One of the Greatest Bad Movies on DVDWhere Love Has Gone
Apparently I was a bit premature in stating that the fall would bring a bunch of really good movies. The first week brought The Town and Easy A but three of the four new movies I saw last weekend were as bad as any of the summer junk.
I’ll get to them tomorrow. Right now I want to focus on a new DVD release of one of the greatest bad movies ever made: Where Love Has Gone (1964)!
"Somewhere along the line the world has lost all his standards and taste."
- Bette Davis in Where Love Has Gone
This first-time release of Where Love Has Gone on DVD is nirvana for the gay movie fan or lovers of bad movies everywhere. It has always been my favorite "camp" movie, and I do hate that term! If I had to go to a desert island with one really lousy movie I would leave Mommie Dearest at home and bring this one instead.
Based on a horrendous Harold Robbins book, Where Love Has Gone co-stars Bette Davis and Susan Hayward in a roman à clef take on the Lana Turner/Johnny Stompanato/Cheryl Crane killing from 1958. WLHG has Hayward playing the promiscuous sculptor daughter of San Francisco socialite Davis. Hayward's daughter, played by starlet Joey Heatherton, stabs Hayward's lover at the beginning of the film and we get the whole lurid story including flashbacks.
Produced by Joseph E. Levine and "directed" by once-promising director Edward Dmytryk (whose Murder My Sweet and Crossfire were great 1940's film noirs), WLHG transcends trash and reaches greatness with some of the more florid acting and risible dialog in history.
Susan Hayward has always been one of my favorite actresses - certainly in my own Top 5 pantheon - but here she is turned loose with dialog and situations that Meryl Streep could not save. Joey Heatherton probably gives the worst performance of any teen in a major motion picture and Bette (coiffed in her white society wig) is the controlling mother from hell. Reportedly Hayward and Davis did not get along at all on this film as Davis wanted to have the script rewritten at will and Hayward, fearing her part would become subservient, forced Paramount to shoot the script she signed on for.
Thank God no improvements were made as the world would have been deprived of these classic lines...
Bette Davis to Susan Hayward as they meet in the hallway of the juvenile court: "You have one concept of love and it is a vile and sinful one."
Susan: "When you are dying of thirst you'll drink from a mud hole."
Bette's retort: "You have devoted your life to mud and to filth."
Most of Hayward's dialog is equally priceless. but everyone gets in on the act. From the opening line by Michael Connors (Mannix) playing Hayward's divorced, ex alcoholic husband ("My daughter just killed a man in San Francisco.") to George Macready's description of the killing to Connors ("Danny swung wildly and hit a home run.") WLHG has more great moments than any movie, before or since.
There is also a hideous painting of Davis that Hayward attacks with her chisel before turning it on herself, after the great court scene in which Hayward tells the judge that "It has already been proven that I am an unfaithful wife, an ungrateful daughter, and an unfit mother."
This film is so hilarious that it even includes a Jack Jones title song, an appearance by great film noir Jane Greer as a child welfare worker, and Star Trek's DeForest Kelly as one of Susan's lovers— plus, some of the ugliest sets in Hollywood history.
Buy or rent this film immediately as it will entertain you more than any of the current junk out there.
Tomorrow, Michael delivers reviews of the current junk.