Battle Fatigued: “Wicked Woman” (1953)
Belonging to that smaller, less critically regarded, yet potent 1950’s offshoot of film noir proper, the “bad girl” film, Russell Rouse’s “Wicked Woman” offers up a portrait of a young woman prematurely aged morally by experience, suggested but mercifully not given lurid exploration, and clearly, as they once so colorfully phrased it, “on the skids”.
As played by Beverly Michaels, that statuesque cheesecake siren from a pair of Hugo Haas dramas, “Pickup” and “The Girl on the Bridge”, drifter Billie Nash has the outer appearance of a classic blonde film noir femme fatale- she certainly has the body language down cold -but what differentiates her from the standard heartless gold digger is that while in the pursuit of the standard rewards (money, men) of questionable behavior, she seems to be suffering from a chronic bout of asthenia; her actions and very movements weighed by an enervation that is not standard equipment in the seductress arsenal, but rather a result of extended struggle which has exhausted her psychologically, though based upon the awkwardness of her line readings, perhaps the actress was simply in need of a refreshing nap.
When Billie gets a job as hostess in a bar owned by married couple Dora (Evelyn Scott) and Matt Bannister (Richard Egan), it only takes a few furtive glances before she is wrapped in the beefcake arms of Egan’s bartender. Before the first heated kisses cool, the pair are conspiring to run away, their plans only complicated by the problem of the increasingly alcoholic Dora.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/matinees-at-the-bijoux/