Queen of the Amazons

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Patricia Morison: B Movies’ Regal Queen

Published March 18, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

As pink studded buildings collapse and the twisted spirals of despair clutch at his nightmare ridden feet, Big Gay Horror Fan reaches out, desperately, and always the ebony Rapunzel-like hair of stage goddess Patricia Morison comes floating past. Clutching at it, he is once again, pulled from his hideous dreams, waking up to a new morning.

calling%20dr%20deathRegal to the point of otherworldliness and always exquisitely beautiful, exotic Patricia Morison gained eternal fame as Cole Porter’s muse for his classic 1948 musical Kiss Me Kate. For many, this artistic opportunity saved her from appearances in a variety of low budget Hollywood programmers. But, for cinematic fetishists in the know, these cheap wonders always highlighted Morison’s eclectic grace.

In 1943’s Calling Dr. Death, Morison radiates with concern as Stella Madden, Dr. Mark Steel’s (Lon Chaney, Jr.) prized assistant. But Morison always allows a tone of mystery to pervade her actions – a grand move as Stella soon appears to know more about the death of Steel’s wife than she is letting on. Indeed, during a nightmarish sequence Morison finds herself running between shadowy, toppling set pieces in a brilliantly conceived dance of guilt. The presence of Chaney and J. Carrol Naish (The Monster Maker, House of Frankenstein) along with the moody direction of Reginald Le Borg (The Mummy’s Ghost, Weird Woman) makes this among Morison’s more fright based efforts. But, the dedicated Morison always gave up the exploitation gold in a number of other genre projects, as well.patriciabuilding

dressed-to-kill-1946-jj As Mrs. Hilda Courtney in the 1946 Sherlock Holmes adventure Dressed to Kill, Morison truly gives distinguished Basil Rathbone (Tales of Terror, Queen of Blood, The Black Cat, The Mad Doctor, Tower of London) a run for his money. She excels at sophisticated villainy here, but she is obviously having the most fun when duplicitously disguised as a homely working class matron. But whether grand or downtrodden, Morison shows all her fabulous colors here making one marvel at the fact that the studio system never figured out a grand scheme for her.

In 1947’s Queen of the Amazons, Morison shows much spunk and zeal as Jean Preston. Determined to find her missing fiancé in the wilds of the jungle, Morison sparks immediately with Robert Lowery as experienced guide, Gary Lambert. The two are destined for romance in the Hepburn-Tracy variety, but only after it is discovered that Preston’s fiancé has fallen in love with the vicious and vengeful Zita, the queen of the jungle. Morison’s gritty elegance here is in direct contrast to the extremely awkward (thus thoroughly enjoyable) performance of Amira Moustafa as Zita.
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Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!