No Orchids for Miss Blandish

1948

St. John L. Clowes
Director
Renown Pictures
Studio

Kidnapped heiress falls in love with her gangster abductor, with tragic results.

A fascinating film in many ways, not necessarily because it's good, but fascinating nonetheless. It seems to be more widely known now for the excoriating contemporary criticism it received than for anything involving the actual film. And in this modern age, it's hard to see what the fuss was. Indeed, the criticism seems more reflective of the hypocrisy of postwar Britain and America than anything actually onscreen (i.e. it's fine to firebomb civilians, but morally abhorrent to portray sex or violence in the movies). It doesn't help that modern-day "critics" (i.e. regurgitators) like Halliwell and Maltin merely snigger the same line.

That all being said, the attempt to generate an American atmosphere in a British film is a noble failure at best and utterly woeful at worst. The continual interruption of specialty nightclub acts doesn't help the film's pace, either. The violence is indeed over the top, but moreso because it's so ludicrously overdone, especially when the gang starts to eliminate witnesses in such an over the top way than it guarantees the cops will crash down on them hard. That's more the fault of James Hadley Chase's pulpy source novel. That ending is sure something, though!

A few of the cast are good (Crisham, Parke and Goldner especially), most are stiff and obviously out of their comfort zones playing Americans, some can't act (Marsden), some can't act OR sing (Gail), and some are completely undescribable (Lester's police captain and McDermott's "American" Scots accent). There are highlights, though: Travers' dead soul Miss Blandish, drifitng like a doomed ghost through her scenes, Nielson's nasty little punk, Balfour's pathetic drunk, and Sid James being quintessentially Jamesian even this early in his career.

In the end, not a great film by any means, but the seediness of the film accurately reflects the seediness of its denizens, and makes it linger in one's mind for longer than it perhaps has any right to on purely aesthetic grounds.

Thanks to Gerald Lovell and Scott Palmer for identifying many of the unknowns!

-Dave W.



15th April 1948
Cinema



102 mins
1.37:1


22nd February 1951
Cinema

Not Rated


1.37:1



HyperLink
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Jack La Rue
Slim Grisson
Hugh McDermott
Dave Fenner
Linden Travers
Miss Blandish
Walter Crisham
Eddie Schultz
Leslie Bradley
Ted Bailey
Zoe Gail
Margo
Jack Durant
Nightclub Comic
Charles Goldner
Louis
MacDonald Parke
Doc
Lilli Molnar
Ma Grisson
(as Lilly Molnar)
Danny Green
Flyn
Percy Marmont
John Blandish
Michael Balfour
Barney
Frances Marsden
Anna Borg
Jack Lester
Police Captain Brennan
Alicja Halama
Specialty Act (as Halama and Konarski)
Czeslaw Konarski
Specialty Act (as Halama and Konarski)
Dorothy Takahashi
Specialty Act (as Toy and Wyng)
Paul Wing Jew
Specialty Act (as Toy and Wyng)
Richard Nielson
Riley
(as Richard Nelson)
Bill O'Connor
Johnny
Irene Prador
Olga
John McLaren
Foster Harvey
Annette Simmonds
Cutie
(as Annette Simmons)
Dale MacDonald
Bellboy with Orchids
(uncredited)
Unknown
First Butler
Gibb McLaughlin
Second Butler
(uncredited)
Walter Gotell
Joe - Nightclub Doorman
(uncredited)
Sid James
Ted the Barman
(uncredited)
Unknown
Winifred
Unknown
George
Jane Gill-Davies
Evelyn Harvey
(uncredited)
Ernest Borrow
Mr. Harvey
(uncredited)
James Dyrenforth
Gramps, Gas Station Attendant
(unconfirmed)
Unknown
Hat Check Girl
Pat Hagan
Nightclub Patron at Hat Check
(uncredited)
Andre Mikhelson
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Wallace Bosco
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Unknown
Nightclub Patron
Reg Thomason
Nightclub Patron
(uncredited)
Bart Norman
Detective Flaherty
(uncredited)
Harold Kasket
Tony
(uncredited)
Unknown
Cop
Unknown
Bandleader
(Harry Roy?)
Cyril Conway
Maitre'D (uncredited)
Cot D'Ordan
Croupier (uncredited)
Ronald Leigh-Hunt
Grisson's Guard
(uncredited)
Angela Foulds
Granddaughter
(uncredited)
John Warren
Ricardo, the Fence
(uncredited)
Terence Alexander
Cop Shooting at Slim's Car
(uncredited)
Unknown
Police Dispatcher
John Tatum
Cop (unconfirmed)
Jack Arrow
Cop (uncredited)
Unknown
Cop
Unknown
Cop
Unknown
Motorcycle Cop
Larry Taylor
Cop (uncredited)

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes