19 March 2006 | Cheyenne-Bodie
A sexy, tawdry, entertaining B movie with stunning Stella Stevens.
"Linda" was a 90-minute ABC Saturday Suspense Movie of the Week in 1973.
Blond and stacked Linda (Stella Stevens) was a cunning femme fatale straight out of a film noir. Linda was far smarter than any of the men she encountered, and she used her smoldering sex appeal to get what she wanted.
The director was Jack Smight ("Harper", "No Way to Treat a Lady") who was a real pro. Smight was returning to his roots in TV. The movie was based on a novel by the prolific crime novelist John D. MacDonald ("Travis McGee"). John D. MacDonald was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Syracuse University and a Harvard MBA.
Jack Smight and screenwriter Merwin Gerard had done "The Longest Night" earlier that same season. It was an unusual, unsettling thriller about a kidnapped young woman who was buried alive. "The Longest Night" starred David Janssen, James Farentino and Sallie Shockley, and may have inspired the buried alive sequence in Quentin Tarentino's "Kill Bill 2".
Linda frames her meek, timid, decent husband for murder. The husband eventually escapes from prison to be a fugitive and to try to prove his innocence. The husband was played by Ed Nelson ("Peyton Place"), a fine actor. But it might have been more fun to have the original fugitive David Janssen play the role. Janssen was an extremely sympathetic actor who could make being meek and timid sexy.
John McIntire ("Wagon Train") played a sly country lawyer who takes the husband's case. I would have cast Clint Walker against type in the role. Clint was a surprisingly resourceful actor who had no trouble projecting humor or intelligence. It would have been fun to see Linda work her tricks on giant Clint. Maybe she could have cut him down to size.
John Saxon played Linda's lover, who helps frame the husband. Saxon became a fascinating actor as he got older. I liked him starting with "The Bold Ones". He looked amazing lying on the beach in a tight swimsuit in "Linda". No wonder Ed Nelson was jealous. I would have loved to have seen John Saxon as Frank Furillo in "Hill Street Blues" or as Max Cherry in "Jackie Brown", roles I have heard he was considered for.
"Linda" reminds me a little of the classic Edgar Ulmer B-movie "Detour" where the extraordinary but terrifying Ann Savage makes a meal of Tom Neal.
"Linda" should have ended with the beginning of her trial for murder. Her husband's former attorney is defending her and the DA seems to have a bit of a crush on her. Linda is wearing glasses and is in a tasteful dress that can't quite hide that traffic-stopping figure. The jury consists of twelve men. The film ends and you have to guess what the verdict will be.