Friday, May 31, 2024


Years ago, Odysseus outwitted Circe and blinded the cyclops Polyphemus, and ever since, the descendants of both have been saddled with the task of seeking revenge against members of Odysseus' bloodline. Generations later, Queen Capys of Sadok, who has a cyclops descendent of Polyphemus locked up on an island, has sent soldiers in search of the last male heir of Odysseus, a mere infant. They raze a village (a very small low-budget village not worthy of the name of "village"), kill the King and capture the townswomen, looking for Queen Penope and her child. Capys plans to sacrifice the baby to the cyclops but Penope manages to deliver her child to a shepherd for safe keeping before she is rounded up with the other women. Unaware of the queen's identity, Capys has all the women thrown into a dungeon until the queen is outed, so to speak. Meanwhile, a hunky muscleman awakens on a beach; his name is Maciste (we are told it means "from the rocks"), and though his background is not fully explained, it seems he is a Herculean demigod sort of fellow, and when he saves the baby from a lion, he takes on the task of saving Penope and the child. But on his way to Sadok, he comes across Queen Capys, pleading with an oracle in a cave to be delivered from Circe's curse. The oracle's answer is to cause the cave to collapse and Maciste saves her, taking her back to Sadok. Eventually, we get the plot whittled down to the basics: muscleman gets cozy with the villainous queen (who doesn't really want to be a villain) while he tries to help the good queen and stop the sacrifice of the baby to the cyclops.

The first thing you may have noticed is that, despite the title, there is no character named Atlas. Many of the peplum films from this era were made in Italy about a character named Maciste, but when they were brought to the United States, the title character's name was changed, in the title and in the dubbing, to something assumed to be more marketable, like Hercules, Samson, or Atlas. Here, however, no one told the dubbers about the title change, and Maciste retains his real name throughout the film, which for me is a plus. Two other pluses are Gordon Mitchell (pictured) as Maciste and Chelo Alonso as Queen Capys. Mitchell's physique is almost perfect for a sword-and-sandal hero, not too bulbous like Steve Reeves could get, but more impressive than, say, Michael Forest who played another Atlas the same year. Alonso, from Cuba, is a bit more exotic than the average peplum queen, with a nice figure and decent acting ability, and her character is a bit unusual in that she changes from evil to not-so-evil over the course of the story. The film has a noticeably small budget which hurts when it comes to spectacle (there is very little) but the director, Antonio Leonviola, manages to give us a couple of good muscle hero setpieces. In one, Maciste takes over the rowing of a huge boat that usually requires a dozen or more rowers. In the other, Maciste is placed on thin wooden planks over a pit of lions, then is pulled from both sides by many men apparently hoping to make him fall into the pit or be pulled apart. He survives both incidents, of course. The cyclops is kept offscreen until the last ten minutes, probably because he's not that impressive. The worst scene is an early one in which Maciste wrestles a lion, or, I should say, a big stuffed lion. Mitchell's name in the opening credits is presented as Mitchell Gordon. Peplum fans will enjoy this, but avoid any pan-and-scan versions out there. AKA Atlas Against the Cyclops. [YouTube]

Tuesday, May 28, 2024


At Brooksley College, a talent show with male students in drag, with live music from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, is interrupted by a bevy of real women decked out in sexy showgirl outfits, courtesy mischievous rich student Danny (Harve Presnell) and his buddy Sam (Joby Baker). After the show, they take the girls to the men's dorm and a newspaper photo results in negative publicity. Then a showgirl named Tess (Sue Ane Langdon) threatens to sue Danny for breach of promise—a common ploy in those days to make a man live up to a proposal of marriage—so Danny and Sam head out to the Cody College of Mining and Engineering in Nevada to hide out while these storms blow over. The first student they meet is Peter Noone, lead singer of Herman’s Hermits (playing himself). Not long after, they're treated to performances by not just the Hermits but by jazz great Louis Armstrong and later by Liberace. Danny is soon interested in Ginger (Connie Francis), whose father Phin (Frank Faylen) is about to lose the family ranch to gambling debts. Danny gets the idea to give the ranch a makeover, with the help of the Cody College student body, into a dude ranch for divorcées. Then Tess shows up with a couple of shady types who may be trying to collect the money Phin owes. As you can guess, a happy ending is in store for all.

This teen-oriented musical (though the lead actors are all in their 20s or 30s) is based directly on the 1930 Gershwin stage musical Girl Crazy, made into movies with Wheeler and Woolsey (1932) and Garland and Rooney (1943), and a few of the Gershwin songs, including "But Not for Me" and "Embraceable You," remain. In addition to the Hermits' hit "Listen Children," Peter Noone also sings a respectable version of "Bidin' My Time." Of course, Armstrong is great, and even Liberace is fun, doing a novelty number called "Aruba Liberace" which contains snatches of Liszt. Presnell, a leading man in the rather wooden mold of Gordon MacRae and Howard Keel, is unappealing here though he eventually came into his own in stage musicals, and for years he played Daddy Warbucks in productions of Annie and its sequel. Francis is similarly unappealing and this film killed off her short film career. Also, she is quite short and Presnell is quite tall and they look silly next to each other. Baker, whom I liked in the short-lived 60s sitcom Good Morning World, comes off the best of the main actors—oddly, despite being the third lead, he is billed ninth in the credits. Sue Ane Langdon is a scene-stealer even though she's only in the beginning and ending sections of the movie. There's a nice climactic car chase (including a trippy fantasy effect featuring the cars not colliding when they should). The songs are generally OK, and the best production number is the seven minute outdoor dance (reminiscent of a similar number in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) set to "I Got Rhythm"—it starts out slowly but builds nicely into an impressively choreographed dance. Generally, this is hard to recommend to a general audience, but fans of musicals might like to see this under-the-radar film. Pictured are Baker and Presnell. [TCM]

Thursday, May 23, 2024

CYBORG 2087 (1966)

In the year 2087, mankind has been enslaved under one illegitimate government (think 1984's Big Brother) using computer tools that were made possible by the inventions, back in 1966, of Prof. Marx who produced the means of radio telepathy which the future government uses to control the populace. We see a small team of scientists attempt to send a cyborg back in time to 1966 to stop Marx from giving a presentation of his machine in order to change the future. Garth, the cyborg, in what is literally a physical time capsule, winds up in an Western ghost town on the outskirts of Desert City, the home of Dr. Marx's research company, Future Industries. We see Marx and his assistant Dr. Sharon Mason finalize an experiment in which Marx can play chess with a chimpanzee through the computerized telepathy device. In the future, people have a telepathy device implanted in their bodies so they are controlled from birth, and even cyborg Garth has one. The next day, Marx will give a demonstration of his device to some important government people, and it's Garth’s mission to stop that from happening. After using a stun gun to knock out some folks in his way, he arrives at the lab just after Marx has left to give a lecture, so he explains to Mason and another assistant named Zellner (Warren Stevens) what they must help him do. First on the list is to surgically remove his telepathy device so he can hide from the trackers coming from the future. Zellner does it, but the trackers are already in 1966 to stop Garth's mission however they can.

This is one of a series of B-level movies made by United Pictures Corporation in the mid-60s intended as TV movies that were given brief theatrical releases (DIMENSION 5 is another). It has the look and feel (and music) of a TV movie, shot quickly and with a budget too low for impressive sets or effects—the opening scene of Garth being sent to the past looks like it was shot in someone's basement. The plot, which to some degree prefigures that of the Terminator movies, isn't fleshed out much and most of the exposition is given in drab dialogue. Michael Rennie is Garth and he looks and sounds a bit like Klaatu, his alien character from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. He also seems like he just wants to get through two weeks of filming and go back to England. The always boring Wendell Corey plays the town sheriff who gets involved in a search for Garth. For the record, Warren Stevens (Zellner), Karen Steele (Mason) and Eduard Franz (Marx) complete the main cast. A couple of teenagers get involved briefly. One is the elfin-looking James Hibbard who I recognized as an uncredited dancer in Bye Bye Birdie and Thoroughly Modern Millie (pictured between Stevens and Steele); the other is ubiquitous 70s actor John Beck who had major supporting roles later in Sleeper and Rollerball. This is a movie of which I imagine none of its participants is proud. I will grudgingly admit that it's watchable for a Saturday afternoon, but it won’t stick with you, even though the final plot point is interesting. [YouTube]

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Englishman Bob Gregory (Tony Martin) has been an understudy to the actor playing the Gay Guardsman in a hit Broadway musical. He's never had the chance to play the role, and with his work visa expiring, he's about to be sent back home. The lead actor, taking pity on Bob, fakes an illness, allowing Bob to go on and enjoy a moment of glory. Afterward, on the way to the ship set to take to England, his taxi collides with another taxi containing Pat (Rita Hayworth), fiancée of the wealthy but stuffy Charles Spencer Gardner III. She was supposed to meet Gardner on the same ship Bob was heading for, but the accident makes them both miss the ship. Of course, romantic sparks fly and when she finds out that the feds may come after Bob, she encourages him to go into hiding in her ethnically diverse working-class neighborhood, with relatives and friends of hers, including Luigi (an Italian uncle), Sascha (a Russian restaurant owner), and Pat’s younger sister Mary. Not only are immigration agents coming, but so is Gardner, accompanied by his valet Griggs (Eric Blore). Gardner sends Griggs to Sascha's restaurant in an attempt to win her back. Griggs fails, but also recognizes Bob from his photo in the paper, and soon Bob may not be able to keep hidden much longer. 

This mild B-musical is enjoyable enough, though not really anything special, even though a song from it, “It’s a Blue World,” was nominated for a Best Song Oscar. Singer Tony Martin, whom I have not always liked as an actor, acquits himself well enough here, maybe because he's working with Rita Hayworth in one of her last B-leads before she became a full-fledged star in 1941 opposite Fred Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich. Alan Mowbray is his usual stuffy self as Gardner, and Eric Blore is his usual delightful self as Griggs, who at one point says, "Cherchez l'homme" in his plummy, drawn-out way to hint that Gardner should turn Bob into the police. Other good lines: Mowbray turns down an offer of bicarbonate, saying it "interferes with the brandy." Blore on the subject of women: "All I know is what I see in the movies; you know, oomph and all that sort of thing." Also this bit of philosophy from George Tobias as Sascha: "What is life? You’re born, you die." True enough. Pictured are Edith Fellows, Martin (in disguise), and Hayworth. [DVD]

Thursday, May 16, 2024


In 1271, Pope Gregory wants to establish peace and trade agreements with Mongol leader Kublai Khan and sends a small group of diplomats led by merchant Niccolo Polo and his brother Matteo. The pope sends Niccolo's young son Marco along, opining that "youth and beauty" may accomplish more than wisdom. Their long route takes them through the Crusades in the Holy Lands after which they split up on two separate routes. Marco goes into the Gobi Desert where he and his Templar guards are captured by a warlord known as the Old Man of the Mountain who wears a gold mask and only reveals his face to people he is going to execute. One of the Templars is tortured to death inside a huge glass bell lowered over him. Emir Alaou intercedes to free Marco, and later Marco has a run-in with some bandits and is saved by a woman known only as The Woman with the Whip. Once in China, Marco discovers that the peace-leaning Khan is at war with his aggressive son and rebel, Prince Nayam, and Marco sees gunpowder being used for the first time. Ultimately, Marco sends his father back home but decides to stay with Khan as his trusted advisor. This is certainly just as fanciful as the 1938 film with Gary Cooper, and that version, which is only so-so, is more entertaining than this one. The major problem seems to have been the relatively low budget and muddled script. Rather than the grandeur of other epics of the era like SPARTACUS or CLEOPATRA, this looks, feels and sounds like a B-level Hercules film. The handsome Horst Buchholz (pictured) is OK as Marco, but he never feels like a three-dimensional character. In fact, the only character who does is Kublai Khan, played with some gravitas mixed with charm by Anthony Quinn. Omar Sharif, as the emir, shot this before he made Zhivago, though it was released in the States after that film so it could benefit from his name. Orson Wells has what amounts to a cameo in the first scene as Marco’s mentor. I don’t really have much to say about this. The print I saw on YouTube (under the title The Adventures of Marco Polo) was widescreen but not in great shape, so a restoration might benefit the film. [YouTube]

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


Years ago in an online film discussion group, one member (the moderator, of all people) accused anyone who said they actually liked CITIZEN KANE, as I had just proclaimed a couple of days earlier, of simply buying into the high critical hype. In other words, I was brainwashed by the critics into thinking KANE was a great movie. I replied that I had first seen the movie in college in the mid-70s and, though I was conscious of the film's reputation, I was absolutely mesmerized by it during that film society showing. Its script, performances, cinematography and direction are all of the highest order, and it's historically important for ushering in a lot of interesting stylistic devices, but I genuinely loved watching the movie because above and beyond its "importance," it's a very entertaining movie. This French film made by Jean Renoir just two years before KANE was a flop on its initial release—and eventually banned in France for potential to incite immoral behavior (it's all about unpunished adulterous carryings-on). It has gained a sterling reputation in recent years and has been cited in some critics polls as second only to KANE in its greatness. I watched this movie three times over the years and, while I can appreciate Renoir's visual style and the construction of the narrative, I'm left feeling rather cold toward it, which may partly be Renoir's intention. At heart, it's a brittle comedy of manners which occasionally put me in mind of Ingmar Bergman's SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT. But the lack of sympathetic characters and the chill that permeates it all keeps me at a distance from it. I'd never accuse people who like this of liking it only because it's critically acclaimed, but I'm guessing how I feel about this is like how my online friend felt about KANE.

André is a renowned pilot who has just landed in France to much acclaim after having crossed the Atlantic in 23 hours. Despite the brouhaha, he is depressed because his mistress Christine, the woman who inspired his flight, isn't there to greet him, and he tells his radio audience so. We soon see that she is at home with her husband Robert who is aware of her past relationship with the pilot, and forgiving, perhaps because he is having an affair with Genevieve. Octave, a buddy of André's, loves Christine like a sister and is tired of hearing André go on about her. Robert and Christine throw a weekend party at La Colinière, their country estate and through some finagling, André, Octave and Genevieve are all invited. Also present are Lisette, Christine's maid who is devoted to Christine, and Lisette's husband Edouard, gamekeeper at La Colinière. Because they rarely see each other, Lisette wants him to leave his job, but he thinks she's the one who should give up her job. Though a rabbit hunt is a major part of the weekend, Robert gets irritated over the amount of surplus rabbits on the grounds, and he winds up hiring Marceau, a poacher, as a servant, who decides to flirt with Lisette. With a masked ball and staged entertainment being held on Sunday night, the stage is set for a weekend of food, gossip, hunting, and romantic escapades which eventually turns tragic.

Some viewers notice that GOSFORD PARK bears a certain surface resemblance to this film. Both use their stories to examine the morality of the upper class and the servant class, in this case as the tensions that caused WWII were building. As you might guess, no one of either class comes out looking very good, though the lengthy and explicit rabbit and pheasant hunting scene, with real animals killed and left twitching on the ground, is surely a particular indictment of the upper class hunters (who, however, would not be able to do their killing without the assistance of the servant class). The movie's tone is not tragic, even at the climax when someone is killed, but neither is it very funny, though witticisms fly. A party guest says that love in society "is merely the mingling of two whims and the contact of two skins." Octave, played by the director, philosophizes that the awful thing about life is that “everyone has their reasons.” The chef, complaining about a guest's very specific need for sea salt only, says "Diets I can accept but not obsessions." Christine, about André while clearing the air with Robert: "Sincere people are such bores." I enjoyed the film but can't join its more fervent fans. I think it's important for its style: lots of long shots and tracking shots and deep focus. The acting is fine (Marcel Dalio (pictured), with weirdly artificial eyebrows, as Robert, and Renoir himself are standouts) and I love the use of the Danse Macabre in the party scene. But for me it never felt compelling, either in terms of story or characters. [TCM]

Friday, May 10, 2024


Brutus Jones (Paul Robeson, pictured) is given a sendoff by the congregation of his Baptist church on the occasion of him getting a job as a cross-country train porter. His girlfriend is worried that he'll slide into bad ways, and fairly quickly, he does, led by his pal Jeff into gambling and consorting with loose women. When Brutus is upgraded to working on the car which contains the president, he overhears a sensitive conversation and blackmails a businessman. He also takes Jeff's mistress Undine from him, but later drops her for another, leading to the two women engaging in a brawl on a dance floor. In a different brawl, over the use of crooked dice in a craps game, Brutus accidentally kills Jeff and is sentenced to hard labor on a chain gang. When he refuses an order to beat an unconscious prisoner, he smacks a guard on the back of the head with a shovel and manages to escape. In short order, he leaves the country and works on a steamer ship, and when he hears reports of an all-Black island in the Caribbean, he jumps ship to investigate. The island has a dictatorial king, but when Brutus is bought by Smithers (Dudley Digges), a white trader who does a lucrative business on the island, he gets Smithers on his side, makes the islanders believe that he is invulnerable to anything but a silver bullet, and deposes the ruler to become the Emperor Jones. He raises taxes, sends the money offshore, and plans to leave soon as a rich man. But what if the people get fed up before he can make his escape?

Eugene O'Neill’s play probably works better symbolically than as realism, and this movie strives to combine the two styles with mixed results. The melodramatic first half-hour seems to be just getting backstory out the way to get to the fireworks on the island. Even here, however, a sense of real danger and tragic consequences is never fully developed. The play is largely a one-man show and Robeson, who played the role on stage, is up to the task of carrying the film. Though there are other characters here, he only really gets help from Dudley Digges who strikes the right note as a man who realizes quickly that he'll do better as a sniveling assistant to Jones rather than as his "owner." The last section, with Jones on the run through the jungle from his abused people, is well-paced and atmospheric, and Robeson is excellent as a haunted man falling apart. Fredi Washington, best known as the daughter who passes for white in the 1934 Imitation of Life, is fine as Undine, but no one else really gets to make an acting mark here. The film was an independent production, and looks and feels like one, so the chief draw here is seeing Robeson do O'Neill, and that’s enough to make it worth a viewing. [TCM]

Wednesday, May 08, 2024


When Count Dracula is killed by a stake through his heart, his vampire bride is pregnant with his child, half-human and half-vampire. One hundred years later, Count Downe, the son, is ready to be installed as the King of the Netherworld, reigning over other creatures of the night (werewolves, monsters, witches, mummies). But he's reluctant to take on his inheritance because 1) he wants to devote his life to making music, and 2) he falls in love with Amber, assistant to Van Helsing, the famous vampire hunter. As the time nears for Downe's coronation at a museum of the occult, overseen by the wizard Merlin, Downe convinces Van Helsing to help him become human. But his path to this goal is blocked by the evil Baron Frankenstein who wants the Netherworld crown for his own. This summary sounds like it could be a decent old-fashioned horror film or a crazy parody of horror films. Unfortunately, this is neither. Despite having Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Hammer director Freddie Francis, and some respectable British actors (Dennis Price, Freddie Jones) attached, this comes off as an amateurish home movie made by the stars on a drunken weekend. 

Who’s to blame? It's easy to point the finger at Nilsson (pictured), who was on a hot streak on the pop charts led by “Without You” and “Coconut.” Starr, who also plays Merlin, produced the film and got his friend Nilsson to star. On record, Nilsson had the persona of an antic anarchist, but he almost never performed in public so doesn't have a 'live' persona and he can't carry this movie. His problem is his complete lack of affect—he comes off like he's always rehearsing. He isn't funny or scary or able to give a line reading in character. Of course, he doesn't have much of a character to play, the fault of the script by Jennifer Jayne (one of the lead women in THE CRAWLING EYE). The main ideas may be sound, but they don't come together at all. Among the plotholes: Why did the denizens of the Netherworld not have a ruler for a century? Why do they need one now? Since Downe doesn't want the crown, why wouldn’t Frankenstein just help him achieve his goal and become the ruler? What is a radioactive transfusion machine? Freddie Francis was an old hand at helming Hammer horror films but rumor has it that he quit halfway through, which couldn't have helped. However, there is one reason to watch this mess: Harry Nilsson’s music, which is used throughout. I loved Nilsson in the early to mid 70s and bought all his albums even through the 80s when they became as messy as this movie. Nilsson was a studio artist and this movie is your only chance to see him perform as he lip syncs to songs like "Jump Into the Fire" and the lovely ballad "Remember (Christmas”)." Other songs like "Without You," "Down," and "The Moonbeam Song" are played behind scenes, and a new song, "Daybreak," is quite fun. You also get to see drummer Keith Moon, sax player Bobby Keys, and guitarist Peter Frampton in the background as his stage band. But really, unless you love Nilsson, there’s no reason to see this depressing, cheap-looking film; your primary emotion is likely to be embarrassment for all involved. [YouTube]

Monday, May 06, 2024


Mrs. Hoyle (Spring Byington), a much loved teacher, has just retired and looks forward to a quiet life in the room she has rented for years at a run-down hotel, where her neighbors follow her example of giving to the poor. However, Morganti (Anthony Caruso), a reformed gangster, has just bought the building and has plans to boot out all the long-term renters and refurbish the place. Seeing Mrs. Hoyle as a kindly old soul, Morganti lets her stay, and she talks him into letting a young chorus girl named Angela Brown stay as well. Eddie, an associate of Morganti's, realizes that Hoyle is his mother; his father took him years ago when the two split up. He doesn't tell her but he starts to fall for Angela. Soon, under Mrs. Hoyle's influence, all of Morganti's thug buddies start to reform, even following her example of giving to charity, except for Rogan who ropes a reluctant Eddie into helping him pull off a payroll robbery on the night of the grand reopening of the hotel. After some gunplay, Rogan hides the money in Mrs. Hoyle's fur coat which is hanging in her closet (she is down at the reopening). When the cops close in on the two, Rogan is shot and killed, and Eddie is seriously wounded and falls into a coma. When a police search reveals the money in Mrs. Hoyle's coat, she is arrested and painted by the prosecutors as a kind of Ma Barker figure. Her protestations of innocence are hurt by the fact that the cops also find stolen jewels in her jewel box and she can't explain how they got there.

This is a fairly bland crime drama with some interesting plot points. First of all, Morganti, the former crime boss, actually does reform, something that lots of crooks claim to want to do in movies but rarely follow through on. Second, Mrs. Hoyle actually does wind up on trial—I assumed that, as in other movies like this, things would get straightened out before the sweet and obviously innocent old lady has to face a judge. I like Byington and she's the main reason to watch, but some of the relatively unknown B-actors in support are also fine: Caruso, Brett King as Eddie (who does a nice job teetering between the lure of the straight life and loyalty to Rogan who saved his life in the past), Robert Karnes as Rogan, and Harry Lauter as Mrs. Hoyle's attorney. As for title, it comes from a once-common phrase that referred to Edward Hoyle who, in the 1700s, was one of the first people to publish books on the rules of card games. "According to Hoyle" means you’re doing something exactly by the rules or established standards. Pictured are Byington and Lauter. [TCM]

Thursday, May 02, 2024


In Victorian London, the issue of prostitution is a hot topic. Merchants are complaining that the sheer number of  "princesses of the pavement" strolling the streets are hurting their business. Josephine (Joanna Pettet) leads street demonstrations by the League of Social Purity, a group of "fallen women" who want to become upstanding citizens through education and job opportunities. But the government has a different solution: open a secret but official brothel that would house these women. Sir Francis Leybourne sells an old girls' school building to the government for that use. Francis goes to India, leaving his son Walter (David Hemmings) in charge of brothelizing the place, along with the buxom Babette (Dany Robin) who has been sleeping with both father and son. Meanwhile, we discover that Francis's niece is Josephine, who has joined up with reporter Ben Oakes (also Hemmings) to publicize her organization. Ben is illegitimate (Josephine reacts to the news by saying, "I’ve never met a bastard socially"), but we find out that he is actually half-brother to Walter—they have matching batwing birthmarks on their wrists. Soon, the Social Purity girls are secretly getting jobs as the government whorehouse. As though there weren't enough plotlines, a Chinese embassy worker enters the picture. He's upset that Indian opium plantations are smuggling opium into China, and Josephine wants to use money from the plantations, which belong to Sir Francis, to support her cause. Oh, yeah, I forgot the airship, being built by eccentric Count Pandolfo, which after being a minor background detail, suddenly becomes important at the climax.

This is a smutty British sex farce with very little sex, though lots of sex talk and some nude bosoms and butts on occasion. It was rated X on its initial release, for its overall feel more than for any visuals. Packed with incident, it rarely slows down, though character development is pretty much nil. The biggest problem with it is its neanderthal sexual politics. One of the running jokes is that the Social Purity women can hardly wait to get back to being fallen women. Another has to do with a teenage virgin who is theoretically sold into prostitution  but winds up working on the building of the airship. "You promised my mum I'd be ruined," she says petulantly. The subject of rape is treated cavalierly. It never happens on screen, and when Ben is trying to work up some sympathy for fallen women who had been raped, they all insist that it's never happened to them. All of this gives the movie a grimy feel, but oddly enough, I stuck with it. The production values are strong, with lots of deep red and purples in the sets. You can feel the actors trying hard, none more so than Hemmings who does make Ben and Walter full separate characters, with the help of differing make-up. Pettet (pictured with Hemmings) is very good in a thankless role, and George Sanders seems to be having fun in what amounts to a glorified cameo (and he even gets a nude scene, sort of). I'm not sure I can recommend this to others, and the humor was way too uncomfortable in today's context, but I'm not sorry to have seen it. [TCM]