Destroyed by their lust for women: three movies

A GIRL IN EVERY PORT (1928) is another silent Howard Hawks films, wherein swabbies Victor McLaglen and Richard Armstrong go from brawling adversaries to best buddies only to risk falling apart when McLaglen falls for Louise Brooks, whom Armstrong knows from experience is No Damn Good. The male bonding makes this feel more Hawksian than the other silents I’ve caught recently, but it’s still not very good. The homoerotic overtones had TYG snickering when she caught part of it while I watched. “It’s ten after nine.”

THE SOFT SKIN (1964) is the first film in my Truffaut-a-thon that I haven’t seen before, though it turns out I wasn’t missing much. While well-made, this is a surprisingly conventional married-boy-gets-girl, married-boy-loses-girl, wife-gets-a-gun,drama that could easily have been made by a half-dozen other creators (something I wouldn’t say about Jules and Jim). I do, however, like Roger Ebert’s observation that most of the protagonist’s problems come not from adultery but from being a half-hearted, inept adulterer. “I’d rather save that for my talk so as not to reveal myself.”

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) isn’t as arty an adaptation of Carmilla as Vampyr but it’s much more faithful. Then newcomer Ingrid Pitt plays a beautiful, stranded noblewoman taken in by Peter Cushing’s family, after which Cushing’s daughter suffers a strange, wasting disease — and then it appears the same fate will befall Pippa Steele (above right, with Pitt). While sex and blood were always part of Hammer’s appeal, like Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, this film shows them getting much more explicit, with nude breasts, vampire bites on breasts and lesbian scenes that must have been eye-popping at the time; that said, it’s tame compared to the lurid AIP poster below (AIP released this and Sister Hyde in the US). The box office was good enough to generate two sequels, Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil; Kate O’Mara (later the Rani on Doctor Who) plays a discarded lover. “The trouble with this part of the world is they have too many fairy tales.”#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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