American Madeline, a no-better-than-she-has-to-be (and then only when pushed) traveler arrives in Naples. She has an eye for men and a penchant for getting by on her wits---a 1954 term for body---and soon has a well-meaning (dumb) young composer, Ciccio providing her with room and board. But she has a male counterpart in Ciccio's friend, café-singer Nino, who recognizes her for what she is and he decides to intercede on behalf of his friend. Black Widow Madeline welcomes him into her parlor, in a manner of speaking to get past the censors, and the next thing Nino knows, he has abandoned his wedding plans with sweet-young-thing Lisa, and runs off with Madeline. Lisa and Ciccio are left with wringing hands, and Madeline and Nino become an American/Italian version of the "Battling Bickersons" or "The Honeymooners", with none of the fun. Written by
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Turner later recalled that the studio offered her a choice between Mogambo and Flame and the Flesh . Turner wrote, "The Mogambo script didn't appeal to me, and I elected to do Flame and the Flesh . A big mistake!" The role in Mogambo eventually went to Ava Gardner. See more »
Out of circulation for many years, this was the third and final of three films produced by Joe Pasternak for MGM under the auspices of Dore Schary intended to rescue the faltering career of the studios 40's glamour queen, Lana Turner. Intended as a facsimile of the type of European sex flicks glutting the stateside market and showcasing budding starlets like Loren and Mangano, and with Richard Brooks at the directorial helm for 'realistic' import and Technicolor shots of teaming Naples street scenes and interiors filmed in Londons Elstree Studios, the film ultimately failed in its attempt to engage critics, or, more importantly, the mass audience. It hardly looks any better today, though the musical score is pretty, and brunette Turners is playful and game as a Neapolitan trollop, while Carlos Thomson is wooden and ill fated Pier Angeli is simpering. This was an uncertain period in Turners sprawling, fifty year Star Career, and Schary was a notorious mishandler of MGM's contract stable. It's unusual to see Lana in this milieu and she's rather out of her element, though she gave interviews at the time which suggested she was enthusiastic about the change of pace, and considered the assignment "one of the rare opportunities where I get a chance to really act!" There is a nice extended opening credit sequence with tramp Turner trawling the busy slums, indeed one of Lana's classic 'walk' scenes in movies, but the action quickly becomes talky and set bound, confined to dingy apartments and cluttered nightclubs, occasionally springing to life when it returns to the brilliant outdoors and a dazzling beach scene. Not as bad though, as one might expect, and a lost treat for Turner compleatists.
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