Before being put on suspension, Marilyn Monroe was 20th Century-Fox's original choice for the role of Evelyn Nesbit. She turned this film and a forthcoming adaptation of the then-current Broadway musical 'The Girl in Pink Tights' (which was to co-star Dan Dailey and 'Mitzi Gaynor') and was put on suspension. Sheree North was then announced as her replacement for both films until Joan Collins was eventually cast as Nesbit. 'Girl in Pink Tights' was eventually abandoned. See more »
This is a good example of an over-produced film, much too lengthy (109-min.) and gaudy for the slender material that doesn't engage until the last 10-minutes. I expect TCF saw anti-TV potential in a wide-screen Technicolor treatment of true-life scandal among the rich and famous. The trouble is that neither the acting nor the script is able to carry the needed momentum, despite the wide-screen spectacle. After all, stretching a single theme of forbidden love to a two-hour time slot is challenging even for the best screenplay, which this definitely is not.
Then too, the real life Nesbitt was apparently involved in the production, along with wealthy family heirs to White and Thaw in the background, resulting, I expect, in an overly cautious portrayal of events. That's reflected, I think, in Collins' curiously dull portrayal. Logically, I would have expected some change in Nesbitt's demure demeanor over the years, especially after entering the high life. Instead, there's hardly a hint of the high life's affecting her throughout the movie's course. (And we know what an edge actress Collins can bring when called upon.) In fact, the nature of her relationship with White is so sanitized, it's hard to know what to make of it.
Ace director Fleischer also appears unengaged with the material, filming it in straightforward, unimaginative style, unlike many of his other projects, e.g. The Narrow Margin (1952). Speaking of B-movie gems like "Margin", I wish the expert budget crews at Columbia or RKO had gotten hold of this material first. After all, hot-blooded romance and cold-blooded murder are prime stuff for B-movie treatment, where reputations and big audience appeal are not so much at stake and risks can be taken. Too bad that what we're left with instead is an under-nourished and over-stretched slice of 50's eye candy.
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