HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
12 Hour Shift
Filmmaker's House, The
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
   
 
  Helen Morgan Story, The Draining Life's Bottle
Year: 1957
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Ann Blyth, Paul Newman, Richard Carlson, Gene Evans, Alan King, Cara Williams, Virginia Vincent, Walter Woolf King, Dorothy Green, Edward Platt, Warren Douglas, Sammy White, Jimmy McHugh, Rudy Vallee, Walter Winchell, Gogi Grant, Juanita Moore
Genre: Biopic, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Helen Morgan (Ann Blyth) was drawn to Chicago as a young woman, since that is where she believed, like so many before her, she could make a career for herself as a singer. She did end up there, but started in impoverished beginnings, performing with a small troupe in a sideshow where her innocence tended to work against her, especially when she was alongside her boss, Larry Maddux (Paul Newman). One night after having to call off another show, he seduced her, very nearly against her will, and the next day when she woke up, he was gone, leaving a brief "sorry" note. Helen would go onto greater success, but her paths would cross with Larry's over and over...

If ever there was a peach of a role for a leading lady of the nineteen-fifties, it was the suffering woman, and if that woman was a star, so much the better. If this tale of a real life torch singer sounds reminiscent to certain movie buffs of Doris Day's Love Me or Leave Me, there was a good reason for that as it had been planned as a follow-up to that hit, but she was uncomfortable playing an alcoholic and person of notoriously loose lifestyle, feeling it was not right for her image, and turned the role down outright. So who else would have been ideal? You're ahead of me: Judy Garland was approached to take the part, but she turned it down too, feeling it was too close to home.

Thus the role, having been previously essayed by Polly Bergen on television, was passed around until it landed with Blyth, who despite her strong religious convictions was not averse to playing women who were not always as moral as she was. Besides, Helen as written was more the victim of circumstance and presumably Blyth felt this was a chance to show off her pipes once again, having proven herself adept at singing before, and with a voice that was similar to the actual person she was portraying. Alas, Hollywood being what it was, she ended up dubbed by Gogi Grant for a more appropriate sound for the fifties, and the soundtrack album proceeded to become a big hit for Warner Brothers.

The movie? Not so much, and that may have been why Blyth opted to end her career as a film star after this one, concentrating on motherhood and occasional television roles for the remainder of her career. However, her acting here was nothing to be ashamed of, and she was obviously putting her heart and soul into the role, it was just a pity it never really took off at the box office, though it has become a minor cult movie, partly for her cinematic sufferings, and partly because it featured an early role for Newman, playing an absolute heel. This was Morgan's problem, diagnosed in the screenplay, not so much the boozing, more that she was in love with a married man (Richard Carlson as a producer) while attracted to the louse that was her manager, Larry. He was a composite character, and as expected there were liberties taken here.

Nevertheless, as a woman's picture these things appeal to cult film fans beyond the patent camp trappings. Director Michael Curtiz was of the old school, and had a number of undeniable classics under his belt, and this exhibited some of his magic (and the odd bit of shadowplay, his favourite trick), but it did mean in the age of the Method, he was a shade past it with performers like Newman, who clashed with him during the shoot. Blyth's screen life had been longer than his, and she certainly looked a lot more comfortable in this milieu, its drama straddling the worlds of the Golden Age and the new, troubled times for the studios to come, leaving it more mired in the film noir tone, demonstrated by its deep cynicism. Yes, it does end in a display of "show must go on" bullshit, but the real Morgan was dead by forty-one, far from a happy life, and Blyth's portrayals of her weaknesses are a lot more powerful knowing that. This was not as much of a travesty of her life as it could have been, we do see her suffer, but don't expect exacting accuracy and there were dark hearted pleasures to be taken from what was a bit of a wallow.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1259 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: