16 March 2012 | HarlowMGM
"The Door's Open - Come on In!"
The movie BAIT is remembered, if for anything, for Cleo Moore's "kissing" incident while on a promo tour for the film. While being interviewed on live television in Chicago, the host quizzed Cleo about movie kisses and the subject somehow got around to how short they usually are. The host (no fool he!!) then suggested to Cleo that they go for a record smooch over live television to which the always publicity savvy La Moore agreed and they enjoyed a fairly chaste smooch that ran for several minutes and made national headlines. Too bad the film Cleo was promoting was not as interesting. BAIT is definitely not one of the better Cleo Moore/Hugo Haas collaborations and undoubtedly quite a few fans of the blonde sex-bomb will not be pleased to see she spends quite a bit of the film with her hair up and wearing jeans and a non-tucked in flannel shirt, not exactly pinup glamour. The movie does have it's moments though, notably the intriguing introduction by Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
Cleo stars as a cashier in a little dump of a mom-and-pop store, despised because she is an apparently unwed mother. Nasty old gold prospector Hugo Haas looks on her as trash but his partner John Agar is clearly attracted to the luckless blonde. When the men actually discover gold, greedy Haas tries to think of a way to have it all for himself and decides to marry Cleo, certain that in their secluded corner of the world Agar won't be able to resist Cleo's sex appeal, thus allowing Haas to shoot and kill him and get away with it via "the unwritten law".
The best thing about the film is the natural chemistry between Cleo Moore and John Agar. Hugo Haas makes a much better villain than sympathetic leading man so he's well cast and gives a good performance although his direction is generally uninspired. This one used to play on late shows in the 1980's fairly often but is somewhat elusive in recent years, hopefully Sony will be releasing it in their custom line of "made to order" titles following their recent success of the boxed set of "bad girls" mostly starring Cleo Moore.