Bad Girls of Film Noir, Vol. 2: (Disc 1 of 2) Night Editor / One Girl's Confession (1953)
Night Editor (1946): Jill Merrill (Janis Carter, Framed) may just be the coldest gal in town. Her extra-marital affair with a cop (Oscar(r) nominee William Gargan, Best Supporting Actor, They Knew What They Wanted, 1940) forces him to forsake his duty when they witness a murder. Even when an innocent man's life may be at stake, Jill's biggest concerns are no different than any other ice-blooded society gal in noirdom. This below-the-radar Columbia treat directed by Henry Levin (Jolson Sings Again) with photography by Burnett Guffey really packs the punches. Night Editor has a running time of approximately 68 minutes and is not rated.
One Girl's Confession (1953): People think Mary Adams (Cleo Moore, Bait) is a bad girl because shess just too sexy to be good. So she decides to even the score, even if it means jail time. After stealing $10,000 and serving her time, Maryss determined to go straight&she just needs someone to help get the buried cash, and a good investment strategy. This efficient story, written, directed and co-starring Hugo Haas (Pickup), takes up his favorite themes of luck and fate.
Bad Girls of Film Noir, Vol. 2: (Disc 2 of 2) Women's Prison / Over-Exposed (1955)
Women's Prison (1955)
Where do the bad girls go when the law catches up with them? Some of noir's notorious femme fatales are locked up in prison with the sadistic Ida Lupino (High Sierra, On Dangerous Ground) as their warden. Strong performances from Lupino, Academy Award nominee Jan Sterling (Best Supporting Actress, The High and the Mighty, 1954), Audrey Totter (Tension), Cleo Moore (Strange Fascination), and Howard Duff (The Naked City, Shakedown) turn what otherwise might have been a melodramatic story into an entertaining twist on an age-old tale of institutionalized redemption.
Over-Exposed (1956): Lewis Seiler (Women's Prison) directs Cleo Moore (Bait) and Richard Crenna (Wait Until Dark) in this story of an inexperienced, ambitious girl who, after being caught in a raid at a clip joint, has the chance to learn a trade as a photographer. Her new profession brings her closer to respectability and the opportunity to use her talent to extract blackmail. Moore was often the "bait" in movie publicity campaigns; in Over-Exposed, the exploitation was more explicit.
|Film noir and the unmarried professional woman
March 30, 2010 - 4:24 PM PDT
|Over-Exposed and Women's Prison make an interesting pairing, not just for their film noir elements, but also for their obvious discomfort with successful unmarried professional women in the 1940s. Ida Lupina, who could portray characters ranging from a naive innocent to a femme fatale, takes on the role of a cold, sadistic, and mentally unstable warden of a women's prison (whom compassionate physician-- and real life husband -- Howard Duff diagnoses as psychologically damaged by absence of love). In Overexposed, Cleo Moore's character plays a well-trained and gifted photographer, but her career rests on a foundation of blackmail and ruthless ambition, until she trims her goals and marries a good man. Along with these lessons in approved gender roles for the 1940s, the films offer quick-moving plots and other charms (like the odd portrayal of female prisoners as declasse' sorority sisters exhibiting great solidarity and no internal conflicts). I recommend these films for fans of B-move "women's pictures" and noir films, since these two movies straddle the two genres.