15 December 2007 | blanche-2
A real potboiler
Arlene Dahl is "Wicked as They Come" in this 1956 film also starring Philip Carey. Soap fans may know Carey as Asa Buchanan in "One Life to Live," the soap opera from which the 82-year-old actor recently retired, having been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. In 1956, he was as hunky as they get. Herbert Marshall also stars.
A Hollywood insider once told me that the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in person - and he had seen them all - was Arlene Dahl. So she's a great choice to play a man-hating, gold-digging femme fatale in this British drama. Her character, Kathy, suffered some sort of trauma which has caused her to turn on men. To her, they're just steppingstones to big bucks. One man (Carey) sees through her and acts as her conscience throughout the film.
If this film had been a lot worse or a lot better, it could today be a camp classic. Unfortunately it falls in between. Kathy pulls some outrageous stunts, but the script doesn't have enough bite to it. Not only that, it's entirely predictable. Case in point is Kathy's romance with her boss, Stephen (Herbert Marshall). He agrees to leave his wife for her. Later that evening, Kathy realizes that Stephen's wife is no less than the daughter of the owner of the company. Leaving her will certainly put Stephen out of a job. When Stephen's wife confronts Kathy in the ladies' room, you had to know she'd be calling Kathy "Stepmommy" pretty soon, now that Kathy knows the score and the players. That's hardly my favorite Kathy moment - the best is when she becomes engaged and practically buys out a store on the guy's charge account, then pawns everything and blows town. That took guts.
Dahl, despite her beauty, was never really given a chance to show what she could do in Hollywood acting-wise, and here, she's good. Had she been around at the height of Hollywood's golden age, she perhaps would have had more opportunities. As a post-war actress with the studios on the verge of breaking up, she really didn't, and while another redhead, Rhonda Fleming, had a slightly better career, neither achieved the stardom they might have.
Recommended for beautiful Arlene, handsome Phil, a pretty old Herbert Marshall and some beautiful fashions.