No Orchids for Miss Blandish (film)
|No Orchids for Miss Blandish|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||St John Legh Clowes|
|Produced by||St John Legh Clowes|
|Written by||St John Legh Clowes|
|Screenplay by||St John L. Clowes|
|Story by||James Hadley Chase
|Based on||1939 book by James Hadley Chase|
|Starring||Jack La Rue
|Music by||George Melachrino|
|Edited by||Manuel del Campo|
|Distributed by||Renown Pictures Corporation (UK)
RKO Radio Pictures (US)
No Orchids for Miss Blandish (US re-release title Black Dice) is a 1948 British gangster film adapted and directed by St. John Legh Clowes from the novel of the same name by James Hadley Chase. It stars Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott and Linden Travers (reprising her title role from the West End play by Chase and Robert Nesbitt), with unbilled early appearances from Sid James, as a barman, and Walter Gotell, as a nightclub doorman. Due to the film's strong violence and sexual content for its time, amongst other reasons, a number of critics have called it one of the worst films ever made.
Miss Blandish (Linden Travers), a sheltered heiress, is targeted for a simple robbery by a cheap thug who ultimately involves two groups of rival gangsters, their goal being her diamond jewellery worth $100,000. The robbery is botched when Riley (Richard Nielson) kills her bridegroom and the three would-be robbers decide to kidnap Miss Blandish for ransom instead (her father is worth $100 million).
The three original kidnappers are killed, and Blandish ends up the captive of the Bailey gang. Her father puts a private detective on the case. The rival Grisson gang, led by Ma Grisson (Lilli Molnar), intends to collect the ransom and kill Blandish rather than take the risk of releasing her. Meanwhile, Slim Grisson (Jack La Rue) and Blandish fall in love and plan on running off together.
Blandish sends the diamonds to her father with a note saying she is in love with Slim, but he refuses to believe it. Ma Grisson is shot by rival gangsters when she cannot get Slim to the phone. The police surround the cabin where Slim and Miss Blandish are holed up and gun Slim down, "rescuing" the kidnap victim and returning her safely home. She throws herself from her balcony over the loss of Slim.
- Jack La Rue as Slim Grisson
- Hugh McDermott as Dave Fenner
- Linden Travers as Miss Blandish
- Walter Crisham as Eddie Schultz
- MacDonald Parke as Doc
- Danny Green as Flyn
- Lilli Molnar as Ma Grisson
- Charles Goldner as Louis, Headwaiter
- Zoe Gail as Margo
- Leslie Bradley as Ted Bailey
- Richard Neilson as Riley
- Frances Marsden as Anna Borg
- Michael Balfour as Barney
- Bill O'Connor as Johnny
The film caused enormous controversy on its release, because of the high levels of violence that had got past the film censors. Though made with a largely British cast, it was set in New York, with the actors often struggling with their American accents.
No Orchids for Miss Blandish received strong criticism for its treatment of violence and sexuality. Cliff Goodwin says that it was "unanimously dubbed 'the worst film ever made'" by British reviewers. The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen". The Observer reviewer, C. A. Lejeune, described the film as "this repellent piece of work" that "scraped up all the droppings of the nastier type of Hollywood movie". The Sunday Express film reviewer called No Orchids for Miss Blandish "the worst film I have ever seen". The British film critic Derek Winnert quotes reviewer Dilys Powell as writing that the film should be ‘branded with a “D” certificate for disgusting’. The Australian newspaper The Age also gave a harsh review: "No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole...the entire production is unpardonable". The film was also denounced by the Bishop of London, William Wand, and several UK politicians, including Edith Summerskill. Despite this condemnation, the film was commercially successful.
More recent critics have been equally dismissive, though for different reasons. Leslie Halliwell would later describe No Orchids for Miss Blandish as a "hilariously awful gangster film...one of the worst films ever made". Leonard Maltin in Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide states No Orchids for Miss Blandish "aspires to be a Hollywood film noir and misses by a mile".
The film broke box office records in Britain in territories where it was not banned.
- Variety April 1948
- Variety film review; 21 April 1948
- "No-Orchids-for-Miss-Blandish - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". NYTimes.com. 2011-11-20. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- Cliff Goodwin, Sid James: A Biography. Random House, 2011 ISBN 0753546825, (p. 67-68).
- Motion Picture Exhibitor review; 14 March 1951, page 3042
- "Outrage: No Orchids for Miss Blandish" by Brian McFarlane in British Crime Cinema, edited by Steve Chibnall, Robert Murphy. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-16870-8 (pg. 37-50).
- Halliwell's Film Guide, HarperPerennial, 1994, ISBN 978-0-06-273318-4 (pg. 781).
- "No Orchids for Miss Blandish * (1948, Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott, Linden Travers) – Classic Movie Review 4766". Derek Winnert. 2016-12-06. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
- "The Chiel's Film Review". The Age, 27 November 1948 (p. 5).
- The British Board of Film Censors: film censorship in Britain, 1896-1950. James Crighton Robertson. Taylor & Francis, 1985, ISBN 0-7099-2270-1 (p.174-5)
- Maltin, Leonard (2011), Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From The Silent Era Through 1965 (Second Edition). Penguin, ISBN 0452295777 (pg. 474).
- Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p210