Thursday, January 31, 2013
WICKED WOMAN (1953). Director/co-writer: Russell Rouse.
"Mexico City. A-Ca-pul-co!"
Statuesque, vivid actress Beverly Michaels was first seen by movie-goers in East Side, West Side as a tough blonde carrying a torch, but wound up in cheap melodramas like this instead of "A" pictures. Billie Nash comes to town [probably from jail], gets a job as a cocktail waitress, and sets her sights on the bartender, Matt (Richard Egan of View from Pompey's Head), who co-owns the bar along with his dipsomaniac wife, Dora (Evelyn Scott). Billie not only has a yen for Matt but craves a trip to Mexico, and convinces Matt to sell the bar behind his wife's back to bankroll the getaway; she impersonates Dora in a lawyer's office. This leads to a extremely tense scene when the buyer comes to the bar when both Billie and the real Dora are on hand -- will one of the customers give it away? Say what you will about Wicked Woman, the picture is suspenseful as hell at times, quite entertaining, and boasts some very good performances, especially from a saucy and superlative Michaels, who snaps out her lines with both sexy authority and a blase callousness. Percy Helton, who has one of his all-time best roles in this [he even gets to have sex with Michaels, albeit mercifully unseen], plays a boarding house neighbor of Billie's who resorts to blackmail to get a date and more. "You're nothing but a repulsive little runt," she tells him, "and if you don't get out of my hair I'm gonna step on you like a bug!" Now, now. Director Rouse was Michaels' husband and co-wrote the screenplay with Clarence Green, The pair also did the screenplay for the far superior classic D.O.A. Scott also played a bar owner on the TV series Peyton Place.
Verdict: Zesty melodrama with good dialogue and some very good performances. ***.