Archive for the ‘Arlene Dahl’ Category

Slightly Scarlet

21 Apr

Slightly Scarlet — Directed by Allan Dwan. Gangster Crime In High Places. A free lance photograqpher takes over a crime syndicate. 99 minutes Color 1956.


The great Robert Alton filmed this for RKO in colors that on the small screen smear. (Alton filmed the big ballet sequence of An American In Paris, so you know what he can do.) This film is sold as a noir, but it is not; it is a crime story, and, since it is not in black and white, how could it be noir? The presence of two redheads, Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl, commanded color, one supposes, but the story is ridiculous in color. And to prove it, the two women never seem to get out of cocktail dresses worn as street clothes at all times of the day. The garishness is without the strength you might find in a Fox musical, say, and the three leads, John Payne, Dahl, and Fleming were never stars; they were leading man and women; they were never asked to carry a picture, but just to throw their sex appeal in the direction of the stars who did carry it. Here, even the three of them together cannot carry the picture. Fleming is of the petrified wood school of acting whose doyenne was Marlene Deitrich. Her brassiere is, like her face, a stony sierra. Never have such peaks been scaled so perilously; they span continents. Arlene Dahl throws herself about like a frisbee seeking a catcher in the part of the mad sister. John Payne is handsome, sexy, dimpled, and lends his stalwart sensuality to a role for which none of those attributes are required. I thought I would never say these words, but where is Richard Widmark when we need him? Alan Dwan, who started directing films in 1911, briskly drove this ambulance to the ER. We forgive you, Allan; nothing could be done to save it; the patient was dead on arrival.



Three Little Words

22 Mar

Three Little Words – directed by Richard Thorpe — a musical in which two songwriters meet and part and meet and part. 102 minutes technicolor 1950.

* * * * *

Vera Ellen maintains her nine-inch waist for us, which distracts from the fact she is taller than one would have thought, for she wears no heels with Astaire. She was not a graceful dancer, as were Rogers, Charisse, and Hayworth, but she was insanely accomplished. Her grace is always force-manufactured by her training, never inherent, for her dance category was the most vulgar of all dance modes, Acrobatic. She shines only in the comic dances, and fortunately there are three of them, and she does them beautifully. In her her romantic dances with Astaire, she is cold, even gelid. Of course, Astaire himself was cold, but he was also cool, so he carries himself enjoyably to himself and to us always, and his clothes, except for a certain hat, are a triumph of sartorial imagination. This is a bio-pic about Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, songwriters of “Nevertheless,” “Thinking of You,” and “Boop-boop-be-do,” all of which became re-hits when this film was released. This is Fred Astaire’s best acting job in a musical; he actually gets angry! Red Skelton plays Ruby as though he were a gem-stone, and the beauteous Arlene Dahl plays The Beauteous Arlene Dahl, and it is enough. Gale Robbins in Rita Hayworth figure and dresses has a number and so do Gloria DeHaven and Debbie Reynolds. The film never stalls with production numbers or plot because, mercifully, there are none. It’s a popcorn movie suitable for any occasion.


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