The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)

Article #1731 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-10-2005
Posting Date; 5-9-2006
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Featuring Kim Novak, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine

A director hoping to shoot a biopic about a famous actress who died under strange circumstances discovers a woman who looks identical to her, and decides to prepare her for the role. However, the woman’s mousy character starts to give way to the personality of the actress she’s portraying.

Robert Aldrich made some classic movies, but this isn’t one of them. Even its supporters seem to like it mainly for its campy bad-movie elements. Though I will admit to liking many bad movies for precisely the same reason, this type of bad movie isn’t my cup of tea. The fantastic element is a bit of a question mark; has the woman hired to play the role of Lylah Clare actually been possessed by her spirit? The trouble is (from the position of verifying its fantastic content) that the movie never really addresses this issue; it’s too busy presenting us with its succession of Hollywood stereotypes and movie-making cliches. It’s one of those movies where too many women speak with (supposedly sexy but bad) foreign accents, too many arrogant, egotistical and/or bitchy characters show up, and the human elements and the satirical jabs get lost in the mix. Overall, it feels like a bloated soap opera. For those interested in seeing a good Robert Aldrich movie, you can scan the theater marquee in the movie for the name of one. For me, the best moment in the movie was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance of Dick Miller as a reporter, and the fun I had speculating about certain similarities between this movie and another Kim Novak movie made for a rather famous director.

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