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  • In a magazine with some of his work in it, wealthy and influential Stanford White comments on the model on the cover. When he sees her in the flesh he asks that she be brought to his house. Meeting her there he talks to her and the two quickly kiss. He asks her mother not to bring her back but he cannot help himself and soon falls into an affair with her as she falls in love with him. The young and innocent Evelyn Nesbit also attracts the attention of the newly rich but arrogant Harry Thaw, who charms her despite herself. With the attentions of two so wealthy men, it is no wonder that Evelyn is affected by it and the two men are brought into conflict, neither particularly caring for the other anyway.

    The title made me think this film would be a light romantic comedy from the 1950's that would be distracting but not that interesting. Watching it proved to me why I should never turn away a film on the grounds of such sweeping judgements because I found it much more interesting, engaging and morally darker than I expected it to be. The plot is supposedly a true story and, not knowing the total truth of this I can only assume that it takes liberties in the way that any "true" film does – regardless though, it only adds to the value that it is based on a real case. It sees a sweet young girl be torn between two men who are both far beyond the level in society that she could have expected. The text after the titles give away that this story is leading up to a court case of some sort but the development is still good and I found the basic facts to be interesting and made all the better by the subtexts and character development that the script brought out. The character dynamics worked well but also the way the characters (specifically Stanford and Evelyn) grew and changed across the film.

    Responding to this the cast were surprisingly impressive. Well, perhaps that is unfair to paint them all with this brush because the person that surprised and impressed me was Joan Collins. Maybe it is because I am the "Dynasty" generation but I never really rated her as an actress, so here I was quite taken by her range, her subtlety and her awareness of her character. It is not a perfect performance but she is a big part of the material working at more than just the narrative level. Milland is not as good because his character isn't as good but he is still convincing and seems bought into his character. Granger is betrayed by the character and falters as a result – the script puts him in one place at the start and leaves him there with little to do – he is the "conclusion" to the story but other than that he is of little interest. Support is solid enough but the film belongs to Collins and, to a lesser degree, Milland, and both do well with it.

    Overall an engaging and interesting film that is a lot more morally complex that I expected from the period. The basic facts of the story are good but it is the character development that makes the film interesting and the main two actors respond well to it to produce a solid film that I found interesting, a bit melodramatic but well worth a look.
  • This is a glossy melodrama (scripted by Charles Brackett, who also produced, and Walter Reisch) about a famous early 20th century crime of passion. The love triangle comprises Ray Milland (ideally cast but who isn’t particularly stretched by his role of architect Stanford White), Joan Collins (in one of her better Hollywood parts – by the way, the real-life Evelyn Nesbitt acted in a few Silents herself and served as a consultant on this film!) and Farley Granger. The latter is a revelation: usually playing self-effacing types, here he’s arrogant, temperamental and possessive; he reminded me of Robert Ryan’s equally neurotic millionaire in Max Ophuls’ CAUGHT (1949). Besides, Granger’s jealous probing into Collins’ past relations on their wedding night basically replicated a scene from Luis Bunuel’s EL [1952]; and, likewise, his murder of the Milland character over Collins presents a similar situation to a subplot in the Pre-Code BABY FACE [1933] – which, interestingly enough, I watched the very next day!

    Fleischer handles the proceedings efficiently enough (he was certainly adept at real-life crime stories, as his later dramatizations of the lives of other infamous murderers such as Leopold and Leob, Albert De Salvo and John Christie – in COMPULSION [1959], THE BOSTON STRANGLER [1968] and 10 RILLINGTON PLACE [1970] respectively – can attest) but, here, he’s somewhat bound by the commercially-minded formula approach of the studio system which, for instance, necessitated the inclusion of corny musical numbers…even if Collins’ character does start off as a dancer in a variety act. Unfortunately, too, the courtroom scenes aren’t the most compelling ever put on film – but they’re nonetheless elevated by Luther Adler’s presence as Granger’s defense attorney. Another valued appearance is that of author Cornelia Otis Skinner: this was one of only 4 films she did (which include the classic ghost story THE UNINVITED [1944], also with Milland, and the existentialist drama THE SWIMMER [1968], starring Burt Lancaster); she has one interesting scene towards the end where Granger’s mother recounts his overly-protected childhood to Collins, and which inevitably marked his character forever. Collins’ mother, then, is nicely played by veteran character actress Glenda Farrell.

    While THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING has been a regular on Italian TV over the years, I had first watched it as a kid; I decided to check the film out again now in view of Fox’s upcoming SE DVD, as part of THE JOAN COLLINS COLLECTION. By the way, the final scene – with Collins doing the titular stage act for impresario Emile Meyer, who’s eager to exploit her new-found notoriety – ends the film on a satisfyingly ironic note.
  • Joan Collins is Evelyn Nesbit, the beautiful "Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" in this 1955 film also starring Ray Milland, Farley Granger, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Frances Fuller, and Glenda Farrell. The film purports to tell the story of the White-Nesbitt-Thaw triangle that ended with the murder of White, the arrest of Thaw, and the testimony of Nesbit.

    The facts are there, but as others have pointed out, the personalities are not. White (Milland) in fact was a notorious womanizer, and Evelyn was but another conquest. And while it may surprise people that beautiful, sexy "Dynasty" star Joan Collins could play demure and innocent, Evelyn probably wasn't. The unbalanced Thaw (Granger) was also a drug addict, not mentioned in the movie.

    This film, which initially was to star Marilyn Monroe and later Sheree North, should have been much more exciting, given a) the story and b) the money spent on it. Unfortunately, the lack of character development holds it up. The White character remains elusive; Milland never loosens up. Granger does an excellent job as Thaw. Collins is absolutely beautiful and does a good job with the character, but the character as written doesn't give the film much of an edge.

    The scene on the swing between Evelyn and White is dizzying and dazzling; and the end of the film is one of the best things about it.

    Evelyn Nesbit overcame the trial, rejection by Thaw's family, suicide attempts, alcoholism, and addiction to morphine, living until the age of 82 in 1967. She served as an adviser on this film.
  • Here's my guess as to why this 1955 "Trial-of-the-Century" drama (which highlighted the real-life Thaw-White murder case from 1906) failed to deliver a substantial enough wallop and, thus, hold onto this viewer's rapt attention.

    It was because the real-life Evelyn Nesbit (who, at a much younger age, had played a pivotal part in this murder case) was now playing "technical adviser" on the set of this 1955 picture. And, as a result, nothing in the story could be filmed without her prior consent.

    And because of this veto power that Nesbit (72 at the time) wielded, her youthful character in the story was white-washed, and made out to be the sweetest, most naive, little innocent bystander in the scheme of things.

    And, on top of that, the sexual implications of Nesbit's torrid affair, at 17, with a man 3 times her age was down-played so unrealistically as to make it appear as if she and Stanford White were merely platonic friends.

    As a result of all of this down-playing (at Nesbit's insistence) this film's story was virtually rendered flat and uninspired, with only shallow and apathetic performances given by all of its principal players.

    I honestly believe that this 1955 picture could've been real dynamite story-telling had Evelyn Nesbit not had such a strangle-hold on its subject matter, as she adamantly insisted that her once ravishing "Gibson Girl" image remain intact, thus making certain that she was portrayed as the absolute epitome of "Turn of the Century" innocence.

    Directed by Richard Fleischer (a fairly notable director), this disappointing melodrama suffered, as well, from a curious lack of essential close-ups.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story of the love triangle of Stanford White, Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Thaw was a HUGE story back in the early 20th century. The resulting trial was dubbed 'the trial of the century'...that is until the NEXT trial of the century occurred soon after!!! The story had it all--sex, insanity, jealousy, a beautiful young nymph and murder! And, as a result, the story really could not have been adequately told until more recently--mostly due to the Production Code which forbade a frank discussion of the sex lives of these folks. So, when I watched "The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing", I realized that it was so sanitized that it was practically a work of fiction--after all, the real story never would have passed the censor boards! In the early 1980s, the film "Ragtime" explored this sensational crime, but only on the periphery. The sensational murder was portrayed, but the lives and personalities of those involved were pretty much a cypher. You can't entirely blame the film makers, as the trial and murder were not the main focus of the film. So, because of a sanitized and sketchy version of this affair, you are left wanting more--the true and complete story--a story that I still do not fully understand.

    "The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing" is mostly told from the viewpoint of Stanford White and Nesbit. While Harry Thaw is definitely in the film, he's mostly shown as a quick-tempered and one-dimensional nut. While this might just be the real Thaw, it just seemed a bit vague. And as for White and Nesbit, you'd think that their relationship was 100% platonic...which it wasn't. In fact, no real hint of sex between ANYONE is really evident in the film! As a result, the actors all seemed a bit flat--like there was so much more that was unsaid. Joan Collins (Nesbit) was very pretty and did fair in the film but not much more. Ray Milland (White) was rather gallant...too gallant. And, Farley Granger (Thaw) was mostly angry and nutty throughout! None of these characters were written well and the actors had little with which to work. As a result, the looked pretty but was pretty empty as well. It's actually pretty remarkable how dull this story was considering how exciting the actual tale was! By comparison, the story of Leopold & Loeb (in "Compulsion"--the next 'trial of the century' that took place in the 1920s) was fascinating, deep and involved (with a hint of a homosexual undercurrent)--even though it, too, was made in the 1950s. This movie is aching for a complete remake. In fact, it might even do well as a mini-series--as there is a lot to this weird story.

    This film is like a pie made entirely of meringue. It looks nice but is too sweet and not particularly filling.
  • If you made a completely factual account of the famous Thaw-Nesbit-White triangle which scandalized the folks of the Theodore Roosevelt era, I suspect none of these people would be regarded as innocent. But with 20th Century Fox entitling their film about the case The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing you know the accent will be on Joan Collins as Evelyn Nesbit as a wronged woman.

    Collins with her involvements first with the married Stanford White played by Ray Milland and later marrying the homicidal Harry K. Thaw played by Farley Granger is shown as a girl just in over her head before she realizes it. In real life pushed by an ambitious stage mother, chorus girl Evelyn was well aware of her spectacular beauty even as a teen and it was as a teen that she met Stanford White who seduced her.

    White on the other hand was a notorious rake, a fact his wife in the film played by Frances Fuller realizes and accepts. In the beginning he sees her off to Europe and Ray Milland is off to fun and frolic. If you see a picture of the real Stanford White he had a huge handlebar mustache which no doubt tickled many fancies. Milland plays him clean shaved.

    And Harry Thaw was definitely a candidate for the rubber room. Of the three in the triangle Farley Granger more closely captures his character than either Milland or Collins. What is not shown is that in addition to his psychological problems, Thaw was also a drug addict. That was not something discussed in polite society and in fact a subject rarely brought up by Hollywood during the rule of the Code. The same year The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing came out, Hollywood finally an honest film about dope addiction with Otto Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm.

    None of these people are candidates for sainthood. White, the most brilliant architect of his time was a rake, Nesbit was a gold digger and more than likely may berated have husband Thaw with tales of Stanny's sexual prowess and Thaw was just nuts.

    So tilting this film toward Nesbit gave us the film we have which is not a bad one. Collins, a third choice to play Nesbit after Marilyn Monroe and Sheree North, was definitely great in the role. The film is more or less factually true, but it's all a question of spin.
  • Richard Fleischer remains one of the most underrated of the American directors.His influence is huge,particularly in Europa:Chabrol's last movie "La Fille Coupée En Deux" is a disguised remake of "girl on the red velvet swing" -and not nearly so good.His movies dealing with criminal affairs are all interesting and form,in spite of their differences ,a well-knit group:"Follow me quietly" "Compulsion" "Crack in the mirror" and his more accomplished works "Boston strangler" and " 10 Rillington PLace" ."The girl on the red velvet swing" ,in spite of its costume drama side,belongs to the genre too.We're told since the beginning it's a criminal affair.The title is a transparent metaphor:Evelyn is not only caught between two men;she is a proletarian ,close to French writer Colette's "Gigi" in the world of the wealthy and the mighty.One of her men doesn't want to divorce and to marry her ,not because she is young enough to be his daughter but because the world he lives in is not prepared to accept such a monstrous union.If she were a rich heiress ,the daughter of one his rich customers who have him built desirable mansions ,all would be forgiven .And if the girl marries a millionaire ,it's only because he is impotent ,under an over possessive mother's thumb :in an amazing scene the mother recognizes the facts.People who know Mankiewicz's "The barefoot Contessa" will notice the similarities between the two "rich" marriages .

    Like Max Ophuls' "Lola Montès" ,when her family-in -law denies her,it only remains for her to make a spectacle of herself in a theater ,a place she should never have left.The two scenes in which the girl is on the swing are the most impressive ,with a dazzling camera:there's something disturbing in the first one,when the girl asks for the moon (true and figurative sense)..But "it's only a paper moon sailing over a cardboard's only a canvas sky..hanging over a muslin tree"
  • jotix10021 March 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    As if by coincidence, we had watched "La fille coupee en deux", directed by Claude Chabrol, last night, and lo and behold, this earlier Hollywood version of the same story was shown the following night on cable. This is the third version of the same story, the other came out in Milos Forman's "Ragtime", that we have seen about the life of Evelyn Nesbit, a beautiful woman, who at the turn of the twentieth century found herself at the center of a love triangle. That the real Ms. Nesbit was an adviser of this 1955 Hollywood version, lends one to believe the screenplay was tilted to show her in a better light, as is the case with this film.

    Stanford White, a famous New York architect, builder, among other things of the Washington Square Arch, was a man who loved beauty wherever he saw it. At the time when one first meets him, he was forty eight years old. Married to Elizabeth, who was his same age, he is left alone as Mrs. White departs for Baden-Baden because of her arthritis. This man falls for the gorgeous Evelyn Nesbit, a poor young woman, whose main talent was her beauty.

    Evelyn also breaks young Harry Kendall Thaw's heart. This young man about town, a rich heir to a large fortune, wanted Evelyn, at all costs. His passion was his downfall. His infatuation with the ravishing beauty proved to be fatal. Harry's mother had a lot at stake, as she tried everything to get his son away from the woman she perceived to be a threat to her son's well being.

    Joan Collins, who was at the height of her beauty, plays Evelyn. It was one of her earlier screen appearances, although not her first. Her take of Evelyn, perhaps influenced by the real Ms. Nesbit, shows us a naive young woman who falls prey to forces that were bigger than her. There was also a sexual undercurrent in the story, something that in those days was not dealt with reality. Ray Milland and Farley Granger play Stanford White and Harry Thaw, respectively. A good supporting cast was assembled for the picture. Luther Adler, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Glenda Farrell, Gail Robbins, and Phillip Reed, among others, are seen in the background.

    The film was directed by Richard Fleischer and based on the screenplay by Charles Brackett, long associated with Billy Wilder, and Walter Reisch. Milton Krasner's cinematography contributed to make this a better film.
  • I first saw this movie years ago. The older I got the more I got it. Collins played Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbitt Todays version of the Super models. So it is not surprising that is exactly the way she acts. She hangs out in nightclubs. Goes out with rich and famous men, some married some not. One day she double dates with one of her co workers and she meets Sanford White the very famous, very married, very rich architect, whose apartment the date takes place. She is smitten at once, he just seems like a lecherous old man. Evelyn lives with her mother, but for some reason her mother disappears and moves back down to Pittsburgh.

    So Evelyn is living on her own. In the meantime she catches the eye of a younger man. The very rich and very spoiled Harry Thaw. We know he is smitten with her but she doesn't really notice it because she is so taken with Sanford White. We know that they are sleeping with each other because of a very metaphoric scene which involves this velvet swing White has in his apartment. The swing is definitely used as some sort of seduction tool. And when Evelyn's mother returns home she remarks that Evelyn has not picked up her messages in days. So we know they are past the kissing and hugging stage. She is obsessed with him and she admits that she will do anything to see him. After a while Sanford admits to Evelyn that he loves his wife as he does her, but he can't see her anymore. So he sends her away to a finishing school. Where because she is separated from Sanford has a nervous breakdown.

    Now to me this movies veers off to Splendor in the Grass meets Back street. In Splendor young Natalie Woods has a nervous break down because of her break up with boyfriend Bud. Back street because Rae the main character will do anything and go anywhere to be with her rich married boyfriend. Instead of Sanford saving her we see Thaw coming to get her out of the Finishing school. She decides to take a trip with him overseas. This is racy stuff for a 50's movie. Now all am going to say is that the story picks up until the climax of the movie.

    This incident was touched upon in the movie Ragtime. Norman Mailer played the Sanford White role and Elizabeth McGovern played Evelyn. We learn more about Evelyns fate from the movie Ragtime. Farley Granger IMO was very good in this movie. He usually plays namby pamby types, but in this movie because of his boyish looks he plays a psychopath to the hilt. He was truly scary. Ray Milland is one of the great actors. According to reports Sanford White was a ladies man. I think Mr Milland played him very well. He looked like the lecherous old man he was. I hear complaints about Ray Milland in this movie, but his part was not the showy part. Milland was the type of actor that wanted to act and because of this he made many movies that did not help, but this was not one of them. Joan Collins was playing Joan Collins. She was good enough, even though she looked a little too old for the part of the teenage Ms Nesbit I think Elizabeth McGovern played her more true to the character. This a very entertaining movie. If you can get past the innuendo's you will see this is a very racy movie too. All in all a good movie. BTW watch Ragtime to see more of the trial and what happened to Evelyn.
  • Like the person that preceded me on this thread, I, too, saw this movie on the True Stories Channel, just this very morning. Over the years, I had seen bits and pieces of it, before, but never the whole movie in its entirety.

    With that said, I must admit that I am a HUGE (!!!) Joan Collins fan, so it's doubtful that I would've subjected myself to the movie's excruciatingly slow pace had it NOT co-starred "Joanie." I mean, I've followed "Joanie's" career through muck ("Empire of the Ants") and mire ("The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing"), so I can honestly say that "Joanie" MAY star in bad motion pictures, but she NEVER gives a bad performance!

    Yes, I agree with the other posters, Ray Milland DOES, indeed, deliver a VERY bland and wooden performance as architect, Stanford White. However, much the same thing can be said for Farley Granger, too, in the villain's role of Harry Thaw. While I can't speak for Granger, I feel I must stand up for Milland: In 1945, under Billy Wilder's superior direction, he won a much-deserved Oscar for his performance as an alcoholic in "The Lost Weekend." So, for his lackluster performance in this movie, I place the blame on the director, Richard Fleischer.

    Look, this movie was supposed to be a break-out role for "Joanie." Alas, it wasn't to be. Sure, she'd go on to make other "A" movies, like "Land of the Pharaohs" and the rare Paul Newman clunker, "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!" However, after the final Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road movie, "The Road to Hong Kong," "Joanie" was lucky to get work in TV shows like "Batman."

    Fortunately, OUR "Joanie" is a SURVIVOR! Super-producer, Aaron Spelling, remembered her from his salad days, and cast her as the Super-Bitch, "Alexis Carrington," in his night-time soap opera, "Dynasty," and the rest - as they say - is history!
  • Set in New York in the early years of the 20th century, a stunning Joan Collins plays the title role, in which there are actually two scenes where she is the girl in the red velvet swing, both of which are fantastic. Both scenes give a lot of credit to the director, cinematographer, set designers, and art director. The film is beautiful to watch throughout, mixing sets from early Broadway stage to crowded fancy New York restaurants. Collins' part as a teenage chorus girl whose beauty is such that she bowls over both Ray Milland who plays a wealthy and well-established New York architect and Farley Granger an heir to a fortune from Pittsburgh, who both throw tons of money her way. What starts off looking like it's going to be a musical comedy actually gets fairly involved and intense, leading to a great and ironic ending.
  • God, I've read the reviews.

    I know I'll be lambasted for accusing amateur critics for being totally rubbish. BUT can any one get to the realization that this movie (made in 1955) was based on real people with real lives over 100 years ago (as I write - 1 May 2008!!).

    That is amazing in it itself - Let's let a few things go. The movie was made 49 years after the murder. I'm writing about it after 102 years - and it's still a great, and terribly sad story. Who could tell it now!? We think we're the first generation to be totally liberated with sex scenes. We're so smart that we watch Sex in the City (and the amazing swing scene). However, this movie was made in 1955 and is based upon a very real and very sad story. Evelyn Nesbit was one of the first and greatest Hollywood actresses - up until 1930 she and others like her were sometimes freely allowed a sexuality that is still, to this day, considered sometimes pornographic.

    However, regarding this movie and (real) story in particular, what is most amazing is how a small town beauty in the first decade of the 1900's (correct - 100 years ago) allowed herself to be caught between two powerful men (infact there was a third - actually in the middle - John Barrymore) and that her life eventually became a Hollywood thriller. Only in the United States of America.

    Good God! Elizabeth Nesbit was 16 when she met the 47 year old Mr. Standford White - She was a "silent actress" - never made a speaking role in her life. However perhaps she was the first sell out. She was special adviser to this film... why wouldn't she be - she was central to it. She IS it!!! But even by 1930 (yet alone 1955) Evelyn Nesbit was a total has been. According to Wikipedia, largely because of her third husband - the Mr.Thaw that killed Mr. White - her opportunities to act as the "Vamp" she once had, ended. The reason Thaw fell in love with her was the very reason she couldn't act on the screen that made her a 20th Century legend. Looking back however, even if the transition from the movies to the talkies allowed it (and it rarely did), Evelyn was always going to be something from a by-gone age - "The Vamp" - a segment from the curiosity shop - the "silents" - and, allegedly, a witness to a murder of a former lover - in a time when men still wore spats, and top hats and long tails... It all seems so romantic now - except that this was real, 102 years ago a man was shot in the face for love or lust or jealousy, somebody actually was really murdered. I doubt it was romantic - in any way, shape or form.

    What do you think - would a 2008 version do these people and especially Evelyn Nesbit more justice, or should we just let people rest? After all in 1955 the story was only 49 years old...
  • It's curious that such a DEAD film can be made about what was considered "The Crime of the Century" at one time. A young Joan Collins is unbelievably lovely as the title character, but plays the role in a humble, eyes-downcast, saccharine-sweet way that, while it may possibly be what Nesbitt was really like, has an unvarying dullness to it.

    The rest of the cast is wooden as well, and the entire design of the movie is obviously expensive, yet completely unimaginative. But the real problem with this movie is the script, which not only is too leisurely, but features some of the stuffiest, most phony-sounding dialogue I've heard.

    This isn't actual dialogue from the movie (which I refuse to re-listen to), but it may as well be: "Oh my goodness, I thought this room was empty." / "No, my dear, it is not." / "I am sorry that I have disturbed you. I am afraid that you shall think me a goose." / "There is no need to run away, my child. Come here, and let me look at your face. Why, you are most beautiful. Yes, indeed. Most, most beautiful. But, you blush?" ETC. ETC. AD NAUSEAM! Again, Collins is beautiful to look at here (even though the movie curiously avoids spectacular closeups), but she's the film's sole virtue. (And even saying that, her contribution is her physical appeal rather than her acting performance.)
  • edwagreen14 May 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Here is the story of a girl who had the best of both worlds before it all came tumbling down in a murder.

    There was a very good performance by Joan Collins as Evelyn Nesbit. Well supported-by Farley Granger, the millionaire whose insanity got the best of him and a wonderful performance by Ray Milland as Sandford White, her older lover, a brilliant architect whose lust for Nesbit was his ultimate downfall.

    Glenda Farrell was superb as Nesbit's mother, especially when she realized that she could no longer control her daughter's lust.

    A story of how fate brought the three together and how fate kept the rivalry between both men until the Granger character ended it all by killing White.

    The last scene of the film showed who Nesbit really loved by her being on a red velvet swing in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A good yarn and a true one although with some modifications to the facts I have no doubt. It's about the events leading up to the murder of the American architect Standord White by playboy Harry Kendall Thaw and briefly, about what happened afterwards. I suppose you could say it's a prestige production, lavishly done in widescreen, (it certainly looks the part), and with two 'stars', (Ray Milland and Farley Granger), in the roles of White and Thaw. I use the term stars cautiously, however, as Milland was, by now, getting on a bit and Granger never really made it to the front rank.

    The girl of the title and the cause of all the trouble is one, Evelyn Nesbitt, (Joan Collins, being launched here in America). She's barely adequate and one can hardly imagine men being driven to murder over her, but no matter, it moves at a good lick and Richard Fleischer, while never the most imaginative director in the movies, wasn't one to let us down and keeps everything on a very professional level. The same story served as a segment of "Ragtime" with a much more convincing Nesbitt from Elizabeth McGovern.
  • First some truths and then a review of the film itself.

    Evelyn Nesbit, from my own impressions of her recent bio, American Eve, and a clip of her singing from 1930, was a coarse, cheap, nearly talentless beauty of 1906 - all this faded by 1930, when she looked quite plain and homely. Stanford White was obese, a womanizer and a trafficker in underage virgins. Harry Thaw was a madman, pure and simple, protected by his wealth. He also was quite plain and homely. Evelyn's mother was also a trafficker, for her daughter - she makes GYPSY's Madame Rose look like Melanie Hamilton.

    Hollywood could not have produced a film true to the characters in 1955. It would never have passed the censors. You didn't touch motherhood then. GYPSY on stage was four years later.

    Given the basic narrative structure of the facts, and allowing for Hollywood's restrictions, THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING is for me an excellent filmization of this narrative. Beautifully photographed and given sumptuous production design as well as excellent casting, it stands as a very interesting "take" on the "crime of the century."

    I applaud it and its makers. For something truer to the original characters, visit the segments in RAGTIME devoted to this story. Elizabeth McGovern's turn as the passive, dim-witted Evelyn is much truer to the real woman and deservedly brought her an Ocar nomination.

    Shame on the Academy for denying it any noms- it deserved recognition in the Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design categories. Farley Granger gives his best performance as the deranged Thaw. Glenda Farrell as Mrs. Nesbit also deserved consideration in the supporting category.

    Interesting to note that the love theme is a blatant steal from Max Steiner's Melanie and Ashley love theme in GONE WITH THE WIND, borrowing the first two stanzas of that theme.

    If they ever film the bisexual Granger's fascinating life, consider Michael Ellison, the sensitive young actor of THE BEST MEN - a look alike with hidden depths.

    Do see THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING and RAGTIME in succession to get an overall impression of this fascinating triangle.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although he had several scenes in the film and was referred to - by surname at least - several times IMDb in their wisdom fail to credit the actor who played artist Charles Dana Gibson who inspired both a look and a cocktail - a Gibson is a martini with an onion instead of an olive. This apart Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder's ex-writing partner, turns in a reasonable script based very much on real events. Ray Milland, as architect Stanford White walks away with the acting honours, Farley Granger mistakes looking petulant for acting and Joan Collins barely registered as Evelyn Nesbitt, an innocent caught between two powerful men, one with scruples, one with demons. Pleasant diversion but there is still a film to be made of this star-crossed trio.
  • gkeith_16 February 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Observations, reflections and musings:

    Evelyn Nesbit is here, plus in the film Ragtime. In Ragtime, she is played by a young Elizabeth McGovern (mama in Downton Abbey, anyone?). In Red Velvet Swing, she is played as a young, generally innocent girl by Joan Collins (Dynasty, swanky and sexy, you betcha,).

    Who said that 1906 was the Edwardian Era??? In the United States, this occurred in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Edward was the King of England, not America. We actually have our own Eras here in the U.S., witness how we broke away from England in the 1770s. Witness our Revolutionary Era. Did we want to be British anymore? No. A resounding NOOOOOOO.

    A little historical background: King Edward reigned in England from 1901 to 1910. He was the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who passed away in 1901.

    The United States had quite a unique history during that time period. Late 19th and early 20th American centuries were the eras of steel industrialists, factory strikes, robber barons, talk softly and carry a big stick, railroad kings, oil gazillionaires, et al. This was also the American age of hordes of unwashed immigrants, bad meat being sanitized, and poor children forced to leave the factories and go to school and actually get an education. Jim Crow laws were big.

    The United States was still the land of freedom and democracy, not monarchichal reigns and Parliament. This is still true. In 1906 America some people were availing themselves of these glorious attributes, and building huge wealth and making tons of money $$$$$$$$.

    This film is about rich people, the extremely wealthy. Murder is the jealousy solution to sexual dallying or a crazed person's paranoiac ideas of same. This film is based on a true story. White and Thaw were very wealthy men. Golddiggers abounded, then as now. Jealousy and criminal revenge at high financial levels still make good press (or tabloids or sleazy "entertainment" talk shows).

    Great story, if whitewashed for 1950s censors and Nesbit the consultant and paid observer, plus tear-jerky heirs of White and Thaw. Mustn't try to play legal, character assassination games with heirs of the deceased(s).

    Farley Granger was menacing and creepy, yet smiling at other times. I consider him one of Hollywood's most handsome and dashing actors, however.

    Marilyn Monroe? James Dean? They were probably too expensive.

    Great Props: The Oscar goes to: (Drum Roll:) THE RED VELVET SWING!!!!! It was a beautiful, lush and bright red, with soft, luxurious velvet fabric covering the chains/ropes and seat, plus there was some awesome red fringe falling from the bottom of the seat. Reach for the moon, Evelyn!!!!!

    I am a cinematic historian, and I am involved in film studies at university. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in American History from that same university.

  • Love this movie. Joan Collins was perfect for the part.

    I discovered it is on Satellite Oct 2, 2004 on the TRUE station. I am going to finally record it. I don't know why this movie isn't out on DVD or Video.

    Yes, I agree with the other assessment of Ray Milland but Joan sparkles in the coquette role period piece.

    This movie is one of those forgotten pieces of romantic history. Great costumes and entertaining if you like the actors. Not filmed to be masterpiece,just entertainment. There used to be some members notes in the message center about looking for this movie but I see nothing now. Hope some of you out there can catch this movie on Oct 2nd.If not you might keep checking because if it is on once it will be on again.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing is based on the real life scandal and murder of Stanford White, the outstanding architect of his time. Evelyn Nesbit was such a beauty that she graced the covers of many magazines, including being chosen for a Gibson Girl. The Technicolor of this film is outstanding. The glorious costumes the backdrops all shine through. The film is a loose adaption of the affair between Everlyn (Joan Collins) and Stanford White (Ray Milland). Joan Collins is at the peak of her own beauty and a perfect choice for this role. The Flora Dora girl was supposed to be swept into the affair by the much older White, but in the film she is willing. Although we can only believe what we see, White was a notorious cad, who charmed many a under-age girl, with champagne and caviar. But of course we see Milland at his best and so dashing no wonder anyone would fall for him. She is also pursued by Harry Thaw, a wealthy younger man, full of contradictions and madness. This is possibly Farley Granger's best appearance. Sometimes he almost makes you believe he is crazy. He is so jealous of White that Evelyn is just a win for him. In the end, she marries Thaw and he never lets her forget that she was taken in by White. So crazed with jealousy even after he has her, he kills White in a dramatic shooting on top of Madison Square Garden. One also wonders why they made White's wife look so old in the movie? In real life she was quite lovely. So do we go along for the ride and the movie version or the real life drama. I prefer to believe the movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    On 25th June 1906 Stanford White, one of America's most famous architects, was shot dead in Madison Square Gardens (a building he had designed himself) by a millionaire rail and coal tycoon named Harry Kendall Thaw. Thaw's motive was sexual jealousy; he believed that White was having an affair with his beautiful young wife Evelyn. White certainly had at one time been one of Evelyn's numerous lovers, but their relationship had in all probability ended before her marriage to Thaw. Thaw was tried for murder, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

    What made the crime one of the notorious causes celebres of the Edwardian era, apart from the fame of the victim and the wealth of the perpetrator, was the fact that Evelyn, under her maiden name of Evelyn Nesbit, had been a famous model and actress in her own right, one of America's first "pin-up girls" and an early example of what would today be known as the "celebrity culture".

    The film relates this story in a somewhat fictionalised form. The main change is to soften the character of Evelyn Nesbit, which is perhaps not surprising as she was still alive in 1955 and even served as a technical adviser on the film. (Thaw had died in 1947). Her relationship with White is kept rather ambiguous; the two are portrayed as having been in love, but not necessarily lovers in the sexual sense. Although White loves Evelyn, he is unable to marry her because he is still fond of his wife Elizabeth and does not want a divorce, so he treats her almost as an adopted daughter, paying for her to attend an exclusive girls' finishing school.

    The leading role was originally intended for Marilyn Monroe, who turned it down; it eventually went to Joan Collins, who bore a greater physical resemblance to the historical Evelyn Nesbit than did Monroe. After her roles in films like "The Bitch" and television series like "Dynasty", Collins today has gained a reputation for specialising in playing seductive villainesses, but during her Hollywood heyday in the fifties and sixties she was as much at home playing heroines, and here she plays Evelyn as a sweet and naïve young thing bemused by the passions she arouses in men, especially the obsessively jealous Thaw. (Whether the real Evelyn Nesbit was quite as innocent is another matter).

    Ray Milland bears little physical resemblance to the real Stanford White, who was a burly, red-headed man with a very prominent moustache. By all accounts he was a practised womaniser, with a particular liking for teenaged girls, and probably less kindly and avuncular than the character portrayed here. The film's rather odd title derives from the fact that one of White's sexual fetishes was to have Evelyn, and his other mistresses, perform for him on a red velvet swing at his home. Another change which the film makes to the facts of the real case is that Stanford and Elizabeth are here portrayed as being the same age; in reality she was considerably younger than him.

    The best acting contribution comes from Farley Granger as the arrogant, self-obsessed and pathologically jealous Thaw. Granger is today perhaps best remembered for the two films he made with Alfred Hitchcock, "Rope" and "Strangers on a Train", and there are certainly similarities between Thaw and Phillip Morgan, the character Granger played in "Rope". Both are spoilt young men, from wealthy, privileged backgrounds and both have an ineradicable sense that their background entitles them to have anything they want. Both are so arrogant that they literally believe that they can get away with murder, Morgan because he believes himself to be intellectually superior to anyone who might try to investigate his crime, Thaw because he believes that his wealth will effectively enable him to buy his acquittal. (He is partially correct in this belief; the verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" means that he escapes the death penalty).

    The film was directed by Richard Fleischer, a versatile director who seemed able to work in virtually any genre, including film noir ("The Armoured Car Robbery"), science fiction ("20,000 Leagues under the Sea", "Fantastic Voyage"), the historical epic ("The Vikings"), and sword-and- sorcery fantasy ("Conan the Barbarian", "Red Sonja"). He did, however, also make a number of films based on real-life murder cases, including this one, "Compulsion" (loosely based upon the Leopold-Loeb case which also inspired "Rope") and "Ten Rillington Place" (based upon the career of the British serial killer John Christie).

    These three films are very different in terms of their visual style. "Compulsion" was shot in black-and white, influenced by the films noirs in which Fleischer had specialised in the earlier part of his career. "Ten Rillington Place" was filmed in a bleak, washed-out colour with a palette dominated by greys and dull browns and greens, giving a look appropriate to Christie's seedy lifestyle and to the run-down London of the post-war austerity years. "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing", by contrast, was shot in a much richer, brighter colour, reflecting the glamorous worlds of New York high society and of the turn-of-the-century theatre. In its emphasis on recreating the fashions and styles of the Edwardian era it can be seen as an early example of "heritage cinema".

    I wouldn't rate "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" quite as highly as highly as Ten Rillington Place", possibly Fleischer's finest film with two particularly strong acting performances from Richard Attenborough as Christie and John Hurt as the hapless Timothy Evans. It is, however, a very entertaining account of a "true crime" scandal of sex and violence in high places. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I often wonder where IMDb gets cast and production credits. Evidently not from the studio's Press Book. In the long run, that is undoubtedly an advantage. Many of the cast and behind-the-camera credits for this one are not listed in the Press Book at all, but, on the other hand, IMDb omits one of the most intriguing, namely that Evelyn Nesbit herself was hired as a "consultant" for the movie and was paid $50,000 for her services (which was more money than the film's director received). Miss Nesbit not only gave advice on the script, the decor and the costumes, but on the players. She thoroughly approved the casting of Joan Collins and while she made no mention of Ray Milland or Granger, she did declare that "White was the only man I ever loved. In fact, he was the most wonderful man I ever knew. As for Thaw, he was a poor thing at best. But I guess he couldn't help what he did. He was a mighty peculiar person when I married him and he just got worse and worse. I thought when I married him that he'd snap out if it, but he deteriorated. Too much money spoiled him young. It would have been better if he'd never been born!" Although the movie has its detractors, I found it fascinating. The only thing I didn't really like was Ray Milland's weary performance. He seems to be playing at half-steam. But Granger is superb, and Joan Collins fills Miss Nesbit's shoes most attractively.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    All other reviewers have largely,and, from very different prospectives, told us all about we needed to know about the story,a lurid 1910's upper Manhattan's scandal, its acute sensationalism and the 3 principals, all victims of their 'so typically' scandalous,yet, "attractive" misfortune, one of the most famous classic American tragedies in a way! But,plot aside, what bothers me the most, by reading even too patiently, all the other reviews posted so far, is how terribly quickly, all the other people poorly rated this movie. with no consideration nor understanding of the different times,immediately labeling this movie, as mostly outdated, annoying, ridiculous, boring,and even badly done! This is just an outrage! An outrage to the greater Hollywood of the Golden days: are people unable to understand that a movie filmed actually in 1955, is still a great movie,today, certainly without CGI or the visuals generated extravaganza's to which we are compulsively used (or addicted,rather?) today? I am a huge Old Hollywood films buff, but,i do indeed recognize very often a film's limits,which here are only a different narrative, that is still extremely effective, even if paced differently, and told without all the (natural) progress and maturity that the art of the craft of filmmaking has achieved, yet loosing something else forever, and that is, if i may say, that magical quality those movies, then truly owned, and, that some may still recognize today, especially, if watching such material, properly, in a restored wide screen print, and on the silver screen,where they belong! People may then be surprised of what a show they could still admire, while, also having a whole different version of a story still developed with a lot more depth, talent, and visionary creation, than what is barely left today to our always more formulaic, more modern, and more all the same, films we get, certainly, more attuned to our standards, but without any wiser basic execution! And, on top, like a few did,it is very unfair, almost a bit vulgar to me, to critique, the magnificent directorial work of true iconographic master director Richard Fleischer, his very cinematic rendition of this classic tale of American classic icons: if someone had to say something, i would ask then who could direct today with taste,such a disturbing study like this one? The direction here is exquisite, and, yes, filmed in gorgeous CinemaScope and De Luxe Color (and not Technicolor!) a more pastel version of the saturated color film stock then in use, but, primarily a classic exclusive of 20th Century Fox throughout the 1950's and 1960's up to the 1980's believe it or not! The cinematography,the rich costumes, accurate set dressing, production design, hair and make up, are all stunning, the acting adequate, with great professionals! Wooden? No. That was the way people would act before the advent of the Actor's Studio and of the new American Cinema that came a decade later, completely changing the style and the Studios themselves, and, as a proper evolution of our Time! And, Monroe pledged for the Collin's part, and with the new look for her recreated by Milton Greene, I am sure she would have been quite a sensation, believe me, i only wish i could watch today,how Monroe, with her new, and ,more adequate make up, hair, and with the direction of a better director,could have played Nesbitt! I think she would have made probably a Classic of this one, and absolutely a stunner! And, especially, as it was supposed to be, if the Granger's role, would have then been played by James Dean (Yes, did anyone know??) who'd said to be extremely interested in portraying what was in fact a juicy and perfect role for him, a part he could have brought to even higher sinister weights! While, giant Frederic March, had been rumored for the part who eventually went to Milland, and that is, when Fox, "as usual stupidly" aggravated with Marilyn for having left Los Angeles, promptly nixed to Monroe the role! A role,of course, they knew she wanted, but, almost to dictate who had the power, they said no to Marilyn, knowing that so they'd be having both Dean and March to withdraw immediately, when, gorgeous, yet virtually unknown (then) Collins was to play the lead! Fox basically spoiled an unique occasion, a memorable film just to punish the star: they were mad, since MM, after refusing to make 3 pictures, one after another (one of them,co-starring Frank Sinatra,Eve Arden,and Robert Wagner "Pink Stockings" to be directed by Hathaway, was already almost in production, and quite honestly possibly a decent romantic comedy, but, Marilyn's opinion was that Nunnally Johnson had again built an almost basically decorative role for her, without any substance in it!) had left Hollywood, preventing Fox to banquet on her! But her commitment to studying was so incredibly strenuous, that when she finally came back to work at Fox an year later,for the melancholic BUS STOP, with the patient and wise direction of the great friend Joshua Logan, a true clever director,Marilyn delivered such an incredibly modern,touching,layered performance,only the Academy of those grim years refused to acknowledge, while, even her most stubborn of her detractors, had at long last, to admit that "the Lady could act, and not just being a tramp!".
  • This is a good example of an over-produced film, much too lengthy (109-min.) and gaudy for the slender material that doesn't engage until the last 10-minutes. I expect TCF saw anti-TV potential in a wide-screen Technicolor treatment of true-life scandal among the rich and famous. The trouble is that neither the acting nor the script is able to carry the needed momentum, despite the wide-screen spectacle. After all, stretching a single theme of forbidden love to a two-hour time slot is challenging even for the best screenplay, which this definitely is not.

    Then too, the real life Nesbitt was apparently involved in the production, along with wealthy family heirs to White and Thaw in the background, resulting, I expect, in an overly cautious portrayal of events. That's reflected, I think, in Collins' curiously dull portrayal. Logically, I would have expected some change in Nesbitt's demure demeanor over the years, especially after entering the high life. Instead, there's hardly a hint of the high life's affecting her throughout the movie's course. (And we know what an edge actress Collins can bring when called upon.) In fact, the nature of her relationship with White is so sanitized, it's hard to know what to make of it.

    Ace director Fleischer also appears unengaged with the material, filming it in straightforward, unimaginative style, unlike many of his other projects, e.g. The Narrow Margin (1952). Speaking of B-movie gems like "Margin", I wish the expert budget crews at Columbia or RKO had gotten hold of this material first. After all, hot-blooded romance and cold-blooded murder are prime stuff for B-movie treatment, where reputations and big audience appeal are not so much at stake and risks can be taken. Too bad that what we're left with instead is an under-nourished and over-stretched slice of 50's eye candy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An age-old tale, based loosely on fact, where a young and innocent girl gets taken up by older man purely on her beauty and allure. Evelyn Nesbit was still alive when this film was made, which presumably accounts for the fact that she comes out of it very well - causing the death of one man and the internment of another for insanity just looks like carelessness! Joan Collins was not the first choice for Nesbit - that was Marilyn Monroe, but she was on suspension and out of favour, allowing the British starlet to step in. There's no denying she's pretty, but she doesn't have Monroe's mix of wide-eyed innocence and plain sex appeal. You kind of understand why Ray Milland's architect gets distracted, but not enough to become an obsession.

    Meanwhile, pouting Farley Granger, never the world's greatest actor, is jealous and unhinged as Henry Thaw, who goes from giving flowers to showgirls to brandishing a gun in Madison Square Gardens as if it is the most natural thing in the world.

    In support as Nesbit's mother is spiky Glenda Farrell, who at least is a distraction from the humdrum storyline. There's nothing special here, 'The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing' is simply a time-filler with nice colour and a nice line in showgirls.
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