Wicked Woman (1953) Russell Rouse
If you like your film noir a little on the trashy side, you’re gonna love Wicked Woman. Its low-budget seediness makes itself known in the opening lounge-lizard tune sung by Herb Jeffries, which includes this immortal line:
“You know that what she’s doin’ is sure to cause your ruin…”
The “she” in question here is Billie Nash (Beverly Michaels), who hops off a Trailways bus and slaps down six bucks to stay in the Rooming House from Hell where all the tenants constantly yell at each other while the landlady screams “I run a respectable place!” Billie encounters more bad luck in the form of Charlie (Percy Helton), a weasel who lives across the hall who can’t stay away from her.
Things start looking up (“looking up” is a relative term in this flick…) for Billie when she lands a job as a waitress at a bar run by Dora (Evelyn Scott) and Matt Bannister (Richard Egan). Dora’s a lush and Matt and Billie immediately have eyes for each other and, well, if you’ve seen any film noir whatsoever, you know what happens next.
Wicked Woman is certainly low-budget fun, a 1950’s sleaze-fest that demands you either take it or dismiss it on its own terms. Although it’s not a great film, I liked it and will henceforth consider it a guilty pleasure. The actors are more than adequate and it’s always fun to see the great Percy Helton doing his thing, which he does quite well here. As long as you go into the film with the understanding that you’re not watching Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice, you’ll probably have a great time.
Next time: Who’d win a fight between Neville Brand, Ernest Borgnine, and Broderick Crawford?
Photos: Film Noir of the Week, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings