Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Painted Smile aka Murder Can Be Deadly (1962) Brit Badger Game "C" Noir

Directed by Lance Comfort. 

Written by Pip & Jane Baker based on an idea by Brock Williams. Cinematography by Basil Emmott. Soundtrack Another You and Painted Smile Sung by Craig Douglas

The film stars Liz Fraser (I'm All Right Jack, The Americanization of Emily) as Jo Lake, Kenneth Griffith (A Night to Remember) as Kleinie, Peter Reynolds as Mark, Tony Wickert as Tom, Craig Douglas as Nightclub Singer, Nanette Newman as Mary, Ray Smith as Glynn, and David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella) as Roy. 

Liz Fraser as Jo Lake

 Peter Reynolds as Mark

Kenneth Griffith as Kleinie

Ray Smith as Glynn, David Hemmings as Roy and Tony Wickert as Tom

This Brit Noir shot in Aspect ratio of 1.37 : 1 but on the YouTube streamer it is presented in 1.5 : 1 so it has some top and bottom of the original frame cropped. 

It's overall has got that Transitional Noir feel. Nobody aside from David Hemmings was known to me of the cast. It's got a splash of some New Wave, a music tie in with young adults like an American Beach Blanket film and the Noir Visuals and Dark Story that we all like. In this time period a similarly made American Film would reflect the Beat generation, in this film you can just see the beginnings of that 1960s Mod look to come.

Because of the inclusion of complete songs this film definitely tips into "Cabaretera" Noir territory.

Craig Douglas - Voted 'Best New Singer' in 1959 in the British music magazine

The night club crooner is Craig Douglas he reminds me of a Brit version of Wayne Newton / Bobby Darin. He's got that higher register voice singing a Four Season-y like tune. He actually topped the bill on the Beatles' first major stage show. We hear that opening song more than once.


Jo is a buxomly blonde, who is a con artist / hooker. Jo is running a badger game con with Mark. The way a badger game works is Jo hooks a easy "mark" from the SoHo club where she works, with the promise of sex. It's usually a guy who has some money and is a bit tipsy. She brings him to their flat. 

Jo then gets the "mark" into a compromising position and then in walks Mark, playing the enraged husband. The flustered mark is usually good for cash to make the whole thing go away. 

Jo is getting tired of the con and wants to split. Mark is either trying to pay off a local mobster named Klienie, or trying to rake off money from the clubs clientele without giving Klienie his cut of his action. Its not clear but it's something along those lines that has Jo frightened and wanting to grift another city.

She argues with Mark, refusing to go to the club, until he promises that they will blow London tomorrow. Jo finishes getting ready.

We cut to the club, three friends Tom, Glyn, and Roy arrive at the entrance. It's sort of like a celebration party, Tom won a prize for an industrial design, and the boys tell him they want to give him a night to remember. 

So, at the club Jo watches the clientele she sees Tom Glyn and Roy, waiting to make there moves on the women at the club. She watches Tom get drunker. She zeros in on him.

Meanwhile, Mark, awaiting Jo's return is instead visited by Kleinie who makes Mark an example by stabbing him in the heart. 

So back at the club Jo picks Tom up taking his hand and pulling him out of the club. Tom, drunk follows obliviously.

Jo and Tom weave their way back to the flat. It of course all goes Noirsville when Jo and Tom meet Kleinie on the street. 

Jo, shaken arrives at the flat with Tom and finds the radio playing as is usual. Jo assumes that Mark will soon make his entrance from the bedroom as the outraged husband. 

She makes Tom a drink and zips out of her dress. About that time the phone rings. Jo answers, It's Kleinie who tells her that he left her some rubbish up in the bedroom, and that she is responsible to get rid of it.

Jo runs up to the bedroom and finds Mark dead laying on the floor. 

Tom follows her, sees Mark and being drunk and not thinking, pulls the knife from his chest. The bonehead Noir move, leaving his fingerprints on the handle. 

Jo uses this fact and the threat that she will tell the police that Tom killed Mark to get Tom to help her dispose of Marks body.


The Painted Smile is very watchable and was made at a very interesting point in time. Jo and Mark are infinitely more interesting than Tom, his fianc√©, and his school chums. If they had a talking Great Dane you'd almost think you were watching a Scobey-doo cartoon.   

It's no masterpiece and got mixed reviews. Watchable its streaming on YouTube 6-6.5/10. 

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