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

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Kim Novak
THE THIRD GIRL FROM THE LEFT (1973 telefilm). Director: Peter Medak.

"If he cried for anyone, it was himself" -- Gloria

"Of course. Who else does anyone cry for?" -- Zimmy.

Gloria (Kim Novak) at 36 is known as the last of the New York City showgirls (Novak was actually forty). For thirteen years she has been involved with a frankly terrible but popular singer named Joey Jordan (Tony Curtis). Their marriage keeps being "postponed" for one reason or another. Even though Gloria is easily the most beautiful of the "girls," for the first time in her career she is told to stand in the back row instead of in front. She has an affair with a 24-year-old delivery boy named David (Michael Brandon of Four Flies on Grey Velvet), then Joey comes back from Las Vegas where he's been poking Melanie (Barbi Benton) ... The material was there for a decent picture, but The Third Girl from the Left doesn't quite work. Novak isn't terrible, but she's miscast in this, and while Curtis is more appropriate as a Las Vegas reptile, his character is also a cliche. Dory Previn, who wrote the script, was responsible for a number of sensitive songs with excellent music and lyrics on her albums -- although the theme song for this picture is not memorable --  but aside from some good dialogue now and then, this never really goes below the surface. The relationship between Gloria and David is never believable, with the latter coming off like some creepy witless stalker. The best impression is made by George Furth as Joey's manager, Zimmy. When Zimmy learns that the not-quite-bright Gloria was trying to commit suicide, he says "With an electric stove?" That old vulgarian Hugh Hefner was the executive producer of this, which is probably how his squeeze Barbi Benton wound up in the movie -- she's actually not bad although Kate Hepburn had nothing to worry about. Dory Previn was dumped by her husband Andre for the undernourished Mia Farrow, and wrote several songs about it. Judging from her lyrics, one would have hoped for a much better picture. Peter Medak also directed The Ruling Class and By the Pricking of My Thumbs.

Verdict: A nice idea that goes nowhere. **.


angelman66 said...

What an interesting film failure I have never heard of...I am fascinated by anything with Miss Novak; I actually enjoy watching her in the awful Legend of Lylah this a step up or down from that, I wonder?

I am quite a fan of Dory Previn's work with Andre, even though the songs are all now considered camp...there is a wonderful pianist and singer named David Pascucci who has done an album of all the songs from Valley of the Dolls, Inside Daisy Clover and The Sterile Cuckoo.

Thanks for turning me on to this one! Can I find this film on Youtube?

William said...

That's where I found it, although they may have uploaded it under a different name. Anyway, "Kim Novak" is in the title.

Frankly, I like Kim Novak, too, and think she's given some very good performances, but she has appeared in a lot of junk as well as great stuff like "Vertigo."