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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The fatal instincts of Gloria Grahame

" ... Once, when I was drunk in an attic in New Jersey, I flipped on the television, and there was Gloria Grahame in something called Naked Alibi (1954), lip-synching to a song and gyrating obscenely in a sleazy club, a taunting, creepy image that kept me from sleep and kept me watching as she played out another brutal film noir plot, raising her eyebrows and goading the men around her to violence, rough sex, and ruin. Most of Grahame's films have lurid titles: Blonde Fever (1944), Roughshod (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful, Sudden Fear (both 1952), The Good Die Young (1954), Blood and Lace (1970), and, my personal favorite, Mama's Dirty Girls (1974). Say her name out loud, and it even sounds like her: Gloria Grahame, fancy and earthy at once, tart, ungraspable. She generally makes her entrance on-screen accompanied by a wail of hot jazz, eating candy, applying lipstick to that puffy mouth, flipping her dirty hair and cheap hoop earrings, extending her toned legs so we can see her shapely feet tied up in ankle-strap high heels. Her perversity knows no limits on-screen; in life, she was capable of sleeping with the 13-year-old son of her second husband, Nicholas Ray (she later married this stepson and bore him sons). She could never deny her impulses, and her wantonness made and then destroyed an exciting career in movies. ...

... Gloria Grahame lived on the sidelines of her films because it was there that she could cause the most trouble; she might appear in any movie, young and sullen, aged and insistent, under a pound of make-up or plain-faced, fucking the pain away, putting out a cigarette in someone's eye, giggling for no reason. She's inescapable, a disruptive force, and when I hear her in my head, she seems to say, "C'mon, you know you want to . . ."
Dan Callahan tells us about the fatal instincts of Gloria Grahame for Bright Lights Film Journal.

A great clip with Gloria from Fritz Lang's The Big Heat:

Video clip added by Indigo1045