Review: No Orchids for Miss Blandish
Blu-ray: No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)
No Orchids for Miss Blandish from the infamous novel by James Hadley Chase and directed by St. John Legh Clowes, is a largely forgotten film now, but at the time of its release it caused an outcry because of its then hardcore violence.
Starring Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott and with an uncredited appearance from Sid James as a crooked barman, it tells the story of Miss Blandish (Linden Travers), a sheltered heiress who is about to be engaged when she’s is targeted for her diamond jewellery worth $100,000.
The robbery is botched when Riley (Richard Nielson) kills her boyfriend and the three robbers decide to kidnap Miss Blandish for ransom instead.
Here’s where the plot becomes convoluted.
The three original kidnappers are killed by their rivals; the Bailey gang, and Miss Blandish is taken by ANOTHER gang; the Grisson’s, whose main boss is Ma Grisson and is aided by her much beloved and total psycho of a son, Slim (Jack La Rue). Miss Blandish and Slim….fall in love.
I’m not sure Stockholm syndrome was known in 1948, but the ‘love’ bit of the story doesn’t really fit. Slim, it turns out, has been pining away for Miss Blandish and is the man behind the constant orchids she was sent before the kidnapping.
Under his mother’s and his gang’s gaze he imprisons Miss B in his gang\’s swanky Black Dice nightclub. He then rapes her, and she falls in love with him (??) and is so attracted to him and his ‘dangerous ways’ she decides to hide away from her family (who still believe she’s been kidnapped for randsom) and stay on willingly as Slim’s girlfriend.
The story is constantly interrupted by overlong excerpts from the Black Dice\’s nightclub acts, including a dance by Toy & Wing (who?), and a terrible comic impressionist, whose imitations of Peter Lorre and another person have the nightclub audience in hysterics while I was left literally scratching my head.
That’s just the first half of the film.
The film caused enormous controversy on its release, because of the high levels of violence that had somehow got past the British film censors. One killing made me gasp 70 years later.
Featuring a largely British cast, it was set in New York, with the actors having the most atrocious American accents.
At the time of its release The Monthly Film Bulletin called it ‘the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen’.
Banned in America, quite a few UK cinemas refused to show the film, however it still broke box office records in Britain.
A true oddity of a film, but I have to admit I really enjoyed watching it.
Yet again this Indicator release has a splendid array of extras.
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Black Dice: alternative presentation with the US re-release title sequence
- Interview with Richard Gordon and Richard Nielson (2010, 35 mins): the film’s US distributor and the actor in a filmed discussion with broadcaster Joel Blumberg
- Miss Blandish and the Censor (2019, 42 mins): ex-BBFC examiner Richard Falcon discusses the controversial film’s history with the British Board of Film Censors
- Soldier, Sailor (1945, 50 mins): World War II docudrama, conceived by No Orchids for Miss Blandish’s writer-director St John L Clowes
- Original theatrical trailer
- Alternative Black Dice trailer
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Robert Murphy, analysis of the different versions of the source novel, including extracts from George Orwell’s critical essay, news accounts of the controversy surrounding the film’s release, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Michael Brooke on Soldier, Sailor, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited Edition of 3,000 copies
No Orchids for Miss Blandish will be released on 27th May 2019.
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