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Monday, April 29, 2019

"Pretty Poison" (1968)

This odd and subversive tale of two attractive young lovers falling into a crime spree seems,  at first blush, clearly aimed at the same success formula "Bonnie & Clyde" famously made the previous year, but while the former film was about the intertwining of violence, celebrity, and entertainment in our culture,  this one is about something else altogether, the prickly truth that our cherished American values come with a dark side, and if we're not careful they'll rot us from within. It starts off as a kooky quasi-rom-com, a picture perfect couple meet cute at a hotdog stand (how Americana can you get?). Tuesday Weld is a sunny sweet high school drum majorette who talks on a pink princess phone in her frilly bedroom, dressed in Ann Roth's flouncy cotton swing dresses. Too cute by a mile. Anthony Perkins is the clean-cut boyish guy in button-down oxford shirts and corduroys. All good...but like so much in this movie, nothing is as it seems and before long the tone changes, things turn sinister, and you're left unmoored by the shocks that follow. This has become a sleeper cult film over the years and deservedly so, definitely one to seek out.

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