May 17, 2009

Woman of Straw (1964)

Woman of Straw

As old movies go, Woman of Straw, the 1964 film starring Sean Connery and Gina Lollobrigida, is not particularly worthy of being remembered. In it, Connery hatches a plan to have a hot nurse (Lollobrigida) marry his uncle, a wealthy but miserable old man (Ralph Richardson) so the two can make away with his money. With its double crossings and surprise twists, the plot is reminescent of Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, but the film itself is plodding and empty.

Yet, notable is its despicable treatment of its two black characters, Richardson’s servants. One scene has the old man forcing them to jump over each other, repeatedly, like dogs, their white suit jackets quickly becoming sullied with muddied footprints. The extreme racism is conveniently used to express the depravity of Richardson’s character. It's supposed to justify his victimization by Lollobrigida’s gold-digger, but that doesn't take away from the shock of the images.

A second memorable element:
Gina Lollobrigida’s swimming cap, a veritable flower afro that seems directly inspired by a clown wig. Can we bring this back?

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