|James Hadley Chase|
NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH
by James Hadley ChaseCavershamrag
1 April 2014
Released in 1948, the highly peculiar film adaptation by St. John Legh Clowes has mostly British actors put on unconvincing American accents, though at least Slim is played by US actor Jack La Rue, who not coincidentally had played the equivalent role in The Story of Temple Drake, Paramount’s 1933 adaptation of Faulkner’s Sanctuary. It makes for fascinating viewing as it tightens up and simplifies the plot and inevitably tones down the violence. It also, perversely but inevitably, softens the relationship between Slip and Miss Blandish, turning them into a very weird romantic couple to assuage the censors. But in fact this does not really change the book as much as it sounds as there is more than a suggestion in the book that Slim, no matter how horribly, is somehow filling a gap in Miss Blandish’s life and indeed offers her a way out. This is of course a pretty troubling way to look at a story of a kidnapping (and implicitly rape) and it may explain some of the critical opprobrium that was heaped on both the book and film.
Banned in several areas of the UK, the film was still a box office success that made into that year’s top 10. However, it was met with utter dismay by British critical establishment of the time, though they seem to have largely objected to the mere fact that a British film was trying to pass itself off as American (as opposed to the hundreds of examples from the time when Hollywood made films with very hokey depictions of Britain). Here are a few choice samples of what the critics had to say in 1948: