Pistol Packin’ Femme Fatales

Mara Corday is Vera, the mastermind behind a gang of female bandits, in GIRLS ON THE LOOSE (1958), directed by Paul Henreid.

Juvenile delinquent films in the 1950s were so plentiful that they became a major B-movie subgenre and the surprisingly thing about that was the number of movies featuring female hooligans. Among some of the more famous titles are Reform School Girl (1957), Runaway Daughters (1956) and Teenage Devil Dolls aka One Way Ticket to Hell (1955) but Girls on the Loose stands out from the pack as a little known and ingenious B-movie delight. For one thing, these aren’t gum-chewing high school delinquents but a quartet of hardened professionals and damaged goods. Equally surprising is the tough, no nonsense story arc which makes the most of its low budget sets and noir lighting schemes in a compact 77-minute programmer directed by Paul Henreid. Yes, THAT Paul Henreid, the former Warner Bros. heartthrob from Austria-Hungary who performed that romantic cigarette seduction of Bette Davis in Now, Voyager (1942). Here he is below, directing his incognito cast of Girls on the Loose.    

GIRLS ON THE LOOSE, director Paul Henreid on set with masked robbery gang Mara Corday, Joyce Barker, Lita Milan and getaway driver Abby Dalton at rear, 1958 Courtesy Everett Collection.
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The Hula Hoop King

By the time the Coen Brothers released their fourth feature film, Barton Fink (1991), they were quickly becoming the toast of Hollywood, winning various awards and prizes as well as a rapidly growing fan base thanks to the cult appeal of previous films like Blood Simple (1980) and Raising Arizona (1984). Their follow-up feature to Barton Fink was much anticipated but the Coens surprised everyone when their fifth movie turned out to be The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), which was drastically different from anything they had made before.

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Donald Shebib’s Feature Film Debut

The Canadian film industry has never experienced a time in their history where their regional cinema ignited an influential movement like the Nouvelle Vague films of France in the late 50s or Australian’s New Wave films of the 70s. Instead they tend to be viewed more as a functioning subsidiary of the U.S. film industry, occasionally providing locations, cast and crew and other services to American productions. Yet, movie lovers often forget that the country’s national treasure, The Film Board of Canada, continues to be one of the most prolific creators of internationally renowned animation and documentary films, which has garnered 12 Oscars and 74 Oscar nominations to date. Canada has also produced a number of artistic and critically acclaimed feature films which have enriched world cinema such as Claude Jutra’s Mon Oncle Antoine (1971), David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988), Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001), Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions (2004) and Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007). And one film that continues to make Canadian critics’ all-time top ten movie lists is Donald Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road (1970), although it is not as well known among American viewers as the aforementioned titles.    Continue reading

Audie Murphy: Role Model

Audie Murphy plays an angel of death in the semi-allegorical western western, No Name on the Bullet (1959), directed by Jack Arnold

Clint Eastwood certainly carved out his own genre niche as “The Man With No Name” gunslinger of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western trilogy but he wasn’t the first to craft his screen persona as an archetype of the tight-lipped, deadly frontier drifter. Audie Murphy had already perfected the prototype in No Name on the Bullet (1959), a much darker variation on the heroic lawmen the actor usually played in westerns. Continue reading