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Steve Cochran plays the slick, debonair owner of a notorious gossip magazine who is anxious to break a big scandal to reverse a recent decline in sales. He zeroes in on children's entertainer Van Johnson, a decent, stand-up guy who nonetheless has a secret in his past which would most likely end his suddenly flourishing television career if found out. Johnson can save himself and his wife Ann Blyth and son from disrepute if he "trades" Cochran damaging information he has about a popular movie actress he knew while growing up in a tough neighborhood years ago. Does he save himself and let her career be sacrificed? His decision leads to tragedy. Written by
Puppets in movie were designed and operated (except in long shots) by Bil and Cora Baird, who were also responsible for the very similar-looking puppets in The Lonely Goatherd number in The Sound Of Music. See more »
Although the movie is titled Slander, there is no evidence that any of the characters were actually a victim of that crime, which refers to a malicious false statement. From all evidence, all of the stories, particularly that of the hero, presented in the scandal magazine were true. See more »
Opening credits are shown over gossip magazines coming towards the camera. When they are gone, the remaining credits are shown in a puddle of black ink. See more »
The scenes involving Steve Cochrane (speaking with MGM's exaggeratedly elegant diction) and his mother (Marjorie Rambeau, brilliant, as he is, in her role) are creepy. The atmosphere is fetid. This is indeed an insider's look at what could make someone invent and edit a Hollywood scandal rag along the lines of Confidential.
His office, with a scared secretary, works, too; and the story surrounding his frail mother's being snubbed by head waiters because of her son's sleaziness is shocking.
We're really in Tennessee Williams country with these people.
If only the man he sets out to ruin had been played by someone other than wholesome Van Johnson. Yes, Johnson gives it his best; but he isn't, through no fault of his own, convincing as someone who's spent four years in jail.
Then there is his wife, Ann Blyth. It's not so much that we think of her in her greatest role, Veda in "Mildred Pierce," as that she seemed ideally cast in that and doesn't -- for me, at least -- work in sympathetic roles.
She has a cold, mean look, which is accented by the heavy eye makeup she wears here.
It turns sanctimonious when they and their son are in the spotlight.
Nevertheless, Cochrane paints an indelible picture as the society-hating, mother-loving Park Avenue monster. And Rambeau is poignant, even with the Grand Guignol ending.
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