Private Property was long thought lost. It is a lurid psychological noir thriller, based on a sleazy pulp fiction type premise.
It is the first feature written and directed by Leslie Stevens (writer and director of The Outer Limits TV series (1963-1964). The cinematography was by Ted D. McCord (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don't Cry (1950), The Breaking Point (1950) and, I Died a Thousand Times (1955)). The films music was by Pete Rugolo (whose credits range from Richard Diamond, Private Detective TV Series (1957–1960), to This World, Then the Fireworks (1997)).
The film revolves around two down and out creepy and twisted drifters, hitchhiking their way to The Sunset Strip. The two become sexually obsessed over a hawt "California Girl" blond housewife driving a white corvette who casually stops for directions at a Pacific Coast Highway Veltex filling station near Malibu. (BTW the Veltex Gas is going for 8 cents a gallon in 1960).
|Duke and Boots with "The Rock" in the background|
|At the Veltex Station|
|Ed arrives in his '54 Buick Skylark|
When Boots tells Duke about a wall calendar he saw in the station with a scantily clad girl wearing just a cowboy hat, Duke asks him if he's getting ready for a woman yet. Boots whines that Duke always steals the girl he wants, the last one being that redhead in the orange grove, so Duke promises to get him a woman, but not after questioning his manhood with the taunt "what are you waiting for a rich sugar daddy?"
An appliance salesman from Sacramento, Ed Hogate, drives up in his '54 Buick Skylark for gas. Boots and Duke begin to wash his windows and pump him for a ride into The City Of Angels. While so engaged with Ed, Ann drives up. Ann is curvaceous and cute. Duke asks Boots if she'll do for a woman. Boots says yes. Duke and Boots convince Ed to not only give them a ride but to tail Ann as she drives towards her home. When Ed wants to end the game and make his turn for Wilshire Blvd., Duke and Boots convince him to keep following the blond. They do this by threatening him with a switchblade that Boots pulls out of his pocket.
|Ann's hilltop house and smog|
|Need some landscaping done?|
|Tie around her neck? his property|
|Domestic bliss Rodger (Wark) and Ann|
|Ann stroking the phallic clandlestick|
|Ann's making "wife noises"|
|ribbons and bows|
|here I am.....|
|rejected and dejected|
|Ann stroking the phallic plant stem|
Corey Allen's silver tongued devil Duke, is easily convincing as a womanizer, but you don't have to wonder why he never gained traction after this performance, the film opened without Code approval, was condemned by the Legion Of Decency and got slim to none distribution. Warren Oates underplays the malleable simple minded sexual neophyte Boots. Oates specialized most of his career in playing hopeless lowlifes doomed to wallow in eternal misery, always getting the shit end of the stick. Kate Manx excels as Ann with her portrayal ranging from "I Dream Of Jeannie" perky to that of sweet quiet desperation for the attention of her husband. Again one wonders how her career may have went if the film had had a regular release. Four years later she committed suicide, a waste.
So, does the title refer to trophy wife Ann, the house and pool, or the whole gaudy tinseltown world that only the others, the "elites" can inhabit?
Images are digital camera caps of the newly restored Cinelicious Pictures from a TCM premiere. 7/10