hate us.(as he slowly unties Michael] I’m untying, and when you’re free, you can sit down with us and eat, or you could run outside and shout your little secret to the world. And you know what they’ll do, Michael, hmm? They’ll come here and they’ll burn us. Is that what you want? You want to see them burn your parents?
Lily: Mint jelly?
One of my favorite actors who doesn’t get enough attention is Sandy Dennis. Here she has a supporting role as Millie Dew the school social worker who is worried about Michael’s behavior and is one of the outside figures who begins to sense that something is amiss in the Laemle family.
Many critical essays on Parents delve into its social commentary, particularly its critique of 1950s suburban conformity and the facade of the nuclear family. The film portrays the unsettling idea that beneath the veneer of a perfect suburban family, there may be hidden, disturbing secrets. Some essays examine the psychological horror aspects of the film, focusing on the transformation of the protagonist, Michael, from innocence to paranoia. The Laemle family serves as a metaphor for the anxieties and fears lurking in the American psyche during the 1950s. Parents also challenge traditional gender roles, with the mother, Lily, taking on a more dominant and unsettling role compared to the father, Nick. This inversion of gender expectations adds layers to the film’s exploration of identity and conformity.
This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ Phew! glad that’s over! Stay tuned for the letter Q unless that gives you the quivers!
Amid the anarchy of China, an American mercenary tangles with a ruthless warlord. Directed by Lewis Milestone with a screenplay by Clifford Odets. Stars Gary Cooper, Madeleine Carroll, and Akim Tamiroff.
O’Hara: (Gary Cooper) I like people too much to shoot. But it’s a dark year and a hard night.
Judy Perrie: (Madeleine Carroll) Maybe some day there’ll be a law to abolish the blues. Something big, like an amendment to the Constitution. For all of us.
Directed by Raoul Walsh and written by John Huston. Stars Ida Lupino as Marie and Humphrey Bogart as Roy ‘Mad Dog’ Earle. Co-stars Arthur Kennedy, Joan Leslie, Henry Hull, Alan Curtis, Henry Travers, and Jerome Cowan
After being released from prison, notorious thief Roy Earle is hired by his old boss to help a group of inexperienced criminals plan and carry out the robbery of a California resort.
Roy Earle: (Humphrey Bogart)I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper.
Marie Garson: (Ida Lupino) Yeah, I get it, ‘ya always sorta hope ‘ya can get out, it keeps ‘ya going.
Directed by John Huston screenplay by Richard Brooks & John Huston. Stars Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, and Marc Lawrence.
Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) visits his war buddy’s family hotel run by Lionel Barrymore and his daughter Lauren Bacall and finds a gangster (Edward G. Robinson) running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other. Claire Trevor turns in a brilliant performance as washed-up torch singer Gaye Dawn.
Frank McCloud: (Humphrey Bogart) You don’t like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you? If it doesn’t stop, shoot it.
Gaye Dawn: (Claire Trevor) No, Mr. Temple, it wasn’t you. It wasn’t the law or anybody. It was only Johnny Rocco. Nobody in the whole world is safe as long as he’s alive.
A cynical American expatriate gets involved in smuggling and gun-running for the rebels during the 1925 Syrian insurgency against French occupation. Directed by Curtis Bernhardt. Stars Humphrey Bogart, Lee J. Cobb, Everett Sloane, and Märta Torén
Two escaped killers take hostages and hide in a Nevada mining ghost town knowing that an atom bomb is scheduled to be tested there the next morning. Directed by Dick Powell. Stars Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith Keith Andes, and Jan Sterling.
Sam Hurley: (Stephen McNally) You ever been locked up?
Ex-con trucker tries to expose his boss’ rackets. Directed by Cy Endfield. Stars Stanley Baker as Tom Yately, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins, Patrick McGoohan as ‘Red’ William Hartnell, Alfie Bass, Jill Ireland, Sidney James, Wilfrid Lawson, David McCallum, and Sean Connery.
Dr. T.S. Clitterhouse-“The greatest crime of all!”‘Rocks’ Valentine-“What’s that?”Dr. T.S.Clitterhouse–“Why, Homicide naturally.”
Directed by Anatole Litvak (The Sisters 1938, Confessions of a Nazi Spy 1939, Out of the Fog 1941, Blues in the Night 1941, Snake Pit 1948, Sorry, Wrong Number 1948, The Night of the Generals 1967) With a screenplay co-written by John Huston and John Huxley. Based on the play by Barré Lyndon – Music by Max Steiner lends a dark and dramatic flourish to the sinister & mordant essence of the narrative.
Cinematography by Tony Gaudio (The Mask of Fu Manchu 1932, Lady Killer 1933, The Man With Two Faces 1934, Bordertown 1935, The Story of Louis Pasteur 1936, The Life of Emile Zola 1937, The Sisters 1938, Brother Orchid 1940, The Letter 1940, High Sierra 1941, The Man Who Came to Dinner 1942, Larceny, Inc. 1942, Experiment Perilous 1944, Love From a Stranger 1947)
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse converges into several genres–black comedy with deadly dark overtones, crime drama, the gangster movie, suspense & psychological noir with classical horror elements evidenced by the duality of the schizophrenic hero.
Though absurd, it’s enjoyable Litvak’s direction, Huston’s screenplay, and Gaudio’s arousing photography make it an enjoyable film to watch.
While watching Litvak’s film again, it suddenly hit me (smack between my green eyes) there is one significant trope that stood out so obviously, so clearly to me. Strange that I hadn’t realized it during my first viewing.
Dr. Clitterhouse is an archetypal Jekyll & Hyde figure, using his immersion into criminal activity rather than a smoky elixir to drink down his uneasy gullet, that would normally transform his outer appearance into a fiend, Clitterhouse still becomes transfigured as a criminal and a murderer by and because of his endeavors.
The story raises the question of the duality inherent in the protagonist J.T. Clitterhouse, where it is possible to tap into the dark side, the doctor diverges into a classical medical/science horror with personality traits being tainted by the evil/immoral tendencies that people are capable of. When exploring immoral activities that can ‘change a man’s personality’ there is always a fatalistic inevitability. The disambiguation of the situation-there is no horror props, no mysterious mad scientifically developed drug inducement– it is the single act, desire, and curiosity of a scientist seeking answers concerning the criminal mind that literally subsumes the nature of the personality examining the questions. i.e. Dr. Clitterhouse becomes not a monster, but a criminal and ultimately a murderer.
Clitterhouse is seduced by the excitement he experiences and embraces the darker side of himself without the use of a scientific ‘horror’ concoction. While presented as a gangster film, its conceptualization of medical/science experimentation on vicious human nature, aberrations in psychology, and the criminal mind elucidates the clear philosophical themes of classical medical-science horror.
Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) written by Barré Lyndon stars Edward G. Robinson as a phony mentalist haunted by greed and a sense of impending doom. Co-stars Gail Russell and John Lund.
Film genres’ lines were often blurred in the 1930s & 1940s, in particular a few of Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart’s films which intersected with crime, noir, and horror narratives. In particular director Delmer Daves’s frightening The Red House (1947) and director Julien Duvivier’s Flesh and Fantasy (1943) and Night Has a Thousand Eyes 1948 starring Edward G. Robinson.
1 (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous: a bold attempt to solve the crisis | he was the only one bold enough to air his dislike.
• dated (of a person or manner) so confident as to suggest a lack of shame or modesty: she tossed him a bold look.
“I am my own woman” –Eva Perón
(source edited)- by Jürgen Müller‘s for TASCHEN’s Movies of the 60s- “Like no other decade before or since, the 60s embodied the struggle against a jaded, reactionary establishment. As the Vietnam War dragged on, the protests grew in scale and intensity. Revolution ran riot, in the streets and on the silver screen. The movies of the epoch tell tales of rebellion and sexual liberation, and above all they show how women began to emancipate from their traditional roles as housewives or sex bombs…”
Drew Casper writes, “Some films still styled along classic lines while others simultaneously embodied both the old and new approaches… Stirred the placid waters of the classical with grittier degrees of realism with their accompanying darker sensibilities.” –Postwar Hollywood 1946-1962
Women like Jane Fonda, Anna Magnani, Simone Signoret, Audrey Hepburn, Ann Bancroft, Piper Laurie, Angie Dickinson,Bette Davis, Joanne Woodward, Patricia Neal and so many more became iconic for breaking the old mold and grabbing a new kind of individualism without judgement and new kind of self expression.
Barry Keith Grant writes in American Cinema of the 1960s-“The decade was one of profound change and challenge for Hollywood, as it sought to adapt to both technological innovation and evolving cultural taste.”
And of course the films I’m covering here. These films began to recognize an audience that had a taste for less melodrama and more realistic themes, not to mention the adult-centric narratives with a veracious Mise-en-scène…
PS: I would have included Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby but that is my favorite film and plan on doing a special post in honor of this brilliant timeless masterpiece… and Mia’s quintessential performance.
As a little glance into a portion of cinematic history over the decade of the burgeoning sixties -The following are particular favorites of mine… Bold & Beautiful ‘as is’ and Beyond need of Redemption!
Elmer Gantry is always chasing dreams and always telling dirty stories is the smooth-talking traveling salesman, brought to life by Burt Lancaster who portrays his character with a bit more sensuality than Sinclair Lewis‘ cold predatory con man. Gantry is a hard-drinking provocateur and a lady’s man. Raised by a father who quoted verses, he has a swift grasp of the Bible and uses it to insinuate himself into Sister Sharon’s hell-fire traveling road show. Though he is a skeptic, he sees a great light in Sister Sharon and the potential to fill the coffers with riches!
The sublimely beautiful Jean Simmons is as ethereally angelic as she is a pure sensuality. Sister Sharon Falconer is a young revivalist in the style of Aimee Semple McPherson. Sharon is at first righteous and unwavering in her convictions, she begins to awaken unto the spell of the charming and bigger-than-life Elmer Gantry. Elmer starts out poetically ruthless as he insinuates himself into Sharon’s life until she loses her firm grip on her faithful mission, and their attraction blossoms into a physical one.
One night he craftily sweet-talks Sharon’s virginity away from her, though she is a very willing participant ready to be freed from the confines of her stifling religious prison.
Sharon struggles with her identity as a pious figure and a sexually aroused woman. Simmons is an actress of fine distinction who can work with that duality bringing to the screen a role with great complexity. She is also stuck in the conflict that ensues between Elmer and her manager Bill Morgan (Dean Jagger) who doesn’t like nor trust Gantry’s influence over Sharon.
Sister Sharon created herself from nothing and is now pragmatic and independent with a vision to capture the world, by building a temple for the people so she can share the good word of God. No more traveling as a revival side show attraction. She is brave, dedicated, and faithful to the end. And I won’t spoil the ending– at least I will say that she is a true believer and a real woman filled with passion on both sides of the coin. She allows herself to be seduced by Gantry, yet still is fiercely dedicated to building her own tabernacle so she may offer comfort and inspiration to those in need.
Shirley Jones is fabulous as Lulu Banes who was first seduced by Gantry while she was the Deacon’s daughter now…. a call girl from Elmer’s tawdry past, who tries to rake up a little gossip and cash as payback for Mr. Gantry ditching her. Okay, there’s some blackmail involved when she sees the opportunity because there’s sour grapes as Gantry left Lulu in the lurch, with a broken heart. But in the end, Lulu’s got integrity. She’s plucky, and has some of the best lines in the film and hey she’s not only a call girl… she’s a nice girl…
She’s so lovable that Shirley Jones won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that year!
It’s interesting to hear that it took actor Author Kennedy to get Simmons potted on milk and gin before she felt comfortable enough to do the scene where the revival tent catches fire and flaming debris is falling around her head.
Both Jean Simmons and Shirley Jones caught the spirit in this film!
Elmer Gantry wound up being a very controversial film when it was released directed by Richard Brooks, adapted from the book by Sinclair Lewis with lush and pulpy cinematography by John Altonand a stirring score by the great André Previn.And terrific costume designed by the brilliant Dorothy Jeakins (The Sound of Music 1965, The Way We Were 1974).
“Let’s get this straight, you don’t interest me no more than the air you stand in.”-Lady Torrance to Val
Directed by Sidney Lumet, The Fugitive Kindis based on the play Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams who also penned the screenplay. At this point, there shouldn’t be any doubt about my passion for Mr. Williams or Anna Magnani.
Anna Magnaniis a primal force of sensuality winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Serafina Delle Rose in the marvelous, The Rose Tattoo 1955. (“A clown with my husband’s body!”)
The Fugitive Kind has a gritty, allure not only due to the level of acting by Magnani and Brando or the evocative material it’s partly due to Boris Kaufman’s (12 Angry Men 1957, On the Waterfront 1954) edgy cinematography.
Anna Mangani delivers another impassioned performance as Lady an equally potent role as a shop owner in Louisiana who is chained to a brutal marriage by her vindictive and dying husband Jabe (Victor Jory) when along comes Marlon Brando as Valentine “Snakeskin’ Xavier a guitar playing roamer who takes a job in the shop until Lady’s jaded loneliness and Valentine’s raw animal magnetism combust…
Brando plays the solitary Val, a drifter whose presence is as commanding as a lion stalking. Val comes into the small town where Lady Torrance runs the shop, her husband Jabe is mostly bedridden, dying of cancer, but also eaten up with jealousy and hatred toward his wife, foreigners, and outliers. He’s vicious and controlling and Lady lives out her days caring for this angry and miserable man, until Val comes into her life, changing Lady’s stoicism awakening her heart releasing her desires.
Magnani gives a powerful performance of a woman starved from sexual pleasure, mentally abused by her husband, and bemoaning the days when the wine flowed like a river at her father’s vineyard that was suspiciously burned to the ground.
Magnani manifests an authenticity that comes from a battered past and present, yet she exudes an enduring sense of love and passion. Lady dreams of fixing up the outside part of the store as a confectionery festooned with white lights and delicate atmosphere and Val can sing and play his guitar.
At first interviewing for a job is an awkward exchange. Once Lady and Val have a very intense and thoughtful conversation, she decides that she likes this strange talking boy and hires him to work in the store. The tension is visible even in the darkly lit scene and through the diffuse patch of light you can see their chemistry brewing.
Lady is taken with this strange talking boy who begins to tell her about people. “there’s two kinds of people in this world, the buyers and the people who get bought.” Then he tells her about a type of bird that has no legs so it can never land. It’s a meditative moment, and Brando is magnificent. “…cause they don’t see ’em, they don’t see ’em way up in that high blue sky near the sunthey spread their wings out and go to sleep on the wind and they only alight on this world just one time, it’s when they die.”
Val is pursued by Carol Cutere, (Joanne Woodward) the quirky local tramp from a wealthy family, who worships his snakeskin jacket as well as his incredible ‘hot’ body. But, Val finds himself drawn to the evocative and more complex Lady. They begin an affair, fall in love and Lady gets pregnant. Will they be like the bird that can never land, only sleep on the wind and the day they land is the day they die…
If you care about love, you’ll talk about a teenage boy and a woman who is all allure, all tenderness… and too much experience! – tagline
“What’s more I don’t like to work in New York. I never have. I live here. I like it. I like this house. I like eating at home, I like living like a human being. Why should I knock myself out. this is my retreat you know.”
Directed by Alexander Singer with a slick burlesque/modern jazz score by Gerald Fried.
Lola Albright stirs the libido of a very classy ex-stripper Iris Hartford a very intoxicating woman who seduces a naive and inexperienced working-class boy, Vito Pellegrino (Scott Marlowe)who falls deeply in love with her. Soon Vito begins to feel the disparate reality of their relationship. Once his reality is shattered, discovering that she is a stripper, Vito ends the affair with Iris, seeking out a neighborhood girl who is of his own age.
Lola Albright has a very sophisticated way of coming across on screen with a reserved yet palpable dignity. But Iris generates an undercurrent of provocative and alluring intelligence. Marlowe has always been great as either a clever playboy or a whiny young man, who isn’t quite getting what he wants.
A Cold Day in August examines the authentic journey of a young boy who experiences his first sexual awakening with an older woman. And their socially unorthodox relationship not only serves the film’s exploitative narrative it comes across as quite genuine because of Albright’s very real sexual magnetism and the attraction by an impressionable boy.
Of course, the film works on the level of titillation & taboo because Iris is not only older than Vito, she is ALL woman and then some for any man. She would be considered a tramp because she used to take her clothes off for a living. Her ex-husband comes back into the picture and pleads with her to fill in for a week in NYC, but that life was far gone by now.
When Iris first seduces Vito she feeds him a dish of ice cream after he fixes her air conditioner. It’s as if she’s rewarding a little boy for doing a good job. In the midst of these queer moments where she desires him yet infantilizes him, they do carry on a sexual relationship. Iris is a free sexual being who makes no apologies for who she is. It doesn’t take too long before Vito realizes that he’s way out of his league, but Iris does initiate him into the world of sex.
I have come to adore Lola Albright this year. In A Cold Wind in August she manifests a kind of existential sensuality as she can offer a nurturing kiss and then go on to take what she needs. She yearns for pleasure which is literally illustrated by her stripper costume of a sort of Queen of Outer Space gold lamé number complete with eye mask, it’s alluring and vulturous at the same time.
Robert Rossen (The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers 1946, All the Kings Men 1949, Billy Budd 1962 & Lilith 1964) wrote of all his films, they “Share one characteristic: The hunt for success. Ambition is an essential quality in American society.”
The Hustler is the story of Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) who has a penchant for self-punishment and self-destructiveness and in his cockiness likes to take on high-stakes pool games. He has a dream of bumping Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) off the pedestal of fame. Eddie and Fats meet up and by the end of a very long marathon, Eddie is wiped out and whipped, which doesn’t help his enormous ego.
Eddie meets Sarah (Piper Laurie), a highly educated modern woman. She’s an independent loner, a bit morose, a bit jaded, but somehow she allows Eddie to work his charms on her until she is hooked. Still, no matter what happens in the end, Sarah Packard speaks her mind and lives life on her own terms…
Sarah has a physical disability as she walks with a limp, and is referred to as a cripple.
Finally, as the film progresses, whether Sarah feels that she is perverted and twisted because she sleeps with the repugnant opportunist Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) or drinks too much, or has the need to be loved because of her physical disability, Sarah Packard is such a real character that it breaks your heart.
Tensions arise when manager Bert Gordon signs on to promote Eddie. He’s a shady predator who tries to drive a wedge between Eddie and Sarah and takes advantage of her one night while Eddie’s away.
Sarah reads poetry and uses alcohol as a way to balm her loneliness, but there’s a strength in her honesty that is very endearing. Talking about guts, Piper Laurie wanted to get a feel of authenticity for her character and so she hung out at the Greyhound Bus Terminal at night.
IMDb fact: Piper Laurie didn’t make another film for the next 15 years, devoting the time to her marriage and raising her only daughter. She returned to the screen in 1976 in ‘Brian de Palma”s Carrie (1976), earning her second Oscar nomination.
And we all know how bold that performance was…. memorable & cringe-worthy!
At the party that Bert invites Sarah to come to, he whispers something in her ear that makes her toss her drink and run away in tears. The actress talked about this scene in her autobiography. She had met up with George C Scott many years later and “I finally asked him what he had whispered into my ear in the big party scene in The Hustler that elicits a violent response from me. We shot it perhaps three or four times and I could never figure out what he was saying… He told me he chose to use just gibberish, knowing he could never invent words or phrases as powerful as what my imagination could summon up. Probably true.”
That was a very cool approach to the scene which came off beautifully!
Roslyn: “If I’m going to be alone, I want to be by myself.”
The Misfits was initially written as a short story by Arthur Millerwho was actually waiting for his divorce in Reno to go through before he could marry Marilyn Monroe. Based on a short story in Esquire Magazine, he specifically wrote it for his then-wife Marilyn Monroe.
A beautiful divorcée Roslyn Tabor (Marilyn Monroe) who has been put through hell, takes up with a faded cowboy Gay Langland who is still strutting like a lady’s man in early-sixties Nevada. He’s a rugged individualist who wants nothing to do with earning wages. At first she meets up with Isabelle Steers played by the inimitable Thelma Ritter who can throw out a one-liner like no one else, anything out of her mouth is gold.
Roslyn is in Reno to divorce her husband Ray. She meets up with Guido (Eli Wallach) who is building his ‘unfinished’ dream house for a wife who died during childbirth years ago, yet he still holds a candle to her memory and suffers from WWII bombing raids He sets his sights on Roslyn but his friend Gay Langland (Clark Gable) a crusty old cowboy moves in first and the two start a tenuous relationship. Roslyn is kind and loves all animals, and still thinks kindness is always just around the corner.
Montgomery Clift plays an ambiguously sexual bachelor who drinks to try and take the pain away. All four are non-conformists who begin to form a type of family. Roslyn is thoughtful and sensitive and Gay is a typical male on the prowl. Along for the ride is Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift) who is the most trusting and kind. He is not committed to trapping the horses for pet food, and wishes to stop it too. The horses that roam free are symbolic of the beautiful spirit that Roslyn possesses. A bit sad but tender and kind. Roslyn tags along on a trip up in the mountains with Gable, Eli Wallach, and Monty Clift much to Roslyn’s horror that they are capturing horses in order to sell them for dog food.
Marilyn Monroe later said that she had hated both the film and her own performance. I feel like she is selling herself short. She managed to navigate around the incredible testosterone on screen and off. Perhaps it was her innate sadness that shone through, but she brought a tremendous sensitivity that was an inner sort of beautiful… The Misfits is probably one of my favorite performances by Monroe, it seems like a close look into her sad yet dreamy soul.
A RAISIN IN THE SUN with RUBY DEE as Ruth Younger, CLAUDIA MCNEILL as Mother Lena Younger, and DIANA SANDS as Beneatha Younger
Lena Younger crying “Oh God, please, look down and give me strength! “
Written by Lorraine Hansberry for the stage then adapted to film and directed by Daniel Petrie
Sometimes there are films and stories that I just immediately have to say “It’s some powerful good.” Maybe it comes from watching a lot of The Andy Griffith Show has rubbed off on my conversational style. But regardless, A Raisin in the Sun is some powerful good! That’s what happens when an ensemble of incredible actors get together and tell a poignant story about family struggles, in particular, a Black family struggling in a privileged world that works very hard to keep Black people on the ‘outside’ of success, making them continually grasp at that mythical American Dream that just doesn’t exist, at least for most people.
Directed by Daniel Petriea story about racial oppression and assumptions. Illustrated vividly in the scene with the marvelous character actor John Fiedler who plays Mark Linder. from the Clybourne Park un- “welcoming committee.”
The woman forms a strong wheel that keeps the family moving even when Walter Lee Younger (Sidney Poitier) takes his time coming to terms with his pride.
Mama Lena lived in a time where Black folk had fought so hard during the Civil Rights movement to witness a generation of young Black people demand and obtain their rights. But there exists in the home a generation gap between her and her children. Walter Lee is a very proud young man who is frustrated with just being a chauffeur. When Lena’s husband’s insurance policy comes to the family, they each have ideas of how to spend it. Three very strong female characters satellite around one man whose identity rests on false notions of success reflected back at him through the lens of a white social class. But Walter Lee is continuously grounded by the strength of the women around him.
Beneatha is a progressive woman who railed against being a traditional wife and mother. She was way too independent and a strong female figure for 1962.
Cléo is a famous French Chanteuse awaiting the results of a biopsy. She is afraid that she will be told that she has cancer. We as spectators watch Cléo spend two hours in her day until she finds out whether she is going to die. Sounds morbid, but director Agnès Varda (Varda herself was Bold & Beautiful– trained as a master photographer… and at the core or the soul of the French New Wave Cinema) weaves a whimsical visual dance as Cléo walks through the hours of her possibly tenuous life. The film is marvelous and Corinne Marchand as Cléo is a very captivating figure. In France, it is said that the hours between five to seven are when lovers gather. Cléo wants to just keep moving in hopes of avoiding the results of her test. Throughout Cléo’s journey, she is subtly restrained by the knowledge that she may be dying. Even as she sings torch songs, shops for hats, and walks through the streets of Paris.
At 5 pm she even visits a Tarot Reader. And just from experience, pulling The Hanged Man in a tarot reading is never really a good thing. And of course, Death shows up as well. And the Death card should never be regarded as literal, but under the circumstances, it would be frightening to a woman waiting for test results. She asks the woman to read her palm but she refuses, and so Cléo leaves frustrated.
Throughout Cléo wanderings, there are few interactions that lay on the periphery. Knowing that death could be looming overhead, Cléo seems to develop a heightened sense of awareness, even if the actions of unessential characters are truly incidental surrounding Cléo while she is walking through her two hours.
Cléo wanders throughout the streets of Paris with her maid in tow or her friend the nude model. The next stop is at the hat shop, where she proceeds to try on many fashionable hats. Several mirror shots showcase the use of iconography of the female image as seen reflecting back. Cléo looks magnificent in even the most outrageous of hats.
Cléo and her maid come back to her apartment, which has a nice vast playful quality to it, with a piano, a wonderful swing, and of course an opulent bed. Cléo reposes in her bed like royalty, as two fluffy kittens toss each other around. José Luis de Vilallonga credited as The Lover comes to see her. There doesn’t seem to be much passion between the two.
“You’ll EAT and DRINK what I SAY until you lose five pounds IN THE PLACES WHERE I SAY!” -Pepe
I couldn’t resist paying homage to at least one exploitation film seeing this is about the 60s! With the flavor and atmosphere of nightclub noir surrounded by decadence and the sordid lives of its inhabitants it comes across with a low-budget appeal, Satan in High Heels was filmed in New York’s old La Martinique cabaret. This isn’t a film about immorality, it’s plainly just some high-art sleaze that is so fun to watch, mainly because of Grayson Hall. Hall has a languid graveled voice that is almost intoxicating to listen to. Putting aside the other two leading ladies voluptuous Sabrina who plays herself, and Meg Myles as Stacy Kane a second-rate stripper whose wardrobe consists of various leather outfits and riding crops, it’s Grayson Hall (of Dark Shadows fame) that brings the story to a boil as the ultra domineering Pepe– as cool as the center seed of a cucumber.
She’s jaded and cynical and is a New York City kind of Marlene Dietrich with her quick asides and Sapphic strut. Even when she’s taking long drags of her cigarette she can deliver a curt line that cuts to the point, “Bear up, Darling, I love your eyelashes.”
After Stacy working the carnival circuit discovers her ex-husband hanging around the dressing room with a load of cash, she grabs the doe and heads to New York City. Once she arrives she auditions at a nightclub as a singer and is hired by the libidinous Pepe who wants to do a Pygmalion on the Tramp. Belting out torch songs like “I’ll beat you mistreat you til you quiver and quail, the female of the species is more deadly than the male.” Neither Stacy (Meg Myles) nor Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes) Yikes get points for being buxom.
It’s Pepe who is sophisticated and wicked that makes you quiver & quail? Hmmm, I need to look that up!
“Everybody can’t wait to help me get rid of it!”-Jane
When it’s Bryan Forbes (Seance on a Wet Afternoon 1964, The Stepford Wives 1975) directing you know to expect something deeper and quietly intense. In The L-Shaped RoomLeslie Caron plays Jane Fosset a melancholy unmarried woman who is pregnant and on her own. She takes a room in a boarding house in London. While there Jane meets all the inhabitants of the decadent house where there dwells a collection of various misfits and outliers of society. Two working girls of the night persuasion, Pat Phoenix as Sonia, the man-eating Landlady who isn’t quite friendly, and the lovely old lesbian Mavis (Cicely Courtneidge).
And then there’s the struggling on-edge Toby (Tom Bell) who is a writer living on the first floor. The two strike up a relationship, as Jane decides whether to get an abortion or keep the baby. There’s also Johnny a black Jazz Musician ( Brock Peters) who gets upset when Jane and Toby start a sexual relationship. The story is human and moving and as deeply whimsical as the tenants who come and go. Leslie Caron is superb as a solitary girl with a serious dilemma, so much so that she was nominated for Best Actress. Caron is splendid as Jane who manifests courage and striking dignity to live life on her own…
Alfred Hitchcock’s cautionary tale is based on Daphne du Maurier’s best-selling novel. The Birdswas Hitchcock’s film, that not only demonstrated the precarious security of everyday life by contrasting a quaint California seaside town inexplicably besieged by angry birds. One of Hitchcock’s most frequent themes is the precariousness of social order and morality. And the introduction of Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels definitely shakes things up. There’s almost a supernatural connection, if not the mere symbolic one.
I couldn’t resist Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels who is no shrinking violet. She may be a relatively straightforward central protagonist – the rich spoiled girl from the big city whose complacency is then severely shattered. Melanie is still an independent woman who mostly keeps it together right up to the end. Okay, once she’s trapped in the attic she sort of goes a bit fetal but come on people the natural world is attacking! –with beaks and claws!
Behind the scenes, she might have had a mini panic thanks to Hitchcock’s maneuvering to have her attacked for real. Melanie Daniels ascends into Bodega Bay like the birds, she is a warning of the dangers of strong, and non-conformist women, especially strong willed sexually free women. Are the people being attacked by just the birdsor is the strength of Melanie Daniels’s presence to tear apart the claustrophobic relationship between son and mother and the quiet conventional community?
From Carol Clovers Men, Women and Chainsaws -Her Body, Himself.
in Poe’s famous formulation , the death of a beautiful woman is the “most poetic topic in the world.”
Hitchcock during the filming of The Birds said: “I’ve always believed in following the advice of the playwright Sardou”. He said ‘Torture the women.’
Clover comments that what the directors don’t reveal out loud about the women in peril theme is that “women in peril are at there most effective when they are in a state of undress” and assailed by a totally phallic enemy.
Melanie Daniels while trapped in the attic and justifiably shaken from the ordeal does not lose her ability to protect herself and give up and die.
One of the most vivid and unforgettable scenes in film history (I would wager my one-of-a-kind Columbo doll that other people agree) is when Melanie is waiting outside the schoolhouse sitting on the park bench with the jungle gym behind her. She sees a few birds gathering on it. As Hitchcock is known to do, he drags out the suspense until we are at the very edge. She sees a few more birds join in. She lights up a cigarette, which extends the scene further. There isn’t the composed style of filming a scene where it would go right to the fright factor. Hitchcock manipulates Melanie and us the spectator. Once more she follows the movement of another crow heading toward the jungle gym which now is revealed to have hundreds of birds waiting to attack…!
“Boy… somebody in this car smells of Chanel No. 5, It isn’t me, I can’t afford it!”
Directed by Martin Ritt and based on Larry McMurtry’s novel. From -Drew Casper Postwar Hollywood from 1946-1962 “Ritt Caught the parched, circumspect, empty quality of a middle-class WASP life in a Texan cattle community.”
The raspy attractiveness of Patricia Neal can make any film worth watching. In Hud, she conveys a weary yet wise housekeeper/mother figure for the elderly widower Rancher and the Bannon men Hud and Lonnie. She has to deflect all the lustful advances by Hud, but she has grown comfortable with the blueness of her isolation and has made peace with her troubling past. She handles the volatile Hud (Paul Newman) and nurtures the impressionable Lonnie (Brandon deWilde)
Patricia Neal won an Academy Award for playing the housekeeper Alma in Martin Ritt’s Hud, although she only appears in the film for 22 minutes! James Wong Howe creates a desolate, moody sense of Americana with his cinematography and Elmer Bernstein contributes his magnificent score.
Patricia Nealwas particularly proud of one unscripted moment that made it into the film. While talking to Hud about her failed marriage, a huge horsefly flew onto the set. Just as she says she’s “done with that cold-blooded bastard,” she zaps the fly with a dish towel. Martin Ritt loved it and printed the take.
Paul Newman is the cold-blooded Hud Bannon. He’s a ruthless reckless cowboy and a heartless uncaring miscreant who hurts everyone in his life. He’s self-confident, drives a pink Cadillac and when he’s not swaggering slow like he’s a meandering playboy, who still lives on the isolated farm with his elderly father and his nephew Lonnie (Brandon deWilde) who worships him, he’s sleeping around.
Melvyn Douglas plays Homer Bannon, his father whom he clashes with. His father is a righteous man, filled with principles but his son is a self-indulgent outlier of society who cares for nothing and no one. Life is just about having ‘kicks’ It was that time in film history when the youth archetype was all looking for those ‘kicks’
Hud’s amoral lifestyle and the struggle between the good people who satellite around him create a dismal world for everyone. Alma and Hud develop a sexual banter between them. She’s attracted to his prowess and his good looks, but Hud only sees her as the help. He wants what he can’t have, so she is a challenge to him that’s all. But Hud is abusive to Alma, he even parks his Cadillac in her flower bed.
Alma has a hearty strength and takes all the masculine posturing with stride. She’s as laid back as a cat taking a nap in the sun. Alma too has a sensuality that lies open, on the surface as she flirts with Lonnie and is aroused by Hud’s beautiful torso. The theme that is underlying throughout Hud or I should say Alma’s part in the narrative is that women like to be around dangerous men. Alma doesn’t expect anything from Hud, understanding his nature all too well. He possesses a merciless kind of sexual desire that cannot be satisfied. But Alma does create a conflict for him…
In his cynical exchanges with Alma, he is contemptuous toward women and boasts a sexual confidence, that makes him one cocky bastard. But Alma is not a child nor is she an inexperienced woman. she is equally world-weary and is titillated by his sexual innuendos.
Directed by John Huston based on the story by Tennessee Williams, Night of the Iguana.
John Huston loved placing a group of interesting people in a landscape that was inhospitable and sweltering.
Ava Gardner as Maxine Faulk is a sultry beauty that inhabits the tropical night like a panther moving through the brush.
A defrocked Episcopal clergyman the Rev. T Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) working as a tout guide in Mexico leads a bus-load of middle-aged Baptist women and a teenage girl on a tour of the Mexican coast. It is there that he wrestles with the failure and doubts that haunt his wasted life. While temporarily stranded he takes respite with Maxine who runs the small out of the way hotel. Ava Garner wields heavy dose of sensuality as she burns up the screen with her raw and unbound sexuality. Surrounded by young men whom she swims with at night. And not taking any crap from the busload of repressed Baptists and Sue Lyon as a young Nymphomaniac.
Shannon was kicked out of his church when he was caught with one of his parishioners, and now Charlotte Goodall (Sue Lyon) is a troublesome nymph chasing after him provocatively. Her guardian is Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall) an uptight lesbian who seems to hate all men, bus rides and humid weather besides. When Fellowes catches Charlotte in Shannon’s room she threatens to get him in trouble, so he enlists the help of his friend Maxine Faulk, and leaves the group stranded at her remote hotel.
Once Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr) and her elderly grandfather arrive, the atmosphere seems to shift and Shannon is confronted with questions of life and love. Everyone at the hotel has demons and the rich and languid air seems to effect everyone… Ava Gardner as Maxine waits patiently for Shannon to realize that they could have a passionate life together if he’d stop torturing himself..
From Ava Gardner: “Love is Nothing” by Lee Server Ava Gardner loved the chance to work with director John Huston.
The play had opened on Dec 28th 1961 at Broadway’s Royale Theatre with Bette Davis, Margaret Leighton and Patrick O’Neal.
“A typical Williamsian study of desire, dysfunction and emotional crisis. set in a frowzy Acapulco Hotel where defrocked alcoholic horny minister now tour guide The Rev T Lawrence Shannon haphazardly battles for his salvation aided and abetted by lusty innkeeper Maxine Faulk and wandering spinster Hannah Jelkes.”
Producer Ray Stark regarded the film’s formula should be a “mix of soul-searching, melodrama and lowlife exotica”which would capture Huston’s imagination.
Ava was cast to play the ‘earthy widow’ Maxine- Huston considered Gardner perfect as she was a Southern actress with ‘feline sexuality’. perfect to play one of Tennessee Williams’ ‘hot-blooded ladies!’
Ava Gardner wanted the role to be really meaningful. She did have several volatile scenes, for instance when she is exasperated by Shannon, to spite him Maxine impulsively rushes into the ocean to frolic with her two personal beach boys.
According to the book, “Ava had become sick with fear— of the physicality of the scene (how could she not look bad falling around in the water with her hair all soaked?), the sexuality of it (the two boys roaming all over her body as the surf rolled across them). and the physical exposure (the scene called for her to be wearing a skimpy bikini) Huston told her in that case, kid they would rewrite and shoot the scene at night and with minimal lighting. As she got more uncomfortable Huston suggested that she simply go in the water in her clothes (Maxine’s ubiquitous poncho too and toreador pants). ‘It’ll look more natural like that anyway’- Huston said.”
Houston even waded into the water with her, they had a few drinks, he held her hand and waited til she was ready to shoot the scene. And it came out beautifully with one take!.
Johnny -“Pretty Cool aren’t you Miss Farr” Sheila “Only when there’s nothing to be excited about”
Directed by Don Siegel This remake of Ernest Hemingway’s taut thriller has been given a 60s sheen of vibrantly slick color. In contrast to Robert Siodmak’s masterpiece in 1946. The femme fatale in this Post-Noir film is Angie Dickinson as opposed to Ava Gardner.
Don Siegel’s 1964 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Killers is quite a horse of a different colour. first off the obvious is that it is not in haunting B&W… The double – crosses are still in the picture. the big heist and the hidden doe…
And we don’t have Ava Gardner, but we do get Angie Dickinson. Cassavetes is a race car driver Lancaster was a mechanic… we don’t have the primal sexuality of Burt Lancaster we have the pensive arrogance of John Cassavetes.
The viewpoint of the story is not seen through the eyes of the victim, but the Kiilers who want to understand why the protagonist just stands there and lets himself be gunned down in cold blood “just stood there and took it.”
While Siodmak’s version is drenched in shadow and nuance, Siegel’s version is gorgeously played out like a taut violin string in the brightly mod colors of a 60s world. It was no longer the year of the dark and dangerous femme fatale that hinted at promises of a sexual joyride alluded to with suggestive dialogue and visual iconography. Now we have Angie Dickinson’s character Sheila Farr a modern sexually liberated woman who struts her stuff in the light of day.
The two hit men Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager walk into a school for the blind and shoot down John Cassavetes. On the way back to Chicago Marvin’s character wants to know why he didn’t try to run when he had the chance. Also told in flashback, it pieces together the reason for him wanting to die. After Cassavetes is washed up as a race car driver when he has a near-fatal crash- he takes up with crime boss Ronald Reagan and tries to steal his woman- Sheila.
DEAD RINGER with BETTE DAVIS as Margaret DeLorca & Edith Phillips
Margaret: “Oh Edie I wanted to marry Frank so desperately” Edie “But you never loved him, you never made him happy… you ruined both our lives.” Margaret “I’ll make it up to you. Remember, remember when we were children? You were the one person I really loved.”
Edie–“LOVED!!!!! You never loved anybody but yourself. Margaret “You have all the time in the world to find happiness. You can get rid of this place. You can get rid of it and take a trip.” Edie-“To outer space!” Margaret- “Money’s no object. How much would you like?- “YOU haven’t got that much!” ( Edie smacks the money out of Margaret’s hand.)
I simply couldn’t choose the 60s and not include a little psycho-melodrama, a bit of Grande Dame Guignol–without including my favorite of all… Bette Davis. Directed by actor/director Paul Henreid this extremely taut suspense thriller starring Bette Davis in two roles is a captivating story that grips you in the guts from beginning to end.
It’s 1964 Los Angeles and Bette plays twin sisters Margaret de Lorca and Edith Phillips. The film opens at Margaret’s husband’s funeral. The two sisters haven’t seen each other in twenty years.
Margaret has married a very rich, man that Edith had planned on marrying. Edith lives a modest life and is dating a very fine police officer Sgt Jim Hobbson played by the wonderful Karl Malden. He loves his Edie who has a little jazz bar, is kind and simple, and doesn’t share the arrogance and ruthless nature of Margaret. Margaret tricked Frank into marrying her, claiming she was pregnant.
One night Margaret comes to visit Edie and insults her by offering her some cheap clothes as a hand off plus Edie learns from the chauffeur that the pregnancy was all a lie. Margaret ruined her chances of happiness. Adding to Edie’s troubles the property agent has given her the boot since she’s 3 months late with the rent.
In a moment of rage with several ounces of premeditation -Edie shoots Margaret, assuming her identity, hopping into her sister’s chauffeured limo and moving into the great house with servants and wealthy snobbish friends. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before Margaret’s smarmy lover Tony (Peter Lawford) shows up and discovers right away about the masquerade. Of course, he blackmails Edie for his silence. Also, Detective Jim Hobbson starts coming around thinking that Edith’s death was suspicious and not a suicide. What makes the film interesting is how Jim is the one person who could recognize Edie behind the elegant clothing, and at times there is a spark of awareness, but it just might be too late for Edie playing Margaret to turn things around. One particular exchange that is wonderful is the unspoken sympathetic relationship between Edie and Henry the quintessential Butler played by Cyril Delevanti who has the most marvelously time-worn face.