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4.0 out of 5 stars Curious Film Noir From the UK, Feb. 10 2011
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This review is from: No Orchids for Miss Blandish (B&W Amar) [Import] (DVD)
If anything, this film is an archetype of how the mores and values of our society have changed since the late '40s. At the time this film ran into much trouble with both the English and American censors due to its violence, an attempted rape scene, and provocative sexuality. By today's standards this film would probably be PG, since the violence comes across as fake due to the pop gun sound of the firing guns and the sexuality is all suggestive. The film is rather unusual for the time in how it portrays women as being just as promiscuous as the men. However, one cannot help thinking how interesting it would be if Hollywood ever took on this story with a major movie star.

The film is a film noir that portrays American gangsters in New York City circa the 1930's. Yet, this film was made in England with mainly British actors, and this is a major weakness in the film. The American accents that the British actors use often sound fake and generic. However, the violence in the story is ruthless and the kissing scenes between Linden Travers and Jack LaRue have to some of the longest ever done on screen at the time.

This film was written and directed by St. John Legh Clowes, which sounds like an alias if there ever was one. Sadly, he died shortly after completing this film, and leaves this film as the only major film project he ever did. The script and direction is actually quite good in this film. What was remarkable about this film noir is the complexity of the story, which though sometimes far fetched, especially in regard to the gun toting journalist, but it still manages to offer the viewer a myriad of film noir themes all packed into one movie. Particularly interesting is the psychological transference which occurs between the kidnapped victim and the gangster that is holding her, which actually becomes a sexual obsession on her part for the gangster, played to good effect by Jack LaRue. Also, the plot development has certain bizarre twists of fate reminiscent of Pulp Fiction. Finally, the film packs into the story almost every stereotype of American gangster films of the 1930's, including the use of dice in the same way that George Raft used flipping a coin in Scarface (1932).

As a film noir fan, I highly enjoyed watching the film, though admittedly this is not one of the best film noirs one is ever going to see. Its enjoyment and interest lies mainly in its standing in British film noir of the 1940's and for one of the most compelling film noir scripts I have ever come across, and as a consequence the film is lots of fun on that level.
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

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