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Jack La Rue, Temple Drake & Miss Blandish


Kay
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Hi, folks. Last night I saw The Story of Temple Drake for the first time, after I had already seen a film called No Orchids for Miss Blandish a few months ago. Both these film have Jack La Rue in a big role, and I think he's an effective gangster, an interesting looking man, and a most appealing antihero, and I'm left wondering why he didn't become a minor star.

 

He has an admirable filmography, going over 100 films, but mostly in small, unsubstantial roles. I haven't seen enough to decide if he was actually a good actor, or just a good presence, but I'm interested in seeing more of his films (if he has any more that could be called his.) How many more significant roles did he actually get in his career?

 

* * * * *

 

hopkins-templedrake.jpg

 

I had heard so much about this film, I was expecting it to be more scandalous than it really was. Actually it wasn't much at all like I expected, but I liked it's stylishness. Jack La Rue didn't become as much of a factor as I had expected, either, but it was a pretty tight film and didn't squander time.

 

In neither Temple Drake or Miss Blandish did Jack La Rue's content really substantiate the presumed wickedness of his characters, except for his whim mentality toward killing people; we can certainly see how he got his name. I mean that he was understated, like a shadow in the corner of the room, rather than some kind of frightening maniac. His relationship with Temple was not made blatant, and her feeling toward him was a mostly a mystery.

 

But whoever made the Miss Blandish film must have detected some strong romantic subtext in this film, as it was quite similar in many ways, but his relationship with the girl was romanticized to the extreme, changing his character drastically from this film. But the way he makes his entrance in that film made it look like a "the return of..." situation, which confused me a little, having seen them in the wrong order, hah. Perhaps I'm tying them together too much, but I was surprised at the similarity. Miss Blandish almost seemed to reference the earlier film.

 

Well, this became more about those films than I intended. If anyone has anything to say about Jack La Rue, The Story of Temple Drake, or No Orchids for Miss Blandish, or anything else that came to mind, please do tell.

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Spoiler Alerts for Temple Drake.

 

The Story of Temple Drake is confusing as it relates to the so called relationship between Drake and Trigger.    I assume Trigger raped her and this is how their relationship started.    But did she fall for him after that or was this some type Stockholm syndrome thing?   To me it isn't clear.

 

Yea,  we knew she wanted to lead a different type of life but with a person like Trigger?    Anyhow it was an enjoyable movie to watch just for the performance of Miriam Hopkins.   

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LaRue took the part after George Raft refused to play it. Raft felt it would be a career-ender. Though Zukor claimed Raft was trying to get more money. Eventually, Raft was reassigned to another less controversial Paramount project and LaRue was cast as Trigger.

 

Well, La Rue (or LaRue?) didn't become much of a star, so maybe it was a career-stifler, anyway. I mean, Raft didn't become a big star, either, but he certainly seemed to have more leading roles than La Rue. I'm no expert on either one of them, or course.

 

It says on IMDb that La Rue was originally supposed to have Raft's role in Scarface.

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Well, La Rue (or LaRue?) didn't become much of a star, so maybe it was a career-stifler, anyway. I mean, Raft didn't become a big star, either, but he certainly seemed to have more leading roles than La Rue. I'm no expert on either one of them, or course.

 

It says on IMDb that La Rue was originally supposed to have Raft's role in Scarface.

Raft was an A-lister at Paramount in the 30s. He starred in 21 films for Zukor from 1932 to 1938. Then he went to Warners, Universal and eventually RKO (freelancing). At Universal, he starred in a picture about his life called BROADWAY (he was only 41 at the time).

 

Raft had a reputation for being a tough guy (on and off screen). He would spoof that image in SOME LIKE IT HOT in 1959. He was still enough of a household name in the 60s to be given an extended cameo-- and special billing-- in Jerry Lewis' THE LADIES MAN. Lewis used him again in THE PATSY. When he wasn't appearing in movies, he turned up quite frequently on television in the 60s and 70s, usually appearing as himself.

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Look to the corn cob. :rolleyes:

 

I don't believe Vautrin gets credit on these boards for his extensive literary knowledge. The reference he's making here is to the William Faulkner novel, Sanctuary, upon which the film "The Story of Temple Drake" is based.

 

(Full disclosure: I must confess, I have not actually read Sanctuary myself, in fact, I'm not sure I want to. My opinion is that Mr. Faulkner is an acquired taste. Of course, he did contribute significantly to the screenplay for "The Big Sleep". But I digress.)

 

Actually, I have another "full disclosure" to make: I still haven't seen "The Story of Temple Drake". One day...

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Ok, as I just admitted, I have not (yet) seen "The Story of Temple Drake". I wish I'd caught it last night, but was not thinking about TCM last night and didn't even know it was on.  :o

 

However, I have seen "No Orchids for Miss Blandisih". On TCM, a few years ago.

 

Some thoughts on that:

I'm afraid I was aware, the entire time, that these were Brits trying hard to sound and seem American. Their fake American accents were just a distraction to me.

Thing is, I don't know why they didn't just throw in the towel, Americanization-wise, and just go with making a British film noir. Ok, the original novel's American, but filmmakers messed about with American/British stories and settings all the time. Still do, for that matter (as in "High Fidelity", the English novel by English writer Nick Hornby which was made into a very American film. Still, it was quite enjoyable. But I digress.)

 

Also: james mentioned the "Stockholm Syndrome" thing in "Temple Drake". Don't know about that, as I've said, I've not seen T.D.

But, there is no question there's a major Stockholm Syndrome situation going on in "No Orchids for Miss Blandish". Textbook example.

 

Jack La Rue: Yes, he was very tough and scary. Also, he was one of the few genuine Americans in the film. The only other thing I've seen him in is the Edward Dmytryk noir "Cornered". This is actually one of my less-beloved noirs, although I'm sure Jack La Rue has nothing to do with that.

 

Anyway, "in conclusion", my impression of "No Orchids for Miss Blandish" was that, despite the valiant attempt on the part of all concerned to make a gritty dark crime film, and despite the violence, both on-screen and implied, and the sexual tension between Slim Grisson and Miss Blandish (what is her first name?), the sum is less than all these parts. 

 

A further digression: Another, much better British stab at film noir (eg gritty dark crime film) was aired on TCM the other day: "They Made Me a Fugitive".

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I don't believe Vautrin gets credit on these boards for his extensive literary knowledge. The reference he's making here is to the William Faulkner novel, Sanctuary, upon which the film "The Story of Temple Drake" is based.

 

Though Paramount had produced THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE, the film is currently owned by Fox. In the early 1960s, 20th Century Fox bought the property and remade it with Lee Remick. The remake was called SANCTUARY-- reverting back to the title of Faulkner's book.

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Spoiler Alerts for Temple Drake.

 

The Story of Temple Drake is confusing as it relates to the so called relationship between Drake and Trigger.    I assume Trigger raped her and this is how their relationship started.    But did she fall for him after that or was this some type Stockholm syndrome thing?   To me it isn't clear.

 

Yea,  we knew she wanted to lead a different type of life but with a person like Trigger?    Anyhow it was an enjoyable movie to watch just for the performance of Miriam Hopkins.   

 

 

The film is not necessarily based on any kind of reality. It’s based on Faulkner’s novel, which contained a lot of fantasy xxx stuff of a salacious nature that was designed to titillate his readers so he would sell a lot of books. And the film tries to do the same thing.

 

Listen to what Jack La Rue says right after he gets her to his hideout in Memphis, and he says to her, “I ain’t hurt ya none. I spotted ya the minute I seen ya. Ya holler and ya faint, but.....you’re crazy about me.”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qLzuMd0zK4&index=5&

 

La Rue is basically saying he knew she was just a college-girl tease who only teased college boys, while pretending to be a free-thinking wild girl. He tells her he knew after first seeing her that all she really needed was the lust of a real man, like him, who knew how to seduce women, and with that approach he had finally turned her into a loose free-thinking woman.

 

She denies it, and shows some fear of him, but she doesn’t try very hard to get away. Whether or not she really liked his method of seduction is not completely clear in the book or in the film, but she does stay with him until her old boyfriend turns up, and then she decides to get away.

 

It’s salacious books and movies like this that started the old myth that if a cold woman is raped by a “real man”, she will like it and will stay with him.

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MissWonderly,

 

first, thanks for explaining Vautrin's reference. That confused the heck outta me, but I didn't dare ask. I do have to ask how you knew the reference considering you've not read the book, though? (And how you knew that reference wasn't in the movie??)

 

Regarding Miss Blandish, I remember thinking that it was not really a dark crime movie, but actually a romance. In that movie especially I thought that Jack La Rue did not come across as very evil or terrifying, as we usually saw him from the girl's perspective. The movie seemed to be a "gangster movie" right up to the scene where he made his initial appearance, in which he acts a lot like his character Trigger in Temple Drake, and it seems kind of referential to me. After that scene, though, his character becomes more like Rick from Casablanca.

 

The whole thing seemed like a romance in a gangster setting, and, as you said, didn't end up being very gritty, or as one review called it, "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sad!sm ever to be shown on a cinema screen." In my opinion it fell singularly short of that esteemed title. There was even a cutesy scene where they're arguing over where to take their honeymoon, or something like that, and that seemed rather telling.

 

In retrospect, now that I've seen the earlier film, much of Miss Blandish seemed very much like Temple Drake done as a romance, which is a weird concept. I don't recall being bothered by the badly attempted accents, but I do agree with your assessment. (Also, I've not found any evidence of Miss Blandish having a first name!)

 

(P.S., I watched They Made Me a Fugitive, and I agree it is an excellent film. Did you see Obsession (1949), another British noir that aired recently? It wasn't that gritty, but it was eerie and fun. It also co-starred Sally Gray.)

Edited by Kay
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I don't believe Vautrin gets credit on these boards for his extensive literary knowledge. The reference he's making here is to the William Faulkner novel, Sanctuary, upon which the film "The Story of Temple Drake" is based.

 

 

Yeah, I was wonderin' about that earlier myself, MissW, 'cause I didn't catch Vautrin's reference either, let alone know of it.

 

(...soooo, it's from the book "Sanctuary" ya say, huh?!...is that the story about the HUNCHBACK???) ;)

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larue stars in a flick called: 'gangs, inc.'/'paper bullets' (1941); the movie also features joan woodbury and alan ladd.

if you can find it, it's one of a 3fer on this dvd:

9qh2r6.jpg

this cd also features 'ma parker and her killer brood' (1960) with lurene tuttle and 'gangster story' (1960) starring walter matthau.

 

He has an admirable filmography, going over 100 films, but mostly in small, unsubstantial roles. I haven't seen enough to decide if he was actually a good actor, or just a good presence, but I'm interested in seeing more of his films (if he has any more that could be called his.) How many more significant roles did he actually get in his career?

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larue stars in a flick called: 'gangs, inc.'/'paper bullets' (1941); the movie also features joan woodbury and alan ladd.

 

Thanks! This film is also on YT, however about 4 minutes shorter than IMDb says it is. It doesn't get very good notices, but I'll take a look at it.

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...while the book definitely has its salacious and sensational passages, that is really

only one part of the novel, which is concerned with much more than just the Popeye and

Temple relationship.

I suppose something that sensational overwhelms some of the other parts of the

book, unfortunately. ....

 

I wouldn't call Sanctuary a fantasy. It's relatively realistic, making allowance for

some artistic license. And the sensationalistic elements are not much worse

or kinkier than what most of the Snopes clan was up to or the incest theme

in The Sound and the Fury.

 

Well, I made a real hash of trying to quote only parts of your comment, Vautrin.

What I was trying to do was quote the bits that seemed to be referencing MY comment about your "literariness" (ironically, perhaps a rather illiterate word.)

That was the only thing I said in the post.

The rest of your responding post seems to be addressing what FredCDobbs said - I never said anything about the "salacious" nature of the book.

Oi, please don't mix me up with Fred, Vautrin, baby. He says lots of things I'd never say.

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I don't believe Vautrin gets credit on these boards for his extensive literary knowledge. The reference he's making here is to the William Faulkner novel, Sanctuary, upon which the film "The Story of Temple Drake" is based.

 

(Full disclosure: I must confess, I have not actually read Sanctuary myself, in fact, I'm not sure I want to. My opinion is that Mr. Faulkner is an acquired taste. Of course, he did contribute significantly to the screenplay for "The Big Sleep". But I digress.)

q-cut-3-q.png

 

"I'm sorry, did you mean Sanctuaaaaaaary! ?"

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I know nothing about No Orchids... other than, seriously, it has a wikipedia entry as one of the worst films of all time. Seriously. It's there with Manos and Battlefield Earth.

 

here is the entry:

 

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)

No Orchids for Miss Blandish, a British gangster film adapted from the novel by James Hadley Chase, received a very hostile reception from the press, mainly due to the film's high (for the time) level of sexual and violent content, but also because the film's attempt to portray Americans using a largely British cast (including an early role for Sid James)[5] was seen as unconvincing.[6] The British film journal Monthly Film Bulletin called it "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen".[6]The Sunday Express film reviewer called No Orchids for Miss Blandish "the worst film I have ever seen".[7] The Australian newspaper The Age also gave a harsh review: "No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole...the entire production is unpardonable".[8] Cliff Goodwin, discussing No Orchids For Miss Blandish's initial reception, notes it was "unanimously dubbed 'the worst film ever made'". [5] Later reviews of the film were equally antipathetic. No Orchids for Miss Blandish was described by British film historian Leslie Halliwell as a "hilariously awful gangster film...one of the worst films ever made".[7]Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide states "No Orchids for Miss Blandish misses by a mile".[9]

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I know nothing about No Orchids... other than, seriously, it has a wikipedia entry as one of the worst films of all time. Seriously. It's there with Manos and Battlefield Earth.

 

here is the entry:

 

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)

No Orchids for Miss Blandish, a British gangster film adapted from the novel by James Hadley Chase, received a very hostile reception from the press, mainly due to the film's high (for the time) level of sexual and violent content, but also because the film's attempt to portray Americans using a largely British cast (including an early role for Sid James)[5] was seen as unconvincing.[6] The British film journal Monthly Film Bulletin called it "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and **** ever to be shown on a cinema screen".[6]The Sunday Express film reviewer called No Orchids for Miss Blandish "the worst film I have ever seen".[7] The Australian newspaper The Age also gave a harsh review: "No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole...the entire production is unpardonable".[8] Cliff Goodwin, discussing No Orchids For Miss Blandish's initial reception, notes it was "unanimously dubbed 'the worst film ever made'". [5] Later reviews of the film were equally antipathetic. No Orchids for Miss Blandish was described by British film historian Leslie Halliwell as a "hilariously awful gangster film...one of the worst films ever made".[7]Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide states "No Orchids for Miss Blandish misses by a mile".[9]

NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH is a classic. It was certainly ahead of its time and didn't back off from the more unsavory details of the original story. People were overly offended by it, which is a whole other discussion. 

 

Robert Aldrich remade it as THE GRISSOM GANG in the early 1970s after the production code had been abolished.

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I know nothing about No Orchids... other than, seriously, it has a wikipedia entry as one of the worst films of all time. Seriously. It's there with Manos and Battlefield Earth.

 

here is the entry:

 

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)

No Orchids for Miss Blandish, a British gangster film adapted from the novel by James Hadley Chase, received a very hostile reception from the press, mainly due to the film's high (for the time) level of sexual and violent content, but also because the film's attempt to portray Americans using a largely British cast (including an early role for Sid James)[5] was seen as unconvincing.[6] The British film journal Monthly Film Bulletin called it "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and **** ever to be shown on a cinema screen".[6]The Sunday Express film reviewer called No Orchids for Miss Blandish "the worst film I have ever seen".[7] The Australian newspaper The Age also gave a harsh review: "No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole...the entire production is unpardonable".[8] Cliff Goodwin, discussing No Orchids For Miss Blandish's initial reception, notes it was "unanimously dubbed 'the worst film ever made'". [5] Later reviews of the film were equally antipathetic. No Orchids for Miss Blandish was described by British film historian Leslie Halliwell as a "hilariously awful gangster film...one of the worst films ever made".[7]Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide states "No Orchids for Miss Blandish misses by a mile".[9]

Man....after reading a review like this, I've got to make a note to watch this baby if if pops up on TCM's schedule in the future!

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So what word is being disallowed now? This filter is beyond ridiculous.

 

I agree. As do, I suspect, the majority of posters on these boards.

Also, due to my inherent and incurable nosiness, I always want to know what the offending word was. And then I start trying to figure it out. That way madness lies.

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I know nothing about No Orchids... other than, seriously, it has a wikipedia entry as one of the worst films of all time. Seriously. It's there with Manos and Battlefield Earth.

 

In the interests of saving space, I omitted the actual wiki entry. 

However, assuming that everyone following this thread read it, I have to say, good heavens ! It wasn't that bad! While I myself (anyone else think that phrase "I myself" is kind of funny?) also dissed it, and true, I do think it's a bit sub-standard for a noir or even a "gritty dark crime film", shirley it isn't "the worst film of all time". I mean, that's a pretty extreme statement.

 

I suspect those Brits back then couldn't handle sex and violence the way the Yanks could. So they were simply "shocked and appalled". 

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