Miss Blandish is far removed from bland, she is a total knockout. A beauty that has all men weak at the knees. Her good looks isn’t all her good fortune, you see her father is one of the wealthiest men in the city. Worth a cool 100 million dollars. Of course, her father keeps a watchful eye on his precious daughters socialising and organised the right suitor for his treasure. Young Miss Blandish is set up with boring, older gentlemen that dote on her and promise the world. She on the other hand was cold and aloof. She desired something wild, someone rugged, maybe dangerous. As the heiress to incredible amounts of money she was bound to turn heads. Soon her life would be caught up with petty criminals, thugs and gangsters.. Lets meet them…
Miss Blandish (Linden Travers)
Not quite a spoilt brat but not far off. Surrounded by unimaginable wealth and covered in the finest clothes and jewellery. She has all the men looking at her. Not just for her looks, I must add. There’s a few thousand reasons around her neck that catch their eye. One thing for sure with Miss Blandish is she isn’t shy, she’s headstrong, knows what she wants and will stubbornly do what she needs to achieve it.
A desperate lover – “Lets go somewhere the music with get in your blood and the ice will melt in your veins!“
Johnny (Bill O’Connor)
Johnny, a low level hustler, is smooching with his girl in a stairwell under Miss Blandish’s apartment when he overhears her plans for the night ahead. He decides to try sell this first rate piece of information. First to the Grisson gang which in turn produces bruises throughout his body. Then he tries lower down the ladder, a duo of small time hoodlums. Johnny ain’t too bright.
Dave Fenner (Hugh McDermott)
A detective/reporter, he has his ear to the ground. A wise guy brought in by Mr Blandish to help track down his daughter. Fenner is cheeky and kind of cocksure. Walks into situations before thinking them through. It works for him but he has to think fast on his feet.
Ted Bailey (Leslie Bradley)
Small time wise guy with a sensible head on his shoulders. He’s ruthless but knows when to reel it in, he understands his place. However, he’s always on the lookout for a big payout to get up the ladder to a higher level of gangster. His time will come?
Riley (Richard Nielson)
Bailey’s muscle. Plays it pure psycho, like he’s James Cagney. A real firecracker. The slightest wrong word and his hand instantly dives for his gun holstered in his jacket. He’s instant brute force. Stand well clear when his short fuse is lit!
Bailey – “Just don’t hit him, please. Or he’ll go crazy! You can’t stop him!”
Ma Grisson (Lilli Molnar)
The matriarch of the Grisson Gang. The ruthless gangsters of the city. She sits behind a desk in her nightclub directing her group of men about. Kinda like a Shelley Winters “Ma Barker” but way less psychotic. She’s no stranger to dishing out slaps and directing violence though.
Slim Grisson (Jack La Rue)
Humphrey Bogart obviously wasn’t available, too expensive or couldn’t be arsed to come to the UK, so Jack La Rue is the next best thing. He really is Bogie here. Slim is the boss with a legendary temper who keeps the Grisson Gang glued together for his Ma. He’s suffers from a dark and moody depression swings. Forever contemplating some past trauma. Maybe the love of a good woman will help Slim out?
Eddie Schultz (Walter Crisham)
Sly, skinny and menacing right-hand man of the Grission Gang. All most insect looking and ironically not called Slim! Reliable, loyal and a tough gangster. Every time he walks in a room he brings a dash of fear with him. There’s an evil glint in his eye.
Doc (MacDonald Parke)
Another member of the gang. He is closer to Ma Grisson, almost like her secretary. Meticulous and hidden under his older gentleman look is a devious and creepy persona. “Where’s Bailey?” Looking into his hostage eyes. “So how are the gallstones Barney? You know I’d oughta operate. I think I can just remember where gallstones are?“.
Tagline – SHOCKING as a book! SENSATIONAL as a motion picture!
The rest of the cast is also massive. To add to the list above there’s some wonderful nightclub scenes where entertainer Jack Durant is given a whole segment to do a comic act. It’s really funny. Also two dancers called Toy and Wing flip around on stage where club singer Margo (Zoe Gail) busts out songs with the hope of getting Slims affection. Two other standout small parts go to Louie (Charles Goldner) the French headwaiter who has to juggle the club and the gangsters demands. There’s also a great small part from a lippy downtown bar owner called Ted who happens to be Carry On star Sid James doing his best New York accent whilst running into one of the above mentioned psychos.
No Orchids for Miss Blandish is a delightful surprise of a film. It’s frantic. It twists and turns and punches and kicks its way through the reflectively simple plot. Not a scene is wasted or dull. Whether it be a volley of slaps around a face, deep uppercut jabs to the gut or beating someone to death with brutal kicks to the head. Violence blasts through every cut. Beating, torture, shootings, rape! and, well, death. There’s also sex references and saucy acts. One very funny scene when Fenner needs a certain lady to keep her hands from hitting him, he proceeds to pull her tie rope out of her pyjama bottoms. Just a few comic moments dashed into the otherwise relentless hard-nosed pace.
You gotta remember this is 1948 and they go to town with the violence. Check these critics reviews from the time of release. All filled with gasps and shock…
- The Monthly Film Bulletin said “the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen“
- British film reviewer Dilys Powell from The Sunday Times is quoted in writing that the film should be “branded with a “D” certificate for disgusting“
- A Daily Express critic claimed that “the film sets out to appeal to the prurient-minded, the twisted, the unbalanced” (16 April 1948)
- A reviewer from The Observer called C A Lejeune called it “this repellent piece of work scraped up all the droppings of the nastier type of Hollywood movie“
- Even an Australian newspaper called The Age jumped in to have a pop. A little over the top I must add. “No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole…the entire production is unpardonable“
The reviews are hilarious and hopefully went well to help the film break box office records in Britain in towns and cities that it wasn’t banned. It sure must of had the film board censors getting their knickers in a twist.
No Orchids for Miss Blandish was a novel by British thriller writer James Hadley Chase. A book writing machine who’s real name was the fancy, René Lodge Brabazon Raymond. Director St. John Legh Clowes would also write the screenplay for the movie. St John had wrote the script for another great film I’ve reviewed called Dear Murderer (1947) which was in itself equally controversial. No Orchids for Miss Blandish would later go on to inspire director Robert Aldrich 1971 film The Grissom Gang. Where Miss Blandish would receive a first name, Barbara and be played by Kim Darby. With Slim Grisson being portrayed by Scott Wilson of Hershel from The Walking Dead fame and the incredible Truman Capote’s masterpiece In Cold Blood (1967)
You probably guessed right, you know I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It’s extremely bizarre and quirky the way this British film tries to recreate the noir of America. With most of the cast having to put on accents of various quality and some are hardly believable at times. There’s actors replicating more famous oversea acting styles. The sets and buildings are filmed in UK Alliance Film Studios, St Margarets, Twickenham. But you know what! It all works to blend this crazy film together. I really can’t wait to sit down and watch it all again. It’s was brilliant.
Have you seen this one? Feel free to let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading, sorry for total lack of reviews of late. Times and life changes. However, I do so love this hobby and am always trying to finds ways to fit it back into my schedule.
Big love…. Mikey Wolfman
PS No Orchids For Miss Blandish is here on YouTube to stream here