Wicked as They Come

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Wicked as They Come
Wicked As They Come film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Hughes
Produced by M.J. Frankovich
Maxwell Setton
Written by Ken Hughes
Sigmund Miller
Robert Westerby
Story by Bill S. Ballinger (novel)
Starring Arlene Dahl
Philip Carey
Herbert Marshall
Music by Malcolm Arnold
Cinematography Basil Emmott
Edited by Max Benedict
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • May 22, 1956 (1956-05-22) (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Wicked as They Come (Portrait in Smoke in the United States) is a 1956 British film starring Arlene Dahl, Philip Carey and Herbert Marshall. The film was directed by Ken Hughes.[1]


Poor girl from the slums Katherine Allenbourg trades on her looks. She enters a beauty contest, then charms the elderly gentleman running it, Sam Lewis, into fixing it so she will win first prize, a trip to Europe. She promptly abandons Sam.

Changing her name to Kathy Allen, she is attracted to Tim O'Bannion, a passenger on the plane to London who works for an ad agency. But she's determined to land someone wealthier and photographer Larry Buckham fills the bill. Invited to use his charge account at a department store for a wedding dress, Kathy makes many purchases, pawns the merchandise and leaves Larry without a word.

She gets a job at Tim's advertising firm and seduces the married Stephen Collins, who runs it. Tim arouses more passion in her, but Kathy's strictly out for herself. She demands Collins divorce his wife Virginia, whose father John Dowling owns the agency. Virginia tries to pay her off, but Kathy requests a transfer to the agency's Paris headquarters, where she immediately uses her wiles to get Dowling to marry her.

Anonymous threats begin by mail and phone. Someone in the shadows begins stalking her. Kathy picks up a gun and shoots, killing her husband instead. No one believes her tale of a prowler and Kathy is tried, convicted and sentenced to die.

Tim realizes that it is Larry who is behind all this. He reveals an explanation for Kathy's cruel treatment of men, the fact that she was brutally assaulted as a girl. Larry has a change of heart and confesses to stalking her. Kathy's prison sentence is reduced, and she hopes Tim will give her another chance once she gets out.



  1. ^ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/58045

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