Saturday, August 1, 2020

SCREAMING MIMI - "The Ballet Of Desire" (1958)

Tonight's Saturday Night Special is an odd movie from 1958 titled "Screaming Mimi."

You can hardly make it out, but the object behind the title is a small sculpture you could hold in your hand called the "Screaming Mimi."

Miss Sweden 1950, Anita Ekberg is Virginia Wilson, aka Yolanda Lange, and she's taking an outdoor shower after swimming in the Pacific Ocean!
She hears her dog whimpering and........

.......The next thing she sees is some madman coming her way!

The man had escaped from the Highland Sanitarium, and viciously attacks her with a knife. Her step brother shoots the fool right in the nick of time, but Virginia is damaged goods after the event, and ends up in the same hospital that the guy escaped from!

Her VERY caring healthcare provider is Doctor Greenwood, who is played by Harry Townes! Out of Harry's amazing 185 mostly television credits are two episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "The Four Of Us Are Dying," and "Shadow Play."

Time passes and Virginia seems to be doing a lot better when her and Dr. Greenwood disappear, and she starts working as an exotic dancer. I think they are supposed to have moved to L.A. but I'm pretty sure this is North Beach in San Francisco!

Her name is now just Yolanda, and the place she's working in is called "El Madhouse" and is run by Joann 'Gypsy' Masters, who is played by real life striptease artist turned actress, Gypsy Rose Lee.

Vibes player Red Norvo and his trio are the house band!
In 1938 Red Norvo had two number one hit songs, "Please Be Kind," and "Says My Heart."

At "El Madhouse" the bartender sings, and ..........

.......The waiters dance!

And Yolanda does her thing. She's not a stripper, just a dancer!
It's really kind of hard to believe this actually was passed off as entertainment back in 1958!

Yolanda is out walking around with her Great Dane called Devil when she is attacked and stabbed in the stomach!

Some time earlier, another girl named Lola Lake had been stabbed to death, and the funny little "Screaming Mimi" statue was found at the crime scene!

Phillip Carey plays Sweeney, an investigative reporter who has an interest in Yolanda on more than one level. Seeing the photo of Lola Lake makes him try and track down the "Screaming Mimi," because when he visited Yolanda's dressing room, she also had one of the little sculptures!
In 1959-1960, Phillip Carey played the lead in 26 episodes of the TV show "Phillip Marlowe," and from 1965 to 1967 he was Capt. Edward A. Parmalee in 56 episodes of "Laredo."

Pretty risque for 1958, Linda Cherney is Gypsy's best friend Ketti. I don't remember her ever speaking, but they cut to her a multitude of times, just to show you that Gypsy wasn't interested in men!
Linda only had one other role besides this one where she played an uncredited car hop!

After taking a few days off, Whoa! Big News! Yolanda Returns!! Yippee!!

But her act didn't change any!

They all missed her so much they had a party and made her a "Welcome Back" cake!

In the end, Virginia/Yolanda gets a free ride back to the nut house, where she never should have got out of to begin with!

The book was written by Fredric Brown in 1949, and was also made into another movie in 1970 that was Dario Argento's Directorial debut,  "L'uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo" or "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage!"


Randall Landers said...

Brown also wrote the short sf story "Arena" which has been adapted by many television series and film productions, including Star Trek, and arguably The Outer Limits, to name just two.

KD said...

I saw this movie soooo long ago that I barely remember it. Good pics, though!

Secret Squirrel said...

LMAO when I saw the Gay'n Frisky sign.

EEGAH!! said...

I knew I wasn't alone!

SCB said...

EEGAH- you must have read my mind recently; I’ve been thinking of the phrase “screaming mimi” a lot lately. I hate the use of the this title on this story. To me “screaming mimi’s” are a term used to express a type of Grand Guignol kind of terror at something supernaturally abhorrent; something so weird it’s an affront to your senses, and leaves you extremely nervous.

KD said...

Oh Myyyy!

EEGAH!! said...

Good One SCB! It just so happens I was reading your mind, but I guess I misinterpreted what I read!

Tom Moody said...

I really like this movie, even though it makes almost no sense. Props for the director Gerd Oswald, who went on to make the classic Outer Limits episodes Corpus Earthling, The Invisibles, Fun and Games, It Crawled Out of the Woodwork, Don't Open Till Doomsday, O.B.I.T., etc.

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