February 18, 2011

Coleen Gray: A Haiku Quartet

This post is part of the For the Love of Film (Noir) Fundraiser Blogathon. Go HERE to donate.

She was the quintessential "good girl" of Film Noir. While the scheming, murderous bad girls of noir got all the attention, Gray was quietly lending her talents to some of the key films of the genre, including KISS OF DEATH, NIGHTMARE ALLEY, and THE KILLING.

In fact, her performance in NIGHTMARE ALLEY is essential to the film. In a role that could have come off as cloying and one-note, Gray imbues Molly with a conflicted conscience and a grounded genuineness that makes her character's goodness feel real. The realness of Molly's goodness makes Stan's descent into ruin that much more tragic.

Here's my haiku tribute to the wonderful Coleen Gray.

Nice girl goes slumming.
Watch out for Tommy Udo,
Wheelchair assassin.

Electra the Amazing,
Cited for indecent exposure.
Say a prayer for the Geek.

Oh Leech Woman, your
John Wayne costar days are long
Gone! B-flicks pay bills.

Good Girl of Film Noir.
Such seedy stories. Who thought
She would find Jesus.


  1. Hahahah nice. I really like Coleen Gray. You don't hear much about her, but she brought something special to these kinds of noir good girl roles - and she was downright amazing in the underappreciated Leech Woman.

  2. Another Coleen fan! Thanks, Ed. :)
    And Ms. Gray is still going strong at 88 years of age. There's a good interview (conducted by Eddie Muller) with her on the 2007 KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL dvd where she talks about her career and the noir films she made.

    I will have to check out LEECH WOMAN again. I saw it ages ago on MST3K (before I even knew who Coleen Gray was).

  3. Aww that was on MST3K? It's much better than you'd think considering its title and its goofy B-movie premise. It's even kind of poignant - very Val Lewton-esque.

  4. How could the "Duke" leave her in the beginning of "Red River"? Every time I watch that film I hope JW takes her with him.

  5. I've moved LEECH WOMAN up to the top of my netflix! All I needed to read was "Val Lewton" and that was it. :D

    And yeah, Fredric, that opening sequence in RED RIVER is just heartbreaking. He doesn't even give a good reason for why he's leaving her, it's just "Sorry, you can't come, I'll send for you later." What the hell, Duke???

  6. I met Coleen a few years ago and we had a wonderful chat. Here's my post about this fine actress: