1948’s Blonde Ice tells the story of Claire Cummings (Leslie Brooks), the society columnist for a San Francisco newspaper. Almost every man that Claire meets falls in love with her.
Les Burns (Robert Paige), the paper’s cynical sports reporter? Les is so in love with Claire that he keeps getting involved with her despite the fact that she cheats on him with almost every man that she meets.
Al Herrick (James Griffith)? Yep, he’s still in love with her too.
Carl Hanneman (John Holland), one of the wealthiest men in San Francisco? Carl is so in love with Claire that he’s willing to marry her even after he catches her kissing Les on the day of the wedding!
Congressional candidate Stanley Mason (Michael Whalen)? He’s so in love with Claire that he’s willing to sacrifice his political career just to be with her.
How about Blackie Talon (Russ Vincent), the pilot who witnesses Claire doing some things that she probably wouldn’t want the world to know about? Well, Blackie never gets around to declaring his love for Claire but his obsession with blackmailing her is probably just his way of dealing with the massive crush that he has on her.
The only person who doesn’t appear to be in love with Claire is Dr. Kippinger (David Leonard), a psychiatrist who immediately picks up on the fact that Claire is cold and manipulative. There’s a reason why Les refers to her as being …. can you guess? …. “Blonde Ice!”
Of course, even with all of these men falling in love with her, no one loves Claire as much as Claire loves herself. Claire is a narcissist and a sociopath and she has no problem killing one lover and framing another for the crime. In fact, it’s something that she attempts to do several times over the course of Blonde Ice. Claire, it has to be said, is pretty clever about it too. Her natural ability to manipulate, combined with her total lack of empathy for anyone but herself, makes Claire a dangerous character.
Blonde Ice is somewhat obscure as noirs go. It was clearly a poverty row production, with only a 74-minute running time and a cast largely made up of obscure contract players. And yet, Blonde Ice is a personal favorite of mine, largely because of the ferocious performance of Leslie Brooks. Brooks rips into the role of the femme fatale, delivering her cynical lines with aplomb and murdering anyone who gets in her way. Considering that this film was made in 1948, I was actually a bit shocked at just how high the body count climbed in just an hour and a few minutes. Claire is basically willing to kill anyone and the film often seems to take a perverse delight in showing how easily she can convince others of her innocence. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is that Claire attempt to frame the same man for not one but two murders and, even after all that, he still doesn’t seem to be emotionally capable of telling her to get out of his life. In a world of weak men, Claire comes in, takes control, and offers up no apologies.
Obscure though the film may be, Blonde Ice is an enjoyable noir and can be found on YouTube.