Claire (Leslie Brooks) is blonde, beautiful, and deadly. As is true of most film noir heroines, money and power are more important to her than love, and this society page columnist lets nothing stand in the way of her shady ambitions. Or, as the tagline has it - Ice in her veins, icicles on her heart. Claire marries and murders, is the target of an extortionist and murders, becomes engaged and murders. Off in an innocent corner is sports columnist Les Burns (Robert Paige,) his love blinding him to her homicidal ways.
Brooks and Paige head an unusually strong cast of veteran character actors in the Poverty Row movie BLONDE ICE. In a role that could easily have been taken over the top, Brooks plays the sociopath with passionate restraint. Paige, who appearance here is evidence to the downward track his career was on, plays the poor love-struck sap with a sensitive touch.
True to its Poverty Row heritage corners were cut and money was saved at almost every turn. There aren't a lot of expensive tracking and dolly shots, and you'll notice the same curtains in Les's apartment, in a lawyer's office and hanging off the windows in a room holding an election night party.
The cast is filled with veteran character actors who'd either fallen off the A-movie list or were on it only as bit players. Nobody strays too far out of their comfort zone in this one. For instance, Emory Parnell plays police Capt. Bill Murdock. In the 250 movies he's credited with appearing in, Parnell almost always played the cop, good or bad (in this one he's a grouchy good one.) The only non-veteran in the cast is James Griffith, who plays newspaperman Al Herrick, a friend and co-worker of Claire and Burns who smells a rat a little earlier than anyone else. Although BLONDE ICE is his first movie, Herrick would go on to appear in about 100 more. Here he plays a bit of a weasel, someone who's every look, word and gesture carries an insinuation.
The VCI Entertainment dvd comes with a number of special features that truly make this one a bargain value. The special features include:
- A twenty-two minute, early 1950s television episode of Into the Night, starring Wallace Ford. This one offers another take on the theme of the deadly female. Fans of Ford will get a kick out of this one, although I have to admit that I find him annoying. Non-fans won't miss anything by skipping this it completely.
- Ray Barber does an early (1950?) music video, singing the bluesy "Satan Wears a Satan Gown" while Johnny Stage-struck waits in the alley for his lady love.
- A number of trailers for vintage film noirs.
- An interview with film restorer Jay Fenton.
- A commentary track with Jay Fenton.
- Film bios of the stars.
- And, for hard-core noir geeks, there's "A Fascinating Possibility," which in text discusses the possibility that legendary DETOUR director Edgar Ulmer may have had a hand in writing the script for BLONDE ICE.
The five stars are for fans of the genre. If you count yourself a fan of film noir, you'll love BLONDE ICE.