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Wicked Woman

Wicked Woman(1954)

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Wicked Woman (1954)

You know she's trouble from the moment you see her disembarking from a bus. As the camera slowly travels up her body from her flashy high heels to her bleached blonde hair, you know this woman is going to bring bad luck to anyone she meets. And as the Wicked Woman of the title, Beverly Michaels doesn't disappoint. She promptly checks into a fleabag rooming house where she begins sponging off her fellow boarder, Charlie (Percy Helton). Then she lies her way into a job at a sleazy bar where she seduces the bartender (Richard Egan) and convinces him to leave his wife, sell the business, and run away with her to Mexico. Of course, things don't exactly go as planned but what did you expect from a Wicked Woman?

As part of our salute to Herb Jeffries, Wicked Woman (1954) is a bit of a cheat because Jeffries doesn't actually appear in the film. He does sing the title song though and it sets the down and dirty tone for this tawdry little melodrama. Jeffries, who was quite the black matinee idol in the late thirties, was best known as black America's first singing cowboy. His mellifluous voice can also be heard narrating the Turner Classic Movies' original documentary on director Oscar Micheaux, Midnight Ramble (1994), and more recent appearances include a cameo in The Cherokee Kid (1996), a comedic homage to the black Western genre starring the comedian Sinbad, and Keepers of the Frame (1999), a documentary about film preservation.

Director: Russell Rouse
Producer: Clarence Greene
Screenplay: Clarence Greene, Russell Rouse
Music: Buddy Baker, Josep Mullendore
Cast: Beverly Michaels (Billie Nash), Richard Egan (Matt Bannister), Percy Helton (Charlie Borg), Evelyn Scott (Dora Bannister), Robert Osterloh (Mr. Lowry), William Phillips (Gus), Frank Ferguson (Mr. Porter), Bernadene Hayes (Mrs. Walters).

By Jeff Stafford

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