Saturday, April 9, 2016

LOST, LONELY AND VICIOUS (1958)


Starting out as a pseudo-documentary, the narration by an authoritarian figure informs us that life can be troubling for young Hollywood thespians. He makes it a point to mention these are only actors portraying real people. These “actors,” ironically, are a cast of unknowns, each hoping for their own break in show business. This film is not going to help. Their dialogue is perfectly memorized, each ready for that one word, “Action!” The main focus of this thin-budgeted film concerns confused youth with “Rebel Without a Cause” fresh on Hollywood’s mind. Ken Clayton plays the troubled main character. 



Our handsome hero's very first starring role turns out to be an overnight success. His fellow actors and actresses seem to have less talent and nothing but unrealistic dreams with little drive or ambition. No wait. Those are Millennials. These wannabes meet at a soda shop where seemingly one area microphone was used for that realistic soda shop feel. There is a lumpy guy with a plaid driver’s cap, always standing around eating popcorn and staring. If that is not funny enough, old “Toots” fakes playing the harmonetta with a bouncy rhythm unrelated to the song playing. Yes. These teens are confused.




Decent location filming is used for a car chase of sorts. Despite the phony automobile sound effects, it is the only “real” element in the film. But the rising star seems fixated on death, alternating between violence and kindness. He angers a jealous actor with his T-Bird convertible, trying to make him crash on a highway. He nearly hits a girl at one point and the script brings them together later in the library. After reconsidering nearly being crippled for life, she makes googly-eyes at this rich, cute guy. She becomes interested in his odd thinking and helps him consider other things besides death. Like a future together. Driving lessons. They even share two Cokes to seal their friendship. A Coke and a smile.




His drama coach and life-guide is a Greta Garbo-looking and sounding actress, Lilyan Chauvin, who seeks counsel from a mental health expert, asking why this talented boy is consumed with death. Could be this picture. In another amateur scene, she tries to break through to him, hoping he will appreciate the talent he has to offer. They have a very close relationship but they never, ever shared a Coke. Their long conversations are excruciating to sit through which explains my own thoughts about death.

One dark and stormy night. Okay. It was not stormy. He drives his T-Bird, along with his self-portrait painting, at high speed seemingly ready to meet his Maker. Painting and all. He stops at the lake where he first fell in love with Coke girl and realizes his life does have a future. His real intention was to toss the painting into the lake and symbolically drown his past. One look at his painting talent says it was a good plan. The film ends with some final wisdom from the adult narrator. As for the girl in the negligee featured in the lobby poster, she is not in this film. 

With a budget that would raise no one’s eyebrows and high school level interior sets, this HOWCO International production would have been more accurately produced by, HOWCOME International.

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