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Otto Preminger / Cert PG / 91 mins / USA (1952)

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"One of the best yet still underestimated film noir, boasting gloriously detailed mise-en-scene from Otto Preminger and a revelatory performance by the cast-against-type Jean Simmons as a murderess femme fatale."

Angel faced Jean Simmons plays Diane Tremayne, a very bad seed with an Electra-sized grudge against her wealthy stepmother.  With no moral brake in sight, Diane seduces hunky family chauffeur Frank (Robert Mitchum) and enlists him in her plans to get rid of her stepmother.  Bewitched by Diane's beauty - and money - Frank forsakes his girlfriend and safe future for the irresistible Diane...

This film comes late in the Film Noir cycle, and it is one of the darkest and most cynical of the lot, distinguished by Preminger's always elegant, intelligent direction and an intriguing performance - one of her best - from Jean Simmons (Spartacus, Elmer Gantry, Black Narcissus).  If Simmons' performance shimmers with suppressed anger, it is no wonder.  The girl who described herself as 'just a Cockney kid from Cricklewood' was unhappily contracted to Howard Hughes at RKO studios at the time.  Nearing the end of her contract she cut her hair, knowing Hughes liked his actresses to have mane-like hair.  To spite her, Hughes brought in Preminger to direct this script, stipulating that Preminger had to cast Simmons, and that she had to wear a wig for the shoot.  Hughes got his way; Simmons was incandescent throughout; and Preminger was cruel and dictatorial to her for the 18 days of shooting - all that were left to run on Simmons' contract.  Throw in a morally-ambivalent performance from Robert Mitchum - something he did so very well! - plus a haunting piano score, and the result became, surprisingly, a minor classic.

Film noir, the Golden Years of Hollywood, how the Freudian premise here works nearly 70 years down the line, or even those incredible pointy bras - join us for #LexiOClock to discuss.  We will all be viewing the film (separately) together at 18:30 on Mon 29 Jun and then heading over to our Facebook page at 20:05 to hash over these and other thoughts on the film.  See ya there!

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