Slander (1957)

  |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Slander (1957) Poster

Steve Cochran plays the slick, debonair owner of a notorious gossip magazine who is anxious to break a big scandal to reverse a recent decline in sales. He zeroes in on children's ... See full summary »


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15 December 2000 | bmacv
| Curious period piece about heyday of "scandal sheets"
A curious period piece not without interest, Slander was made in the heyday of guttersnipe periodicals like "Confidential," that ruined show-biz careers and blackmailed victims into spilling dirt on bigger prey. Steve Cochran portrays the oily gossip publisher, a bachelor with a strangely solicitous relationship with his alcoholic mother (Marjorie Rambeau). In trying to dig up the goods on a beloved Broadway star, he zeros in on Van Johnson as a boyhood pal, a third-rate puppeteer who has finally got his big break in the new medium of television. Alas, the puppeteer once served four years in the hoosegow for armed robbery, despite the fact that he's now a devoted family man with wife (Ann Blyth) and son (Richard Eyer) in tow. Van Johnson refuses to knuckle under to the blackmail demands, and much melodrama ensues. Today, with a no-holds-barred press with almost non-existent restraints when it comes to public figures, Slander looks a bit quaint. But in the 50s, these tactics -- which probably wouldn't have been tolerated except for the parallel phenomenon of McCarthyism -- were seen as a deadly threat to the studios and their stars. Scandal, made at MGM under Dory Schary, is Hollywood's overwrought (and none too good) response. The following year, Alexander Mackendrick's chillingly dark Sweet Smell of Success (with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis)trod much the same ground in a far more memorable way.

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