Saturday, January 26, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Female on the Beach (1955) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

FEMALE ON THE BEACH (1955) is one of a pair of films starring Jeff Chandler recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

Earlier this month I reviewed the other Chandler release, FOXFIRE (1955). Like FOXFIRE, FEMALE ON THE BEACH is a romantic melodrama directed by Joseph Pevney.

I first saw FEMALE ON THE BEACH at the Noir City Film Festival nearly eight years ago; I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My reaction now remains the same. The movie is a bit nuts in some ways, but I find that adds to the enjoyment rather than detracting.

Joan Crawford plays wealthy widow Lynn Markham, who arrives at her late husband's Malibu property the day after the last tenant, Eloise Crandall (Judith Evelyn), fell off the balcony and died. Mrs. Markham's real estate agent, Amy Rawlinson (Jan Sterling), neglects to mention this curious fact to her client, who then discovers her balcony railing is broken and police are combing the beach below.

Broke but gorgeous neighborhood boat bum Drummond "Drummy" Hall (Chandler) makes a play for Lynn, but it's uncertain if he's interested in her or her money. Drummy, who lives down the road with a pair of con artists (Cecil Kellaway and Natalie Schafer), had had an affair with Eloise, and when Lynn finds Eloise's diary she realizes there are uncomfortable parallels with her own relationship with Drummy. The cautions of the police detective (Charles Drake) concern her as well.

And yet...Lynn can't resist Drummy, no matter where it leads, and eventually they make plans to marry. Given that he's played by tall, hunky Jeff Chandler, it's easy to have sympathy with her weakness for him!

As I wrote when I first saw the movie, I find Crawford at this stage of her career a bit baffling, with her heavy makeup and severe hairstyle perhaps somewhat at odds with her playing a romantic lead, but the woman undeniably has charisma and is a compelling performer. Chandler being a dozen years or so younger is completely compatible with the storyline, especially when he explains his back story, and I really enjoy watching them together.

I'd somehow forgotten "whodunit" so I also enjoyed that part of the story all over again! This is simply a really fun film, especially for fans of the leads, and the Kino Lorber Blu-ray is beautiful, with a crisp black and white picture. I had a great time watching it and will happily do so again in the future.

FEMALE ON THE BEACH runs 97 minutes. It was filmed by Charles Lang. The screenplay by Robert Hill and Richard Alan Simmons was based on a play by Hill called THE BESIEGED HEART.

Blu-ray extras include not one but two commentary tracks, one by Kat Ellinger and the other by David Del Valle and David DeCoteau. The disc also includes the trailer, additional trailers for films starring Crawford or Chandler, and an image gallery. The case has reversible cover art.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Ah, this one. I love it. So loony, so campy, so brilliant. I wrote a piece about it a while ago.

You're right when you say Crawford at this stage in her career was baffling. This is what I wrote: "Slightly over-the-hill but still attractive Joan Crawford vamps it up for all it's worth... her severe hairstyles accentuate her hard features and mask-like make-up and she wears a wardrobe befitting a woman half her ageā€¦ But being past her expiry date never stopped Joan from putting up a good fight."

She does the same thing in all her 50s movies. But whatever this may be, this is a fun little flick.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Margot, love your comments, including your quote on Crawford. Pitch perfect.

When I first saw it years ago I wrote something similar about her prancing around in the wardrobe of a 20-year-old! LOL.

I just sought out your review and really agree with your comments about how Crawford pulls off the part. For anyone else who would like to read it, you can find it here.

Best wishes,

10:13 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Thank you for the plug, Laura.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

I haven't seen this movie in years and though I remember enjoying it I did find Crawford rather 'starchy' (must be that hair and make-up!). But I still remember her uttering the rather cheesy line "When it comes to men, Honey, I wrote the book!".

2:37 PM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

Oh my goodness! I think I saw most of this on AMC when I was in college, like 20 years ago! It was weird and memorable, except I never knew what it was called. I used to hide in our dorm's lounge and watch AMC between classes when nobody else was around to be annoyed that I wasn't watching something "cool." But that meant I saw the middle of a lot of movies, and they didn't tell you in the middle what a movie was, so if I didn't get online to check the schedule, I just never found out what I was watching sometimes.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're very welcome, Margot! I hope others will enjoy your review as well.

It's interesting how Crawford of that era has hit so many of us, Jerry! She was absolutely stunning on film just a handful of years before and I think could have still looked that way...she's not the only actress who went this route in the '50s but it's definitely the most noticeable with her. And that line you quoted really was great in context LOL.

Hamlette, that's fun!! I have seen bits of movies in years past which I didn't find out titles for for years -- I love that "aha!" moment. :)

Best wishes,

12:15 AM  

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