DOC’S JOURNEY INTO HAMMER FILMS #26: BLONDE BAIT [1956]

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Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , , ,

Hammer-films

 

UK

AKA WOMEN WITHOUT MEN

AVAILABLE TO VIEW LEGALLY ON YOUTUBE

RUNNING TIME: 70 min

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

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On the night just before her latest performance on the stage of a sleazy nightclub, Beverley Michaels’ boyfriend Nick Randal tells her he will be away for three months but that he will meet her round the back of the club on New Year’s Eve and propose to her. She then tells her manager she wants to leave, but he gets furious and attacks her, whereupon she kills him. She’s imprisoned, but hopefully not for long. Nick is actually a traitor and a murderer, and both Scotland Yard and the FBI want to get their hands on him. If Beverley could somehow escape from jail, she could lead them to Nick….

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Blonde Bait is a decent, straight forward ‘B’ programmer with at least one very suspenseful scene [a search on a boat where our fugitives are hiding] and a story which certainly makes you care about the outcome and its characters, though its post-production history is probably the most interesting thing about it. The print on YouTube available for viewing [this film wasn’t released on DVD or even on video] is actually from the US version which was considerably altered from the original British cut entitled Women Without Men, which seemingly can’t be seen at all. In that version, there are no police or agents, meaning that Beverley and her two companions escape under their own volition, Nick is just a nice guy with no criminal bent at all, and the film ends with Beverley returning to prison. Nick is even played by a different actor. This huge re-editing job means that Blonde Bait must be quite a different picture from Women Without Men, the originally intended form of the film, and from the sounds of it the British version is probably rather better. The scenes of an American and a British agent talking in a room that bookend Blonde Bait [which doesn’t have a production company, screenplay or story credit in its onscreen titles!] and which are obviously inserted here and there, look like they belong to a different film.

The rest of Blonde Bait does flow quite well. While not exploitative like later movies of similar subject matter, the women’s prison scenes are quite convincing in evoking the regimented life style, though the escape seems absurdly easy and the climax disappointingly rushed, lacking the intense emotion that should occur when a woman confronts her boyfriend knowing he’s a villain. Still, Beverley Micheals, better known for trashier roles, is a very likeable heroine and there’s fine support from Joan Rice as a fellow prisoner and escapee who is in prison for bigamy and sees no wrong in it, and Thora Hird as a woman who keeps escaping and actually works for the police [at least in this version]. And it’s interesting to have as the third escapee, in a British film from the time, be an unmarried woman with a baby who goes unpunished. I’d like to see the original version of this film, and may amend this review or do a separate one if and when I do, but it’s serviceable in its Blonde Bait form. A very minor flick, but not one you’ll regret watching for free.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2433 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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