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  • Much as 1948's Whiplash was a cross-knockoff of two John Garfield vehicles (Body and Soul, Humoresque), Bad Blonde grafts Body and Soul to The Postman Always Rings Twice, then transplants the hybrid to alien English soil. At a carnival boxing concession, young Johnny Flanagan (Tony Wright, who looks like young John Kennedy) takes up the challenge and reveals himself as quite the pugilist. Concessionaire Sid James, a savvy judge of boxing talent, sees his opportunity to make a comback in the prizefight racket. He gets Wright signed up with rich old Italian promoter Frederick Valk, who on a recent tour of America has brought back Barbara Payton as a souvenir.

    When Wright catches a furtive glimpse of Payton smoothing a stocking along her thigh, he's struck tongue-tied. She's not so bashful, licking her lips as she rakes her eyes up his torso, stripped for the ring. Soon, under the guise of training at Valk's country manor, they're having clandestine clinches in the bracken. But, it apparently being true about leaving one's fight in the bedroom, Wright starts losing his timing, and, more urgently, an important match Valk arranges, thus jinxing his career. But Payton has money, or rather will have once her husband goes down for the count. She feigns a suicide attempt and a pregnancy, then dangles the possibility of murder. The diffident Wright, thinking the child is his, falls in with the plan...

    Somebody besides Payton must have been obsessed with Wright's body: The camera finds every opportunity to linger over it, in the ring and under the water, in trunks and towels and bathing briefs. Did this male-fixated aspect of the movie, originally titled The Flanagan Boy with Wright its title character, cause sufficient panic to have the movie renamed and remarketed? As Bad Blonde, it capitalizes on Payton's aggressive allures, soon to be available on the open market: The actress would drift into tabloid scandals, check-kiting and ultimately prostitution. Only four more films would remain before her last, Murder Is My Beat, in 1955. Twelve years later she would be dead of alcohol-related causes.
  • In 1950, American producer Robert Lippert formed a business alliance with Hammer studios. Under the agreement, Lippert would provide American acting talent - frequently shop-worn stars or just supporting actors who fancied a profitable trip out of the country - while Hammer would supply the rest of the cast and the production facilities. Together they would split the profits. Famous for his concern with the bottom line, Lippert produced over 140 films between 1946 and 1955, characteristically genre pieces such as I Shot Jesse James or Rocketship XM. For the British deal, most of the films were noir-ish thrillers - and include this title.

    Directed by American B-meister Reginald La Borg, The Flanagan Boy is a hugely enjoyable tale of a young boxer whose career is destroyed by the blonde of the US title, the aptly cast Barbara Peyton. Peyton, whose short career was marred by disastrous excesses and liaisons in her private life, is marvellous as the scheming fatale Lorna Vechi, whose marriage to a doting boxing manager is a sham, and whose sexual predations draw in most men around her. Surprisingly explicit in showing female desire (at one point Lorna licks her lips in close up as she eyes the torso of the well formed fighter, standing all self- conscious and sweaty after a bout), as others have noticed this is a film that recalls the similar shenanigans of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Sid James makes an appearance as the original manager of the doomed boxer, and it's a film that still bears up well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Johnny Flanagan is young fighter from the streets of Liverpool discovered by middle aged fight manager Giuseppi Vecchi. Vecchi has a young sexy gold digging blonde wife named Lorna who sets her sights on the handsome young Johnny. At first Johnny rejects her advances, but Johnny soon falls in love with her. Lorna tricks Johnny into thinking she is carrying Johnny's baby so she can convince him to knock off Giuseppie, which he reluctantly does. However, Giuseppi's brother, sister and mother arrive from Italy for the funeral. Giuseppi's mother, who resembles Marty Feldman in drag endowed with the evil eye, suspects Lorna is up to no good and tells Johnny Lorna is lying about being pregnant. She tells Lorna fate will catch up with her, and that it does.

    If all this sounds familiar, it should. THE FLANAGAN BOY (aka BAD BLONDE) is a reworking of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE with elements of a boxing drama inserted. The performances are okay, with Sidney James giving a performance that is much more than that. Overall, not a bad reworking of a familiar theme, but nothing special either.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A young boxer (John Slater) is discovered and a nice boxing promoter, Giuseppe (Frederick Valk). However, the aging Giuseppe is married to a dame that is pure poison (Barbara Payton)--and it's obvious to everyone but sweet Giuseppe. Naturally, she gets her claws into the naive fighter and later she hatches a plot to kill her husband! This is a rather interesting example of British Film Noir. Despite having a very familiar plot of a wicked femme fatale that is reminiscent of such films as DOUBLE INDEMNITY and THE KILLERS, the film still manages to be very entertaining. Most of this is due to the excellent script that, despite familiar themes, has excellent dialog and pacing. Additionally, the mostly small-time acting cast generally did a good job--though I did think the character of Giuseppe was rather over-played.

    The most fascinating things about this film are the behind the scenes aspects. Ms. Payton plays a character that is pretty much the real Barbara Payton. While in her very, very checkered past she was never connected with a murder, Ms. Payton was a horrid individual and was essentially a true-life femme fatale! Having orchestrated a beating delivered by her lovers (Tom Neal and Franchot Tone), she then went on to substance abuse, shoplifting and prostitution before dying of liver failure and heart disease at age 39! What's more fascinating than this is the very final scene where another young boxer is shown heading towards the camera. This guy is the spitting image of Tom Neal!! He's not listed in the IMDb credits and IMDb doesn't list him as being in THE FLANAGAN BOY. I assume the producers of this film must have scoured high and low to find another actor like Neal in order to play off the negative publicity the Payton-Neal affair two years earlier! Well worth a look-the film is fascinating and the real-life Payton parallels are even more interesting.
  • I saw this under its alternate title "Bad Blonde." Though Barbara Payton is billed before the title, I was confused: Yes, the actress had quite a reputation. She had life that was messy and ultimately very sad. It was more sordid and more interesting than the tabloid girls of today.

    And the character she played was bad, to be sure. Yet, the movie makes much more sense under its original title: It's primarily about the character played by Tony Wright. Ms. Payton wears some alluring costumes but we hardly ever see Wright with his shirt on. When he's not boxing, he's swimming.

    It's a sad story. Sort of a film noir, yes. But we feel bad for the basically decent people who are trampled on because of others' greed and desires. Frederick Valk is excellent as Giuseppi, the man drawn into representing the title character in his fight career.

    The plot reminded me, particularly in his character, of Tennessee Williams" "Orpheus Descending." An interesting movie, if ultimately not an especially good one.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Bad Blonde is a great title for a very average movie. It's also the first of the Hammer noirs made in the 1950s I've had a chance to watch. I've always been a fan of Hammer's horror output, so it's a treat to get the opportunity to see what the studio was doing pre-1957. The movie tells the (somewhat unoriginal) story of young up-and-coming boxer who gets mixed up with his promoter's steamy, blonde wife. She bends him to her will and uses him to get what she wants – even if that means committing murder. In a broad, general sense, Bad Blonde kept me entertained throughout. Director Reginald Le Borg keeps things moving at a good pace. The film looks good and the country estate set is a standout. And the movie features a wonderful performance from Sid James. The man carries much of the film on his own. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about some of the rest of the acting. The problems I have with Bad Blonde that make it just barely above average relate almost completely to the two leads. Tony Wright and Barbara Payton, are terribly unconvincing. For Wright, this was his first film, so I can forgive some of his stiffness. But for Payton, Bad Blonde was supposed to something of a return to glory. After only four years of making films, she was already washed-up by 1953. Her story may be a sad one filed with every possible form of self-destruction imaginable, but it doesn't change my opinion of her acting. With the exception of a few memorable moments, she doesn't come across as the smoldering sexpot she's supposed to be. To the contrary, I actually found her quite unappealing.

    Even though Bad Blonde didn't knock my socks off, I'm looking forward to giving the other five films in the new Hammer Film Noir Collector's Set a chance. At a minimum, and if for no other reason, it's interesting to see how the American B-noirs were translated to Great Britain.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The curious "Bad Blonde" (1953) was allegedly based on the 1949 novel "The Flanagan Boy" (also the movie's UK release title) by Max Catto. Many reviewers have pointed out similarities between this movie and more famous film noir outings like "The Postman Always Rings Twice", but the work the Richard Landau/Guy Elmes screenplay most closely resembles is the 1952 novel, "High Wray", by Ken Hughes, which Hughes himself filmed in 1954. The basic plot is virtually identical. Unfortunately, Tony Wright makes a very poor fist of the central role (well played by Alex Nicol in the Hughes version), while Frederick Valk is so distressingly hammy and super-boring as the husband, all our interest shifts to the super-glamorous siren, so enticingly enacted by Barbara Payton (who certainly gives Hillary Brooke a run for her money). Sid James, who was so brilliant as the husband in the Hughes version, in this one has the Peter Illing role, which he plays with lackluster enthusiasm. Alas, the wife has no other suitor here but the stolid-as-a-stalagmite hero, so the Paul Carpenter role was turned into a boring and totally extraneous pal of the Illing character, here portrayed with tedious vitality by John Slater. And to top it off, instead of an astute, charismatic police inspector played by Alan Wheatley, we are now regaled with dull old George Woodbridge. Needless to say, aside from his loving close-ups of Barbara Payton, Reginald Le Borg's tired, static, stolidly routine, barely competent direction isn't a patch on the grippingly stylish, atmospheric effects so brilliantly achieved on much the same budget by Ken Hughes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Italian boxing promoter Giuseppe Vecchi (Frederick Valk) thinks he has found a young fighter, Johnny Flanagan (Tony Wright), that with some training could be a heavyweight champion. Vecchi's bombshell blonde wife, Lorna (Barbara Payton), whom he brought back from a trip to America, soon becomes a distraction. Flanagan finds success in the ring and has the confidence to compete in big money fights. Devious Lorna seduces the young fighter into an affair and convinces him there is a lot of money upon her husband's death. This beautiful blonde is bad, bad, bad.

    Also in the cast: Sidney James, John Slater, John Brooking and Marie Burke.
  • As part of an arrangement with American producer Robert Lippert, Britains' legendary Hammer Studios (known at this time as Exclusive) knocked out a bunch of low-budget features which included film noir stories such as this one. Directed by horror genre specialist Reginald Le Borg ("Calling Dr. Death", "The Mummy's Ghost", "The Black Sleep"), it tells a comfortably familiar tale. The beefy Tony Wright plays Johnny Flanagan, an up-and-coming boxer taken under the wing of trainer Sharkey (Sidney James) and flamboyant old Italian promoter Giuseppe Vecchi (Frederick Valk). Then the promoters' sultry wife Lorna (Barbara Payton) sinks her hooks into Johnny, trying to inspire him to bump off Giuseppe.

    "The Flanagan Boy", a.k.a. "Bad Blonde", is no great example of the film noir genre, but it does include a number of its standard elements in respectable fashion. Johnny is a classic "poor sap" who suffers tremendous guilt, but who still feels overwhelmed by the advances of this sexy siren. Star attraction Payton *is* a perfect example of the "femme fatale" archetype: conniving, self-serving, manipulative. This is a solid vehicle for her talents, at the least. Her entrance is memorable, as we and the camera ogle her legs when Wright catches sight of her in Valks' home. James (in a largely serious performance), John Slater (as the amiable Charlie), and an unbilled George Woodbridge (as the police inspector) offer excellent support. Valks' performance tends to be a little much at times, but one certainly can't accuse the actor of phoning it in.

    A worthy viewing for aficionados of Hammer and the noir genre in general. Future top Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was the assistant director here.

    Seven out of 10.
  • boblipton10 March 2020
    Sidney James and John Slater bring Tony Wright to Frederick Valk. Here's the next boxing champeen! Valk have been out of fight promotion since he married taxi dancer Barbara Payton, but he likes Wright's form, and with the acquiescence of Miss Payton, he takes on the three of them. Of course the boxer and the woman are going to wind up having sex and murdering Valk, who's doing a great Akim Tamiroff impression. It's just that it would be nice if the lovers were capable of acting, or the lines they speak weren't so terrible.

    Wright is merely bad, but Miss Payton is a new kind of awful as she visibly forces her face to show emotions she doesn't feel. The two very blond actors were clearly intended to suggest Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, but aside from the near hair parting, Wright sounds confused by every word he utters, and Miss Payton seems to be zombified in her motions.

    Without these two, it might have been a mediocre boxing noir. With them, it's a ridiculous bore, with snippets from half a dozen more distinguished efforts.
  • bkoganbing7 October 2019
    After a bit too much partying on this side of the pond Barbara Payton got this offer from Great Britain for The Flanagan Boy. She got to play a vixen in a story that resembles Double Indemnity with some traces of They Knew What They Wanted.

    Merchant sailor Tony Wright takes up trainer Sid James's offer to 3 rounds with his fighter at a carnival and flattens him. James takes him up he soon as a heavyweight contender and fixes his him up with Frederick Valk as a manager.

    Valk likes what he sees, but so does his tramp of a wife Barbara Payton. Soon enough these two are hot and heavy in the kanoodling. But her ultimate game is to kill Valk and Wright might just think long and hard enough with his male member to do it. He's putty in her hands.

    This one was a bit too slapdash in its preparation for my tastes. And Payton while gorgeous is not in the category of Barbara Stanwyck as an actress.

    This boxing/noir film could have been a contender.
  • In the Hammer British Film Noir BAD BLONDE originally titled THE FLANAGAN BOY, a bulky and not altogether brilliant English boxer gets a shot when his trainer connects with a rich Italian promoter who can make it all happen...

    But there are a few catches... First, everyone has to live at a rural lakeside estate where the fighter, Charlie Sullivan (Tony Wright), will prepare for future moneymaking matches...

    Second and most important, Charlie needs to get along with the rich man's baby-faced, perpetually pursed-lipped wife Lorna, played by goading, manipulating, voluptuous and built-for-action with sparks-flying starlet Barbara Payton.

    Basically, the first moment Charlie sets his smitten eyes on the sullen temptress, his edge is gone... As is his sanity, to his trainer's chagrin. Liken to, years later, when Burgess Meredith barks at Sylvester Stallone's dame-distracted Rocky Balboa: "Women weaken legs!" Nothing changes in the boxing game, it seems...

    Nor do the stock ingredients of Film Noir as, inspired by the American-made POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, there's a naive, ugly, fat little rich guy... herein the lusty, drunken, jovial promoter... naive enough allow his wife to hang around a young and muscular, good looking stud: Leading to temptation for temptation's sake...

    But what helps BAD BLONDE work beyond the cliches are the boxing scenes, filmed like you're watching each bout from the first row: in every corner. Meanwhile, the eventual murder attempt of Lorna's husband is wickedly intense, with some terrific and inspired perspective angles...

    But overall, too much time wallows in soap operatic dialogue between the boxer and the title character, whose villainy was better when she had a few more rungs to climb.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE FLANAGAN BOY is another early Hammer crime thriller with shades of American noir and an excellent performance from Barbara Payton, playing another effective femme fatale character. The small-scale story involves an upcoming young boxer who begins an ill-fated affair with the wife of his own manager, and as you can imagine things eventually lead to betrayal and murder. Despite the cheapness evident in the production, this is solid viewing material, particularly bolstered by the fine Sid James and John Slater, who make a good comic double act in support. The story might be hackneyed but the actors work hard and there isn't an ounce of fat on the lean narrative.
  • This is a British, early Hammer rip-off of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE starring Barbara Payton. It's very dull and slow, even though Payton, Sid James and others try hard. One of the worst things in it is an over-the-top, scenery-chewing, story-stopping performance by Frederick Valk. He plays the cuckolded husband and does it with more Italian cliches and stereotypes than anyone could think possible.

    I'm a fan of Hammer films, but this one's unwatchable. Reginald LeBorg has done far better work elsewhere.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From the moment you see her naked leg while her hands roll a stocking up her leg, you know that she's truly bad to the bone. The camera finally shows the face, not unattractive, but certainly no Marilyn either. Married to a much older boxing trainer, she at first ignores his protégé Tony Wright but when she sees him fight, her juices begin to flow as her sexuality takes over her scheming mind. Even telling Wright off in a later scene and lying about her lust, you know she's got seduction on her mind, and ultimately murder.

    Barbara Payton is rumored to have been equally a femme fatal as much off screen as she was on, and that adds an intriguing twist to her wicked women. Obviously a rip-off of other similar film noir, this is more camp and a guilty pleasure than a classic. When Payton gets kissed by her obese slob of a husband (Frederick Valk), her disgust oozes off the screen with pure venom. The camp explodes when Valk's suspicious family arrives after the comically filmed "tragedy". His aging stereotypical mama, looking like something out of ancient Greek tragedy, and his equally severe looking sister adds to the over-top melodrama.

    This is B bad movie making at its most delightful with one dimensional performances and clichéd dialog that is laughably bad. Yet, the camera work is really good, so you can see this as being pretty influential with the new wave directors getting to make their mark on film.