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DVD REVIEW
Jail Bait

A year after Glen or Glenda, Wood made Jail Bait (1954). This minor noir has many of the Wood trademarks Ė rigid actors who seem more like mannequins than people ("bits of business" seems to be a foreign concept to the director); a pumped-up but misleading ad campaign ("DANGER! These girls are hot!"); a bizarre score in the form of relentless Spanish classical guitar music; stock Wood players like Dolores Fuller, Timothy Farrell, Mona McKinnon, and Lyle Talbot; and of course hokey dialogue ("Love Ö I donít think you know what love means.") This is also surely one of the few films to devote a closing credit to a lingerie company ("Chic & Pandora").

The story is exploitation noir with romantic interludes. It seems Don (Clancy Malone), the son of "world-famous plastic surgeon" Dr. McGregor (Herbert Rawlinson), is mixed up with gangster Vin Brady (Timothy Farrell). During a bungled robbery, Don shoots an old security guard. Repentant, he plans to go to the police, but is killed by Vin. Without being too specific, lets just say a posthumous revenge is exacted through the miracle of plastic surgery.

Released by Howco (a low-budget company slightly more respectable than usual for Wood), the film is less interesting than Wood's other work in part because itís simply too straightforward and coherent. Thereís none of that rushed, ragged feel of Plan 9 or Glen or Glenda, where the narrative is skewered with strange, seemingly unrelated interludes that make these works compulsively watchable as we await the next surprise. Inevitably, there are Wood touches. One amusing scene occurs when Steve Reeves (in his first film) walks through the police station with his shirt off and is castigated by his superior for not shaving at home. Reeves is practically catatonic here and throughout, staring fixedly at something the audience canít see and, in classic Wood style, seeming to have little to do, physically or in any regard, with the other actors. (He doesnít even look at Lyle Talbot during their dialogue exchanges.)

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Go to:
Introduction
Glen or Glenda?
Jail Bait
Bride of the Monster
Plan 9 From Outer Space

ED WOOD ON DVD