Friday, November 26, 2010
I just finished watching our Joyce Compton in her 1935 actioner Suicide Squad. Joyce appears lovely and confident in the leading lady role here, but that's about the best thing I can say for this routine bottom of the bill filler. Norman Foster, who usually played cocky young men, stars as a cocky young fire recruit whose initiation into the department is all the more daunting since he's dating the fire chief's daughter. This short b-movie is shoddily directed and weirdly paced - with interminable dialogue scenes sandwiched between documentary footage of real building fires. It has the feel of being shot in a series of single takes, with the actors often reciting their lines out of the range of a camera that rarely if ever budges. Norman Foster is an affable enough lead, but the character he plays is so misguided and downright stupid that it's hard to care about the guy - even after he redeems himself in the end!
Joyce completed this independent production in the period just before finding her niche as a comedic "dumb blonde." She is subdued and effective in her relatively few scenes opposite Foster, Robert Homans, and Aggie Herring (the latter two playing her parents). For such a threadbare production, she looks striking in several chic outfits. No doubt this must have been one of the films in which the actress supplied her own wardrobe.
Suicide Squad received a no-frills DVD release from Alpha Home Video in 2008; buy at Amazon.com here.