Robert Burgess Aldrich was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Lora Lawson and newspaper publisher Edward B. Aldrich. He was a grandson of U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and a cousin to Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. He was educated at the Moses Brown School, Providence, Rhode Island, and studied economics at the University of Virginia. In 1941, he left university for a minor job at the RKO Radio Pictures, thus beginning his career as a cinéaste.
He quickly rose in film production as an assistant director, he worked with Jean Renoir, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph Losey and Charlie Chaplin, working with the latter as an assistant on Limelight. He became a television director in the 1950s, directing his first feature film, The Big Leaguer, in 1953. In that time, Aldrich was the rare American example of the auteur film maker, depicting his liberal humanist thematic vision in many genres, in films such as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), today a film noir classic, The Big Knife (1955), a cinematic… read more
I have to think that he's visually quoting the flashback from *Suddenly, Last Summer* with his repeated use of the same technique, offering three delirious versions of Lylah's death. Great to see faces familiar from the giallo (Tinti, Falk). Kim Novak as a sleazier, pulpier version of her character(s) in *Vertigo*—all that riffing on the accumulation of cinema history in (and as) film—made me a fan.
This film had me rolling. I don't know whether to give it a high or low rating for being so WTF-worthy it was hilarious, I've never been one to appreciate Kim Novak and her constantly moving drawn-on eyebrows (see Bell Book and Candle to watch them in all their glory) so her acting in this, complete with a strange dubbed accent that comes out of nowhere, is pretty insufferable.
Robert Aldrich's camp classic certainly has its moments, but doesn't quite live up to its lurid reputation. A great cast in a hilariously over-the-top script, but as the film's enigmatic central figure, Kim Novak falls short. It takes a long time to get to the psychological weirdness promised by the premise, and even then it doesn't quite go far enough. But the ridiculous ending almost makes up for it all.