Sunday, August 19, 2012

Noir Watch: Over-Exposed (1956)

Back in the day there wasn't necessarily a concept of a "chick flick", but studios did produce something called "women's pictures".  Douglas Sirk made his name producing movies like Imitation of Life (featuring a lovely Lana Turner) that could be held up as the ideal of the genre of women struggling in a man's world, wrestling with romance or work, and often coming into conflict with their children (see:  Mildred Pierce - a movie I really dig).  

I'm not entirely certain how Over-Exposed (1956) made its way into a noir set, and like Women's Prison, it seems a bit of a stretch to find a place for this next to Double Indemnity or even The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers.  But given the turn in last third, it made be a matter of pacing that's throwing me off.  

It's an interesting mishmash of the money-driven, hard-scrabble girl from the wrong side of the tracks using whatever she's got to get ahead as in Baby Face (1933), but only able to hint at a dodgy past while assuming one could rise to fame and fortune taking pictures for the society pages.

It is 1956, so our leading lady pays and pays dearly for not jumping at the opportunity for marriage to an amiable guy with a good haircut (Richard Crenna).  

The star of the film is Cleo Moore - one of the platinum blondes Hollywood started cranking out in the wake of Marilyn Monroe's success and suddenly remembering Jean Harlow had been a pretty good idea.  She's all right, if a bit humorless, and lacks the punchy iciness of, say, a Joan Crawford (or, god forbid, Bette Davis at her best).  

Busted at a "clip joint" on her first night in a small town, Lily Krenschka falls in with the photographer who grabbed her shot outside the police station, learns his trade and heads to NYC where she tries to become a newspaper photog, and winds up a taking pictures for the society pages and personal portraits, which, according to the movie, makes you a celebrity yourself.  Eventually she gets pictures she shouldn't of had and things go badly for her.  

If only she'd just agreed to marry Richard Crenna.  She could have lived a life of adventure with Col. Trautman.  

I wasn't much of a fan of the movie.  You're on your own.

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