WEIRDLAND: Scenes from "Naked Alibi" starring Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden

Monday, July 04, 2011

Scenes from "Naked Alibi" starring Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden

-Chief Joe Conroy (Sterling Hayden): Are you in the habit of hauling in cut-up strangers?

-Marianna (Gloria Grahame): Yeah. It's a hobby with me.

Scenes from "Naked Alibi" directed by Jerry Hopper in 1954, starring Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden.

"It’s here in Border Town that things get hot, and most of the heat comes from gorgeous Gloria Grahame as Marianna. Employed to sing and dance in a tawdry little dive called El Perico, Marianna seems wildly out of place. But her mesmerized, drooling audience of hungry men don’t stop to ask questions, they just stare as Marianna performs a sexy number.
Dressed in a revealing dress that looks more like something for the vamp boudoir, Gloria lip synchs as she sashays around the room. Gloria couldn’t, apparently, carry a tune, but that’s okay because she more than makes up for this in every other department. Her performance rivals that of Rita Hayworth in Gilda, and as you watch her make her moves, the question of what such a gorgeous dame is doing in a dump in Border Town is answered when Al shows up. She’s his girl and she’s been waiting for him.
Marianna, the character who becomes swept up by the hunt and quest for vengeance has plenty of opportunity to walk away. But she doesn’t. Given the opportunity to stay outside of the destructive vortex created by this triangular-cyclone she steps back into the action, committed to the end of the line. Fate is irresistible and unavoidable and explodes into one of noir cinema’s greatest final scenes on the roof of a church.
One of the reasons Naked Alibi works so well is its excellent casting. Hayden, Barry and Gloria Grahame make the perfect noir cocktail. Even though Hayden’s career began as a model, he plays a true straight arrow. At 6’5” he always seemed to be too damn tall to be a criminal and made a much better cop, sheriff, government agent. Perhaps his days as an undercover agent in the CIO (Office of the Coordinator of information) left a mark. Hayden was married 5 times--three times to the same woman.
With previous credits such as The Atomic City (another Hopper film) and Those Redheads from Seattle to his name, Naked Alibi represented a big break for Gene Barry. In spite of the fact he’s uncomfortably convincing as the psychotic Al Willis, Barry’s Hollywood career never really made the big time, but he certainly made an enormous splash in television.
Gloria Grahame, one of my all-time favourite noir actresses, was at the peak of her Hollywood career in 1954 with a string of recent noir films to her credit--Sudden Fear & The Bad and The Beautiful (1952), The Big Heat & Human Desire (1953) when she made Naked Alibi. In her personal life, Gloria and her second husband, director Nicholas Ray were divorced in 1952, and she was dating soon-to-be third husband, Cy Howard during the making of Naked Alibi.
The scandal over her relationship with her stepson, Tony (who later became her fourth husband) was in her past, but certainly not off-the-record.
In Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame, author Vincent Curcio states that Gloria came on to Sterling Hayden so strongly that she frightened him off, and this shows in the scene when Conroy is in bed and Marianna makes a move.
A million men would gladly change places with Hayden as he sprawls in bed and Gloria moves in for the kill, but Hayden doesn’t look comfortable and you can almost see him cringe. Gloria Grahame is at the height of her smoldering beauty for this picture, and the form-fitting dress worn for the El Perico scenes shows off her spectacular shoulders to perfection.
Gorgeous Gloria--one of the greatest and most enigmatic names in noir film never got over her image problems. But for fans, she left behind a legacy of riveting noir films, and Naked Alibi succeeds largely due to her presence". Source:

Martha O'Driscoll as Marian Gale and Tom Neal as Rick Lavery "Blonde Alibi" (1946) directed by Will Jason

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