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Edward G. Robinson,
Two-part story--the first is about a washed-up Broadway actor and his tough daughter, who is a bigger star than he is; the second is about a literary agent whose newest client--a nine-year-old boy--is the author of a borderline pornographic book. Written by
"Actor's and Sin" had heart and soul seeping from every corner, but what it lacked was that standard to bring it out of the "made-for-TV" category. While this film was a feature in its own right, it had a feel of simplicity that one could not shake. Shakespeare it was not, but this little film could have put more "humph" into its life and fought for a possible cult-classic nomination.
"Actor's and Sin" was very entertaining, and for the time of its release, it would have been a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. It begins with a drama of sorts. Marsha Hunt plays an actress who is about to strike it rich on Broadway. As she follows the path of fame and fortune, the path becomes a crooked one with each performance suddenly bubbling with more villains. Eventually, she is found dead possible suicide one could guess all day until Daddy-dearest decides to play "Clue" and unmask the real killer. Entitled "Actor's Blood", this was the weaker of the two. It was heavy, dull, overly dramatic, and our characters seemed like they were lifted from Cracker Jack boxes than film school. While the cinematography was simple enough with decent lighting and impressive cut scenes, what brought this opener down was two parts, the first is the story and the second were the actors. "Actor's Blood" was a 43-minute short that could have been about 20-minutes shorter. Too many characters were introduced in such a short amount of time that not enough time was devoted to development. It was tough to follow some and to fully understand their roles in the climaxing moment. If "Actor's Blood" would have been a feature film, it still would have only had about 20-minutes of good meat, with the rest just fatty tissue. The actors were laughable at best. Edward G. Robinson loved his fatherly character so much that he decided to bore us with long monologues, pompous entrances, and a finale that cried melodrama. It was pointless and at times certain to be "MST3K-ed" by a group of college freshman. This opening film had everything we didn't want to begin with, but thankfully our desserts were enough to bring this film from horrid to mediocre.
The second part of "Actor's and Sin" is entitled "Woman of Sin", in which a slimy Hollywood agent unknowingly options a script for a 9-year old bratty girl (insert laughter here or loud "ZOING"). This second segment seemed to pull everything that went wrong with the first, transform it into greatness, and insert it back into the film. The characters were strong and had an honest humor to them, the concept was fun albeit maybe dated but fun, and the beats seemed to gel well with the length of this film. Eddie Albert played Orlando Higgins with so much pizazz and energy; it is hard to keep your eyes on anyone else but him during the short. Those with an infatuation with "The Flintstones" should watch "Woman of Sin" to see Alan Reed Mr. Fred Flintstone himself as well as hear him as the big shot executive caught in the shuffle. This is a great parody of Hollywood, which takes the dirtiness of Ari Gold from "Entourage" and brings him into a Preston Sturges-esquire film. Watch when you meet the child's mother for the first time, the entire scene is reminiscent of Lynch or Aronofsky, very surreal, very eerie, very dark but it counters the tone of the film very well. Our young writer, Daisy Marcher (played by the director/producer's daughter Jenny) is very good at her performance. She is feisty, cruel, and exactly what you would not think of a young girl writing about a woman and sin. This second half was phenomenal. It brought together the zaniness of working in the film business with the sleaze of truth. It was funny and upbeat with pacing that made you wish it was another hour long. Nearly the direct opposite of "Actor's Blood", "Woman of Sin" pulls out as the obvious winner and my vote for viewing this film at least once.
Overall, this was a mediocre entry into the world of cinema. There was a level of annoyance with "Actor's Blood", with the wooden overly dramatic performances and the trite story that could have been shortened another twenty minutes. Yet, this film was saved by its second half. "Woman of Sin" reminded me of a Preston Sturges film, with the symbolism, energy, and audacity coming through every scene. It was (unlike the first) original and a definite suggestion to friends. Alas, I cannot suggest this entire film. It is a self-produced independent film that is a unique idea, but developed incorrectly. One could tell that there was more passion and enjoyment in the second half than the first perhaps with a change of directors this happened, but there was no consistency or cohesiveness. For "Actor's and Sin" to work the two films had to connect at some level. It needed to be one film to the viewer, but two films on the VHS box. There was nothing to make these two short films fit together, thus they suffered by merely working solo, with an obvious lack in the front, and a bit too bottom heavy. I liked, but not loved. This film did raise itself above the one-star rating with its "Woman of Sin", but not too much further. Watch once, repeat viewings are not necessary.
Grade: *** out of *****
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