Beverly Michaels: Wicked Woman

Poster created for Noir City film festival, sponsored by The Film Noir Foundation

Copyright: Noir City Magazine

Voluptuous vixens, murderous golddiggers and greedy femme fatales were a familiar sight in B-movie melodramas of the fifties but Wicked Woman (1953) stands out from the rest of the pack. The look and feel of the movie captures the lurid quality of trashy pulp fiction covers from the same period like Tavern Girl, Passion Has Red Lips or Any Sex Will Do. Even the minimalistic, sparsely decorated sets, that represent a confined universe of dingy boarding house rooms and the neighborhood bar, exude a sleazy authenticity and sense of claustrophobia. And scheming her way through these lower depths is Beverly Michaels in the title role of Billie Nash. Blonde, statuesque and sullen, she is the quintessential hard luck tramp, moving from town to town in a futile search for a change in luck.    Tavern Girl Continue reading

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Roger Ebert, Sam Fuller, Woody Strode, Les Blank and Others at the 1981 Telluride Film Festival

telluride_1981 posterLabor Day weekend for most people means a farewell to summer and a final official holiday before the Fall season but for me Labor Day usually means “The Show” – the annual Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. I have been lucky enough to attend several of the festivals over the year but since I won’t be able to attend the 41st annual event (Aug.29-Sept.1), I wanted to pay tribute to it with a blog about my first visit there – The 8th Telluride Film Festival in 1981Continue reading

Les Blank, 1935-2013

Les BlankThe prolific independent filmmaker Les Blank died on April 7, 2013 but somehow that sad news slipped past me. I’m just now reading a host of glowing eulogies and tributes to the man, mostly from fellow filmmakers and critics. He wasn’t ever a household name because his movies rarely received theatrical distribution outside of a few major cities. Unless you happened to catch one on your local PBS station or attended a film festival, which is where most of his work first premiered, there’s a good chance you never even heard of Les Blank. Even though he made more than 40 non-fiction features and shorts, the only Les Blank film you can view on Netflix is Burden of Dreams (1982), his justly famous chronicle of the trouble plagued production of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, filmed on location in the Amazon.      Continue reading