Quote of the Day! Johnny Belinda (1948)

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I became a recent fan of this extraordinary actress when I watched her play the feisty Eve Gill in Alfred Hitchcock’s awesome thriller Stage Fright (1950). It’s no wonder why Jane Wyman (The Lost Weekend 1945, Stage Fright 1950, All that Heaven Allows 1955) won the Oscar for her extraordinarily poignant and heart wrenching portrayal of a deaf mute Belinda MacDonald, in rural fishing village referred to thoughtlessly by many as ‘the dummy.’ Belinda must brave her physical challenges, the wall between herself and stern yet loving father (Charles Bickford) and austere and grim aunt Aggie (Agnes Moorehead) who raise her, after her mother dies in childbirth.

Within this quaint seascape brews a sickening hypocrisy, inhabited by locals that are predatory, gossiping, and judgemental church goers who live in the sanctimonious fishing village off the Nova Scotia coast. Along comes the kindly mild mannered and ethical family practitioner Dr. Robert Richardson (Lew Ayers) who doesn’t mind taking chickens as payment for doctoring, delivering calves in the middle of his supper, and who becomes Belinda’s ally and teacher, opening up a whole new world for her, unlocking the grace and passion that hungers for expression. Wyman and Ayer’s are incredibly believable as Belinda and Robert whose sensitive and loving relationship is mesmerizing!

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Robert shows Belinda the symbol for tree… beautiful moments in an agonizing portrait of life.

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Belinda’s father Black is stunned at how intelligent his daughter is. Robert has given this hardened fatalist such hope, by showing him the enormous potential she has to thrive and learn, though she has been neglected by everyone surrounding her.

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Offbeat and elegant unsung auteur, director Jean Negulesco the Romanian immigrant who came to Hollywood in the turn of the century, starting out as assistant producer and second unit-director. Perhaps acquiring his artistic sensibilities having been a stage designer and painter in the Paris of the artsy twenties. Okay he has done some obscure curiosities over his career but let’s focus on the early work with the intense tones of noir.

His first feature for Warner Bros. in 1941 was the remake of Dangerous 1935, but it wasn’t until he became proficient in the realm of noir with his first masterpiece The Mask of Dimitrios (1944) starring one of Warner Bros. most recognized, quirky characters Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet. Then he directed these two great character actors along side Hedy Lamarr in The Conspirators (1944), then Nobody Lives Forever (1946) with John Garfield and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Once again, Negulesco arranges his unusual & wonderful noir/suspense yarn about three random people who’s lives become entwined around a lottery ticket, starring Lorre, Greenstreet and Fitzgerald, in Three Strangers (1946). Eventually directing the memorable Humoresque (1947) with John Garfield and Joan Crawford as the brilliant opportunistic violinist and the dynamic Crawford as the wealthy, hysterical dame Helen Wright who idolizes him. Then came Deep Valley (1947) starring Ida Lupino who is amazing as the alienated woman awakened by gangster Dane Clark. Jack Warner made a big mistake when he let go of Negulesco who then went to Fox and made the way cool noir favorite of mine, Road House (1948) with Ida Lupino, followed by Three Came Home ( (1950) with Claudette Colbert and one of my favorite quirky melodrama’s Phone Call From a Stranger (1952) starring Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, Shelley Winters, Michael Rennie, Keenan Wynn, Warren Stevens and Beatrice Straight.

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But truly what must be his most notable masterpiece and greatest work, is the beautifully filmed melodrama that exudes realism Johnny Belinda (1948) dealing with the subject of poverty, rape, and single motherhood in a starkly bold manner. A tale of human suffering, human kindness, self-righteous aggression, sacrifice, and release that is partly due to the marvelous casting making the story come to life from the adapted screenplay by Irmgard VonCube

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Enough loaves already… Aggie is pooped!

Belinda’s father Black McDonald, who runs a modest grist mill, is a stoic and pragmatic man portrayed with the granitized  masculinity of Charles Bickford. His sister is the harsh seemingly unsympathetic downright cantankerous bread making machine, Aunt Aggie manifested by the great Agnes Moorehead, who has perhaps some of the best lines as usual! Aggie comes around eventually showing loyalty, compassion and a steadfast protectiveness for her tragic yet beautiful and inspirational niece Belinda.

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Stephen McNally plays the smarmy Locky McCormick, the egotistical brute & lothario who wants to marry Stella (Jan Sterling) partly for her inheritance, but mostly for her unabashed enchanting cuteness. He lusts after Belinda after watching her dance to the vibration of a violin when he and his rowdy gang invade the McDonald’s mill to pick up their dried goods. He comes back while Belinda is alone, the night of the town dance, because she is seemingly defenseless, figuring she cannot relate her attack to anyone. Once Belinda becomes pregnant by the rape, it puts more of a burden on this ostracized family, not to be targets of ridicule by the locals.What’s worse she can’t even negotiate the import of bearing his child, she only knows that she loves the little guy fiercely, though I won’t give away the climax of the film.

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Black McDonald asks Belinda “Who was it that hurt ya? Show me the name.” Aunt Aggie agonizes over pushing Belinda who she believes has shut out the memories of her ordeal..
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Locky (Stephen McNally) comes to grab a nibble from his naive, kind hearted yet potentially jealous girlfriend Stella (Jan Sterling) The two are not a match made in heaven, as he is just a rabid dog and she is hopelessly fixated on her boss Dr. Richardson (Lew Ayers) who is clueless about her feelings for him..

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Jan Sterling is painfully sympathetic as the fay lass Stella who pines hopelessly for Dr Robert Richardson played wonderfully by that darn likable Lew Ayers, There’s also an assortment of disgraceful gossips in town –Rosalind Ivan, Dan Seymour, and the mean-spirited old biddies Mabel Paige and Ida Moore as Mrs. Lutz & Mrs. Mckee.

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With an incredible moving score by Max Steiner and gorgeously evocative cinematography by Ted D McCord (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), East of Eden (1955) and The Sound of Music (1965).

I couldn’t resist taking notice of the quintessential gist of the film, spoken as only ferociously honest as Agnes Moorehead can deliver here’s her memorable quote:

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Agnes Moorehead as Aggie McDonald “It’s hard to get born and it’s hard to die!”

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Your EverLovin’ Joey saying no matter how many loaves of bread you have to bake, life should never be hard for ya!

Quote of the Day! Sweet Charity (1969) Fun, Laughs Good times!

SWEET CHARITY (1969)

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Shirley MacLaine  is Charity Hope Valentine a dance hall girl who always seems to get the short end of everything or as she puts it… the fickle finger of fate…

But she never loses faith that she will meet the right guy to take her away from her dreadful life. Based on Federico Fellini’s sublime Nights of Cabiria 1957 starring Giulietta Masina.

The lush colors and masterful photography by Robert Surtees (The Graduate 1967, The Last Picture Show 1971) create a visual kaleidoscope, surrounded by the incredible choreography by Bob Fosse who also directed the film. With memorable music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

Sweet Charity is a musical dream dressed up in Edith Head’s stunning and stand out fashions.

The film also stars the wonderful Paula Kelly as Helene, Chita Rivera as Nickie… the dance numbers are just too smokin’, and there’s a particular mod party dance sequence that is probably the closest thing for me to dropping acid… phantasmagorically chic….

Nickie (Chita Rivera) to Charity-“You know what your problem is… You run your heart like a hotel… You got guys checking in and out all the time.”

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One of the best moments of the film: Enter Sammy Davis Jr and The Rhythm of Life!

May the fickle finger of fate never find you! Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl

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

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

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

Burr in Red Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl

Quote of the Day! Pitfall (1948)

“Have you ever noticed it… for some reason you want to feel completely out of step with the rest of the world, the only thing to do is sit around a cocktail lounge for the afternoon?”-Lizabeth Scott’s Mona Stevens to Dick Powell’s John Forbes in Pitfall (1948)

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PITFALL 1948

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“Her love was a Pitfall… to the only man she didn’t want to hurt…”

Directed by André De Toth,(Dark Waters 1944, House of Wax 1953, Crime Wave 1954) this is a slick piece of film noir with some great camera work from Harry J Wild.

Pitfall stars Dick Powell as John Forbes a disaffected insurance agent working for Olympic Mutual Insurance who needs more umph in his life when the daily grind begins to get to him. He’s married to Jane Wyatt who needs more than just his boring kiss on the cheek. But she’s the good wife in this crime story!

Lizabeth Scott is one of the ultimate noir femme fatales. In Pitfall she plays the sultry Mona Stevens –And when Forbes comes to recover the embezzled loot that her boyfriend bad boy Bill Smiley (Byron Barr) absconded with and lavished on her, she tells Forbes- “You’re a little man with a briefcase.”

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Next thing you know it’s late afternoon and Mona’s sobbing in her gin at the dimly lit cocktail lounge, and Johnny Forbes is just a sucker for those dreamy eyes and that wispy voice of hers…

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Boyfriend Smiley’s got pinched and is spending a year in the slammer thinking that Mona’s gonna wait for him but she and Forbes begin spending time together. She even tells him about the motorboat Smiley gave her, and it get’s conveniently omitted from his report. I mean after that sea sprayed, whirling, bumpy, ride with her blonde hair blowing alongside the mighty wakes from her untamed steering style, it seems to get him just a bit unraveled– I’m surprised he didn’t lose his hat!

But Mona’s not all fatal and when she finds out he’s married she lets him off easy telling him though she’s the kinda girl he’s always dreamed of she’s gonna let him go ‘without an angle I could be nasty, but I’m not going to be.”

And besides he doesn’t want to tempt fate any more than he already has…

BUT!!!!!

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Burr and Scott Pitfall

Raymond Burr who plays the sinister private detective J.B. MacDonald who, Forbes hired to find Mona in the first place, is a tad unstable. He’s got a growing psychotic fixation on Mona and starts stalking her in the shadows. When Forbes confronts MacDonald– he wants revenge, so he visits Smiley in jail and tells him that the two are having an affair setting in motion an even bigger pitfall!

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Watch out for those pitfalls… Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl

Quote of the Day! The Rose Tattoo (1955)

THE ROSE TATTOO (1955)

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I have become a huge fan of Anna Magnani ever since I saw her recently in …And The Wild Wild Women (1959)  & not to mention The Fugitive Kind 1960 Yet another  incredible performance not only by the charismatic Magnani but Marlon Brando their chemistry is combustible!… And…

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I’ve always loved Tennessee Williams. Just having finished watching The Rose Tattoo which won Magnani the Oscar for Best Actress in 1955, I felt like sharing one of the myriad of wonderful pieces of dialogue in this deeply emotional yet witty and engaging film directed by Daniel Mann.

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The Baroness Serafina Delle Rosa loved her man with a passion that rivaled the sun itself. But he was wild like a Gypsy and when he dies in a police chase smuggling something illegal under the bananas in his truck, Serafina falls apart. She believes her husband was a God and she a mere peasant who worshiped him and so she goes into mourning like a good Sicilian woman hiding herself away and waiting for a sign from the Madonna. She is a deeply faithful woman.

She lives under the delusion that her man was perfect even though everyone else in the village knows that Rosario Delle Rosa was stepping out on his wife with Estelle Hohengarten (Virginia Grey ) who works at a night club in New Orleans.

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Serafina makes Seaman Jack Hunter (Ben Cooper) kneel before the Madonna and promise to honor her daughter Rosa’s (Marisa Pavan) Innocence.
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She asks if her husband told Father Del Leo during confession about the other woman…

Even after the town’s Strega, the priest, the fish wives and everyone else knows Serafina’s husband was unfaithful, she keeps the urn of his ashes on the mantle and lets her heart go to seed.

Then, one day Alvaro Mangiacavallo-(Burt Lancaster) wants to be set up with the widow as he has a good heart but is poor and lonely. He wants a woman who doesn’t have to be beautiful she can be plump, but has her own business and a nice home.

Burt Lancaster is always bigger than life no matter if he’s Elmer Gantry or Ole Swede Anderson in The Killers (1946)

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Though he enters the film halfway through, his presence brings the oxygen that Serafina denies herself. She will not believe the lie, that her man was not ‘glorious’. She rants and raves and tears at herself dramatically throughout the story trying to deny what people say, and also denying herself as a sensual woman who deserves to be loved and desired.

I have always been so taken with how much Williams‘ perspective coming from the woman’s point of view is so sympathetic. His characters are usually flawed but very human, and filled with passion, and longing and a need to be desired and believed, and to be seen for who they are.

I am astounded by Magnani’s almost operatic performance as the volatile poignant authentic woman who holds on for as long as she can refusing to believe her ‘fictional’ beautiful man has betrayed her love. Even when she’s causing a commotion in town or shouting in Italian on her own front porch, her pain is palpable and you feel for her. Magnani is a muse for the passion in women that should never be taken for granted…Raw and bare… is Magnani’s Serafina.

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But then begins a comical, tumultuous and a bit unorthodox courtship…

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Alvaro- Do you have a bathroom in your house?”

SerafinaOf course we have a bathroom why”

Alvaro- “We don’t have one at our house and I would like to wash up because I think maybe I smell like a goat, you know…”

Serafina“Please help yourself”—-He leaves the room

Oh Madonna Sante… My husband’s body with the head… of a clown (hand gesture) A clown that smells like a goat…”

 

Your EverLovin Joey saying Oh Madonna Sante, I wish you all well!

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Quote of the Day! The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS 1957

Sweet Smell of Success 1957

J.J. Hunsecker to Sidney Falco: “I’d hate to take a bite outta you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.”

Very dark satire with a screenplay by Clifford Odets. This is a Film Noir masterpiece directed by Alexander Mackendrick (The Lady Killers 1955)

Starring the enigmatic Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker… a power hungry columnist whose unethical practices and megalomania make his a force to be reckoned with. Tony Curtis plays the smarmy climber– press agent always on the make–Sid Falco. He’s J.J. wing man who has to clean up the wake of the destruction he leaves behind with his brutal and persuasive influence. It’s a dark and sinister condemnation of the world of entertainment, publishing, night clubs, social circles… the works!

The film also stars Martin Milner as Steve Dallas a jazz musician who wants to marry J.J.’s younger sister Susan (Susan Harrison) There’s a very strong undercurrent of incestuous fixation on the part of the J.J. toward his sister, as he controls her every move and tries to destroy the young woman’s relationship with Steve. Fantastic dialogue throughout and James Wong Howe’s cinematography is exquisitely framed for the dark and intriguing atmosphere of New York City’s nite life. Elmer Bernstein adds his wonderful score to this urban morality play.

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I love Barbara Nichols as Rita the cigarette girl…

Always sweet here at The last Drive In-Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl!

Quote of the Day! Night of the Hunter 1955

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Lillian Gish as Rachel Cooper : “I’m a strong tree with branches for many birds. I’m good for something in this world and I know it too. “

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THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)

Based on Davis Grubb’s novel and James Agee’s screenplay, Charles Laughton directs this visual masterpiece that plays like a dark fairy tale about children in danger-being pursued by a relentless human monster.

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Robert Mitchum is sublime drifter Harry Powell  a bible spouting psychopath with the words LOVE & HATE tattooed on each knuckle of both hands. Having been cellmate to Ben Harper (Peter Graves ) who committed a robbery and stashed the money with his two little children John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce)

Powell first moves in on their mother Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) but John sees right through his righteous facade very quickly.

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Powell marries their mother (Shelley Winters) murders her after she overhears him asking Pearl about the money, and then proceeds to hunt and terrorize the children across a nightmarish yet beautifully shot landscape by cinematographer Stanley Cortez (The Three Faces of Eve 1957, Back Street 1961, Shock Corridor 1963, The Naked Kiss 1964)

Featuring wonderful performances by James Gleason as Birdie Steptoe, Evelyn Varden as Icey Spoon.

In the midst of this allegorical mayhem, Lillian Gish as Rachel Cooper supplants all adults like a fairy god mother protecting street children with her wise and fearless resolve…

One of many birds… Your Everlovin’ MonsterGirl

Quote of the Day! Belita in Suspense (1946)

SUSPENSE (1946)

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Like Boxing=Noir which blends the aggressive masculinity of pugilism with the dark shadowy narratives of Film Noir… Director Frank Tuttle’s superbly structured gem Suspense 1946 integrates the art of ice-skating featuring the unusual beauty and poise of Belita. Woven into the story of the love triangle amidst the almost carninvalesque milieu of figure skating, revenge, murder, a mysterious drifter Barry Sullivan as Joe Morgan who is hiding his dark past… Joe insinuates himself into the life of married couple, skating/dancing sensation Roberta Leonard (Belita) and husband Frank Leonard (The always interesting Albert Dekker  Dr.Cyclops 1940, The Killers 1946)

Sullivan and Belita conjure a very believable chemistry…. She is classy and conflicted, he is smooth and seriously dark and dangerous.

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Joe wants to consume everything around him until he controls the show and the object of his desire… the graceful and seductive Roberta.

The skating scenes are sensational. Belita seems to move on ice and off with an effortless grace, the way snow moves through the air with a natural current that finds it’s mark with a precise beauty of motion. Absolutely stunning to watch, and never detracts from the taut and well framed noir landscape. Eugene Palette is marvelous as assistant to the boss, Harry Wheeler. His gravel voice and the gentle presence of his obvious girth make him an added pleasure to the coiling tension of the film! Editor Otho Lovering (Stagecoach 1939, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962) weaves a seamless stream of suspense!

Frank Paul Sylos’ (Caught 1949, Suddenly 1954), art direction and George James Hopkins’ ( Casablanca 1942, A Streetcar Named Desire 1951) set design is surreal and haunting.

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Barry Sullivan as Joe Morgan“You’ve got plenty of nerve.. for a girl…”

Belita as Roberta Leonard “You’ve got plenty of nerve… period!”

Suspensefully Yours… Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl!!!!

Quote of the Day! The Naked Zoo (1970)

THE NAKED ZOO 1970

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Director William Grefe’s 70s exploitation romp bring the generation gap ever closer together starring Rita Heyworth, Steve Oliver and Fay Spain.

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Steve Oliver as Terry Shaw:Jean, you are a juvenile bitch siren, and you just killed the poet in me.”

It’s always for ‘kicks’–Your Ever Lovin’ Joey

Quote of the Day! Love Has Many Faces (1965)

LOVE HAS MANY FACES 1965

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Hugh O’Brian as the smarmy Hank Walker“Haven’t I seen you around?”

Ruth Roman as the tough as nails Margot Eliot– “It’s possible. I’ve been there.”

Director Alexander Singer’s  melodrama (Singer’s Psyche 59 (1964) starring Patricia Neal who suffers from hysterical blindness, has a much more compelling frenetic slick psychology) Love Has Many Faces comes off as a meandering soap opera in balmy Acapulco Mexico… as Lana Turner plays Kit Jordan a millionairess who marries Cliff Robertson a self loathing malcontent who sold all 8 pints of his blood to be owned by her. Though her love is as ‘thin as ice…’

Enrique Lucero is marvelous as Lieutenant Riccardo Andrade a Mexican Columbo who is trying to get to the bottom of one of Lana’s young male lovers who apparently committed suicide over their break up.

Aside from wishing that the fabulous Ruth Roman and Virginia Grey had more of a presence in the film…

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Virginia Grey was the audacious Candy in The Naked Kiss 1964 … God she was gorgeous!

… I was struck by two things…

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I love Ruth Roman-she has a raw natural sensuality that dwells in her eyes and oozes out of her pores.
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“Instant blackmail”
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Kit is never without a drink or a flashy beach ensemble!

Beside the high melodrama… 1) Hugh O’Brian is a beach bum gigolo who spends the entire movie, well mostly… baring his sweaty hairy virile chest and 2) Lana Turner changes wardrobe more than there are cigarettes and cocktails in the picture… Wow that’s a lot of sexy beach wear and lamé, bare shoulders, back and leg… Lana! Thanks to Edith Head… you do look fabulous!

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This is how I like my Lana Turner & my bare chested men (John Garfield) … from Tay Garnett’s noir masterpiece The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946

I’ll see you around… I’ve been there too! Cheers Joey