A Cold Wind in August (Alexander Singer / U.S., 1961):

Autumn not yet quite out of summer, the little fling is "a short act" extended into some serious jazz. She (Lola Albright) is a blonde divorcťe grudgingly lured back to the burlesque hall, he (Scott Marlowe) is a curly Italian teen pushing thirty, a busted ventilator and the humid air of ennui trigger the affair. Toying with the idea of seducing the cub in her living room, she rushes friskily from perfume dabs at the vanity table to ice-cream by the kitchen sink: "Oh, youíre asking for it," warns the lipsticked mouth floating in the mirror. Anxiety soon enters the picture, a trip to the nightclub is the last straw for the budding wiseguy, it closes on a sigh, "while it lasted..." Playhouse 90 sensibility marinated in art-house clamminess, Alexander Singerís indie sleeper is firmly rooted in the brand of early Sixties flashy prurience that proved so welcoming to television stalwarts. (Frankenheimerís All Fall Down and Schaffnerís The Stripper are both adjacent.) Faux-Inge all the way, and yet thereís Albright front and center as a slangy New York cousin to Jeanne Moreau, a lustrous rendition of a seasoned panther at once desperate and aglow. The moment in which she ravishes the tremulous Marlowe on a couch and the camera notices her stretched-out leg slowly nudging a glass of Bloody Mary on a coffee table is an indelible soupÁon of eroticism. And then Singer dissolves to a screenful of erect antennae. "Itís corny, I know, but itís got something doesn't it?" "Yeah, yeah." With Herschel Bernardi, Joe De Santis, Clarke Gordon, and Janet Brandt. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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