Monday, January 14, 2019

Tonight's Movie: The Girl in Black Stockings (1957) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

THE GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS (1957) is part of the three-film Mamie Van Doren Film Noir Collection recently released by Kino Lorber.

The set, available on Blu-ray and DVD, also includes GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS (1959) and VICE RAID (1959).

THE GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS is a 75-minute murder mystery set at the Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah. That fact alone caused me to enjoy this oddball film, as the lodge is on my "bucket list" of places I'd like to visit.

Over the years many movie companies have stayed at the Parry Lodge while filming Westerns in the area; it's seen here in a period photograph. (Also check out photos of some of the movie companies who stayed at the lodge in this blog post!) It was interesting, given all the murders that take place, that the name of the lodge wasn't changed for the movie; Ron Randell, playing the owner, was even given the last name Parry.

The mystery kicks off immediately as lawyer Dave Hewson (Lex Barker) dances with Beth Dixon (Anne Bancroft) poolside; as he lights up a cigarette they suddenly realize they're standing next to a woman's lifeless body!

Sheriff Jess Holmes (John Dehner) is soon on the case, and one of the things I really enjoyed about the movie was Dehner front and center investigating the murders. It's a nice big part for one of my favorite character actors. For added fun, the doctor investigating the murders is played by Richard Cutting, who was one of the officers in SOUTH PACIFIC (1958).

Before long there's another body in the pool, and then another, and... There are so many strange people at the lodge that the killer could be anyone, starting with Parry (Randell), who suffers from psychosomatic paralysis due to being dumped by his lady love years ago. (Needless to say, I wondered if he was faking...)

Beth has hangups too; every time handsome Dave puts the moves on her she shies away, and we learn that something really messed her up when she got married some time in the past...

For that matter, there's also Parry's sister (Marie Windsor), who seems waaaaay too attentive to her brother.

Van Doren has a small role as one of the lodge guests, and look for Dan "Hoss Cartwright" Blocker as the bartender.

I initially had some trouble recognizing Bancroft as the same actress from THE LAST FRONTIER (1955) and NIGHTFALL (1957); I guess her hair and makeup were different enough that she didn't register with me at first, though in closeups I finally realized it was her. Timid Beth is a rather strange part, though just how strange only becomes apparent gradually.

Barker is handsome, if a bit bland; the filmmakers make sure the former Tarzan has plenty of time to hang around poolside in bathing trunks!

Randell sneers endlessly in annoying fashion, while Van Doren perks things up a bit as a party girl. In the end the movie chiefly belongs to the always-interesting Windsor as the troubled sister and to Dehner as the sheriff. (Speaking of which, you won't believe what happens when he confronts one suspect at a lumber mill!)

Is it a good movie? Not really. Yet I found it quite an amusing 75 minutes, thanks to the extensive tour of the Parry Lodge as it looked in 1957 as well as the kooky storyline, which is certainly...memorable. It's the kind of lesser-known movie with great location shooting which I enjoy checking out.

THE GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS was directed by Howard W. Koch. It was filmed in black and white by William Margulies.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print is excellent; what a pleasure to see this relatively obscure film looking so great. Extras consist of a new interview with Mamie Van Doren and trailers for all three films in the set.

Look for reviews of the other films from this set here in the future. (Update: Here is my review of GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS.)

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


Blogger Vienna said...

I have to see it! If only because of our mutual liking for John Dehner.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Vienna! If you're a Dehner fan I think you'll enjoy the movie.

I love the way a film like this unexpectedly lets us "time travel" back and see such a great location as it was 60 years ago...and the rest of the film is goofy fun. Let me know if you catch up with it! :)

Best wishes,

12:32 AM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

Well, now I've added Parry Lodge to my bucket list too, and I'll give this film a watch if it ever crosses my path too, as I like John Dehner tons.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Oh man, that one. So wonderfully campy. it is strangely wacky and jam-packed with suggested depravity, sex and psycho-babble. Lex Barker as a lawyer. OK. Mamie Van Doren is bodacious as always, her tangible assets are plenty on display. She's awesome. It’s a bit odd to see Marie Windsor as repressed spinster and not the femme fatale. Her relationship with her brother is, well, weird.

Unfortunately the whole thing isn’t trashy and lurid enough. The posters, the title and the set-up promise pulpy luridness but they don’t quite deliver what they promise, and if we expect glorious all-out trashiness, we don’t get it. All the wonderful sinfulness is only hinted at.

I'm a Mamie fan. I think her best movie is Vice Raid and Guns Girl and Gangsters.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Lee R said...

I haven't seen this movie but that lodge do look familiar. I have seen the neat movie with hot little Wanda Hendrix, "Highway Dragnet", it has a lodge in it and a pool scene, it looked an awful lot like the picture you posted. Could this same logde also have been used in "Highway Dragnet"? Here's a great picture from the movie of Wanda at this lodge pool:

1:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hamlette, glad I could introduce you to the Parry Lodge! Would love to know what you think of the movie if you catch up with it.

Margot, your comments made me smile. It really is a "strangely wacky" film! It would have been a better bad movie if it were even more trashy, but it worked well enough for me in that vein. I'm glad to know you like VICE RAID and GUNS, GIRLS AND GANGSTERS as they are in my review stack to watch soon!

Lee, the lodge in HIGHWAY DRAGNET is the Apple Valley Inn in Apple Valley, California. It was also seen in FOXFIRE (1955), which coincidentally I reviewed a few days ago, and THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW (1956). Like the Parry Lodge, it's quite scenic and a great mid '50s movie location.

Best wishes,

1:36 PM  
Blogger john k said...

My heads still reeling from the fact that Margot is a Mamie fan-one thing's for sure
you can never second guess Margot!
Bel Air Pictures ALWAYS promised far more in their posters than was actually in their
movies-if THE OUTLAW'S SON had lived up (or down) to the poster it would have been
sensational. The exception to that rule was the very "Laura Unfriendly...LOL" BIG HOUSE
USA. My fave Mamie is THE BEAT GENERATION which defies description. Unforgettable moment
in THE BEAT GENERATION where Vampira reads poetry to a group of beatniks adorned with a
pet rat! Needless to say THE BEAT GENERATION was an Albert Zugsmith production.
Can I join the John Dehner fan club too!
Mr Dehner was sensational in a couple of episodes of THE REBEL playing John Sims, Nick
Adams' godfather a scalp hunter/renegade. The two episodes in question are "Jerkwater"
and "The Scalp Hunter" and the character was darker than anything else I have ever seen
this great actor play,

6:55 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

John, of course I'm a Mamie fan. Why did you think I wouldn't be? I also like Diana Dors. I looked at the poster for Outlaw's Son. Ha, yes, pretty good.

I still haven't seen The Beat Generation but have heard about it. I'll try to track it down.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

John, that's funny that Bel-Air "always promised far more in their posters"! Funny you should say that as I often find their Westerns to be overly dark letdowns.

I think I first got to know Dehner, like so many other actors, on MAVERICK when I was growing up. As fans know, he played the villain in the greatest MAVERICK episode of all, "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres." I was later fascinated to learn that early in his career he was a Disney animator; he can be seen in that role in Disney's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941).

Looking forward to watching my way through the rest of Kino's Van Doren set soon!

Best wishes,

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Your pet smells said...

Yes, stayed at Parry Lodge in 2019. Was caught up in the myriad of autographed pictures throughout the hotel and dining room. Also imagined seeing starlets sunbathing around that pool.

Plus it was clean and inexpensive. Great stop on our way to Utah National Parks!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

What fun to have stayed at Parry Lodge! That's a definite goal for us. Sounds like a lot of fun, and you can't beat clean, inexpensive, movie connections, and convenient for a National Parks trip! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Best wishes,

12:12 AM  

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