Saturday, December 19, 2020

Movie Reviews: Jailbait

Jailbait
directed by Ed Wood

I am always looking for a good film noir to watch so I decided to check this one out. It quickly became apparent that this 1954 movie wasn't a good film noir. In fact it wasn't a good film of any kind of genre. This was because as I later learned this film was both written and directed by Ed Wood. I wouldn't have watched this film if I had known Wood directed it. The crossdressing Wood became infamous not only for his fetishes but for being unquestionably the worst director to ever work in Hollywood. Hands down. Think about whatever inept writer or director comes to your mind and then realize that Wood was worse. Far worse. He's probably the worst director to ever work on this planet. 
People who have no skill, experience, or even interest in directing, camera work, acting, or writing could fly out to Hollywood tomorrow and create much better work than Wood ever did. It is difficult to express in words just how horrible this film was. I later discovered that the version I saw, bad as it was, wasn't even the worst variant. There is an edition out there where either Wood or his southern film distributors decided to insert a lengthy blackface performance by a white comedian, his wife and a minstrel band. All of this was completely unrelated to the narrative. Someone evidently thought that white people of the time, particularly in the South, would find it drop dead funny.
Anyway, as I mentioned everything about this film stunk.
The acting was stiff. I mean really stiff. This was "Third Grade Christmas Show which you are only attending because your little son/daughter/niece/nephew/cousin has two lines to say" acting. The horrible acting is matched by the inane, blaring, pointless, ponderous flamenco guitar and lounge jazz piano soundtrack that fills up almost every moment in the film and routinely drowns out the actors' dialogue. 
Obviously production values were non-existent for this film. Film noir is usually supposed to have a contrast of light and darkness, with plenty of shadows framing important characters and places. That didn't happen here because despite setting the story in freaking Southern California, Wood inexplicably chose to shoot everything at night.
The plot such as there is that Don Gregor (Clancy Malone) likes to hang out with violent criminal Vic Brady (Timothy Farrell). Despite warnings from his sexy but monotone sister Marilyn (Dolores Fuller, Wood's girlfriend) and indulgent plastic surgeon father Dr. Boris Gregor (Herbert Rawlinson), Don gets deeper into trouble with Vic until he's crossed a serious line and can't get back. Given the title I thought this would be about a gangster with a young girlfriend or an otherwise decent man with a young girlfriend who gets him in trouble but the title refers to the guns Don and Vic carry. All in all a truly execrable film. Rawlinson died the day after shooting was complete which probably tells you what he thought of this movie.
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