Director Edward Dmytryk, producer Joseph E. Levine & scripter John Michael Hayes made so much money for Paramount adapting Harold Robbins’ THE CARPETBAGGERS/’64, his roman-à-clef on the young Howard Hughes, they quickly regrouped for a second helping of Robbins schlock. But whereas the first film came out good trashy fun, this one was just trashy. This time our distinguished author plays off the sensational real life murder of Lana Turner’s gangster/boyfriend by her daughter, with Susan Hayward in for Lana, now a promiscuous sculptress, though she barely seems wanton enough for all the to do. Certainly not from her new hubby (a hopelessly flat Mike Connors), who quickly loses his architectural mojo when he lets his rich new mother-in-law (Bette Davis, e-nun-ci-at-ing every syllable) run his life & drive him to drink. Years after the inevitable divorce, Connors is reformed, but his poor daughter (a screechy Joey Heatherton) is a mess . . . a mess with raging hormones & a deadly awl. (Sculptor’s tool, natch.) It really shouldn’t be as terrible as it is, but even the tech elements look lousy, as if Hollywood standards had fallen off a cliff sometime between these two 1964 adaptations. Maybe they did.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Check out the hilarious camera placement when Hayward slashes away at a garish portrait of Mom. It’s from behind the painting. Presumably the P.O.V. of one of the film’s many color-coordinated walls. And watch for a 20-yr flashback with everyone looking exactly the same.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: As mentioned, THE CARPETBAGGERS shows how this sort of thing can be both well-crafted & fun, while the Henry Hathaway prequel to that film, NEVADA SMITH/’66, is even better.