Pretty Poison (film)

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Pretty Poison
original film poster
Directed by Noel Black
Produced by Lawrence Turman
Marshal Backlar
Noel Black
Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Based on Novel:
Stephen Geller
Starring Anthony Perkins
Tuesday Weld
Beverly Garland
John Randolph
Dick O'Neill
Music by Johnny Mandel
Cinematography David Quaid
Edited by William Ziegler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
23 October 1968 (US)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$ 1,800,000

Pretty Poison (1968) is a psychological thriller directed by Noel Black, starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld, about an ex-convict and high school cheerleader who commit a series of crimes.

While not generally considered an example of neo-noir, the film does include certain elements of the genre, including a femme fatale, a character trapped into circumstances beyond his control, criminal protagonists and, of course, murder.

The film was based on the novel She Let Him Continue by Stephen Geller; this was also the working title of the film.

There was a 1996 TV movie remake with the same title and plot.


Dennis Pitt is a disturbed young man on parole from a mental institution who becomes attracted to teenager Sue Ann Stepenek. He tells her that he is a secret agent, and takes her along on a series of "missions" that eventually end in murder. While Dennis is racked with guilt over both what he has done and what he has allowed to happen, Sue Ann is excited by the "adventure" and entreats Dennis to run away with her to Mexico. First, however, they have to get rid of her disapproving mother.

Dennis knows that the police will take Sue Ann's word over his, so he takes the blame for their crimes. Sue Ann, meanwhile, betrays him without a second thought, sending him to prison for life. Dennis is more than happy to be locked up, as it keeps him away from Sue Ann, of whom he is now quite frightened. While Dennis refuses to tell his skeptical parole officer Azenauer the truth, he asks him to "see what Sue Ann is up to" in hopes she will be exposed for what she really is. The film ends with Sue Ann meeting a young man and lamenting to him that the people who took her in after her mother's death won't let her stay out late; it is implied that she will use and destroy him just as she did Dennis. But Dennis' parole officer is indeed watching as she departs with her latest victim.

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