Hard Fast and Beautiful!

All posts tagged Hard Fast and Beautiful!

Va-Va-Villainess: Claire Trevor

Published July 6, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

My mom has never wished me a Happy Pride Month or asked if I am dating anyone. Her husband believes Black people would avoid getting shot if they just did what law enforcement figures asked them to do & they both vote via the Pro-Life agenda. Not surprisingly, our phone conversations are laced by all that goes unsaid, the overpowering dearth that comes from avoiding topics that would surely destroy the hesitant calm that it has taken us years to achieve. But my mom loves shopping for me for Christmas and my birthday. It’s a superficial connection for sure, but you take what you can in a world that is ever-spinning in a chill glow of uncertainty. We even have a sweet tradition established now – I pick an old school film diva and ask for books & films on them. She will, happily, read up on each of my choices and then spend quality time deciding what items I would like best from the lists I provide her. It’s exactly what any proud momma would do for her very gay, cinema obsessed son & it provides a light in the midst of all that is murkily unexpressed. I can’t produce a left wing glow from my maternal entity, but I can squeeze out a bit of appreciation for Claire Trevor.

Of course, Trevor, my latest choice, is well known for her heartbreaking Academy Award winning work as a drunken, aging gangster’s moll in the classic noir Key Largo. I also love her effortlessly comic antics in a movie called Borderline with Fred MacMurray. There, as a policewoman trying to infiltrate a criminal’s lair by posing as a dance hall girl, she is a bundle of perfectly timed awkwardness. 

But her gritty, no-nonsense demeanor also lent itself well to acts of ruthlessness. 1938’s The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse found her playing a more lighthearted figure of crime – the leader of a gang of thieves whose affection for Edward G. Robinson’s academically awkward title character leads to her downfall.  But the 1951 sports-noir Hard, Fast and Beautiful! definitely utilized her knack for portraying women with sophisticated, underhanded charms. As Millie Farley, the mother of a female tennis prodigy, Trevor radiates with a seductive sense of calculation. She obviously knows how to subtly bring out all of Farley’s ambitious qualities. In fact, she positively brims with truth as she enacts Farley’s seduction of prestigious figures and calculated justifications for compromising her talented offspring’s future for a bit of cash and extra press attention. 

Not surprisingly, Trevor is directed here by Ida Lupino, the actress-writer, who definitely played her own share of bad ladies in gothic melodramas and crime flicks, as well. According to Derek Sculthorpe, Trevor’s biographer, the two strong willed creatives occasionally had artistic differences on set, but they respected each other – and happily worked together again on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. With those successful collaborations behind them, it’s unfortunate that the two never made another film together. Millie is one of Trevor’s most popular creations and it would have been nice to see her play more characters with this level of determined wickedness. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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