Gerd Oswald made the noir films A Kiss Before Dying and Crime of Passion, making him the perfect director for this film. Of course, he’d also direct Agent for H.A.R.M., but let’s stick with his mysery work for now.
Virginia Wilson (Anita Ekberg, two years before La Dolce Vita and as stunning as perhaps any human being has ever or will ever be) is just trying to take a shower at the beach when an escaped mental patient stabs her dog and attacks her. Luckily, her stepbrother Charlie blows him away.
Now she’s the one inside the sanitarium, but not for long, as Dr. Greenwood convinces her to fall in love with him, fake her death and become an exotic dancer at Gypsy Rose Lee’s El Madhouse nightclub. It’d be paradise if it wasn’t for that serial killer following her.
Most of the music in this movie is recyled from On the Waterfront. The book that inspired it, written by Fredric Brown (who also wrote the original Star Trek episode “Arena”), was the inspiration for one of the best known giallo films of all time, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. The script was written by Rober Blees, who also was the scribe for Frogs, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and High School Confidential!
Red Norvo and his Red Norvo Trio, which is actually a quartet and Charlie Mingus played bass in the group before he became a composer, shows up as well. You can also see Red back up Dean Martin for “Ain’t That a Kick In the Head?” in the original Ocean’s 11. The jazz vibraphonist — along with his wife Mildred Bailey — were known as Mr. and Mrs. Swing.
This movie was exactly what I needed to watch. It’s quick, has some great musical numbers and Eckberg was already carrying herself like a star.