Screaming Mimi (1958)

Article #1237 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-3-2004
Posting Date: 12-31-2004
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Featuring Anita Ekberg, Philip Carey, Gypsy Rose Lee

A woman who became mentally unhinged after an attack by a psychotic becomes the target of a psychiatrist’s obsessions.

This psychological film noir with horror underpinnings was based on a novel by Fredric Brown. It has a fascinating story to tell, and there are some good performances here, particularly from Harry Townes as the psychiatrist. There’s also some good music from jazz xylophonist Red Yost Norvo, and a good vocal number from Gypsy Rose Lee, who also gives a relaxed, charming performance in the movie. It could have been a real winner, but it falls a bit short, and I suspect that the reason for this is the presence of Anita Ekberg.

In some ways, she was very appropriate for the role; she’s such a stunningly attractive woman it’s easy seeing how men might become obsessed with her.  Furthermore, she does lend to that air of sex that hangs over the movie.  Unfortunately, she’s not much of an actress, and her role requires someone with much greater thespic and musical talents.  Despite the fact that she appears to have had the benefit of a lot of coaching, she never really comes across as a real character.  And though she’s very easy on the eyes during her dance scenes, every time I look at her face, the only emotion I can see is that she’s really trying hard to remember her moves.  It’s movies like this that really could benefit from a thoughtful and careful remake.

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