Thursday, 27 September 2007

Poison Ivy (La Môme vert-de-gris, 1953)

Eddie Constantine is today best-known for his role as special agent Lemmy Caution in Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville. In fact he played Lemmy Caution is a long series of French action thrillers in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the earliest of these films, dating from 1953, is Poison Ivy (La Môme vert-de-gris). FBI agent Lemmy Caution is on the trial of a gang of bullion thieves. His hunt for the criminals takes him to exotic locations such as Casablanca and Tangiers, and to various seedy waterfront dives and bars. In these bars he meets lots of hard-boiled no-good dames, which is OK because Lemmy rather likes hard-boiled no-good dames. And the dames like the craggy-featured tough guy Lemmy as well. In between chasing dames Lemmy manages to get himself captured by the gang, led by the smooth-talking Rudy Saltierra (played delightfully by cult movie icon Howard Vernon). Poison Ivy is clearly inspired by American film noir, but it’s also influenced by comic-books and, I suspect, by movie serials as well. It’s quite outrageously pulpy, and it’s a great deal of fun. It features a classic film noir femme fatale in the person of the glamorous night-club singer Carlotta de la Rue (portrayed by Dominique Wilms, who also appeared in several other Eddie Constantine movies). The acting is very campy and it’s all very tongue-in-cheek. Highly recommended to fans of B-movies.

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