AKA THE FLANAGAN BOY
AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 81 min
REVIEWED DY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Small-time trainer Sharkey is staging fixed fights inside a fairground tent in Liverpool, but instead of the pre-arranged audience plant picking up the challenge to fight Sharkey’s boxer, former merchant seaman Johnny Flanagan steps up to the ring and fights for the prize. Sharkey signs him up as a boxer to be managed by Guiseppe Vechi, and things seem promising for him, but there’s the small matter of Guiseppe’s much younger wife Lorna, who sets her sights on the strapping, handsome fighter. Johnny can’t resist his desires for much longer…
Though based on a novel by Max Catto which had already been filmed for TV in 1948 with Sid James in the same role as trainer Sharkey, this is basically The Postman Rings Twice re-hashed and transplanted to the world of boxing. No Matter how many versions of this tale you see, it’s always fun to see basically decent, if flawed, men fall under the spell of a femme fatale and sink lower and lower and even be driven into serious crime. You feel like screaming at them to see sense and get a grip, though of course you know that things will not end well. Therefore Bad Blonde is mildly enjoyable for its storyline and situations, and has a few good aspects, notably Barbara Payton [who was a bit of a manipulative femme fatale herself and led the most scandalous life] as a very memorable scheming vixen who is introduced flashing a leg as she puts on a stocking – though the film generally seems more interested in Tony Wright, who spends much of the time bare-chested even when he’s outside the ring but is very bland as Johnny [though it was his first film, so I guess I can give him some slack].
Generally the whole thing though feels under-powered and pedestrian, veteran American ‘B’ director Reginald Le Borg failing to bring any real style to the proceedings except in the final scene. A killing in a lake is built up to and staged with no flair whatsoever and the boxing matches are not very convincing. What is interesting though is how upfront the film is quite explicit about sexual desire, especially for a British picture of the time, with Lorna licking her lips as she admires Johnny’s sweaty torso, and the weakening of his boxing being pretty obviously down to too much time being spent in the bedroom, or wherever they can find to have some fun, while some sparks of interest and even some suspense are provided towards the end by some odd relatives who may have some idea of what is going on. Overall though you’ve seen this story done far better before and, while it always provides a modicum of entertainment, this version is pretty missable.