|Index||9 reviews in total|
17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
A not-bad MGM "programmer", 18 April 2003
Author: Greg Couture from Portland, Oregon
A family friend obtained an invitation for my mother and me to visit Ann Blyth on the set during the making of this film. She was very gracious and I can recall being amazed at the mask-like makeup required for the lights and black-and-white cameras of the day. I couldn't see how she could move one of her facial muscles! The scene being shot involved Marjorie Rambeau coming to the door of the Martin family residence to, if I recall correctly, apologize for her son's depredations upon the career and reputation of Mr. Martin, played by Van Johnson. When I saw the completed film in a theater, I was surprised at how much emotional distress Ann was able to convey through that thick layer of William Tuttle's makeup. Miss Rambeau, by the way, was quite enjoying her return to the spotlight and, between takes, vastly amused the crew with her exclamations of appreciation for the little hand-held battery-operated fan that had been given her. Van Johnson was on the soundstage that day but was schmoozing in his dressing room/trailer with a production executive and didn't emerge once during that long afternoon. Both he and his co-star, Miss Blyth, were often underrated by critics and reviewers in their day, although TIME magazine gave this modestly budgeted production a good review, with praise for all the performers in the cast.
12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Steve Cochran: Superstar, 18 August 2006
Well done Turner Classic Movies for showing this gem!
50 years+ old this movie,yet the story as relevant today as ever.
A magazine tycoon who loves his mother makes his success from sensational true stories which expose the truth about famous people.
The tycoon is played by someone I have never heard of until now, called Steve Cochran. What a star! This individual dominates the screen with his presence like few can. A super performance from him and the story has an excellent script.
The only problem for me is that the mother who is depicted in the film as disapproving her sons' journalistic methods; also the ending is unrealistic and over the top. Hence I have deducted one point. Otherwise a solid: 9/10.
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Fine Drama, 15 December 2000
Author: Eric Chapman (email@example.com) from Pittsburgh, PA
I heartily concur with the first posted comment. Far from being
"superficial" as Leonard Maltin's review describes it; "Slander" is a
straightforward drama, well acted by all the leads and expertly crafted by
veteran director Roy Rowland.
Steve Cochran, generally an inarticulate brute in films, here 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 family 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.
The movie chronicles this moral dilemma in a balanced, intelligent way, methodically laying the emotional and intellectual groundwork for the difficult choices the major characters end up making. It's one of those nifty little flicks that reminds one of some efficient piece of machinery - no wasted motion.
Cochran once again is excellent. His technique is exceptional, unerring. He's got this guy, a bullying, insecure poser, down. Watch the scene in the restaurant where he finds out that he's being bumped from a TV talk show due to a fellow guest's refusal to appear on the same program with him. Just before the steely resignation and the business-like thirst for payback, he's hurt, like a little boy who finds out he hasn't made first team. Johnson and Blyth are appealing as the devoted husband and wife, as is the child actor Richard Eyer, who plays their son.
But special mention has to go to the great Marjorie Rambeau, sort of a Susan Sarandon type in her younger days, here she plays Cochran's weary, alcoholic, deeply ashamed mother. Her impossibly large, sad, soulful eyes aptly foreshadow the tragedies that follow.
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Chilling. Could have Been One of the Great Ones, 26 September 2003
Author: David (Handlinghandel) from NY, NY
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.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
surprisingly good little hidden treasure, 16 July 2011
Author: tdoa from vancouver
Saw this on TCM yesterday (thank you TCM for unearthing so many great little unknown movies) and was riveted from beginning to end, all the more so, because it's suddenly so relevant with the whole News o/t World debacle going on at present. I liked the fact that the suspense hinged on an ethical dilemma and was excellently acted by all, even Van Johnson, who is one of my least favorite actors, was convincing. Impressive was Steve Cochran, whom so far I have only seen in "pretty boy" roles and proves to be an actor of a lot more depth and gravitas. I agree with some of the statements that the ending was rather melodramatic and for me rather unsatisfying the way it played out. I wanted to see our villain suffer much more for his misdeeds (or I would have given it a 10 out 10). Particularly noticeable was the very natural acting of the young actor, who played Van Johnson's & Ann Blyth's son, whereas most young actors of the old Hollywood days relied mostly on cute posturing and almost rote delivery of their lines. Catch it when it plays again on TCM
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Curious period piece about heyday of "scandal sheets", 15 December 2000
Author: bmacv from Western New York
A curious period piece not without interest, Slander was made in the heyday of guttersnipe periodicals like "Confidential," that ruined show-biz careers and blackmailed victims into spilling dirt on bigger prey. Steve Cochran portrays the oily gossip publisher, a bachelor with a strangely solicitous relationship with his alcoholic mother (Marjorie Rambeau). In trying to dig up the goods on a beloved Broadway star, he zeros in on Van Johnson as a boyhood pal, a third-rate puppeteer who has finally got his big break in the new medium of television. Alas, the puppeteer once served four years in the hoosegow for armed robbery, despite the fact that he's now a devoted family man with wife (Ann Blyth) and son (Richard Eyer) in tow. Van Johnson refuses to knuckle under to the blackmail demands, and much melodrama ensues. Today, with a no-holds-barred press with almost non-existent restraints when it comes to public figures, Slander looks a bit quaint. But in the 50s, these tactics -- which probably wouldn't have been tolerated except for the parallel phenomenon of McCarthyism -- were seen as a deadly threat to the studios and their stars. Scandal, made at MGM under Dory Schary, is Hollywood's overwrought (and none too good) response. The following year, Alexander Mackendrick's chillingly dark Sweet Smell of Success (with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis)trod much the same ground in a far more memorable way.
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Strictly B but entertaining, 9 November 2006
Author: blanche-2 from United States
A tabloid magazine threatens to ruin a television performer's career in
"Slander," a 1956 film starring Van Johnson, Steve Cochran, Ann Blyth
and Marjorie Rambeau.
Well, first of all, it should have been called "Libel" which refers to the printed word; slander refers to the spoken. You'd think after years of dealing with both, someone at MGM would have known the difference.
Steve Cochran plays the head of this trash magazine, a type of periodical nowadays so common one doesn't even blink. In the film, his magazine was the pioneer, probably modeled after the real-life "Confidential." As in the film, a host of me-toos followed - in the '50s, this included "Whisper" and "Quick" magazines. These mags released Rory Calhoun's criminal record, accused Lisabeth Scott of using the services of call girls, that sort of thing. Something about the black and white format of the early tabloids made them even sleazier than "The Enquirer" types today, which deal mostly with gossip, hospital records sold to them by the hospital staff, and outing of celebrities. Eventually celebrities fought back by breaking their news first on talk shows.
H.R. Manley (Cochran) believes that everybody has some dirt in their past, and he's after a huge female film star. He knows that a children's TV performer, Scott Martin (Johnson) grew up with her and knows about a problem in her past. He finds out that Martin himself spent four years in prison for armed robbery and intends to print that story and ruin his career if Martin doesn't tell him what happened to his childhood friend. Does he save himself and let her career be sacrificed? His decision leads to tragedy.
Cochran is cold as ice as Manley and handsome in a George Clooney-Tyrone Power kind of way. His facial expression never changes, nor does his smooth voice. He's a man with a dead soul. His mother, played by Marjorie Rambeau, is against what he does to make a living. Rambeau, a favorite actress of mine, is excellent. Van Johnson and Ann Blyth are the Martins; Blyth is really more suited for society women - she's very pretty and also not the warmest person to stand before a camera. But she does a good job, as does Johnson, who is very well cast as a family man and children's entertainer.
The story is dramatized in a somewhat extreme way. It will definitely hold your interest, though the ending could have been better.
Drama in a test-tube, 17 December 2012
Author: T Y from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's 1957 and the moral ambiguity and artfulness of the Noir era has
been almost completely eradicated in favor of Eisenhower-era conformity
and blandness. The free-wheeling male identity of the post-war years is
This movie has an interesting character or two, and presents an interesting dilemma or two, only to founder with a feeble 2nd act. Slandering someone, it turns out, is wrong because it might cause little Timmy to get hit by a car (huh ?!). Yeah... that's crap - a tiresome trope of the 50s that all conflicts must be tied to a desexualized, reproductive imperative, and be embodied in the wholesomeness of some squeaky-clean pipsqueak.
It feels like a Playhouse 90 production, but Van Johnson (frequently a miserable and/or cardboard actor) actually does a decent job, as does the actress playing his wife (Ann Blyth). They're both too good for the movie. Also good is Steve Cochrane as dashing scandal-hound Steve Manley. The resolution in which Mother Manley guns down her own son (in a brightly-lit drawing room - so un-Noir) for being too despicable is absurd. Viewers might have wanted more serious topics in movies indeed, as this producer posited, but heartfelt moral simplifications filmed cheaply just aren't nutritious enough. These events seem to be occurring in a Petri dish.
I continually get 'Slander' confused with 'Libel' (Dirk Bogarde).
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid, though dated film; very good performances, 6 September 2011
Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Though dated, I think this is a very powerful movie.
A puppeteer (Van Johnson)is about to hit the big time as a television personality, sponsored by a cereal company which caters to kids...until it is discovered that when he was 19 he was an convict for a felony. The secret is dredged up by a scandal magazine, and Johnson finds himself about to lose his new t.v. contract and, perhaps, his family...which includes a young son. Can it get much worse? Yes, when the son is in a school yard fight, resulting in him being hit and killed by a car.
Johnson is the key to the plot here, and this film is a reminder that occasionally he went beyond the light roles for which he was so well known. This is a remarkably good performance, and he was just right for the role. I was less impressed with his wife in the film -- Ann Blyth. She's okay. Period. The son -- Richard Eyer -- you'll recognize him -- was an excellent young actor, and his film death here is a shocker. The publisher of the scandal sheet is played by Steve Cochran seems a bit too polished, but I thought that he intentionally nuanced his role, and as a result he was rather effective. Marjorie Rambeau -- with whom I was not familiar -- played Cochran's elderly mother here, and she was excellent.
As I said, this is dated -- puppeteers...but it was taking place in the 1950s. That makes the film lose some of its punch, but this is an under-appreciated film, and well worth a watch. Van Johnson will probably surprise you!
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