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"Last evening, I skipped the traditional televised holiday fare and watched Edward Dmytryk's "Walk On The Wild Side" (Columbia Pictures, 1962). Let's just say that the next time you're having friends over for melba toast and you're looking for the perfect over-the-top extravaganza to project on to the living room wall, this should be the featured attraction. Barbara Stanwyck is the lesbian owner of a New Orleans brothel known as "The Doll House." Glamorous Capucine (a 60's version of Garbo)is the most popular call girl since Holly Golightly and coveted by both her butch madame and a drifter named Dove (not kidding) played by the inscrutable Laurence Harvey. Add a youthful Jane Fonda (in her bulimic period) and a miscast Anne Baxter as a Mexican diner owner (cascading dark wig, inauthentic accent and all) and you've got one mesmerically curious flick. Oh, did I forget to mention that the entire thing kicks off with a title sequence in which two felines (one black, one white) engage in a vicious catfight punctuated by Elmer Bernstein's pulsating jazz score? Meow! They sure as hell don't make e'm like this anymore! - Mark Griffin ("Genre" Magazine)"
City Full Of Lost Girls
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 08/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Elmer Bernstein's beautiful Jazz theme and Saul Bass' sensuously lyric opening credits set the tone for this tale of Dove Linkhorn and his search for his lost love Hallie Gerard through the tough underbelly of 1930's New Orleans. These opening shots of a back cat prowling through an alley are justifiably considered one of the best credit sequences ever filmed. Cinematically sublime and well worth the viewing.
What follows is a high melodrama set in a brothel called the Doll House, where Dove, Hallie, Kitty and Madame Jo Courtney meet their various tragic ends. As directed by once black listed director Edward Dmytryk "Walk on the Wild Side" is a full-blown old style drama that is chock full of finely tuned old style performances.
Cast against character Laurence Harvey as Dove tackles his roll as a love sick Texas cowboy with more than his usual cool approach. He manages a plausible Texas accent and turns Dove into a man of fire and misguided passion. He makes it believable that he is the kind of guy that the women he meets with the exception of Barbara Stanwyck find it hard to resist. This is no mean feat for the thin aristocratic British actor.
French beauty Capucine seems almost too refined at first to play Hallie the artistic and wounded object of Dove's affection. But as the film progresses she delivers just the right blend of tragedy and pathos of a girl lost in the world of prostitution.
The accomplished Anne Baxter makes her presence known as Teresina Vidaverri the Mexican café owner who helps Dove and along the way also falls for him. Miscast in an age when Hollywood had most major roles of Latinos played by non-Latinos she is tough, tender and manages to be believable in the role.
Jane Fonda appears as the spurned bad girl Kitty. She walks the wild side with abandon and shows her range as an actress in this, one of her early rolls. Sexy, slinky and utterly rotten her Kitty is pure fun as in her desperation for Dove's affections carries the turn of events for him and Hallie to damnation and loss.
When Barbara Stanwyck comes on the screen she steals the picture out from under all concerned as Jo the lesbian Madame who looses her cool over her unrequited passion for Hallie. It is a classic Stanwyck performance full of all the power and history of this great American star. In her speech to Hallie about what love is she shines as she reveals her own tragic past. This was the first American film to show a lesbian on the screen and Stanwyck presents us with a real woman full of strengths and flaws that is much more than one would expect from a gay character in mainstream Hollywood of 1962.
Joseph MacDonald captures all the heat and steam of New Orleans with his shimmering black and white cinematography. The out of time early 60's costumes by Charles La Maire are stunning in their range from rags to high class call girl glamour. Bernstein's wonderful score is one of his best and adds the right touch of jazzy glitz to the drama.
"Walk on the Wild Side" is one hell of a ride and well worth the admission price to the Doll House.
Susan Fong | Las Vegas, NV USA | 06/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""A Walk on the Wild Side" is a well made, intriguing soap opera set in sultry, steamy New Orleans. When the audience sees the opening credit sequence in which a sensuous black cat is photographed in closeup as it prowls along sidewalks and alleys of the Big Easy, viewers are hooked. This startling and ingenious introduction as well as the juicy end credit sequence were conceived by the brilliantly inventive graphic artist Saul Bass. The rather sordid plot revolves around a good-looking Texas drifter named Dove, superbly underplayed by Laurence Harvey, who hitchhikes his way to New Orleans in search of his long lost love, Hallie. Hallie is portrayed by the elegant and ravishing Capucine. (Capucine bears an uncanny resemblance to both Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. No wonder everyone was crazy about her!) Enroute to the Big Easy, Dove encounters a runaway juvenile delinquent, Kitty, performed with sass and vigor by Jane Fonda. She tags along with Dove until he leaves her behind after he discovers that she is a thief and a liar. Following an anonymous tip, Dove locates Hallie who is living and working in a high-class brothel. At first he does not realize that she has followed a primrose path. When he does find out, he is understandably shocked. Eventually he forgives her and proposes marriage. Complications and tragedy follow.The cast of " A Walk on the Wild Side" are uniformly excellent. Barbara Stanwyck is especially memorable. She gives a fearless, ferocious performance as the calculating, possessive lesbian madam, Jo, who is hopelessly infatuated with Hallie. Other palatable ingredients in this movie: the solid direction by Edward Dmytryk; the crisp, evocative black and white photography of Joe MacDonald; and the bold, brash jazz score composed by the great Elmer Bernstein.No it's not Shakespeare, but "A Walk on the Wild Side" is a very watchable, well-crafted, guilty pleasure."
DOVE & the "DOLL HOUSE".....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 02/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's been said that nobody deliberately sets out to make a bad movie. Based on a novel of the same name and with character names like Dove Linkhorn and Kitty Twist, "Walk on the Wild Side" kind've makes me wonder. Set in the "early thirties", it tells of Texan Dove (Laurence Harvey) on the road to New Orleans to find his lost love, sculptress Hallie (Capucine). He hooks up with been-around runaway Kitty Twist (Jane Fonda). They meet good-hearted cafe owner Teresina (Anne Baxter---with a not very convincing Mexican accent) and Dove discovers Kitty is a thief so he ditches her. Teresina gives Dove work and helps him with a newspaper ad to locate Hallie. After a suspicious phone call (that sounds like Kitty) tips Dove off to Hallie's whereabouts, he finally finds her. She's living off brothel owner/vice queen Jo Courtney (Barbara Stanwyck) and works in Jo's "Doll House" in the French Quarter. But good ole boy that he is, he doesn't catch on. Kitty turns up as a new "doll" and things begin to unravel leading to scandal and tragedy. The performances are rather good even if Capucine seems a bit too classy and patrician to be a fallen woman. The dialogue is ripe and I loved one line a drunken street preacher shouts at Capucine, "You hip-slingin' daughter of Satan!" I can't really call this a bad movie. I enjoyed it despite the obvious plot contrivances and recommend it to those who enjoy somewhat trashy but interesting melodramas. The title sequences by Saul Bass are cool and Brook Benton sings the title song performed in the "Doll House". For some, this will be a good DVD find."
Cast on the wild side
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 06/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Hollywood attempted to loosen the strictures of the Hays code in the 50s and 60s it often turned to the Southern Gothic as a way for testing permissibility because everything they hinted at could easily be chalked up to Southern decadence; this 1962 Edward Dymytryk melodrama is based on a Nelson Algren novel, but it plays like something by Tennessee Williams. A handsome Texas "dirt farmer" searches New Orleans high and low during the Depression for his lost sweetheart from back in the Lone Star state, unaware that she has become the kept woman for the mistress of the toniest and most corrupt bordello in the French Quarter; he is aided in his quest by a runaway juvenile and a Mexican-American café owner, both of whom yearn for him but realize the nobility of his quest. Columbia cast almost every one of these characters wildly against both type and nationality, with Laurence Harvey as the Texan, Capucine as his sweetheart, Barbara Stanwyck (honking Brooklyn accent and all) as the New Orleans madam, and Anne Baxter as the Mexican-American; everyone seems to be taking their parts very seriously, but only Baxter succeeds with her accent (she and Jane Fonda, as the wayward juvenile, seem to be the only two having any fun at all). The film is worth seeing if only for its beautiful camerawork, particularly in the bordello, and for its famous score by Elmer Bernstein and credit sequence by Saul Bass."