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DVD review: The Painted Smile (1962) / Rag Doll (1958)

Painted We're big fans of Odeon, who never cease to surprise us with lost British classics that, quite honestly, we've never previously heard of. And that includes the two movies it has just made available on one disc - The Painted Smile and Rag Doll.

Both are b-movie features from the archives of the Mancunia Film Company, both directed by Lance Comfort and both packing an awful lot into their relatively short running times. First up is The Painted Smile, a film that's perhaps most notable for its cast - as well as starring early 60s siren Liz Fraser, it also gave an early opportunity to both David Hemmings and Nanette Newman. Not a bad little story either.

Jo Lake (Liz Fraser) and Mark Davies (Peter Reynolds) are a couple working a scam at the nightclub where Jo works. She picks up a mug punter, gets the money off him, with Davies appearing to scare them off. It's worked a dream and one more 'victim' and they're leaving town. She leaves and finds a group of students splashing the cash, picks up the most affluent (Tom, played by Tony Wickert), leaving the rest (including Hemmings) with the other hostesses.

As Davies waits at the flat, he doesn't realised that his scam has been rumbled, with nasty crime boss (and club owner) Kleinie (Kenneth Griffith) on his tracks to bump him off. When Jo returns with Tom, she's faced with a body. Threatening to frame Tom, he's forced to dump the body, but gets caught in the act. Will the police catch him? Can his friends prove his innocence? Or will Kleinie get to Tom first? All will be revealed at the end of an action-packed 60 minutes that's both engaging and without a dull moment. Good stuff.

The other film on the disc is the slightly earlier Rag Doll, a classic girl leaves small town and heads to London tale. This particular teenage rebellion is centred around Carol (Christina Gregg), who leaves her drunk uncle (Flynn, Patrick Magee) for the bright lights of the big city. She's befriended by 'auntie' (Hermione Baddeley) and cafe owner Mort Wilson (Kenneth Griffith), gettng a bed, a job in the cafe and with Wilson, an admirer too. It's all going well - then she falls in love.

The man in question is Shane (Jess Conrad), a bar singer and small-time gangster and before she knows it, she's married, living with Shane and pregnant. It's only then that she discovers the 'real' Shane when a robbery goes wrong. Can they start a new life in a new country with the cash - or will love's young dream come to an abrupt end?

Rag Doll is certainly a cut above the average supporting flick. Throwing in everything from teen rebellion and petty crime through to some slushy romance and a bit of late 50s pop, it's also another movie that efficiently packs in a solid plot, tying up all the loose ends in just over an hour. If you're a fan of vintage London locations, you'll get your fill of those here too.

Two films, neither classics (these are b-movies after all), but both offering up above average period entertainment that any fan of the era will love. And available for under a tenner - now there's a great deal.

Find out more about the DVD at


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