From The Vault: The Naked Edge 1961

THE NAKED EDGE 1961

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“ONLY THE MAN WHO WROTE PSYCHO COULD JOLT YOU LIKE THIS”

Director Michael Anderson ( The House of the Arrow 1953, The Dam Busters 1955, Chase a Crooked Shadow 1958, Conduct Unbecoming 1975, Logan’s Run 1976, Dominique is Dead 1979 ) creates a wavelength of dark tension and monochromatic extremes in this atmospheric post noir suspense yarn.

Adapted for the screen by Joseph Stefano’s (The Outer Limits 60s & Psycho 1960) based on the novel by Max Ehrlich (The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Glass Web, various dramatic television series)

The Naked Edge opens as the credits roll in a manner similar to Saul Bass, we are dropped into a gruesome stabbing in the darkly lit office building, where George Radcliffe (Gary Cooper)is the key witness.

Sadly, This would be Gary Coopers last film, after battling cancer. The Naked Edge was released a month after his death, but was not received well at the box office.

After Mr. Evan Wrack (the marvelous Peter Cushing) grills the only witness to murder in court Gary Cooper in his last role plays American George Radcliffe whose testimony helps bring a guilty verdict for murder and theft of his co-worker Donald Heath (Ray MacAnally) who then gets sent to prison.

There’s a question as to whether Heath actually committed the crime???

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Years later…

George’s wife Martha, the always enchanting Deborah Kerr begins to suspect her husband when various clues start pointing in his direction… Is she married to a cold blooded killer?

With a fantastic supporting cast, Peter Cushing, Michael Wilding, Eric Portman, Diane Cilento,Hermione Gingold, as Lilly Harris, Ronald Howard, Helen Cherry, Wilfrid Lawson and Diane Clare.

Dramatic musical score by William Alwyn (The Fallen Idol 1948, She Played with Fire 1957, I Accuse! 1958, A Night to Remember 1958, Burn Witch Burn 1962)

Most impressive is the offbeat cinematography by Erwin Hillier  (The Mark of Cain 1947, The House of the Arrow 1953, Chase a Crooked Shadow 1958, and perhaps his best–the extraordinary Eye of the Devil 1966 again with Deborah Kerr, David Niven and Sharon Tate)

Hillier’s quirky angles and low lighting add an apprehensive atmosphere, and loads of key frames that are just beautifully shot as a refrain to the tension. Both Anderson & Hillier love to emphasize faces… it’s a touch that I love about their work together.

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George Radcliffe:“Do you think a woman could live with a man and sleep with him and not know she was sleeping with a murderer?” Martha Radcliffe: “Do murderers make love differently?

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Lilly Harris-“He implied that the fear of talking, had something to do with the fear of giving… sexually that is”

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There are thousands of films in my collection… this has been one of them! Your ever lovin’ MonsterGirl

From The Vault-My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945)

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“I don’t know what this is all about, but I promise you some very serious trouble unless you stop it immediately. You know perfectly well I’m Julia Ross.”

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis  (The Mad Doctor of Market Street 1942, So Dark the Night 1946, Gun Crazy 1950, A Lady without Passport 1950, The Big Combo 1955) Screenplay by Muriel Roy Bolton from the novel The Woman in Red by Anthony Gilbert. With a fabulous odd angled, shadow stricken spin by cinematographer Burnett Guffey it’s no wonder this suspense thriller has the elements of a stylized psychological noir.  

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Nina Foch is Julia Ross a young English girl seeking employment. She answers an ad at a fake employment agency run by none other than Anita Sharp -Bolster as Sparkes who’s even more cantankerous in this role. Julia, saddened by the news that the guy she loves is marrying another girl, thinks she’s found the perfect job working for a wealthy widow Mrs. Hughes (Dame May Witty) who’s son, the creepy Ralph lives with her.

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George Macready is exceptional as a psychotic who is prone to fits of violence. He has already killed his wife, stabbing her to death and throwing her body into the quiet sea.

Ralph Hughes– {Looking out at the ocean] “Beautiful, isn’t it? Would you like to listen to the sea and hear what it says? It doesn’t say anything, does it? That’s what I like about the sea. It never tells its secrets, and it has many – very many secrets.”

Ralph has a thing for knives, and mommy Hughes has to keep taking sharp objects away from him and locking them away in a drawer. Dame May Witty is superb as his overprotective mother who is willing to concoct an elaborate scheme and even kill in order to cover up her son’s murder.

Ralph Hughes- “It’s all Marion’s fault. She shouldn’t have cried.”

Mrs Hughes- “Ralph, you never told me – was it an accident, or did you intend to kill her after she made her will?”

Ralph- “I didn’t plan it. I liked her well enough, but when she found out I’d been lying about my income, she accused me of marrying her for her money. I said of course that was what I’d married her for. Then she cried. She was always crying. Then she slapped me. I had my knife in my hand, and I…” [He begins slashing at the sofa cushion with his knife, slicing it over and over]

Mrs. Hughes- “Stop it, stop it!” (she tries to take the knife away)

Ralph- “Don’t do that!”

Mrs. Hughes- “Put that away! Ralph, I’m trying to help you.”

Ralph- “I still say we should have called the police and told them a prowler broke in and killed her.”

Mrs. Hughes- “With the marks of your fingers on her? The scratches on your face?”

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Julia goes to live at the house, but once she’s there, Mrs. Hughes, Ralph, and Sparkes drug her tea and spirit her off to the ocean village of Cornwall.

They’ve burned her clothes, stopped any means of communication from getting through, put bars on her windows and convinced the village that she’s out of her mind, so no one believes her story about being Julia Ross being held prisoner by these seemingly well bred murderous grifters.

There they gaslight Julia, telling her that she is the first Mrs Marion Hughes who has had a nervous breakdown. They’ve even convinced Alice the maid (Queenie Leonard) that she’s going mad, and that she’s suicidal. Alice gossips around town and soon after everyone even the police, the doctors and the reverend and his wife believe the Hughes’ story. It seems like there’s no escape for Julia in sight. Along the path to doom, Ralph torments Julia with his menacing presence, and every attempt Julia makes to escape is thwarted. .

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They plan on making it look like she’s committed suicide so they can bury her as Mrs, Hughes, since the real wife is lost at sea. And take her money

After it looks like Julia has taken an overdose of poison…

Ralph –“Why try to save her? Let her die. That’s what we want.”

Mrs. Hughes- “Don’t be stupid, Ralph. If she’s taken poison, we must act as though we cared!”

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noir angle

This is a very taut little suspense yarn that keeps you on the edge up until the end. With some extraordinary camera work and a very simple tale of murder, mistaken identity and mayhem!

Co-starring Ottola Nesmith as Mrs. Robinson, Joy Harrington as the resentfully sullen Bertha, Doris Lloyd is marvelous as Mrs. Mackie, Julia’s landlady, Roland Varno as Julia’s love interest Dennis Bruce, Olaf Hytten as Reverend Lewis and Leonard Mudie as Peters.

There are thousands of films in my collection, this has been one of them!-MonsterGirl

From the Vault- Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes 1971-

THE SEVEN MINUTES 1971

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The Seven Minutes 1971 is based on a novel by Irving Wallace. Directed by provocateur Russ Meyer (Lorna 1964), Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! & Mudhoney(1965) with a screenplay by Richard Warren Lewis and an uncredited Manny Diez. This film comes on the heels of his hit at FOX with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls 1970. (Dolls with a screenplay by Roger Ebert) Meyer and Fred Mandl (Checkmate, The MunstersThe Twilight Zone, The Fugitive) create a great visual romp with the cinematography. The opening titles roll over the first almost seven minutes of the film as we hear the ticking of a clock…

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With a very unusual cast of character actors starring Wayne Maunder as Mike Barrett, Marianne McAndrew  (Hello Dolly 1969, The Bat People 1974) as Maggie Russell. Philip Carey (I’ve always been amazed at how much he reminds me of Charlton Heston) as District Attorney Elmo Duncan.

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Phillip Carey has always reminded me of Charlton Heston in stature and mannerism- great underrated character actor….

The awesome Jay C. Flippen as Luther Yerkes, Edy Williams as Faye Osborn, Lyle Bettger as Frank Giffith, Stanley Adams as Irwin, Jackie Gayle as pornographer Norman Quandt, Ron Randell, Charles Drake, Olan Soule and John Carradine as Sean O’Flanagan, Harold J. Stone and Yvonne De Carlo as Constance Cumberland.

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the ubiquitous John Carradine. I could watch him in anything… he tickles me…
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the beautiful Yvonne de Carlo here as Constance Cumberland movie actress.
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love love love that Yvonne de Carlo- a kindly beauty (I met her on the set of Laugh-In at the Westbury Music Fair in the 70s while taping the show live… She was an absolute gem, warm hearted and filled with tangible grace.)

Music by Stu Phillips (Quincy M.E.) with Lionel Newman supervising. BB King sings Seven Minutes.

‘The Seven Minutes’ refers to an artistically erotic banned book published thirty five years ago in Paris, that essentially opens up the floodgates for the public discourse about pornography, censorship, violence against women and the dual standards during a time when morality was ambiguous. You know, just like today.

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Argo Book Stores clerk played by Robert Maloney… arrested for knowingly selling smut… convenient scapegoat for the cause.
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Charles Drake plays vice cop Kellogg entrapping the poor Mr Fremont book seller for being a clerk where an allegedly filthy book is being sold.

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A bookstore clerk is indicted for selling the obscene material which leads to a court trial. There is also the question as to whether this licentious book actually led to the rape of a young girl. The film is part trial based as the defense lawyers try to hunt down any clues that would prove the author of the book was not a smut merchant but trying to express an artistic viewpoint which can not be silenced by censorship.

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Wayne Maundy as Michael Barrett defense attorney for bookseller Fremont

The author and the mystery surrounding their identity is key to the plot. Meyers does a high spirited job of developing this narrative with engrossing scenes that portray a society of zealots and self serving neophytes in turmoil with themselves. All amidst a groovy 70s palate that’s nostalgic and filled with a colorful verisimilitude.

The film opens with some great 70s devil may care by composer Stu Phillips. At first we see a beauty chasing her dog passed a small storefront. The story reveals that the vice bureau is staking out the ARGUS book store, as Sgt Kellogg (Charles Drake) walks in with his cigarette box tape recorder ready to entrap the clerk for selling smut. He asks the young bookseller for something ‘brand new -unusual, ‘something you wouldn’t find in an ordinary library.’ The clerk (Robert Maloney) just tells him to look around, the jackets tell the story pretty well.

Kellogg casually asks for one particular book on display The Seven Minutes by JJ Jadway and the bookseller repeats the title ‘Oh yeah” Kellogg remarks, “That’s a pretty sexy cover ain’t it?” As Kellogg ogles the pretty blonde talking to the young clerk who tells him she’ll see him later.

Sargent Kellogg (Charles Drake) “You read it?” Clerk -“The new addition at least… the first one was banned thirty five years ago.” Kellogg- “How come it was banned?” Clerk– “Cause it was considered obscene” Kellogg- “Do you think the book’s obscene?” Clerk– “Why don’t you buy the book and find out for yourself.” “How much is it?” ” $7.30 with the tax.”

“Wrap it up… You the manager around here?” Clerk-“yeah, the day manager.” Kellogg-“Who do I bring it back to if I don’t like it” the clerk answers– “Fremont, Ben Fremont.” Kellogg waves.

Kellogg’s partner is tape recording the conversation from the car. “Took you long enough.” “Literary conversations take a little doing, we better start comparing, same jacket same title, same publisher, same publishing date and copyright… Let’s pay Mr. Fremont another visit.”

They arrest him for knowingly selling obscene matter which is a misdemeanor in the state of California. And thus starts the ball rolling in this film. As the powers that be, seek out district attorney Duncan who feels that The Seven Minutes would be found obscene if taken to court.

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Mike and Faye Osborne are bed pals. She’s the spoiled daughter of an influential father.
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Cars the way they used to look… oh those were the days.
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never had one of these… but I know people who did! cool…70s memorabilia. Even the brown striped sheets.

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the hair and the groovy chick appear later on at a funky club but I couldn’t resist putting her in the visual time capsule with the volkswagon bug and the phone and Selleck…teehee
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Mr Selleck don’t you look fine! He plays the publishers son Phil Sanford of Sanford Publishing. 

Check out that cherry Volkswagon and Corvette, check out that cool 70s phallus phone, Check out that wild moppy fro..check out that really young Tom Selleck as the publishing guy… who calls hot shot attorney Michael Barrett (a very cool Wayne Maunder) who is representing the publisher Phil Sanford (Tom Selleck) who’s in a panic about the book clerk Fremont going to jail for selling one of Sanford House’s books.

The tower of self righteousness Elmo Duncan the D.A. (Phillip Carey) wants to be propelled into the Senatorial seat in California. The powers that be who want him to become Senator conspire to exploit this contrived issue of corruption & decency so Duncan has a powerful platform to run on. This elite cabal want to build a state wide case in which Elmo Duncan can fight the ‘Smut Merchants.’

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Defense Attorney Mike Barrett tries to appeal to district attorney Duncan.
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District Attorney Duncan looms large as the figure of ethical fortitude.
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the secret cabal setting up the scenario for Duncan to influence public opinion and win the election. Stanely Adams, Olan Soule & Jay C. Flippen

They have a political agenda to stamp all youthful violence incited by salacious material in reading matter and films, and so this cause has become the lynch pin with which they hope to win an election on, making ‘The Seven Minutes’ the subject of their campaign.

Meanwhile, a violent rape takes place involving the son Jerry (John Sarno) of a wealthy advertising tycoon Frank Griffith (Lyle Bettger) who owns a copy of The Seven Minutes and was present at the time of the assault committed by his psychotic friend, the one who actually commits the brutal rape.

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The rape scene is handled with quick cuts interwoven with Wolf Man Jack doing his thing on the air. It’s all very frenetic as the soundtrack “love train” is sung by Don Reed.

The prevailing secret surrounding pathetic Jerry Griffith (John Sarno) is that he’s been emasculated by his domineering father and now can’t get it up, so he’s impotent sexually and in helping Sheri Moore (Yvonne D’Angers) while she’s being attacked by his violent friend.

Jerry takes the blame for the rape, refuses to talk about it, there by implicating himself as an impotent sissy and allows the lynch mob and voyeurs to assert that Jerry would not have committed such an act if the The Seven Minutes hadn’t been available to him. Duncan is now convinced that a clean boy wouldn’t have done the crime if it weren’t for the availability of the dirty book.

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this is Shawn ‘baby doll’ Devereaux -well it sure ain’t Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan’s vision of Carroll Baker is it…

These hypocritical old cronies have young girls of their own on the side, watch pornography while salivating at the mouth. Yerkes has a girlfriend he calls ‘baby doll’ who dances provocatively for these guys. She’s got ample boobs (It is a Russ Meyer film after all) hanging out of her 70’s style yellow hot pants. Amidst the interesting subject matter Shawn ‘Baby Doll’ Devereaux gyrates and inserts herself into the frame so show us the hypocrisy of these old farts who condemn others for their own personal agenda all the while being the worst kind of purveyors of sinful behavior.

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the wealthy Frank Griffith that wants all this smut taken out of the reach of impressionable teens like his son. What’s carefully framed by Meyers playing in the background is a porn film that the men have been reviewing and enjoying way too much-we witness the HYPOCRISY

Russ Meyer had his own dealings with censorship so the subject is probably of very personal substance for him. He does a fantastic job of pointing out the duality of persuasions. And he builds the story really well here. Showing the belligerence by equal sides of the coin toward a moral center and a society ripping at the shreds of personal freedom to express, create and destroy.

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Whether you’re an avid Russ Meyers fan or just think you might like to venture into the complex questions the film evokes, presented in that real 70s style The Last Drive In weeps for most days, it’s a film worth watching, even just to spot the few character actors that pop up on the screen like baby doll’s and Faye Osborne’s (Yvonne & Edy) eh hems… well you know… the cleavage shot!

What appears on the surface as a controversy surrounding a banned book that contains alleged salacious material-The defense evokes some good examples of Henry Miller’sTropic of Capricorn’ or, D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ etc.

What manifests is an interesting commentary on censorship, masculinity and the spurious connection between perceived immoral content and violence in society..

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Manhood and masculinity is a texture that is not necessarily used as the theme in the story, but let me tell you it is all pervasive with images of Duncan heaving his heavy weights as he sweats and works out in front of Mike, spouting his holier than thou rhetoric. It was almost masturbatory.

He gave Michael that “politician’s holier than thou number” Duncan was hostile while he pumped weights in front of the intellectual Mike Barrett. A dueling of masculinity and the question of causality with pornography and violence against women.

Duncan talks to a church official about ‘freedom’ Duncan– “We only want to penalize those who would corrupt it.”

Duncan and his reprehensible comrades belong to a group called Strength Through Decency.

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The acronym STD... was this intentional? Probably. It’s hilarious as these types of organizations do spread like a social disease. They’re against lust, motorcycles, homosexuals and lesbians. All the factors that made the 70s so dangerous of course. Those lustful lesbians on motorcycles riding down 5th avenue in NYC wreaking havoc with our delicate morality. Why I’m surprised we all survived it…

So as much as the words “smut merchants’ are bandied around, and the question of censorship takes priority in full view, the underlying sub-context is the posturing of masculinity and the double standard of sexism & classism and who gets to play and who must obey.

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Marianne McAndrews is fabulous as Maggie Griffith. I really dig those orange orbs… truly the light fixtures I mean…

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I won’t get into story behind the mystery or the trial, the story behind Jerry’s impotence, the elitism, the ultimate reveal about the author of The Seven Minutes. The media frenzy that occurs which feeds on the sensationalism of the situation who condemn the book but want to hear about the details of rape victim Sherri’s violation.

Is The Seven Minutes a beautiful novel about a woman’s awaking or really filthy trash. You’ll have to find out… but I’ll say that Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes is a great addition to the social conscious sexually charged films of the late 60s & 70s like Roger Vadim’s Pretty Maids All In a Row, and Robert Thom’s  Angel, Angel Down We Go 1969…

Your ever loving MonsterGirl.

From The Vault: Lonelyhearts (1958)

“SOME WIVES CHEAT BECAUSE THEIR HUSBANDS DO…AND SOME BECAUSE THEY’RE JUST NO GOOD!”

LONELYHEARTS (1958)

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Directed by Vincent J. Donehue  Lonelyhearts is a compelling look at loneliness, human frailty often ugly and pathetic, infused with a wry cynicism yet underpinned with an air of redemption. Considered to be a bit of Noir, the milieu of the Newspaper room, the darkened city with it’s sordid inhabitants mulling about, and a man who is not quite what he appears to be has many of the tidings of a good noir, but I would say this film falls more into the genre of psychological melodrama. Based on Nathanael West’s (Day of the Locust) novel ‘Miss Lonelyhearts.’ and penned for the screen by producer/writer Dore Schary.

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Montgomery Clift  plays Adam White, a young writer hiding the truth about his childhood in the orphanage from his devoted girl Justy Sargeant played by the lovely (Dolores Hart).

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Adam is hired by The Chronicle’s harshly cynical Editor William Shrike played as only the gruff and unceremoniously sexy Robert Ryan can pull off , to be the exacting voice and conscience behind the “Miss Lonelyhearts”column for the paper. Myrna Loy plays a sympathetic and sad character as Shrike’s wife Florence who has fallen from grace in her husbands eyes, due to a prior indiscretion, something that Shrike continues to punish her for years later. The scenes between Loy and Ryan are captivating.

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The film’s dialogue is outstanding, as it plunges you into a dark night of the soul, while Shrike maliciously tries to teach his moral apprentice the bitter truth about life and what really lies behind the assortment of needy folk who reach out for advice. The wonderful stage actress Maureen Stapleton  received a nomination for an Academy Award for her dramatic portrayal of the very desperate and troubled Fay Doyle, in her first screen role. Equally commanding is character actor Frank Maxwell as Fay’s frustrated, crippled husband who loves his wife but hasn’t been able to make love to her in years.

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Shrike’s relentless determination to wear away the selfless and compassionate exterior of young Adam White and lay bare his failings as well as disarm him is like watching two boxers fight with their wits as Montgomery Clift’s Adam is so deft at maneuvering with his vastly layered, always intelligent and sensitively nuanced performance as an imperfect man struggling to be a good man. His altruistic ideals are blown to bits as he delves into the lives of the people who write in for help only to discover that he too a tortured soul in need of saving and self reflection.

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West’s novel reveals Adam White’s character as even more of a Christ like Archetype who suffers and must bear the weight of everyone else’s sins. Montgomery Clift, one of the finest actors tragically taken away from us way too soon, is always so compelling to watch, and while others are huge fans and rightfully so, of James Dean, I myself remain a die hard Monty Clift worshiper.

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I do feel that the film leans too heavily toward demonizing woman as ‘tramps’ a word that comes up several times during the course of the film. But the performances, dialogue and mood of the piece are just too good to miss.

Also co-starring Onslow Stevens (Angel On My Shoulder 1946, Them 1954) as Mr. Lassiter, Adams’ father now in jail for murdering his adulterous wife. Mike Kellin and Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) as fellow newspaper men Frank Goldsmith and the jaded Ned Gates. And Frank Overton who plays Justy’s kindly father.

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William Shrike: Enter light of my life, repository of my golden youth
Florence Shrike: Stop making fun of me
William: I’m not making fun of you I speak truth are your delicate ears grown cold… You my love I see my youth, so I cherish you.
Florence: You want some milk?
William: For the stomach dissolving in alcohol (he touches her face) how tender of you.
Florence: Stop talking to me that way! Stop humiliating me… (screeches)STOP!!!! Why don’t you finish it off. In gods name tell me it’s over, don’t do this to me.
William: May I speak… you haven’t answered my question
Florence: If you can’t forgive me why do we go on… why?
William: Cause I too am a mourner, an incorrigible mourner who sits at the grave. You mourn too Florence, You’re my wife but also the widow of our early romance. You wear your gay plumage hoping one day for the resurrection that you may greet it with the freshness of a bride.
Florence: And what do you hope for?
William: Peace. For just one day when I forget the picture of a young wife
Florence: That was ten years ago, ten years….
William: What’s a normal sentence for adultery?
Florence: I was alone, I was drunk, You had betrayed me so many times
William: Ah, evening the score.
Florence: It wasn’t that

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You can always reach out to me if you’re ever lonely dear hearts- Yours forever MonsterGirl

Coming Soon to The Last Drive-In

Let's All Go Out To The Lobby

Coming very soon – The Night God Screamed (1971) Part II of ‘Leave Your Faith, Fear and Sanity at the Water’s Edge’ Starring Jeanne Crain.

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The Electrical Secrets of Kenneth Strickfaden: or as Harry Goldman’s book title goes-“Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician”

Chandu Bela

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) & Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964): Otto Preminger/Bryan Forbes – ‘A Conspiracy of Madness.’

Bunny Lake Is Missing

Seance on a Wet Afternoon

No Way To Treat a Lady 1968 & Man On a Swing 1974: All the World’s a Stage: ‘Of Madness, Lipstick and ESP.’

No Way To Treat A Lady

Man on A Swing

And much much more from the clip joint, Hysterical Woman of the Week, Trailers to keep the Boogeyman away, Postcards From Shadowland and From The Vault!!!!

See ya soon-MonsterGirl

From The Vault: Picture Mommy Dead (1966)

“who hated Jessica enough to kill her “that” way?”

Picture Mommy Dead  1966

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Susan Gordon plays Susan Shelley a demented child not unlike Jan Brady, just released from a convent/ institution run by nuns…where she’s been placed after suffering from the shock of seeing her mother, (the flamboyant Zsa Zsa Gabor) Jessica Flagmore Shelley be consumed by flames in her opulent bedroom.

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Don and Susan

Susan still traumatized by the haunting memories of her mother’s horrific death and surrounded by some of the creepiest toys in all tarnation, comes home to the palatial hearth with father Don Ameche as Edward Shelley and his new lusty, conniving second wife Francene played by sexy  Martha Hyer. Edward is so blinded by his desire for Francene that he’d sell out the whole estate contents and all to give his conspiring hussy all the money, vacations and furs she wants.

Francene starts sneaking around again with brother-in-law Anthony Flagmore played Maxwell Reed. Flagmore’s face has been charred from that fateful night when mommy went up in flames. His odd presence and faithfulness to his pet hawk, add an air of the macabre to the already heady script.

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Martha and Susan older

The brazen couple plot to drive little Susan over the edge, while trying to get her to reveal the whereabouts of her mother’s missing diamond necklace.

This Grande Dame horror film is a little gem from the vintage 60s, by director Bert I Gordon, and also boasts a great supporting cast with, Wendell Corey, Signe Hasso and Anna Lee. It’s creepy, it’s campy and a wonderfully colorful psychosomatic romp. Cinematography by Ellsworth Fredericks, who was director of photography on Invasion of The Body Snatchers 1956 and the sublime Mister Buddwing 1966 which I’ll be writing about soon) The soundtrack includes The Hearse Song sung by Gordon‘The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out.’

Portrait of Mommy

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Hedy Lamarr gets passed over by Bert I. Gordon.

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“Through a Child’s Eyes You Will See Torment … Murder … And Flaming Passion!”

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Be nice to mother now!- MonsterGirl

From The Vault: The Long Dark Hall (1951)

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THE LONG DARK HALL 1951

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Directed by Reginald Beck, and Anthony Bushell. Written by Nunnally Johnson, Edgar Lustgarten based on his book “A Case To Answer” and W.E. Fairchild. With cinematography by Wilkie Cooper (Stage Fright 1950, Jason and The Argonauts 1963), granting wisps of shadowy montages that are equally noirish, suspenseful and simply splendid.

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Patricia Cutts gets no sympathy from me after slipping him a mickey and letting loose that darn Tingler on poor unsuspecting Vincent Price.

Yielding and obsessive Rex Harrison plays Arthur Groome a London gentleman married to the devoted and lovely Mary (Lilli Palmer.)Unfortunately Arthur becomes consumed by a flirtatious showgirl Rose Mallory (Patricia Cutts), who winds up being brutally knifed in her boarding house room, and left for the credulous Groome to become suspect one. First getting the splattter of Rose’s blood on his jacket, but then failing to prove his innocence in a sea of circumstantial evidence.

Condemned to hang, this allows the real serial killer played by the tall and eerie Anthony Dawson who looks frightened all the time, destroyer of wanton women who sees himself as ‘an instrument of justice‘, still lurking about, first at the trial spouting off about his obvious philosophy on sexually independent women, and then creepily shadowing poor Mrs. Groome, whom he idealizes as the perfect woman.

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I’ll be up the long dark hall til next time ! -Yours always- MonsterGirl

From The Vault: Valley of the Dolls (1967) “Boobies, boobies, boobies. Nothin’ but boobies. Who needs ’em?”

Valley of The Dolls 1967

Directed by Mark Robson, produced by David Weisbart and Helen Deutsch, with a screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley and Harlan Ellison. Cinematography by William H. Daniels (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF 1957, IN LIKE FLINT 1967)

Film editing by Dorothy Spencer (STAGE COACH 1939, TO BE OR NOT TO BE 1942, LIFEBOAT 1944 and CLEOPATRA 1963) Set Direction by Raphael Bretton (HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE 1964 and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE 1972) and Walter M Scott. (THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965 and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969) Art Design by Richard Day (ON THE WATERFRONT 1954, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951 and THE GRAPES OF WRATH 1940) and Jack Martin Smith (BATMAN 1966 and PLANET OF THE APES 1968) and wardrobe by Travilla.

With all that creative talent on board, you can call the film trashy, but it sure has a lot of style!

Starring Barbara Parkins (THE MEPHISTO WALTZ 1971 never looking more beautiful in my opinion. One of my favorite horror films of the 70s, I plan on doing a long winded overview of it this Winter 2012.)

The incredible Barbara Parkins…and her killer boots!

as Anne Welles, Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara, Sharon Tate as Jennifer North, Susan Hayward as Helen Lawson, Paul Burke as Lyon Burke, Toni Scotti as Tony Polar, Lee Grant as Miriam Polar, Martin Milner as Mel Anderson, Alexander Davion as Neely’s 2nd husband the bisexual Ted Casablanca, Naomi Stevens as Miss Steinberg and Robert H Harris as Henry Bellamy.

From the moment the utter fabulousness of this tawdry pulp icon of the 60s starts rolling on screen with Barbara Parkin’s heavenly visage gazing out the train window, and Dionne Warwick starts confessing the movie’s theme song with her soulful voice… I get vaklempt.

Doll a euphemism for little colored pills of varying types of barbiturates… ‘uppers’ and ‘downers.’

Based on the best selling explosively trashy novel by Jacqueline Susann and directed by of all people, Mark Robson.(THE SEVENTH VICTIM 1943, THE GHOST SHIP 1943, ISLE OF THE DEAD 1945 and well his tell tale progression into melodrama land with PEYTON PLACE 1957 and eventually into darker territories with DADDY’S GONE A- HUNTING 1969)

Growing up as a little girl in the 60s there wasn’t a coffee table or bookshelf that I didn’t see a copy of Valley of the Dolls sitting atop next to a hard cover of best selling self help book by Dr. Thomas A. Harris’, I’m Okay You’re Okay which was first published in 1967, the year Valley of The Dolls was released.

There was certainly a copy of it in my own house and I remember seeing the film either during it’s theatrical release or later on the huge Magnavox cabinet tv with only 3 dials. At first I was struck by the incredible score from composer John Williams and songs by Andre Previn and lyrics by Dory Previn. And then I fell under the spell of the badness and the beautifulness of it all….

Standing out is it’s vivid colors of the 60s film processing, the vogue style couture, flashy set design, and mod art direction. Populated by the campy over the top acting in all the right places of course, by the entire cast makes for one hell of a ride through the tunnel of tragic love in high dramaville. As cliche after libidinous, compulsive and histrionic cliche prance across the screen as a story of meandering disassembled desire, by the needful women, and their male companions.

It’s campy and tawdry and melodramatic trash, and that’s a GOOD THING, for us junkies of melodramatic trashy & campy flicks from the 1940s -1960s.

Continue reading “From The Vault: Valley of the Dolls (1967) “Boobies, boobies, boobies. Nothin’ but boobies. Who needs ’em?””

From The Vault: Caught (1949)

“The story of a desperate girl”

CAUGHT 1949

Director Max Ophüls ( Letter From An Unknown Woman 1948, The Reckless Moment 1949) offers a gritty and volatile film noir starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and the imposing figure of Robert Ryan. With an uncredited assistant directorship by Robert Aldrich. Based on the book Wild Calendar by Libbie Block

Written by Arthur Laurents (The Snake Pit 1948,West Side Story 1961, The Way We Were 1973)

Interesting question: If Howard Hughes gained control of RKO in 1949, was Robert Ryan’s characterization of Smith Ohlrig truly based on Hughs?

A young Howard Hughes…Ryan was perfect for the part of Smith Ohlrig

Also stars Frank Ferguson (regular on Andy Griffith Show) as Quinada’s partner Dr. Hoffman, Art Smith as Ohlrig’s psychiatrist who knows Ohlrig is a walking powder keg, Natalie Schafer as Dorothy Dale and Curt Bois as Ohlrig’s personal assistant, and like many a good Film Noir delivers, the snarky gay cipher – Franzi Kartos, who’s incessantly calling Leonora DARLING… that if subtitled would read ‘you bourgeois cow…’

One of the staples of the Noir catalog, Caught is a brutish and self contained story about an egomaniac, hungry for power and consumed by a nasty possessiveness that borders on the psychotic.

Paging Dr. Freud… a classic case of over compensation and oh yes… this man is a ticking time bomb

Robert Ryan is chilling as the neanderthal bigwig worth millions of dollars, with an explosive rage that rests on simmer until something sets him off when it doesn’t go his way. Oh, and Ohlrig also suffers from panic attacks, which he believes is truly a heart condition and not a nervous disorder.

Barbara Bel Geddes is the naive Leonora Eames, who has child like fancies of marrying a wealthy man and live a life of luxury. Invited to a party on a boat one night, she meets Smith Ohlrig outside on the pier, near his yacht. Although Ohlrig could have any woman he chooses, something about Leonora sparks to him. From the very first encounter we can see that it’s not a romantic chemistry that stirs Ohlrig, but something more forbidding and sinister.

Once he sets his sights on her,taking her for a ride in his car, he decides there and then, to marry this plain girl, whom he doesn’t love, but knows he can possess easily.

Leonora soon realizes that her dream has become a nightmare and that Smith is a menacing character who treats her like part of the furniture and is not quite right in the head.

Ohlrig refuses to give Leonora a divorce, so she decides to leave her opulent home on Long Island, and take a job as a receptionist in the city working for a doctor who runs a free clinic in a very poor neighborhood.

Perhaps this is Leonora’s way of cleansing her soul for making the mistake of marrying for money and not for love.

James Mason is Dr. Larry Quinada the absolute antithesis of Smith Ohlrig. He’s genteel and compassionate, and soon the two fall in love, though Leonora is held captive by her dominating husband.

Leonora Eames: Look at me! Look at what you bought!

Complicating matters is the fact that Leonora becomes pregnant by the sadistic Ohlrig who would rather see her a prisoner in the sterile palace that is her home rather than let her go free… Is the threat of financial security and the welfare of their unborn child that which will chain her to him forever…?

Smith Ohlrig: Is she coming down?
Franzi Kartos: [Stands silent, knowing that Leonora is not coming down]
Smith Ohlrig: [Getting angrier] Why the devil do you think I sent you up there, you dirty little parasite? Get her down here!
Franzi Kartos: [Long pause] I think I prefer to be a headwaiter again, Mr. Ohlrig.
Franzi Kartos: [Heads for the door, then stops] You know, you’re a big man, but not big enough to destroy that girl. Goodbye.

Franzi Kartos tinkling the ivories…darling

There are thousands of fabulous films in my collection just as thrilling, this is one of them! Don’t you get caught-MonsterGirl

From The Vault: Ladies in Retirement (1941)

LADIES IN RETIREMENT (1941)

Directed by Charles Vidor  the man responsible for the eminent noir classic, Gilda 1946 and no relation to the more well know King Vidor. With a screenplay by Reginald Denham (The Mad Room 1969 a modern reworking of the same play, Suspense, Kraft Theater and Alfred Hitchock Presents)

The Mad Room 1969 a modern reworking of Denham’s Ladies in Retirement starring Shelley Winters and Stella Stevens.

Based on his play, and given a cast of intelligent performers like Ida Lupino, Elsa Lanchester, Isobel Elsom, Edith Barrett, Evelyn Keyes and Louis Hayward. 

The film is a suspenseful story with tremors of ethical dilemma, evocative of pity and encompassed by the moor like fog of madness and desperation.

Ida Lupino plays the reticent Ellen Creed, housekeeper to the colorful Leonora Fiske (Isobel Elsom) who has retired from the music hall stage. Ellen is the obsessive guardian of her two loosely screwed sisters Emily and Louisa portrayed deliciously vague sort of loony by Elsa Lanchester (Emily) and Edith Barrett (Louisa).

Ellen manipulates Leonora to allow her quirky siblings to come and visit, well aware that she has no intention of making it a temporary stay. Once Leonora realizes that the two are batty, she demands that they leave forcing Ellen to do the unthinkable, to not only murder her employer, but create a deceptive strategy that will allow the sisters to dwell in sanctuary at the cozy manor house by the moors.

Unfortunately, Ellen not only has the full time job of wrangling her nutty sisters, she becomes the target of her blackmailing nephew Albert Feather, played with a dash of charming malevolence by Louis Hayward. ( And Then There Were None 1945, Ruthless 1958, House By The River, Night Gallery: Certain Shadows on The Wall.)

The film is moody, macabre, theatrical, with a musty air of Gothic as Leonora’s remains lay hidden in the coal bin behind the bricks, near the grand piano where she once boisterously sang Tit -Willow from The Mikado

The atmosphere stays closed in, as all three sisters flit about exposing their disconnection to reality. Evelyn Keyes is Lucy the house maid who brings a bit of naivete to the atmosphere as she too falls prey to Albert the ‘charming rogue” who gets her to participate unwittingly in his ruthless scheme of blackmail.

A quiet and delicately creepy hybrid of the old dark house sub genre of horror, mixed with suspenseful psychological thriller as it whimsically touches on the subject of mental illness and the darker sides of human nature.
The brooding Lanchester and the chattering, guileless Barrett (I Walked With A Zombie, The Ghost Ship, Jane Eyre all 1943) are wonderful as the one who is intense and a compulsive collector, to the one who is as fay as an aged wood sprite, wide eyed and childlike.
In contrast to the flightiness of her two sisters, the tightly coiled Lupino is beautiful and menacing as she anguishes over the fate of the peculiar pair who act more like undisciplined children, and less the blatant lunatics.
It’s the subtle intrusions of reality that impinge on the character’s terminal state of fantasy,which brings out the self-centered, insulated psyches of the two sisters. This creates the environment of insanity, and while they cause the situation to ignite a criminal conspiracy because of their unchallenged instability they are essentially harmless ultimately exposing Ellen as the most dangerous and cunning in the family.

Albert charms his way into Leonora’s home and heart!

Louisa Creed: I hate the dark. It frightens me.
Sister Theresa: It shouldn’t, my dear. Don’t you believe we’re watched over?
Louisa Creed: Oh yes. But I’m never quite sure who’s watching us.

Ida Lupino on the set of Ladies in Retirement 1941

There are thousands of films as fabulous as this in my collection, this is just one of them!-MonsterGIrl