No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) Poster

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Misunderstood gangster thriller, reviled when made but surprisingly good when viewed by modern audiences.
barnabyrudge19 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
No Orchids For Miss Blandish was released in 1948. At that time, films tended not to contain violence or sexual innuendo of any particular note but this one had plenty of both. As a result, the critics at the time were quick to unleash howls of derision in the film's direction. "It has all the morals of an alley cat and the sweetness of a sewer" protested The Observer; "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen" was the verdict of The Monthly Film Bulletin. "The worst film I have ever seen" cried the Sunday Express, while a British politician (and future prime minister) named Harold Wilson scoffed with indignation and declared that there would be "No Oscars for Miss Blandish!!"

Taking all this into account, it would be reasonable to assume that No Orchids For Miss Blandish is one of the worst films of all-time. That's certainly what I was expecting when I sat down to watch it. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be quite good! What we have here is a film that was a little ahead of its time - too violent and ground-breaking for its contemporaries to stomach, but in retrospect a well-made gangster story that dares to rub the audience's face in filth and unpleasantness.

Ultra rich heiress Miss Blandish (Linden Travers) is kidnapped one night whilst out driving with her fiancée. The abduction is masterminded by a bunch of small-time hoods who want to get hold of a priceless necklace she wears, but the heist gets out of hand and several of the gang members end up killing each other. When the bloodshed is over, Miss Blandish finds herself at the mercy of opportunist Bailey (Leslie Bradley). Later, though, the much more powerful and savage Grisson gang learn of her whereabouts. The gang is ostensibly led by odious old matriarch Ma Grisson (Lila Molnar), but in reality the true gang leader is her psychopathic and much-feared son, Slim Grisson (Jack La Rue). Even though Slim is utterly ruthless and a born killer, Miss Blandish finds herself falling for his brutal charm. She persuades him to return the necklace to her father along with a note explaining that she is staying with Slim of her own free will. However, the other members of the Grisson gang start to get nervous as Slim's behaviour grows clouded by his love life, and Miss Blandish's father refuses to believe that his daughter could possibly be happy when she's shacked-up with a sadistic killer. As the odd couple prepare to run away and start a new life together, the fates conspire to ruin their dreams.

No Orchids For Miss Blandish is good stuff. La Rue plays Slim with just the right balance of toughness and elegance, while Walter Crisham, MacDonald Parke and Lila Molnar all etch memorable portrayals as the other main heavies. Travers rounds off the cast in an appealing turn as the squeaky-clean heroine who gradually learns that she likes it rough. The film is let down a little by the fact that most of the cast are British actors pretending to be Americans, complete with unconvincing accents. Also, the ease and speed with which Miss Blandish falls in love with her captor is a plot development that takes rather a lot of swallowing. But when the actors engage in their frequent snarling exchanges, and the violent action kicks into gear, this is enthralling stuff! If you thought old British films from the 1940s were all sweetness and light think again!!!
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No Oscars, either
Oct26 April 2002
This forgotten movie caused one of the biggest scandals in the history of the British cinema. Its violence was stronger than pre-war producers had been allowed, but it somehow slipped past the censor.

The original novel had been judged unfilmable by Hollywood, but the Poverty Row studio Renown set out to prove the moguls wrong. The resultant outcry led Harold Wilson, a future premier who was the government minister responsible for films, to declare at an industry banquet- to loud applause- that he was glad there were "no Oscars for Miss Blandish".

The fuss probably killed the career of Linden Travers, who had been in pictures since the mid-1930s but made no more appearances after 1949, dying 52 years later. Neither did its helmer, St John L Clowes, ever direct again. Interestingly, as far as I know the picture to this day has never appeared on British TV.
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No brickbats for Miss Blandish
FilmFlaneur24 June 2011
"The most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen." Thus did The Monthly Film Bulletin judge St John Clowe's film adaptation of No Orchids For Miss Blandish (aka: Black Dice) upon its appearance in 1948, reflecting the almost universal shock and disapproval of the British critical fraternity. Not until the equally vehement rejection of Peeping Tom, over a decade later, would a film face such an onslaught. Audiences, it must be said, found the movie to their liking despite, or because of, the opprobrium and where it was shown, takings were excellent.

Violent and (for it's time) sexually suggestive, lurid and melodramatic, nothing St John Clowe's movie contained pleased critics more happy with a realistic tradition of filmmaking, or middle-class literary adaptations for discriminating audiences. In retrospect the categorisation of No Orchids For Miss Blandish seems less problematical. Neither sophisticated literary screen transposition nor completely convincing gangster piece, laced with titillation, and with roots in trash culture, These days the movie is better seen as a landmark of British crime exploitation cinema.

At its heart lays a love story: that between Slim Grisson and Miss Blandish. It's a tragic tale too; not just because of the end which awaits the couple, but also in that Grisson is shown as being a fervent, secret admirer of the heiress from the very first scene (his distinctive double dice emblem on the card accompanying flowers) and so, ultimately, is just as much a victim of events as she. His tragedy is that he soon finds himself overseeing the kidnapping of the woman he loves, while Miss Blandish has the misfortune of falling for someone entirely unsuitable, socially or morally.

But without the sexual experience he brings she would, it seems, be condemned to eternal frigidity. It is no accident that, early on, her fiancé refers to the "ice in her veins" which needs 'melting'. Indeed one of the many things critics found unacceptable in the movie was the depiction of a woman's sexual awakening, particularly when tied to a liaison out of her class - something miles away from the usual Noel Coward-type drawing room infatuation. It's a scenario helped by some sensitive direction by St John Clowe, in a work characterised over all by some fluid camera-work.

Some have criticised the director for clumsiness, but I can't see it. To give a standout example: although we know Grisson is 'stuck' on the heiress, nothing is said between them, except for a barely perceptible nod at her by the hoodlum after their first shock meeting. At a crucial moment later St John Clowe has Grisson, clearly thinking of the woman, walk slowly up his nightclub stairs, a fairly long crane shot. His impassive face is briefly superimposed onto hers. Then in the love scene which follows she leaves him, wavers, and comes back after a tense delay - events mostly off-screen. We still do not see them together, merely (for the second time) some orchids, and his words of relief spoken over the held flower shot. For a film so explicit elsewhere, the restraint and sensitivity of direction here is striking.

As Slim Grisson, Jack La Rue is impressive; more so when one remembers that it is almost half an hour before he is first seen on screen at all. A performance over-indebted to George Raft maybe - his habitual dice throwing recalling the American star's famous coin-tossing trademark - but still touching as a love-lorn thug and whose regular lack of expression and stolid soulfulness says more than any amount of mugging could do. As Miss Blandish, Linden Travers has attracted good words, too.

Others in the cast, even allowing for the variable American accents, are admittedly less strong. Ma Grisson (Lilli Molnar), who starts out, Ma Barker-fashion, as the leader of the gang, is less menacing that one might have wished; 'Doc' the Sydney Greenstreet-type among the supporting cast is too much of a stereotype to be convincing. However, mention ought to be made of Walter Crisham's Eddie, Grisson's frightening henchman, a very intimidating and malevolent presence. While some aspects of No Orchids For Miss Blandish have been ridiculed, the budget was obviously quite a reasonable one; the nightclub fairly expansive and convincing for instance, allowing the director a chance for multiple set-ups.

Of course the club, Grisson, and his followers are a world away from Miss Blandish's previous social circle. In a way characteristic of British noir and thrillers, the film has a firm idea of class; not only in the separation of crooks and toffs, but upstairs and downstairs (the working class lovers overhearing the conversation of their betters from the basement, at the start), as well. Even the underworld has its social structure, one which the 'success' of the Grisson gang is contrasted to the smaller group doing the initial kidnapping. Only love, it seems, can cross these boundaries, but then such romance is fraught with risk. For Miss Blandish, her new relationship brings 'freedom', this from the "first man I've ever met" - a slight emphasis on 'man' when she speaks, implying the anaemia of the class she has just rejected.

To those who wish to discover what all the fuss was about, I can say that the film may be variable, but entertaining and memorable. It's certainly an important document of Britain's cinematic underbelly. No plaudits for Miss Blandish perhaps, but no outright dismissal here either.
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A Film Ahead of its Time
flamingrrl27 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Being American I had never heard of this film. Chock full of gangster clichés and Amercian accents as bad as my English attempts, it was brilliant!! It is more watchable than some 'better' films.

Its also ironic to watch some 50 years later. We found it on a satellite channel Moves4Men. LOL I think I'd now classify it as noir comedy/satire of early gangster films. It now rates a PG classification and was shown at noon on a Bank Holiday Monday. Others have given excellent overviews, I see no need to do the same, but rather give our observations of this underrated film.

Best passionate kiss in an early b&w film I've ever seen. Where passion is usually shown as quick peck on the lips you saw these people were passionate about one another.

Film students will have a field with the metaphors in this film; the 360 around the room ending with the pounding rain on the window, the long lovingly lingering shot on the huge orchid, and Miss Blandish in a dressing gown, do we ever learn her first name? And the final tragic scene of Miss Blandish's out stretched hand not far an orchid, an exotic hot house bloom crushed beneath the feet of the uncaring passersby.

For a low budget film a lot a care has been taken with detail. The gowns, especially the singer's see through skirt and tap pants, oooh we know she's a naughty girl. Even 'Ma' a large middle age woman with no make up has an exotic gown that contrasts with her mannish personality as one of the leaders of the gang.

It is in strange-way, refreshing, to see some bad guy shot, no muss no fuss no long winded exposition just bang, curtains for you mat er um buddy.

If I found this on DVD I'd buy it without a second thought. Its refreshing, compelling and fun. Yet the ending is poignant, poor Miss Blandish discovering too late what fun bad boys are.
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British made American gangster movie.
Cajun-411 October 1999
This is the first version of James Hadley Chase's famous shocker. It was remade as "The Grissom Gang" in 1971 by Robert Aldrich. As a writer Chase made a fortune, despite getting atrocious reviews from British critics. The movie was no exception regarding reviews; some sample quotes... ...the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism...the morals are about level with those of a scavenger has all the sweetness of a sewer...the worst film I have ever seen.

I saw it when I was sixteen and I loved it, even buying the record of the background music (Song Of The Orchid). It had a mostly British cast with one imported American *star* Jack La Rue. It would be interesting to see it again fifty years later. I imagine the violence everyone complained of would seem pretty tame by today's standards.
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"I never count my chickens until I've wrung their necks!"...
Doylenf28 November 2010
That, and other cheerful little catch phrases spoken as gangster slang in this gangster melodrama (British-style), are spoken by a cast of British actors given some hilarious tough guy talk.

In this terse screenplay they need little prodding to slug someone with a fist or a gun while the plan is to kidnap and rob a wealthy socialite who turns out to have a yen for the lead criminal (AL LA RUE). He has a role crying out for an American actor like Bogart or Garfield if this were a Warner melodrama. La Rue does alright but he's about as wooden as George Raft when it comes to delivering key lines with any enthusiasm.

LINDEN TRAVERS is the pretty socialite captured by a bunch of thugs and falling quickly into the Patty Hearst syndrome when she becomes a willing victim willing to escape the sheer boredom of her life as a pampered daughter of a wealthy aristocrat.

HUGH McDERMOTT is the detective set on her trail by her father who only wants to free her from captivity. It all feels like a Mickey Spillane thriller with little sympathy for any of the victims who get shot for the slightest infringement at a moment's notice.

The nightclub scenes seem to have been inspired by GILDA ('46), with a songstress rendering a non-too-subtle rendition of a torch song in a flimsy peekaboo dress while around her all sorts of plotting and planning is going on somewhere in the dark.

Not bad, but don't expect the dialog to have the sharp touch intended. "Drop your anchor in that chair," is about the best you can expect between all the slapping and punching and gunshots that abound in every other scene. The gangster slang gets a workout and some of the jargon is downright hilarious.
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English crime noir follows a small-time criminal's plan to violence and unexpected tragedy.
sleepybone29 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Forget the dumb title! This English Noir throws in every Hollywood cliché of the genre, and almost pulls it off smoothly. Certain plot points will remind you of some big American films, like "White Heat" and "The Asphalt Jungle", although this one came first. The "unacceptable" aspects, production code-wise, will surprise you, and the unpredictability of the plot is pretty wonderful in a film from this era. Look out for spoilers on this one! Hardworking actor Jack La Rue does nothing wrong in a role that begs for Bogart-- as so many past and present roles do.(He always reminds me of a sort of composite Bogie, Glenn Ford, and Victor Mature, especially here, without having quite their class, soul or looks, respectively.) And Linden Travers does everything she can with a practically impossible role-- you can't help but think that she could have used a little more help from director Clowes with the exposition. We don't expect noir, where style should come before substance, to be "believable" in the usual sense, but check this one out and see if it puts you in mind of how strong direction tells us what we know and can't see. If you like noir, and can roll with the punches, you'll love it.
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Astonishingly Brutal
Handlinghandel8 September 2007
This is one of the roughest movies I've ever seen. I won't give anything away but, wow! The body-count is high.

Linden Travers looks lovely in the title role. This actress was, generally associated with a different sort of film. She's beautiful and elegant. But she gives this part her all.

"No Orchids For Miss Blandish" is a British movie trying to seem an American. For us today, that's very much a reversal: How often do American movies try to put on the dog and portray the British! Unfortunately, the movie at hand doesn't really succeed. We don't believe it's taking place in the US. Even though we're shocked at the nonstop violence, we don't believe the story fully, either.

Jack La Rue is good in the male lead. He was American. He is convincing.

I wish I could say I recommend this as more than a curiosity. Ms. Travers is indeed superb. But it isn't terribly good. Not bad but, apart from the exceptional violence, nothing special either.
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Linden Travers Shines in a Dark Gangster Melodrama
JohnHowardReid6 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A famous British example of film noir, No Orchids for Miss Blandish centers around a psychopathic killer (Jack La Rue) who kidnaps and falls in love with heiress Linden Travers. Noirishly photographed by Gerald Gibbs, the movie was often stylishly directed, but suffered from an excess of often pointless, on-screen violence. The line-up of heavies also seemed disproportionate. The police were portrayed as ineffectual document dusters, leaving only a flawed private detective (rather weakly played by Hugh McDermott, not exactly the most charismatic of leading men) to offer a challenge. Over-emphatic comic relief provided by prissy Charles Goldner and nightclub comedian Jack Durant didn't help either, but I did enjoy the songs from Zoe Gail (and this, alas, is her only movie).
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No Orchids For Miss Blandish (St. John L. Clowes, 1948) **1/2
Bunuel197619 February 2011
This British gangster thriller from a sensationalistic American crime novel by James Hadley Chase (also filmed on its home ground in 1971 by Robert Aldrich as THE GRISSOM GANG) is notorious for how awful it is, some claiming it "among the worst ever made", others "certainly the most bizarre British film"! This unenviable reputation (which the writer-director could not attempt to alter or otherwise exploit since he would die at age 40 that same year!) has actually turned it into a cult, enabling a R1 SE DVD from VCI.

Having been impressed with the Aldrich version and being something of a sucker for bad cinema (especially from this vintage), I acquired the film immediately when the opportunity presented itself though I only got to watch BLANDISH now as part of my ongoing Noir marathon. As often happens, the movie is nowhere near the stinker most claim it to be: granted, the performances are hilariously over-the-top (thus a fount of entertainment in itself!), the would-be American accents do not fool anyone (there is even future "Carry On" stalwart Sidney James, for cryin' out loud, not to mention a stand-up comic amusingly spoofing the Hollywood double-act of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre!) and, frankly, the gall of it all makes the experience that much more fascinating, almost hypnotic!

In comparison with the later version (but typical of its era), the leads here are over-age: they are Jack LaRue (the only genuine Yank in the cast: incidentally, he is far removed from the Mama's Boy as played by Scott Wilson in the remake) and Linden Travers (previously noted for supporting parts in spy thrillers like Hitchcock's superb THE LADY VANISHES [1938], she is the personification of elegance rather than Kim Darby's society brat). Incidentally, both novel and film(s) were criticized for glorifying violence (this is indeed quite brutal for the time) and the notion of 'Amour Fou' since the kidnapped heiress ends up falling for her psychotic captor. Other notable characters are the obese Mob-leading mother (Lilly Molnar), a no-less unhinged member of the gang who becomes involved with the girl who ultimately gives them away (Walter Crisham 'standing in' for Tony Musante), a thuggish cohort (played by Danny Green, later of THE LADYKILLERS [1955]), and a crusading reporter (a much-younger Hugh McDermott 'replacing' Robert Lansing).

The photography (by Gerald Gibbs) is reasonably atmospheric, smoothing over the general amateurishness on display, and there is another definite asset in its lush score. However, one major difference from the obviously superior remake is the film's surprisingly downbeat ending. For the record, I recently acquired another rare Hadley Chase adaptation, the French-made FLESH OF THE ORCHID (1975) – co-scripted by Luis Bunuel regular Jean-Claude Carriere!
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Hard edged and exciting.
MartinHafer29 June 2014
"No Orchids for Miss Blandish" is an excellent British film noir picture. Its greatest strength is its script--which avoids sentimentality and has a hard edge that makes it a big tougher than its American cousins.

Miss Blandish is a young lady whose father is immensely wealthy. Additionally, her diamonds have caught the eyes of some petty thugs who are planning on robbing her. This robbery turns out to be super- vicious and in the process, two of the robbers are killed. The remaining crook is a swell guy--who not only plans on taking the diamonds but raping Blandish! However, just before he can complete this vicious act, another gang (headed by Slim---played by Jack LaRue) takes the diamonds and kills the remaining thug. At first, this second gang plans on keeping the diamonds and ransoming the woman, but Slim falls for the lady and soon decides to not only keep her for himself but return the jewels! This, of course, doesn't sit well with the gang and you know it's only a matter of time before they make their move.

This is an incredibly violent film for the time. Not only is the attempted rape heavily implied, but the very end is really, really violent--and fortunately does NOT give way to sentiment. Overall, a very gritty film with great gangster dialog and lots to appreciate.

By the way, one reviewer complained how bad the accents were, as the cast was mostly British and they were pretending to be Americans. Well, I thought this was barely noticeable most of the time and didn't think this impaired the film at all. Sure, a few of the attempts were downright silly...but don't take away from the great noir plot, atmosphere and horrifyingly realistic violence. Just my two-cents worth.
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TV showing
Voove8 February 2004
I'd just like to point out that this film has been shown on British TV, on Channel 4 in the early Eighties - though that was its first showing, and I'm pretty certain the only one to date. I'd like to see it again, though as I recall it was hard to take seriously. (Sid James as a Chicago crook...??)
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Jack La Rue is Electrifying!!
kidboots9 December 2018
James Hadley Chase was a prolific British crime writer whose books were so fast paced that "page turner" was the phrase invented to describe them and there was often a totally unexpected plot twist that would surprise even his most die hard fans. Initially his books had an American setting with gangster and New York vernacular interspersed with visits to the cinema and rides on omnibuses etc but by the mid 1940s he tried a different approach and started to set them in the London underworld.

"No Orchids for Miss Blandish" was originally a West End play in 1942 and unlike the movie which wasn't appreciated in it's day, the play was praised and ran for 203 performances. Beautiful Linden Travers was the coolly seductive heiress Miss Blandish in the play and she repeated her role in the movie. She is due to be married but her fiance finds her cold and aloof, she is also being sent orchids by an unknown admirer with cryptic messages ie "don't do it". Her maid is being romanced by a small time hoodlum who, in dire need of money, tries to peddle his idea of stealing the heiress' diamond necklace, to a small gang of thugs. However the Grissom gang gets wind of it and the robbery goes horribly wrong with a violent shootout which leaves her in hysterics.

The buildup to Jack La Rue's appearance is big - Slim's ruthlessness is talked about in hushed terms and in a scene eerily reminiscent of the one in "The Story of Temple Drake", viewers will not be disappointed. For fans who know La Rue through his early 1930s work - he is the only actor who could have pulled this off. His sadistic brutality, in stark contrast with the almost elegant romantic - two people, not quite put together right, find their soulmate!!

Based (I think) on the Ma Barker gang legend, Slim's mother, equally as vicious as her son, runs the Grissom Club with a rod of iron but questions are raised as to Slim's worthiness to lead the gang as bit by bit his affection and love for Miss Blandish starts to humanize him and they even dream of fleeing to a foreign country to start life again. This film is so ahead of it's time - the only false note are the American accents (Sidney James was to be a repeat offender). The whole atmosphere seemed to have more in common with the street thuggery of the London underworld of the Krays, than the type of setting that was the American crime movie of the late 1940s. The violence leaves you feeling breathless, half the gang members are psychotic - one pistol whips the original instigator of the robbery leaving him for dead - there's no second chance for any of them. MacDonald Parke who played Doc, a Sidney Greenstreet type character, had a unique way of holding his cigarette and you know you are in rough company when even the reporter packs a gun and is not afraid to use it!!

Highly Recommended
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Fascinating Noir From The UK
GManfred12 November 2012
Please note I didn't say good, I said fascinating. St. John Legh Clowes (a terrific name) wrote a terrible script which lacks subtlety and nuance, and did a terrible job in directing this crime/romance and gave us a genteel Englishman's conception of an American gangster film. Much of the dialogue is gratuitously nasty and mean-spirited, as if underworld types routinely insult one another. The acting is stilted and artificial with characters often delivering their lines while posing defiantly.

Then, midway through the film, action stops as the picture changes from an action melodrama to a romancer, and the fast pace comes to a halt. I did not notice much chemistry between the principals, Jack LaRue (in a Bogart role) and Linden Travers (in a role somewhere between Ingrid Bergman and Claire Trevor), although she got the better of him in the acting department. Larue, for his part, has a great baleful stare, which comprises most of his acting technique. Speaking of acting, it was very uneven among the rest of the cast, however there were American equivalents of Sidney Greenstreet, Leo Gorcey, Mike Mazurki and Dan Duryea.

Did I mention this was a fascinating picture? Well, it certainly is and if it comes on, don't miss it. It is like a Monogram Studio feature but with major studio production values. Lovely background music by George Melachrino helps, but he wrote a couple of clinkers as night club numbers which are forgettable. In short, it is very worth seeing so you can compare American and UK gangster movies.

P.S. When was the last time you saw a hit-man wearing a bow-tie?
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Plan 9 from the UK
jds_revenge_redux29 November 2010
I was surprised by the consistent entertainment value of this movie.

This psycho pseudo-noir is actually quite successful visually, the sort of film that begs you to hit the "mute" button. With the sound turned on the dialog and the attempts at acting tough by the brit-sissies playing American gangsters (who I admit are brutally butch looking) are both spectacularly, bad in a very disorienting, familiar way: though it precedes "Plan 9..." by 11 years, this movie sports serious (Ed) Wood. It has a similarly quirky charm.

The one actual (expatriate) American in the movie, Jack La Rue, is almost as miscast as the Brits. This is odd considering his earlier, much more convincing work in The Story of Temple Drake, etc.

One telling scene near the end, a nightclub routine almost as bizarre as Jim Carrey's thalidomide baby routine in the Clint Eastwood movie "Pink Cadilac," made me wonder if the whole film was a goof, intended to have a "camp" sensibility.
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not innocent, not for kids
skiddoo28 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Although there aren't gallons of blood spurting from every wound there is fairly realistic violence, probably more realistic than in the cartoony movies of today. The petty brutality rang true as did her actions at the end when everyone thought she should be glad her "captor" was dead and she was "free." Clearly the woman had emotional problems. Even in the movie the word "sick" was used.

The thing that bothered me the most about this movie was the persistent impression I got that it was dubbed. Of course it wasn't but the acting and sound were of that quality. I didn't particularly care about variable accents--any major American city must have had all sorts because of immigration after WWII. I was bothered by the strange use of slang in the dialog where more than once I looked at the screen wondering if I'd heard right.

I couldn't help noticing the idea in the movie, with her rich boyfriend, in one particular torch song, and in the actions of Miss B, that women really want a tough guy with no morals and to go over to the dark side. Her sudden violent attraction to her captor went far beyond Patty Hearst being involved in a bank robbery. This was a lot more like Bonnie and Clyde. She wanted to be a gangster's moll with her hubby running a gambling joint in another country. Why she thought that was attractive and liberating was a mystery to me. She probably saw too many movies, the same way people today think mobsters are glamorous and some mob characters are even romantic leads in soap operas.

And while the ending was symbolic, even in NYC in the late 40s people wouldn't just walk around a beautiful woman's dead body, crushing her flower underfoot. At the very least they would have formed a dense crowd around her that the police would have had to disperse with the usual, "Nothing to be seen here; move along." And apparently nobody called the cops to get the area cordoned off so the death could be investigated. More like just leaving it there to be robbed. Well, hey, in America wealthy women fling themselves out of windows every day of the week and so of course the public doesn't even notice it any more! Our movies exported a wonderful image of America!
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It's the fake accents that ruined it all.
big_O_Other14 December 2010
To my mind the movie was a failure because of the acting, but largely because these virtually all British actors (except La Rue) were straining to fake American accents, and that caused their intonation to be 'off.' Everything sounded poorly acted, but sometimes I would imagine the actors speaking their lines in their native British accents and they would be fine.

They could have just made it as a British drama, but then it might have seemed unbelievably violent for that culture... even as "American" the violence never seemed as motivated as it is in noir and gangster films in the USA of the era.

It remains a very peculiar film. The relationship of Ma to Slim was never fully clarified, either.
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Atrocious acting!
Mnk!18 March 2006
Considering the appalling state of Britain in 1947 when the film was made, it was a valiant attempt to copy such magnificently noir American films like "This Gun For Hire" and "The Blue Dahlia". That's about the best one could say about the film. However, it failed very badly, even considering how long ago it was made. It wasn't the cinematography, the camera-work or the sets that let it down - they ranged from acceptable to quite good - it was the casting. Obviously made on a shoestring budget, the actors almost without exception couldn't act; sometimes laughably obviously - and certainly not using American accents. Playing the heavies that they were aping from the Hollywood product they had studied - Alan Ladd, Bogey, Gloria Graham, Shelley Winters, et al - they resorted to the sneering rather than the menacing. The violence that the critics objected to was certainly there - innocent by today's standards - but the performances, the dialogue and even the body language, to say the least, were strictly out of amateur rep. I'm not at all surprised that the director never directed again.
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An interesting crime/romance from across the pond
jimjo121628 August 2013
Knowing NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH (1948) was a British film, I was intrigued to discover that the action is set in the good ol' USA. MISS BLANDISH is not a British crime film, like BRIGHTON ROCK (1947). It is a British attempt at making an American gangster flick. What's interesting is that the predominantly British cast use American accents and spit out American slang. There are many Hollywood films set in England or on the European continent, but it's neat to see the tables turned.

It's obvious that the filmmakers were inspired by Hollywood's noirish gangster films, and this outsider's interpretation of the genre has a stylized quality. As a sort of homage I found the film very entertaining. I was surprised to see its overwhelmingly negative reception.

NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH is a gangster movie with a heart. The key to the whole film is the romance between the top gangster and the abducted heiress. The gangster is actually a kind of hero, saving the girl from her original captors and then treating her with unusual compassion. This gangster has had a soft spot for the heiress for some time, and his treatment of her throughout her traumatic ordeal brings about reciprocated feelings.

But the romance is not meant to be. The rest of the gang wants to off the girl, who knows too much, or try to collect some ransom for her return. The girl's father and the police try tirelessly to locate and rescue her. The girl and the gangster just want to escape and start a new life together, but the machinery of fate won't allow it.

An exercise in genre, MISS BLANDISH in some ways seeks to be the ultimate gangster flick. There's lots of violence. One massacre after another. Viewers get to know characters only to see them killed off five minutes later. It keeps the audience guessing, especially with the cast of relative unknowns. It's refreshing, almost, to never know what to expect. The American tough guy archetypes are played up to extremes. Even the relentless newspaper reporter pushes a gun in people's faces.

Second-tier American tough guy Jack LaRue (THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE, 1933) is brought in to lend credibility to the production in the starring role of Slim Grisson, the top man in the slickest criminal organization in town (and sometime nightclub owner). Lovely Linden Travers plays the titular heiress. Among the rest of the cast MacDonald Parke stands out as a kind of intellectual, yet ruthless, member of the Grisson mob. It's an interesting sort of character that isn't often seen in gangster flicks like these.

The British cast gamely assume American accents, with varying degrees of success. The Americanized lingo occasionally feels awkward, but the biggest reminder for me that this is not a Hollywood film is the gunshot sound effect, which is more of a snap than a bang.

Still, I was really on board with this crime/romance. It's brutal, it's shocking, it has character. And the romantic in me roots for the star-crossed lovers, as the world closes in around them. There's something poetically satisfying about the final scene.
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Stockholm Sweetnin'
writers_reign26 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I've always tended to link three films together in that they were all released around the same time and all aroused controversy. The three titles were 'The Outlaw', 'Forever Amber' and 'No Orchids For Blandish'. Eventually I saw them all though long after their initial 'shock' value had evaporated. 'No Orchids For Miss Blandish' eluded me the longest and I have, in fact, only just caught up with it on DVD. Overall it is slightly risible in that it seems to be asking the audience to accept a string of second-rate British actors as American; in order to do this all money is spoken of in terms of dollars, dough and/or bucks and the police wear US cop uniforms. Other than that little effort is made - or if it is it is woefully inadequate - in terms of accents and ironically the one genuine American in the cast, lead Jack LaRue, sounds more English than American. Leading lady and eponymous Miss Blandish Linden Travers looks remarkably like Moira Lister (who was 23 at the time and actually appeared in three films in 1948) and fails to convince that she would succumb to Stockholm syndrome in nothing flat and was possibly a role model for the real life Patty Hearst who followed suit in real life much later. Though more embarrassing than entertaining it is watchable at least once.
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Smoke Without Fire
roslein-674-87455614 January 2014
When this movie first appeared it was excoriated as vile, filthy, depraved, you name it. What a disappointment! The people who got in a lather must have based their indignation solely on the book, which IS very violent and disturbing. There is less violence in this movie than in the gangster films of the Thirties, especially Jimmy Cagney's, and less perversion than in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Miss Blandish, with her cut-glass debutante accent, exudes no passion, nor does her gangster lover. When they kiss, mushy romantic music plays! at one point the camera pans to a fireplace! This could be Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle for all the depravity going on. The script is tame and dull, the direction plodding, the acting terrible. Everyone tries to be very tough and American, but they've got Made in Twickenham stamped on their foreheads, and can't keep up their imitations of American accents without making a few slips (how many American gangsters' molls say "cahn't"?). Plus there are several nightclub acts which are, to use authentic American slang of the period, strictly from hunger.
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well worth seeing
christopher-underwood22 June 2013
At the time this was released, some 65 years ago, the critics mauled it and not just that, they were furious. The eminent reviewer, Dillys Powell, suggested it should have been awarded a 'D' certificate, for 'disgusting' and the censor later apologised for having mislead the public into seeing something they perhaps shouldn't have. Monthly Film Bulletin used the words, 'sickening', 'brutality','perversion' and 'sex & sadism'. Well, needless to say it doesn't live up to all that, though a tender reviewer on this site in 2006 slammed it as 'the toughest film I have seen'. It's British and based upon the infamous book of the same title by the Brit, James Hadley Chase and well worth seeing. You will be surprised at the violence and sexual reference, considering the time, but you will survive.
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not sure it was worth all the trouble it caused
blanche-217 August 2014
I guess the censors were on a lunch break when this film came before them. Or perhaps the Brits didn't have a censorship program like we had.

"No Orchids for Miss Blandish" is a film ahead of its time, for sure, one filled with brutality, sex, and implied rape. Apparently upon its release it caused a big hullabaloo. Various councils banned the film and the lead censor had to apologize! The story concerns a woman with an insanely rich father, the aforementioned Miss Blandish (Linden Travers) whose $100,000 diamonds are stolen, she is kidnapped, and her boyfriend is killed (in an awful scene) by thugs led by Slim (Jack LaRue). Though she has witnessed a murder and there is pressure for him to kill her, Slim returns the diamonds to her and tells her to leave. He's fallen in love with her, and she with him. This leads to lots of problems.

There are so many murders and people turning on one another in this film that I lost count. The story for me was highly implausible, with not enough fleshing out of the characters to make their actions believable.

Despite the fact that this is supposed to be an American gangster story, it had a distinctive British feel to it. The acting was good, even though apparently it was a career-wrecker for some of the performers, Linden Travers being among them.

Not what I was expecting by a long shot and for me it was short on characterizations and long on violence. Still, it's worth seeing as an artifact of not only British cinema, but of its time.
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No Crumpets for Bogie
ed-ryba9 October 2016
After reading all the existing reviews there's not much I can add. Some of my fellow reviewers have, in my opinion, unduly savaged this film. To them I say, "Let's see YOU make a great movie and we'll see what this same group of people have to say about it". Not that this was great movie by any stretch, but as a former television director (whose company was swallowed by a corporate behemoth that runs TV commercials trying to convince you that "We're GOOD guys!! REALLY"... That company makes and sells many things, but the TV's with their name on them ARE NOT MADE BY THEM AT ALL! I refuse to even have one of their light bulbs in my home. After they bought my company and fired me and 1500 of my closest friends, I went through my house and looked at EVERY LIGHT BULB! Every one with their name on it met my ball pien hammer, up close and personal! But I digress...I'm only saying that if you think it's easy to put ANYTHING on ANY screen, big or small, let's see YOU do it. It's no problem to rip someone else's hard work to shreds from your computer, but it's something else altogether to actually DO SOMETHING CREATIVE AND GET IT DONE! Trust me - I know! But back to THIS movie. It struck me as an attempt by this group of Brits to turn out the type of film made by Warner Brothers... only 15 years too late. Despite the fact that a local accent peeks through the cliché-riddled dialogue here and there, having ACTUALLY WORKED IN FILM PRODUCTION AS I HAVE, I'd call "No Orchids For Miss Blandish" a pretty valiant effort. Sure, it could have used, say, Cagney, Bogey or even Eddie G., but on THIS budget? Not a chance! Even so, my hat's off to the lot of these people, with their Wayne GAS (NOT PETROL) pumps, and Champion Spark Plugs. This film, ladies and gents (if I can even call some of you that after what I've read here), was an excellent attempt.
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Behind Its Time & Ahead of Its Time
wrbtu11 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Film is laughably behind the times, using "gangster" dialog from early 1930s films, even though it's set in 1941 (based on a license plate on a car). "Miss Blandish" could qualify as a satire of films from 15 years earlier, if it didn't take itself so seriously. Every 1930s gangster cliché can be seen here. "See?", "Yeah", "See?", "Yeah" said with Edward G. Robinson-styled sneers is used constantly. In-between the horrid dialog & clichés, there's a seriously evil Bad Guy expertly played by Jack La Rue, who exceeded even Pre-Code standards of Badness (except for his own turn in "The Story of Temple Blake"), & the film is worth seeing for his role alone. Lilly Molnar has an especially non-intentionally funny role in the over-clichéd part of Gangster "Ma". Jack Durant is actually funny (intentionally) as a comic imitating dialog between Peter Lorre & Sydney Greenstreet. Michael Balfour & MacDonald Parke are good in their roles. On the plus side, "Miss Blandish" was indeed far ahead of its time in terms of violence, & unrepentant crime, & it's hard to imagine how it got past the censors of the day in its 104 minute form. All in all, I got many laughs while watching this, but they were mostly laughs at the film, not with the film. This film set the record for the most Hollywood clichés I've ever seen in a film (aside from true satires), quite an accomplishment for a British movie.
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