A formerly institutionalized young man (Anthony Perkins) meets up with a cute, sexy high school cheerleader (Tuesday Weld) and pretends to be a CIA agent to get her interested in him while she responds to his fantasy all too willingly. This, combined with her adult craving for sensual excitement, adds up to a potentially explosive pairing indeed. And explode it does. Written by
[upon being released on parole from a mental institution]
I must tell you, Mr. Azenaur, a lumber yard does seem like a slight waste of my talents.
Is that so?
Yes, sir. I've been taking a secret course in interplanetary navigation. I had hoped to be appointed to the first Venus rocket.
Cut that out, Dennis!
I was kidding, sir.
These fantasies of yours can be dangerous. Now, you lay off that stuff!
Yes, sir. Well, I better not miss my bus to the lumber yard. You'll be hearing from me.
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Legendary critic Pauline Kael staunchly championed "Pretty Poison" which she clearly loved but her accolades did little in preventing this small, funny but decidedly evil movie from vanishing into obscurity.
The pairing of Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins was inspired. Being actors who Hollywood never quite understood how to use, they are perfectly cast as social renegades. Both are in their prime; young, attractive, funny and fiercely intelligent. They are a joy to watch. Four years later they would be brought together for the wonderful "Play It As It Lays", but by then both tapped into a world weary disillusionment far from the playfulness of "Pretty Poison". They were an odd team, playing off each other to dazzling effect.
How those two movies have been relegated to almost total obscurity remains a sad testament to the industry. Should the rare opportunity to watch "Pretty Poison" arises, don't miss it.
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