Friday, January 07, 2011

Where Love Has Gone. 1964

It should have gone down the crapper, that’s where this movie should have gone. Loosely based on the Lana Turner scandal of the late 50’s which involved her teenage daughter who supposedly plunged a knife into Johnny Johnny Stompanato Lana’s gangster boyfriend. This lurid and sad scandal was later turned into a trash novel by nasty and untalented Harold Robbins who dredged his potboilers with thinly disguised characters based on real life movie stars and celebrities.. In this film adaptation of his novel and acting up a storm, and a very bad storm at that is Susan Hayward in the Lana Turner part, but instead of an actress she plays a “sculptress” living in rich and lavish style in pretty San Francisco due to her very wealthy family headed by her gargoyle of a mom played by none other than Bette Davis. Bette gussied up in Edith Head frocks and a silly silver toned gentle wig is a bitch, a nasty piece of work who is never at peace with her daughter. Supposedly the two divas hated each other, and their scenes together show an animosity not in the lousy script which only adds to the morbid sick fun that this movie offers. The film opens with screams as a hand picks up a chisel and plunges in into the stomach of a bit actor playing the part of Susie’s lover. What follows is nearly two hours of hysteria with Hayward’s 15 year old daughter played by the twenty year old Joey Heatherton in a performance that might very well be the worst ever committed to celluloid being arrested for the crime and dragged into juvenile court. Joey is protected by her father who has been divorced for years from Hayward but comes back to San Francisco to stand by his daughter and is played by a wooden and inept Mike Conners who has dyed black hair and an immovable face that is incapable of showing any emotions or for that matter life. He’s dead from the neck up. Heatherton is thrown into a juvenile home awaiting trial and whines and moans to daddy about losing her sweater, and always loving the wrong people. Heatherton’s voice is unique. It sounds like a combination of a squeaky door hinge, a car alarm and fingernails scratching at a blackboard. It set the dogs in my neighborhood to barking and gave me a splitting headache. The director of this big can of camp garbage is none other than Edward Dymtryck who was at one time a good capable director and who made some pretty good films before he was blacklisted. Maybe this was his revenge on Hollywood, but why Eddie takeout your revenge on me and the moviegoing public. I didn’t blacklist you. The film is also very sloppily made, flashbacks 15 years into the past make no attempt at period clothes, sets, hairdo’s or cars, the characters look exactly the same age in the past as they do in the present and I had to think what war Mike was going off to fight. The two actresses, the bargain basement Bette Davis as Time Magazine once referred to Hayward and the real one give very bad performances without any nuance or subtly. Lines are screamed and screeched, with Hayward doing most of the screaming and screeching, and the scenes of her, welding, chiseling and making her awful figurative expressionistic pieces of sculpture are a total hoot. The lurid and grim ending comes out of left field, and looks hastily conceived and filmed. Its best to leave this one alone.


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