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Currently available on Tubi, Who Killed Teddy Bear? is a delightfully "sleazy" psychodrama scrofulous with twisted dramatis personae who are psychologically perverse and morally suspect. Star Sal Mineo plays a creepy variation on the tortured homosexual "Plato" in Rebel without a Cause.* The plot in a nutshell: A libidinous scopophiliac peeps at his neighbor and coworker, frightening her with his lewd phone calls.

By this stage in his career, Mineo seemed to have been studying at the Vic Tanny School of Acting. Buffed, ripped, and without an ounce of fat ("You have a very nice body" admires dance club disc jockey Noah Dain [Juliet Prowse], who's no slouch in the Very Nice Bod department herself), Mineo's sinewy physique is fetishistically displayed by the filmmakers. His Peeping Tom protagonist Lawrence (Lar) Sherman is merely one of the "colorful" characters in the pulpy screenplay by Arnold Drake** and Leon Tokatyan.

Hard-edged disco owner Marian Freeman (Elaine Stritch) is a misandristic lezb0 whose physical ministrations to comfort her traumatized DJ reveal she's just another lustful predator after the desirable Norah. The "hero," hard-boiled cop Dave Madden (comedian Jan Murray in a dramatic role), obsessively and questionably plays tape recordings of phone calls by "heavy breathers" within earshot of his young daughter. Lar's mentally r3tarded sister Edie (Margot Bennett) provocatively displays incestuous feelings towards her brother. Reflecting the dark, disturbed, and disturbing psyches of these headcases are cinéma vérité -style scenes of grindhouses and porno shops and theatres -- prowled by the sexually frustrated Lar -- on, I presume, the 42nd Street of 1965.

The combined artistries of director Joseph Cates (father of Phoebe), cinematographer Joseph Brun, and composer Charles Calello (whose haunting, hypnotic arrangement of the title song by tunesmiths Al Kasha and Bob Gaudio portends that something wicked this way comes) make Who Killed Teddy Bear? an irresistible Cult Cinema Classic for those with a taste for the morbid and outré.

Highlight: Sal and Juliet workin' it on the dance floor, Daddy!

 

* Mineo would plunge even deeper into "the dark side" as a violent, butch inmate in Fortune and Men's Eyes.

** A writer for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, he created The Doom Patrol and Deadman.

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Mr. Millstone, I've always been fascinated by this movie. This startling buffet of sexually deviant behavior succeeds on a certain level. There is something for everyone to get excited, or disgusted about! 

Regarding Mr. Mineo, in the pool scene, he appears to be "dressing upward" rather than left, right, or downwards. How did they/he get away with that? 

See the source image

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On 9/15/2021 at 10:13 PM, Herman Bricks said:

Mr. Millstone, I've always been fascinated by this movie. This startling buffet of sexually deviant behavior succeeds on a certain level. There is something for everyone to get excited, or disgusted about! 

Regarding Mr. Mineo, in the pool scene, he appears to be "dressing upward" rather than left, right, or downwards. How did they/he get away with that? 

See the source image

Thank you for your response, Mr. Bricks (since we're being so formal)!

Regard Sal's "Up periscope" condition -- hey, he was in a pool scene with Juliet Prowse!

Yes, I know that Mineo was gay, or, at least, bisexual. But, some enticing stimuli simply cannot be resisted or denied!

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's a great moment at the end of this film, when Sal is running through the streets of NYC and in the background looms a billboard for THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, a major Hollywood epic in which Sal appeared.  Serves as an interesting, albeit unintentional, commentary on the trajectory of his career.

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On 10/2/2021 at 5:08 PM, PhillyCinephile said:

There's a great moment at the end of this film, when Sal is running through the streets of NYC and in the background looms a billboard for THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, a major Hollywood epic in which Sal appeared.  Serves as an interesting, albeit unintentional, commentary on the trajectory of his career.

Splendid catch, Eagle Eye! I totally missed that ironic moment. If Mineo noticed the marquee during the shooting of the scene, I wonder what he was thinking and feeling?

"One minute it seemed I had more movie offers than I could handle; the next, no one wanted me." -- Sal Mineo (Wikipedia)

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Started watching it on Tubi the other night.  I forgot how raw and gritty the film is -- the violence and the threat of violence that hovers over everyone and everything.

Newspaper ad from its Philadelphia premiere:

image.thumb.png.cff39ecde1d7e26688e4936f5bd6788a.png

Those Philadelphia theaters were not considered first-class movie houses.  The Tower eventually became a popular concert venue.  (David Bowie recorded a live album there.)

Interesting pairing.  I wonder what those who showed up for one of the films thought of the other film.

 

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11 hours ago, PhillyCinephile said:

Started watching it on Tubi the other night.  I forgot how raw and gritty the film is -- the violence and the threat of violence that hovers over everyone and everything.

Newspaper ad from its Philadelphia premiere:

image.thumb.png.cff39ecde1d7e26688e4936f5bd6788a.png

Those Philadelphia theaters were not considered first-class movie houses.  The Tower eventually became a popular concert venue.  (David Bowie recorded a live album there.)

Interesting pairing.  I wonder what those who showed up for one of the films thought of the other film.

 

Whatta intriguing and wild double-bill! "Horror & Hilarity"! Thank you for sharing a historic artifact of newspaper and motion picture advertising, PhillyCinephile!

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14 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

The Noirsville review here

Crackerjack reviewer, cigarjoe!

That Diane Moore was Jan Murray's real-life daughter, for me, adds one more uncomfortable element of creepiness to Who Killed Teddy Bear. According to info on the Web, Moore was born in 1948, which means she was 16 (at the time of filming)! Either the report of her birthday is wrong or Moore was a "late bloomer" development-wise.

The proliferation of screen captures in your review for me evoked the Film Classics Library books by Richard Anobile.

Suggested Viewing

Blogger Ken Anderson lists and describes scenes in the 94-minute uncut version of Who Killed Teddy Bear*

Opening Credits US vs UK

Uncensored US Scenes vs Censored UK Scenes

* Notice no question mark at the end of the title. I'm wondering if killer Who is the same Who who was on first base.

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