The Legend of Lylah Clare Screen 4 articles

The Legend of Lylah Clare

1968

The Legend of Lylah Clare Poster
  • Based on a TV movie of the week, the sweaty, overripe dialogue (“I’ll rummage through your soul like a pickpocket through a stolen purse”) and the odd effect of some dubbing turned off many contemporary reviewers and audiences, but a kinder view is that the heightening only bolsters Aldrich’s attack on the industry’s fraudulence. Like Zarkan manufacturing his new Lylah, Aldrich fashions his critique in the same style of its targets.

  • There’s no humor in this movie. How can you have a movie about Hollywood without a single laugh? The closest it comes is Peter Finch’s line, addressed to Elsa as she tries to descend the staircase in an elegant manner: “We’re moving like a deeply offended Tibetan yak!” Which doesn’t make any sense, it’s just a collection of words, with royal first-person plural and Peter Finch’s accent used to simulate wit. And without even the saving grace of being funny, Peter Finch’s character is a trial.

  • It is Kim Novak’s iciness that allows her to provide the magnanimity of her work in Legend of Lylah Clare, not only Aldrich’s definitive statement on the vacuity and decaying condition of studio-era Hollywood, but an intertextual work that directly references Novak’s role inVertigo, and the nature of films like Sunset Blvd. and A Star is Born.

  • The presence of Novak in a dual role summons the specter of Hitchcock's "Vertigo," but the real point here is Aldrich's contempt for a ruthless, grotesque industry. The movie ends with a borderline-surreal punch line that about sums it up: a dog food commercial and the image of a pack of ravenous canines chowing down.