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Archive for June 28th, 2009

wanda04

by Allan Fish

(USA 1970 105m) DVD1

No curlers!

p  Harry Shushter  d/w  Barbara Loden  ph/ed  Nicholas T.Proferes

Barbara Loden (Wanda Baranski), Michael Higgins (Mr Dennis), Dorothy Shupenes (Wanda’s mother), Peter Shupenes (brother-in-law), Jerome Their (Mr Baranski), Charles Dosinan (Father), Marian Thier (Miss Godek), Anthony Rotell (Tony), Joe Dennis (Joe), Frank Jourdano, M.L.Kennedy,

In the ‘Halliwell’s Who’s Who in the Movies’, Barbara Loden receives this typically succinct entry; “American general-purpose actress.  She was married to director Elia Kazan.”  She appeared in small roles in two of his films – Wild River and Splendor in the Grass – before turning thirty and made just one other contribution to the cinema, this one stand alone film as writer, director and star.  Suffice it to say it joins the ranks of the great movie debuts, the select list of cinematic masterpieces directed by women and as one of the great films of an almost foetal American independent cinema. 

            Wanda is a thirty-something loser who, in the words of her husband, is a “lousy wife, always bumming around drinking…”  She allows him his divorce, turning up to court late, in curlers and holding a fag.  Left to her own devices, she goes into a movie theatre to watch a Spanish language pot-boiler, only for her wallet to be stolen while she slept.  She then pops in a nearby bar and asks to use the bathroom, not realising she is interrupting a robbery performed by an incompetent middle aged petty thief.  She hooks up with him, following him like a lapdog and putting up with his petty abuses – including a memorable confrontation about onions in a burger – and watching naively as he tries to commit petty larcenies on anything from grocer’s stores to hotwiring cars.  That is until he gets delusions of his own mediocrity and plans to rob the Third National Bank using Wanda as the getaway driver. (more…)

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