Monday, October 24, 2011

No Orchids For Miss Blandish. 1948

This is one sick puppy of a movie; it’s like something that you scrape off the bottom of your shoe before you enter a friend’s house that has white wall-to-wall carpeting. So why didn’t I like it more than I did. Well for one thing the direction by St. John Leigh Clowes (he never directed another film) is wooden and stagy. He directs his actors as if they were cardboard cut out figures in a children’s play theatre, moving them about without them showing much emotion from one claustrophobic set to another. He also fills the movie with way too many second rate musical numbers (a lot of the action takes place in the nightclub “Grisson’s” run by Ma Grisson) that stretch out and interrupt the flow and action of the narrative. The story is based on a novel by James Hadley Chase and was quite a shocking read back in 1939. The plots concerns a rich spoiled heiress who on her wedding night is the victim of a robbery and kidnapping (her new hubby is murdered in front of her eyes) by a pair of cheap gangsters and is then removed from their clutches by Slim Grisson another gangster who wants in on the ransom. Jack La Rue Somewhat too old and not very slim and who played a similar role in the earlier pre code film “The Story Of Temple Drake” plays Slim. Eventually and unbelievably the unlikely duo fall in love and plan to run off  but fate enters the film and everything ends on a very unhappy note with lots of dead bodies lying about.  The movie is set in New York City but since the film was made in Great Britain the cast struggle with their American accents or just give up and speak in their normal tongue, thus causing no end of confusion as to just where are we in London or New York?  Linden Travers plays the Heiress Miss Blandish and she’s not bad, however the rest of the cast leaves much to be desired.  Ma Grisson is played by the strange, plump and very butch Lillie Molnar who wears the same dress through much of the film and slaps around anyone who gets in her way. The film’s violence and sexual innuendos caused much controversary and held up its American release for a few years, and the film still met up with more problems here when the distributors changed the title to “The Snatch.” Yikes.  Later remade in 1971 by Robert Aldrich as The Grissom Gang.


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