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A Cold Wind in August Movie Review

albright film kid marlowe

Lola Albright is a meltingly lovely blonde from Akron, Ohio, who will probably best be remembered for her role as a nightclub singer in television's Peter Gunn series. Although she created a vivid impression in 36 movies between 1948 and 1977, Albright received just one starring role onscreen, in 1961's A Cold Wind in August, based on the Burton Wohl novel. Albright plays a 40-week-a-year stripper who cherishes the 12 weeks she can try to lead a more conventional life in a New York apartment building. Among her own age group (36), she is hard and brittle, determined to distance herself from the fantasies of men who want her to fill their needs, not her own. On a sultry summer day, the 17-year-old son of the building supervisor arrives at her doorstep, ready to fix her air conditioner. Around this awkward, intimidated kid, her tough shell dissolves, and she finally allows herself to feel something. The kid is nicely played by Scott Marlowe, who had been playing troubled teens for over five years by this point, so the extreme difference in their ages had to be spelled out in the acting and by Alexander Singer's skillful direction, rather than the script. In fact, there is one sequence in a park where this supposedly mismatched couple draw stares that don't make sense since Albright looks so young and Marlowe is so obviously not a teenager. The moments when the film really works are when Albright brilliantly reveals her loss of self over a love that means everything in the world to her, yet is clearly, by its very nature, ephemeral. The rare quality of this film lies in its sympathetic understanding of the acting women have to do to survive, and in its depiction of the strong disapproval men feel when women stop acting. Strong supporting performances are delivered by two great character actors: Joe De Santis, as the kid's compassionate father, and another Peter Gunn alumnus, Herschel Bernardi, as a friend who stoically endures a friendship with Albright's character, suffering all the while from his unrequited love for her. A Cold Wind in August is a hard film to find today, not yet released on home video, and surfacing only very occasionally on television late at night. But when you consider the example of Butterfield 8, a slick and phony piece of splashy Metro drek that won Elizabeth Taylor the 1960 Oscar, the virtues of a small, independent gem like A Cold Wind in August sparkle in comparison. (Condemned by the Legion of Decency during its original release.)

1961 80m/B Lola Albright, Scott Marlowe, Herschel Bernardi, Joe De Santis; D: Alexander Singer; W: Burton Wohl; C: Floyd Crosby.

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