Cast & Crew
After a Trailways bus delivers voluptuous blonde Billie Nash to a small town, she checks into a rooming house. Her rooming house neighbor is Charlie Borg, who runs a tailor's shop next door and offers her a meal. The next day, Billie gets a job as a waitress, at $6.00 a night plus tips, at a bar run by Dora Bannister and her husband Matt. Needing new clothes, Billie cons twenty dollars out of the lecherous Charlie by promising to date him. Billie discovers that Dora is a secret drinker and decides to go after Matt. She is even more determined when Gus, the cook, tells her that Matt used to work for Dora's drunken father, who owned the bar, and that Matt saved the business. Later, when Matt and Billie are alone after the bar closes, she seduces him. Matt becomes obsessed with Billie and she suggests that he sell the bar and leave with her for Mexico. Later Billie insults Charlie by telling him that she would never go out with him. The next morning, when Matt comes to Billie's room to tell her that he has decided to sell the bar without informing Dora first, he is seen by Charlie. After Matt finds a potential buyer, Mr. Lowry, he and Billie decide to get Dora drunk and have her sign the legal documents. However, a problem arises when Lowry's lawyer insists that Dora sign the papers in his office. Matt then decides to have Billie impersonate Dora at the signing and rehearses her in the details of Dora's life. After Billie signs the deeds in the office of Lowry's lawyer, Mr. Porter, he informs them that he will put the papers in escrow and a check will be issued in three to four days. Although Matt and Billie do not like this unexpected development, they decide to wait it out. At the rooming house, Charlie, who has overheard their plans, goes to Billie and threatens to tell Dora unless Billie is "nice" to him. After work that night, Billie goes to Charlie's room. The next night, when Lowry comes to the bar, Dora is out and Billie continues the deception. Later, when a gas stove in the kitchen explodes, Dora asks Matt for the key to the bank safety deposit box where both the insurance policy and the deeds to the bar are supposed to be and Matt reluctantly surrenders it. Meanwhile, Charlie continues to bother Billie and when Matt goes to her room to tell her about the recent developments, he finds Charlie and Billie in a compromising position. Matt angrily calls her a tramp, pushes her away and leaves. Billie then attacks Charlie and the landlady, who has come to see what has been going on. Later, after Matt confesses to Dora, Lowry agrees to forget the whole deal. Meanwhile, Billie buys a one-way bus ticket to Kansas City. On board the bus, when a male passenger shows interest in her, she seductively smiles at him.
William "bill" Phillips
Joseph St. Amand
Maurie M. Suess
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
This film's working title was Free and Easy. According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA requested various revisions to the basic script, but the film still encountered some censorship problems after it was released. In Memphis, TN, the film was banned by the censor board, but was subsequently booked into West Memphis, AR, which, according to a Daily Variety news item, "gleefully" booked everything Memphis banned.