What’s Worth Watching: Femme Fatales with Posh Accents

Heat Wave
Courtesy Everett Collection
Heat Wave

More Hammer Noir marathon (Thursday, March 26, 8/7c, TCM)

British production company Hammer Films is best known for a series of low-budget Gothic horror movies shot in and around the same English stately home throughout the 1950s and 1960s. If an old film stars Christopher Lee as Dracula and looks like it was made for 15 cents by sneaking onto the set of Downtown Abbey after midnight, it’s probably a Hammer picture.

But the company also made several gritty films noir using American actors during the same period, and TCM has been rolling out the under-seen features since last year. Tonight’s lineup: Heat Wave (1954), Paid to Kill (1954), The Gambler and the Lady (1952), and Dead on Course (1954). And while they’re all worth a watch for their British take on American style (Heat Wave is basically The Postman Always Rings Twice: Across the Pond), The Gambler‘s added bonus is its supporting turn by a young Kay Kendell, who in the next five years would win a Golden Globe for Les Girls, marry Rex Harrison, and succumb to leukemia at age 32.