MGM // 1957 // 74 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // July 13th, 2011
"They don't stop with just one."
Actually, there are four murders and an attempt in The Girl in Black Stockings, in which a sheriff tries to find a serial killer among the residents and guests of a resort town.
While this low-budget movie never held Oscar promise, the prospects of Mamie Van Doren (Francis Joins the WACs) and filming in scenic Kanab, Utah, might make the limited-print release from MGM look like fun. In the first few minutes, the movie directed by Howard W. Koch has at least some potential, with silly and clever romantic dialogue ("Are you breathing this hard because of me or the altitude?") and an interesting scene in which he pans a crowd for their reactions as they see the first corpse.
As the movie goes on, the sheriff (John Dehner, The Doris Day Show) meets the suspects, one or two at a time, with the highlight being a struggle with the crazy drunk who found the knife. You don't get to see that much of Van Doren, except for a bit where she's acting like an overly affectionate drunk at a dinner party. Since the occasional shot of Mamie beside the pool was about the only excitement in the movie beyond the first few minutes of setup, it completely falls apart when her character is killed off.
Of course, you might be amused by the overwrought descriptions of offscreen dead bodies, as when the first victim's wounds are described as "a frenzied pattern of disfigurement," and repeated psychoanalyses of the unknown killer. There are also some clunky killer's-eye view shots, but they were just sloppy, not ridiculous enough for unintentional laughs.
There are a few flecks in the black-and-white picture, but nothing major. The music of Les Baxter doesn't fare too badly, even in mono. There are no extras.
Some atmospheric direction, stronger performances, and more Kanab scenery could have made The Girl in Black Stockings into a fun little B-movie. Sadly, it just didn't come together. Fans of Anne Bancroft should note one of her earliest performances, though. If you fondly remember the movie (or Mamie Van Doren) as one of your favorites, go ahead and pick it up. I've just seen B-movies I liked a lot better, including My Gun is Quick, also in MGM's latest collection.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 1957
MPAA Rating: Not Rated