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Carnival dancer Lane Bellamy finds herself stranded in a southern town ruled by corrupt political boss Titus Semple. Lane becomes romantically involved with sheriff Fielding Carlisle, a weakling whose career is being driven by Titus. Seeing Lane as a liability to his own political ambitions, Titus mounts a campaign to get her driven out of town. She finds she can't get a job and even gets arrested on a trumped-up morals charge. Released from jail, Lane finds work as a "hostess" at Lutie-Mae's road house, where she meets Dan Reynolds, another member of the town's political machine. They marry and move to a home on Flamingo Road, the town's social pinnacle. Their marriage is soon marked by scandal when a drunken Carlisle visits Lane at home one evening and shoots himself. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Curtiz, Crawford reunite to rekindle Mildred Pierce by camping out on the South Coast.
Trying to pass off Joan Crawford, then heading toward her mid-'40s, as a plausible nautch-dancer in the side-show of an itinerant carnival proves a misstep from which Michael Curtiz' Flamingo Road barely recovers. But, once the layers of accrued campiness that cling to it are peeled back (and once Crawford discards her Salome-like veils), the movie, far-fetched as it is, generates some interest.
Owing to unpaid bills or some such, the traveling show, in which Crawford was a steamy if not entirely fresh attraction, blows town. Sheriff's deputy Zachary Scott, sent across the tracks to make sure the whole unsavory business has packed up, finds only Crawford, listening to her radio in a mildewed tent. Sparks are struck; he invites her back to town for the blue-plate special in the local beanery and finagles a job for her there as a waitress.
His superior, corrupt sheriff Sydney Greenstreet, sniffs out the burgeoning romance and vows to quash it; he has plans to run Scott for the senate of their anonymous Gulf state (its capital is Olympic City and its capitol a lovingly detailed piece of scenery painting), prerequisite to which is a proper marriage to a bona-fide local girl. Scott glumly acquiesces to the plan, drowning his doubts in drink ("I crawled into a bottle and can't get out"), while Greenstreet frames Crawford on a morals charge and runs her out of town.
New to the mix is David Brian, boss of the state political machine, whose eye is caught by Crawford (now back in town working in the obligatory "roadhouse" operated by Gladys George). He has a whopper of a hangover ("A party's like insurance the older you are, the more it costs," he says), which Crawford assuages with an eye-opening whiskey sour followed by a home-cooked breakfast. Never underestimate the power of a well-scrambled egg. Next thing, they're married and living in a mansion on high-toned Flamingo Road (complete with a housemaid with the voice and the brain of a parakeet, as in the earlier Curtiz/Crawford Mildred Pierce, except that this time she's not Butterfly McQueen and is, amazingly for the era, white). But Greenstreet starts pulling even filthier strings than Brian for once, a passably good egg can countenance. Whereupon, after a drastic development involving the besotted Scott, Crawford slips a handgun into her clutch-bag and pays Greenstreet an amicable visit....
With at least two sensational movies behind him (Casablanca and Mildred Pierce), and one ahead of him (The Unsuspected), Curtiz can be forgiven for Flamingo Road. He brings it some verve, but its identity as yet another of Crawford's rags-to-riches vehicles gets the better of him. While his star supplies some startlingly naturalistic acting (and while the uncharacteristically clean-shaven Scott and the characteristically portly Greenstreet are dependably professional), Flamingo Road has fallen, rather unarguably, into the disreputable if transfixing gulch called camp. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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