"A Walk on the Wild Side" is a well made, intriguing soap opera set in sultry, steamy New Orleans. When the audience sees the opening credit sequence in which a sensuous black cat is photographed in closeup as it prowls along sidewalks and alleys of the Big Easy, viewers are hooked. This startling and ingenious introduction as well as the juicy end credit sequence were conceived by the brilliantly inventive graphic artist Saul Bass.
The rather sordid plot revolves around a good-looking Texas drifter named Dove, superbly underplayed by Laurence Harvey, who hitchhikes his way to New Orleans in search of his long lost love, Hallie. Hallie is portrayed by the elegant and ravishing Capucine. (Capucine bears an uncanny resemblance to both Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. No wonder everyone was crazy about her!) Enroute to the Big Easy, Dove encounters a runaway juvenile delinquent, Kitty, performed with sass and vigor by Jane Fonda. She tags along with Dove until he leaves her behind after he discovers that she is a thief and a liar.
Following an anonymous tip, Dove locates Hallie who is living and working in a high-class brothel. At first he does not realize that she has followed a primrose path. When he does find out, he is understandably shocked. Eventually he forgives her and proposes marriage. Complications and tragedy follow.
The cast of " A Walk on the Wild Side" are uniformly excellent. Barbara Stanwyck is especially memorable. She gives a fearless, ferocious performance as the calculating, possessive lesbian madam, Jo, who is hopelessly infatuated with Hallie. Other palatable ingredients in this movie: the solid direction by Edward Dmytryk; the crisp, evocative black and white photography of Joe MacDonald; and the bold, brash jazz score composed by the great Elmer Bernstein.
No it's not Shakespeare, but "A Walk on the Wild Side" is a very watchable, well-crafted, guilty pleasure.