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  Salome Where She Danced Give Us A Twirl
Year: 1945
Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Yvonne De Carlo, Rod Cameron, David Bruce, Walter Slezak, Albert Dekker, Marjorie Rambeau, J. Edward Bromberg, Abner Biberman, John Litel, Kurt Katch, Nestor Paiva
Genre: Western, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Newsman Jim Steed (Rod Cameron) has just witnessed the end of the American Civil War, and is soberly relaying his story to his magazine over the telegraph when he notices General Robert E. Lee riding past his defeated troops. Lee tells one man who goes over to him in so many words that life must go on, and that's something which not everyone is going to be able to do, as a select few career soldiers turn to crime, but not Jim. He already has his latest assignment in Prussia as he has an idea that there is to be a war there with Austria, but it's not that which diverts him: it's a woman.

This is what cult movies used to look like, as Salome Where She Danced gathered something of a following in its day among lovers of camp, just as the notion of such a regard for films in that manner was taking hold. Indeed, many thought of this as an unintentional comedy, adding to its entertainment value, but nowadays the film has been forgotten except among fans of its cast which included a number of cult performers. Chief among those was Yvonne De Carlo, who played the dancer of the title, beginning her sex symbol phase and getting to do one of her many dances in skimpy outfits.

For those who recall De Carlo as Lily Munster, which is where she's best recognised these days, it may come as a surprise that she was ever built up as one of the most desirable movie stars of her era, but seeing her in efforts like this you can well believe it. Nobody would have mistaken her for a great actress, but underneath the beautiful exterior she did possess a steely quality which made her stand out among her contemporaries, and made her a natural for the alluring but strong-willed female lead she specialised in. Here she is Anna Marie, a dancer on the Prussian stage who Jim spirits away from the war to head over to the American West.

She doesn't find life any easier there than she did back home, but this is where, after an opening that makes this look like a historical costume drama, the movie turns into a Western. Anna Marie and Jim wind up in an Arizona town which will later bear her name, or at least the name of the role she essayed on stage, as there really is a town called Salome Where She Danced, only the reason for that has nothing to do with what happens here. Word gets around the townsfolk that they have a celebrity in their midst, so they all assemble in the local saloon to take in her act, but then there's a twist when one of those ex-soldiers, Cleve Blunt (David Bruce), shows up with his gang to rob the place.

There's a lot going on here, and Anna Marie fits the role of the woman just about every man in the cast wants, including Cleve who is the one she falls for in spite of Jim looking far more suitable. As Jim, Cameron was in one of his less characteristic roles, although he was a popular Western hero at the time, but as with practically all the male cast members they simply have to wander around after De Carlo looking mournful when she doesn't return their advances. Also showing up were Walter Slezak, as a rich nobleman who tries to buy her love, and Albert Dekker as another Prussian who tries to win it in a swordfight - that's right, a duel with blades in a Western. Although considering some of the eccentricities on display here, including Abner Biberman as a Chinaman with a thick Scottish brogue who dispenses wisdom, maybe we shouldn't have been too surprised. This was really all over the place, and would be a lot more outrageous if everyone hadn't been so stilted, but as a snippet of the cult movies of yesteryear it is valuable. Music by Edward Ward.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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