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: The Girl in the Black Stockings (1957)  ( 1069 )
Jessica Rabbit
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« : February 17, 2017, 04:20:52 PM »

The Girl in the Black Stockings, directed by Howard Koch (Shield for Murder), is more of a thriller/slasher film with exploitation touches than Noir and quite a decent little flick, campy and highly entertaining with good location shooting and decent dialogue. The movie has gotten a lot of flak over the years, but I find the ridicule quite undeserved.

Maybe I just have a thing for pulpy B movies but I like The Girl in the Black Stockings, a misleading title if there ever was one. No girl wears stockings of any kind in the movie.

Technically this could be called late period Noir, but rather than focusing on doom, gloom and pessimism, it is strangely wacky and jam-packed with suggested depravity, sex and psycho-babble. Noir was going into a different direction, exploitation was on its way in and this movie foreshadows more realistically brutal and shocking thrillers like Psycho or Peeping Tom.

Everybody seems to have nothing but sex on the brain here and everyone has sexual hang-ups, and in the end we find out it was sex (should be spelled in all caps) that made the killer go over the edge. Well, well…it’s just unfortunate that the whole thing isn’t trashy and lurid enough. The posters, the title and the set-up promise pulpy luridness but they don’t quite deliver what they promise, and if we expect glorious all-out trashiness, we don’t get it. All the wonderful sinfulness is only hinted at.

On vacation at Parry Lodge in Utah, hunky lawyer (!) David Hewson (Lex Barker), out on a romantic date with Beth Dixon (Anne Bancroft) finds the badly mutilated body of a party girl. Soon the bodies start piling up, there’s no shortage of suspects because the visitors to the lodge are a strange lot.

The cast is very good, though the performances are strangely off-kilter and veer into camp territory quite often.

Lex Barker is Lex Barker and he struts around in swim shorts a lot of the time. No complaints there.

Mamie Van Doren is bodacious as always, her tangible assets are plenty on display and she has the best campy scene the movie in which she literally throws herself at the hotel owner.

The best of the cast is probably Ron Randell who plays completely paralyzed embittered lodge owner Edmund Parry, who’s eaten up by an all-consuming hate for the world, everybody who lives in it and most of all himself. His injuries are purely psychosomatic, he has been paralyzed since his lady love left him decades earlier. His ice-cold seething hate for women and his obsession with sex are chilling to watch. It’s a very strange performance, at the same time off-kilter, hammy but oddly effective nevertheless.
For the longest time the audience is made to believe that he’s only shamming his injury.

Marie Windsor, who could vamp it up with the best of them, plays his too-devoted sister who takes care of him. It’s a bit odd to see her as repressed spinster and not the femme fatale.
Her possessiveness knows no bounds, there are definitively incestuous undercurrents in their relationship. The way she caresses her brother is not in the least sisterly, and it was her who drove her brother’s girl-friend away. In fact it’s a bit shock to find out she’s Edmund’s sister, not his wife.

Anne Bancroft is slight under-utilized here, she had much meatier roles in Nightfall and New York Confidential. Though she turns out to be the serial killer, the motives for her crimes are too murky, it is only alluded too that she was supposedly made to do “shameful” things. There we go again. Even in the 50s there were films that didn't shy away from giving a bit more detail.

A fun little time waster.

I will also post this review in the individual Film Noir thread. Or is Joe going to do that?

« : February 17, 2017, 04:30:16 PM Jessica Rabbit »

Jessica Rabbit
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« #1 : February 17, 2017, 05:19:35 PM »

I split it into it's own topic Jess....

The first time I saw this it was a really bad copy, very overexposed and washed out, I couldn't tell what was going on, especially at the end. The second time I saw this film was on TCM. It was a much better copy and I enjoyed it a lot more.

Noir was draining off into TV Crime programs on one side as B film production was shutting down and unraveling into the psychological film, the social message film, the sexploitation, horror films, etc., etc.


"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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