3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A fast-paced, murderous, low-budget programmer, and not bad,
This review is from: Blonde Ice [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Claire Cummings, San Francisco society reporter, blonde and gorgeous, is a woman to die for. If you make the mistake of marrying her, you probably will.
Claire (Leslie Brooks) goes through men who want to marry her like a sharp knife through your side. She keeps news columnist Les Burns (Robert Paige) handy even when she marries a very wealthy San Francisco businessman. She makes the mistake of letting a letter to Les fall into her husband's hands on their honeymoon. "My darling Les," she writes, "three more weeks until I can see you again, dearest. Poor stupid Carl tries so hard to be a good husband, but he can't get used to an expensive wife." Carl says it will be a divorce. Twenty-four hours later, Carl isn't going to say anything ever again.
Blonde Ice lets us tag along as Claire not only goes through her new husband, but through a blackmailer and a new, high social fiancee. She manipulates Les, who loves her, until even he has her number. "I once said I couldn't figure you out," he tells her. "I can now. You're not a normal woman. You're not warm. You're cold...like ice. Yeah, like ice...blonde ice." It might not have been wise to be so frank with Claire because now she plans for him to take the fall for one of her murders. Justice finally comes to Claire, as it must to all bad people in Hollywood movies of that time. Even then, it takes a three-way set-up, some psychoanalysis and a bullet to do the job.
The movie is a great example of a low-budget B programmer which just manages to rise a little above the average. The script is okay, the acting is adequate, the story is interesting. What makes it work? Director Jack Bernhard, just as much a journeyman as the actors, keeps the film moving briskly, with little time to let us get bored or impatient. The photography helps quite a bit, with several noirish scenes at night. Also important is Leslie Brooks as Claire. Brooks was an actress that stayed firmly planted as a lead in B movies, with an occasional foray as a second lead in A movies. She's not an actress who would worry the A crowd, but she does a fine job as Claire, the self-centered, manipulative and deadly ice queen. The only really weak part of the movie is the conclusion, when psychiatry is used as an explanation for her behavior. For me, this undercuts her nicely murderous actions; after all, don't we all just want the nice things in life?
There are even tips for fine living. What could be a healthier lunch than "martinis, chicken salad for two and coffee, please." Or "four Manhattans, waiter, with half French, half Italian vermouth." Why, that's a Perfect Manhattan.
Be sure to buy the VCI Entertainment version of this public domain title. The VCI DVD transfer has the quality of a clean but old VHS tape. The audio is fine. The VCI disc also holds several extras. These include an episode from an old TV program named "Into the Night," a movie music short titled "Satan Wears a Satin Dress" and a commentary by Jay Fenton, who was instrumental in doing the restoration work on the VCI release and is knowledgeable about noir films. Evidently, what he had to work with was awful. Fenton also wrote the printed essay on restoration and Blonde Ice which is included as an insert in the VCI DVD case.
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Initial post: 25 Jun 2009 12:16:52 BDT
H. A. C. John says:
Thanks for all the extra information.
How much I love these old films is impossible to express, but it involves a long-held, slow, satisfied, sigh through the nose, whilst pursing my lips, upon chancing upon another release, devouring the detail, and then, like I'm about to do now, clicking the order button.
I love other types of films, too, but try the Hammer Noirs, from the '50's, such as Stolen Face, and Wings of Danger, etc.; they, being set in England, lack the warmth you often find in American noir, such as in Impact, 1949, but they have the cobwebby charm found in my entirely imaginary cinema of the mind; that one, inside of which, it's always a mid-week , half-empty, matinee showing, of a bad print, and outside, it's always Autumn, cloudy, there's the scent of golden leaves in the air, rising from the drizzle, and, on the way home, in your big coat, kicking the leaves , clutching Pictureshow, just before Rock appears in the charts and changes popular-culture for always, you look forward to that cup of tea, remembering the second or third screening of that old film, on your day off. Sigh ! My goodnesss me, so much, so very very much has been lost since the '50's. What to do ! ? .
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