Archive for the ‘Audrey Totter’ Category

FBI Girl

23 Oct


FBI Girl – directed by William Berke. Crime Fighting/ Police Procedural. Leafing through the fingerprint files, a clerk must trap the truth about a sordid senator. 74 minutes Black and White 1951.


Even in a pinafore, Audrey Totter always looks like the hostess in a West Virginia nightclub run by racketeers, and as such she is always a big plus to any film she appears in. Her mouth is so voluptuous that even when she is playing a good girl, as here, you think she must go bad by the next reel. It lends her roles a sumptuous ambiguity. I like her very much. As to the level of talent she possesses, this is not question one asks of such an apparition. It would be like asking the Angel Gabriel if he can type. Oh, no, one sits back and rejoices in the atmosphere her presence guarantees.


Such is also the case with Cesár Romero, except it is quite easy to see that he can act like gangbusters, which is, in fact the part he plays. Romero’s screen energy is always peppy, always out front, vigorous, and apt. He was a handsome man who never aged, who looked marvelous in clothes – and here it looks like he wears them from his 1,000 suits wardrobe. His beautifully tailoring does not suppress his vitality or his humor.


Romero was to make hundred of movies. He went on acting into his 90s. He played parts that Gilbert Roland and Anthony Quinn ditched. He didn’t mind. For he had also played with perfect confidence cads in a mustache opposite Getty Grable in her heyday, and added a lively foil to that fine entertainer’s ebullience. It’s always good to see him.


It’s never good to see George Brent, unless you find fascination in staring at wallboard. It is extraordinary how inert he is. Listlessness was his volcano. He played opposite Bette Davis in 12 of her pictures. Did that laminate him? The odd thing is that, off camera, he was evidently desirability itself. Set next to Romero in this piece, the contrast is destructive to a degree of Brent, and Romero is not attempting to steal scenes. Brent has the animation of a Steiff penguin, except that in Brent’s case, although the adjective is abused, he was life size and his suit didn’t fit.


Tom Drake, late of the boy-next-door roles, gives you a sense of the terrible destructiveness of cute youth. The boy-next-door, if he is this cute and this aware of it, is but one step, if even one step, away from the cad-next-door. And this is the part he plays.


If the movie is silly, it is held at anchor by the performance of Raymond Burr, the man you love to hate, a sort of male Eleanor Bron. For perhaps not the only time but at least here his performance is restrained, collected, interior, and, despite that he plays a vile and ruthless assassin, one cares about him, for some reason. Sometimes Burr was an actor, not just of a part, but of parts, and this is one of those times.


Though it says it is, it’s not noir, and the plot is not plausible. For belief cannot be suspended when one gazes upon the arresting gowns Totter dons as the customary evening attire of a file clerk. On the other had, she is even more out of place in an apron. When credibility knocks at the door in Hollywood, no body comes to answer.

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