Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


OVER-EXPOSED (1956). Director: Lewis Seiler.

"You'd use your grandmother's bones to pry open a cash register!"

The ads for this picture made it seem as if it was a behind-the-scenes story of scandal sheets such as Confidential that were popular at the time, but it's really just another lousy Cleo Moore movie. In this Moore plays Lily Krenshka, who is nearly run out of town before being befriended by an elderly photographer named Max (Raymond Greenleaf) who teaches her all the tricks of the trade. Before long she's been rechristened Lila Crane and is off to Manhattan where she shrewdly and ruthlessly rises to the top of her profession, moving from a "flash" girl snapping photos in night clubs to fashion photographer, as well as being offered photo-journalistic assignments by her boyfriend, newspaper reporter Russell Bassett (Richard Crenna). Bassett fears that all Lila is interested in is making money, and his fears are confirmed when he assumes she sold a photo of a sweet dowager (Isobel Elsom of Ladies in Retirement) having a fatal heart attack to a scandal sheet. With its one-dimensional characters and busy if dull story line, Over-Exposed just doesn't grip. It also suffers from not having a more mesmeric lead actress, although Moore certainly isn't bad, although the scene when she argues with a jealous co-worker played by a vivid and excellent Jeanne Cooper illustrates the difference between acting and merely expressing personality; Moore's chief note is one of petulance. With only a couple of minutes screen time Cooper steals the movie away from the star. Over-Exposed would certainly have been more palatable with a gripping actress like Stanwyck or Crawford in it -- or Cooper in the lead --  but even then it wouldn't have been one of their more memorable movies. Crenna is competent but uninteresting as the boyfriend so its no wonder he only became a leading man on television. Constance Towers is supposed to be in this movie as Shirley but her role is too small to make an impression. The occasional sharp bit of dialogue isn't enough to save this.

Verdict: At 79 minutes it's 77 minutes too long. *1/2.

No comments: