The Girl In Black Stockings (1957)
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.
The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)