Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Lady In Cement
Sharks aren’t all Rome finds on his underwater search for sunken treasure. He also discovers the titular blonde, naked, feet wrapped in a concrete block, and a knife wound in her back. Rome reports the corpse to his cop pal Santini (Richard Conte, also returning from TONY ROME), but that isn’t the end of it. A menacing giant in a too-tight suit named Waldo Gronsky (Dan Blocker, seen watching BONANZA on TV in one shot) hires Rome to track down his missing lady friend. I wonder if the two women are connected.
LADY IN CEMENT takes itself less seriously than TONY ROME did, and the latter film wasn’t heavy drama. Sinatra’s wisecracks are pretty good (Albert was a terrific crime novelist), though most of the humor generates from Blocker, who has nice timing and knows how to use his size to great effect. Director Gordon Douglas (who worked with Frank on THE DETECTIVE and TONY ROME) shot the film in Miami Beach, but plods through it, failing to get the most out of his locations or his star. Sinatra was, of course, a fine actor when he wanted to be, but he didn’t want it as often as his fans wished.
The film’s portrayal of gay characters is typical for the era — uncomplimentary and mocking. What makes it worthy of note is Sinatra’s previous film, THE DETECTIVE, which was considered progressive in 1968 in its views of homosexuals. So it’s somewhat surprising to see Douglas and Sinatra take a step backwards in this regard.