“The Raven haired sylph who walks in beauty like the night… Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright; Meet in her aspect and her eyes…” — Lord Byron
It is so easy to look upon Barbara Parkins’ exquisite beauty and make that the initial distinction you recall about her as an actress before recounting the roles she’s contributed to, the iconic roles that have heightened the dream factory of our cultural consciousness that is — film and television. As Betty Anderson of Peyton Place and Anne Welles in Valley of the Dolls. But beyond the glamour and the pulp and the melodrama and the camp, there is an actress who not only possessed an otherworldly beauty but a depth of character and quality. Who touched our hearts but was one of the earliest women to kick ass too! As Betty Anderson, she broke ground in a role that discussed women who began to reflect on their bodies being used as negotiable product for men, even in good clean small moralistic New England towns. And through a lot of painful, solitary self discovery learned to rely on her own self-reliance and newly mined self respect. Barbara Parkins was leading the way three years before Jane Fonda was flyin’ free up in space in 1968’s Barbarella.
I have always been drawn to Barbara Parkins, her inherent sensuality, sophistication, her dreamy voice. There’s a deep well of desire and poetry simmering below that obvious beauty. She brings that sensuality with her to every versatile role as an actress. And that is why I’ve been in love with her since the very first time I saw her.
“Down This Street Raced Dead-End Violence… Down This One Stretched Excitement Taut As Silk!”
Directed by Arnold Laven this noir acts as part police procedural, starring gruff he-man Broderick Crawford( the pre Tony Soprano alpha male, bull in the china shop cop) who plays FBI Agent John ‘Rip’ Ripley. Likable and mild mannered Kenneth Tobey plays his partner agent Zack Stewart who is gunned down from the shadows while juggling three cases that might be interrelated. John Ripley continues to hunt down the relationship between all these cases and find his partner’s murderer!
One connection involves gangster Joe Walpo as Ripley finds his hideout through Joe’s glitz and glamorous girl friend Connie Anderson played by Martha Hyer. Joe gets gunned down, and cleared of Stewart’s killing. Connie won’t be receiving anymore shiny things in the mail anymore!
The Second link involves a car-theft ring which Ripley, uses the wife of Vince Angelino (Gene Reynolds) to turn on his fellow thugs, when Vince finds out that they have roughed up his gentle and blind wife Julie, played by the beautiful Marisa Pavan.
The last and most disturbing case involves Kate Martell, the victim of an extortionist who says he’ll kidnap her little girl if she doesn’t fork over some cash. He calls using a creepy threatening voice and sends her on wild goose chases, trying to break her down, so she’ll pay the $10,0000 ransom.
Kate is played by the brassy Ruth Roman.There are a lot of dubious suspects surrounding her. The menacing uncle Max played by Jay Adler, and the smarmy, drooling suiter Dave Milson played byMax Showalter. How will this thriller play out in 3 dark streets!?
Starring again another likable actor Kent Smithwho plays Dr.Peter Graham a psychiatrist who works for the police department, living in a dark city anywhere U.S.A.
“We need good cops, even if you are a psychiatrist now.”
There’s a mysterious masher stalking women, ritualistically slicing their left cheek and stealing their purses as a trophy. Pretty gruesome for 1958 film goers. The mugger escapes undetected until his last victim is actually murdered! The film stars Nan Martin, James Franciscus, and Stefan Schnabel. With bit parts by Beah Richards as a ‘maid’ (god forgive Hollywood and their ever present stereotyping) a young George Maharis as Nicholas Grecco, a possible slime ball. And the first time appearance of Renee Taylor as a cheap hussy who is physically abusive to her wormy husband.
The film uncovers a lot of unsavory characters, in the dark underbelly of a city that is diseased in a way that might breed a handbag, cheek slashing maniac! As Dr.Graham tries to draw conclusions about the sort of man who would attack these women, we meet so many unsavory types along the way. It makes the film an entertaining ride on a dirty subway.
Very gritty and realistic slice of insanity run amok in the city and unlatched secrets within a nice America family!
“They all had one thing in common… The terrifying night they met!”
Written for the screen by Collier Young ( Former husband to Ida Lupino and Joan Fontaine and written by Ida Lupino. Directed by Don Siegel , starring Howard Duff who plays detective Jack Farnham an honest cop with a beautiful wife Francey (Dorothy Malone) who loves him. His partner Cal Bruner,(Steve Cochran) is a little more dark and brooding and rough around the edges. He’s hungry for something better than suburban living with ‘pay on time’ furniture and a small backyard with a grill and a white fence.
Both detectives while staking out a robbery, in which $300,000 was stolen, stumble onto the hot cash. Of course, Farnham wants to turn it into Captain Michaels played by the meditative Dean Jagger.
But Bruner has fallen hard for night club singer Lili Marlowe played by the one and only Ida Lupino. She’s great as the unattainable women who’s been burned once before and is now wearing asbestos lipstick. Cal is just too swarthy and smitten with Lili and soon, they go up in smoke!. Lily has very high expectations for herself, and loves nice shiny things. And Cal wants to give her anything she wants, but refuses to live like Farnham on a cop’s salary, playing nice little suburban couple struggling to get by.
Number 36 refers to the locker the money is hid inside of, while Farnham roils and ruminates over his dilemma.
Does he become a rat and turn in his partner or should he do what’s expected and go to Captain Michaels with the missing money and the truth!
“These are the Night Faces…living on the edge of evil and violence…making their own.”
It stars Frank Lovejoyas Howard Tyler and Kathleen Ryan as Judy Tyler. Two ordinary people in this allegory about how a decent human being can be directed to do a desperate or violent act in order to survive and protect their own family. Taken over by a fanatical young con-man, petty thief and psychopath named Jerry Slocum, played by Lloyd Bridges. Slocum preys on the Tyler’s need for money, Slocum convinces Tyler to be involved in a kidnapping scheme that goes horribly wrong and ends in murder.
The narrative unfolds more deeply as a condemnation of sensationalist journalism that can incite a mob mentality which feeds off the lurid details, culminating in a destructive force, almost worse than the original crimes committed.
Richard Carlson plays Gil Stanton a newspaper man who eventually has a pang of conscience, although much too late!
The ending is quite potent, powerful and remains a stunning commentary. The imagery holds a very powerful message in the final moments of the film…
PS: it seems that both The Sound of Fury 1950 and Fury 1936 Fritz Lang’s film starring Spencer Tracy are based on the same true events -from TRIVIA IMDb:
Based upon the 1933 kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart, son of the owner of Hart’s Department Store in San Jose, California. Two suspects were arrested and jailed, but a lynch mob broke into the jail, dragged out the suspects and took them across the street to a city park where they hanged them from a tree
Hope you get to see at least one of these lesser known Noir/Thriller goodies!- Til next time!-MonsterGirl