I’m completing my own little Gloria Talbott film festival by following up We’re No Angels and The Leech Woman with I Married a Monster From Outer Space.
Hey, someone’s gotta do it.
What a career stretch this was for Ms. Talbott; from Humphrey Bogart to Tom Tryon. Ms. Talbott seemed best at playing characters that were moderately perky and cute, not particularly bright nor quick, and perpetually anxious and in distress – in short, always in need of rescue. Perhaps that’s why Sprite, my kitten, enjoys her performances. Sprite believes her own raison d’etre on this planet is to be always in need of rescue…from everything…hunger, swinging gates, other cats, outdoors, indoors, Tuesdays…she’s a feline Gloria Talbott. We may change her name to Gloria.
We’re No Angels is one of my favorite Christmas movies, probably because of its un-Christmas-like ingredients. You don’t expect a Christmas flick to feature;
- Humphrey Bogart and Basil Rathbone.
- A poisonous snake.
- A convicted murderer, an embezzler, and a safecracker – all just escaped from prison and all apparently unrepentant.
- Palm trees and 100-degree heat.
Despite the outré components, the Christmas payoff at the end is genuine and moving, and the redemptive dénouement, though fatal, is pleasing if not exactly plausible.
Oh, and Ms. Talbott is rescued in the end from her wicked uncle. Thus fulfilling her contract.
The Leech Woman is better than the title implies. How could it not be? And Ms. Talbott is again rescued, this time from a gruesome crone while the native drums pound. Nuff said ‘bout dat.
Our third film comes from a time when a significant part of our population was living in fear and sometimes considering poor decisions because of that fear. My current fear is we may be living in a similar emotional state now. My hope is that we will resist making catastrophically poor decisions as our parents resisted in the 1950’s. In the United States in the 50’s, people were fearful of surreptitious infiltration by enemies of our way of life. Spies were everywhere. Communists were everywhere. Free-thinkers and agitators disguised as Protestants were everywhere. A goodly number of movies in that decade picked up on those fears to scare the be-jeezus out of us.
My favorite of these films is Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It posited the classic conundrum of conspiracy fear; your neighbor/colleague/spouse looks like your neighbor/colleague/spouse, but is it really them? I harbor an intense fear of pods to this day. If I’m elected I will build a wall to deter all pods…except laundry detergent pods…we might need food.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been remade twice…and I don’t mind. My usual dim view of remaking good films is pushed aside by my suspicion that this plot has something new and old to say to us about every ten years. It is a story of today, and this year’s today is not the 1950’s today. The story of paranoia and response needs to be updated regularly to the current mythology and technology. How we respond to suspicion and difference may ultimately determine if we are condemned or redeemed.
But I still recommend keeping a watchful eye on any pods you encounter.
I Married a Monster From Outer Space is another of these paranoid delicacies. Gloria Talbott’s fiancé’s body and identity is taken over by a Cthulhu look-alike space alien the night before their wedding.
The marriage proceeds anyway and a year later Ms. Talbott notices her husband has changed. It took a year – like I said before, she’s good at playing not particularly bright nor quick. From this point the film proceeds along the lines of Body Snatchers with Ms. Talbott assuming the storytelling duties Kevin McCarthy performed in Snatchers. This film is pretty interesting but is burdened by Tom Tryon’s performance (or non-performance) as the husband. There’s no discernible difference between the original husband and the alien co-opted husband: both are uniformly wooden and both are uniformly Tom Tryon. You can almost understand why it took his wife a year to sense a change…almost.
The bottom line is the repulsive aliens are repulsed, the planet is saved, and Gloria Talbott is once again rescued, but with some ‘splainin’ to do to her real husband.
Now, I’d best go see how Sprite the cat is currently imperiled.
My raison d’etre…