“Beauty killed the beast, my ass — it was all them reporters.”
A farm girl (Pamela Sue Martin) with dreams of making it big in Hollywood struggles to survive in Chicago, and eventually falls for notorious criminal John Dillinger (Robert Conrad).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Depression Era
- Dick Miller Films
- Louise Fletcher Films
- Strong Females
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this entertaining “pay-TV favorite” rises above its “conventional New World-Roger Corman material” through “fast-paced, flavorful direction by Lewis Teague; a snappy script by John Sayles…; and a surprisingly engaging performance by [“Dynasty”‘s] Martin, who exhibits a winning combination of sex and savvy” and appears “remarkably at ease” in her first leading film role. While ostensibly focused on Martin’s role as an unwitting accomplice in Dillinger’s infamous death, Sayles’ heavily fictionalized, socially conscientious script is actually more concerned with presenting Martin’s coming-of-age story, as she transitions from dreamy farm girl (humming “42nd Street” to herself while collecting eggs in her father’s barn) to sweatshop employee to dance hall girl to prostitute to waitress, doing what she can to survive while sticking up for what she knows is right. She’s presented as innocently uninformed about Dillinger’s true identity, so her embroilment in his death comes across as simply one more stroke of bad luck against her — leading to the film’s “final act”, in which she decides not only to get even against the mob, but to “get ahead”. Filled with fine period detail, subtle social commentary, and smart supporting performances, Lady in Red is a worthy entry in the “Depression-era gangster film” genre, and should be seen by all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Pamela Sue Martin as Polly
- Louise Fletcher as Anna Sage
- Nancy Parsons as Tiny Alice
- Effective period detail
- John Sayles’ smart, socially conscious script
- James Horner’s score
Yes, as an all-around good show.