Cobra Woman (1944)

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Cobra Woman (1944) Poster

A beautiful woman is abducted from her peaceful South Seas home and taken to Cobra Island, where her grandmother Queen wants her to displace her evil twin sister and vengeance against her priest and corrupt advisor.


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30 May 2001 | Doylenf
Maria Montez as twin sisters in camp classic...need I say more???
Might as well quote from the recent career article I wrote on MARIA MONTEZ, due for publication in CLASSIC IMAGES some time soon:

"She began work in 1944 on a film requiring her to play twin sisters--usually a stretch for any actress but even more so for Maria Montez, whose acting ability had never really convinced anyone except diehard fans that she was up to performing solo. Nevertheless, she took it as a challenge to do "Cobra Woman" ('44) and ardent fans of the actress consider it their top "camp" favorite.

She was so visible in "Cobra Woman" that it was impossible to ignore her still heavy accent, literally talking to herself on screen, as when she tells the Queen, "I have dee-cided to marry Martok and I dee-mand your consent." She played two opposite types, Naja, the evil Queen leading a tribe of snake worshippers, and Tollea, a simple, kind-hearted peasant girl.

Only a few critics came to her rescue, one of whom was Lee Mortimer, N.Y. Daily Mirror: "If you were a producer with a cast of thousands, a corny tale, a stage-set volcano island, several reels of technicolor film and Miss Montez, what would you do? Probably what Universal did. Cast her in a double role. Undress her in both, as much as the law and Will Hays allow, and let nature take its course."

Others were more inclined to simply state: "It has every known variety of corn." (Alton Cook, N.Y. World Telegram) Still, the sight of Montez in a twin role (one good, one bad) writhing in a weird sort of belly dance to King Cobra, selecting subjects with a wave of her hand to be sent to their death by volcanic fire, is something to behold. It was also noted that here her royal deportment was never on more display, strutting around her island domain with all of the natives at her beck and call.

Despite the silliness of the script, it was directed (of all people) by Robert Siodmak, who would later demonstrate his skill in directing another actress in a more serious dual role at the same Universal studio--Olivia de Havilland in 'The Dark Mirror'."

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