There are actresses about whom enough can't be said. Hepburn and Davis are inarguably two of them. And then there are those, equally accomplished, whose careers receive precious little acknowledgement or recognition.
An excellent case in point is the fabulous Dorothy Malone, a staple of the 1950s who glided effortlessly through such dubious-sounding films as Gordon Douglas' "Young at Heart" (1954), Raoul Walsh's "Battle Cry" (1955), Frank Tashlin's "Artists and Models" (1955), Douglas Sirk's "Written on the Wind" (1956) and "The Tarnished Angels" (1958), Joseph Pevney's "Man of a Thousand Faces' (1957) and Robert Aldrich's "The Last Sunset" (1961).
And Charles Marquis Warren's "Tension at Table Rock" (1956) and Richard Thorpe's "Tip on a Dead Jockey" (1957). What titles!
For the sheer fun of it, Malone also did William Asher's highly disposable "Beach Party" (1963), paired with an also-slumming Robert Cumming.
But her best role was in Art Napoleon's missing "Too Much, Too Soon" (1958), a steamy biopic in which Malone played the rebellious Diana Barrymore to Errol Flynn's John. Naturally sensual, Malone specialized in characters who had an "itch" - an itch for men, an itch for sex, an itch for highs and an itch for risks and adventure. "Too Much, Too Soon" presented Malone with material that she knew best - and which only she could pull off.
You can't imagine anyone else in the role. Not Elizabeth Taylor. Not Joanne Woodward. Not Piper Laurie. Not Jean Simmons. Not Shirley MacLaine.
This is the only film that truly showcased Malone in which she is/was The Star and she rewards her director and the viewer to an intricate, multi-faceted performance that is at once exhilarating, scary and sad.
And she is ably abetted by Flynn, who is very moving as Diana's father, and by such B-level actors as Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Ray Danton and Martin Milner as the assorted men who flit in and out of Diana's life - and bed.
The maker of "Too Much, Too Soon," one Art Napoleon, is also a curiosity. He made only three films in his lifetime, the other two being "Man on the Prowl" (1957), his debut feature starring Mala Powers and James Best, and "The Activist" (1969) which, to the best of my knowledge, was never released. All three films were written by Napoleon's wife, Jo, who also worked with him on several TV shows - "Whirlybirds," among them.
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~photography: Warner Bros. 1958©