Bad girls on film is more than celebrated on Sleaze Factor; it’s a way of life. Just surf through some of the other entries on this blog and you’ll see how dedicated our approach to these cinematic vixens really is. We wouldn’t change them if our life depended on it. The newest to the bunch is 1961 CLAUDELLE INGLISH (based on a novel by Erskine Caldwell), the story of a good girl gone bad after being dumped by her man. Yes, that about sums up the entire film but we wouldn’t dare leave you high and dry with nothing else to add, would we? It’d be so unethical, especially if you devote your life to this type of film as we do. So strap yourself silly (pun or no pun intended, you decide) and enjoy, because you’re in for a treat.
Onscreen bad girl expert Diane McBain is Claudelle, a poor rural teen who wants to fall in love and does with hunky Chad Everett. She digs him a lot. He on the other hand wants to get into her pants and does the minute he asks her hand in marriage. Her unfulfilled mom, played to the hilt by Constance Ford, is against the union from the start. She sees greater things for her daughter, like hooking her up with the town rich older widow Claude Akins who drools over McBain every chance he gets. But McBain has other things on her mind, like overcoming the hurt of being left bereft by Everett in a dear John letter (how dare he!). What a girl to do? Simple: become the town slut. You see, psychology 101 is what best works in these melodramas, and to do it otherwise would render CLAUDELLE INGLISH, just like its heroine, utterly soiled.
Of course, freshly-trampy McBain causes heartaches everywhere she goes, since she’s done committing to any guy. But give her a token of appreciation in the form of a pair of stylish pumps or a simple music box and it’s good time McBain. No men can resist her, even the middle-aged town merchant Frank Overton who ends up humping her in the back room of his store. When he gets caught by his prissy wife he forbids his teen son Will Hutchins to ever use McBain, but love has a mind of its own for the young lad and he pays dearly for his undying devotion to the town floozy.
Feeling guilty over her wretched ways, McBain tries hard to bring back her good girl image, with the help of her farmer dad Arthur Kennedy who’s the voice of reason à la Mike Brady (!) in this flick. But since he’s dumped by his wife himself when she runs off with the town rich older widow (remember him?), his passive ways catch up with him and, before he can even leave town with his kid, he ends up loosing a daughter as well, at the hands of a crazed john wearing an apron (hint, hint). So ends the misadventures of CLAUDELLE INGLISH who frankly would have been safer and perhaps saner with the likes of Neely O’Hara in New York or Nomi Malone in Vegas or, heck, even Jerilee Randall in L.A. Well, on second thought, maybe not; but imagine the sort of film that would make.
Until next post—Martin