review for The Female Animal on AllMovie

The Female Animal (1958)
by Craig Butler review

The Female Animal is a muddled, tepid variation on a Sunset Boulevard theme. Unlike that classic, Female has no soul and precious little imagination; it's a pale imitation that gets lost in its own soap operatics, and while it does provide some enjoyment, it ultimately ends up as a disappointment. This is especially so because Hedy Lamarr turns in a performance that is at moments quite interesting and indicates a great deal of potential; one keeps getting the feeling that if the script had been stronger and if she had been given more incisive direction, she could have created a portrait that would have been quite impressive. Unfortunately, the weak script keeps getting in the way, as it also does for co-star Jane Powell. Powell is too old for her part here, but she gives it a good shot, and has one or two scenes that are quite good. George Nader is fairly unimpressive, but James Gleason does much better as the agent. However, the only truly successful performance is from Jan Sterling, whose secondary part of a has-been actress is delineated with a chilling accuracy that is entirely engrossing. Nothing else in Animal is as good as Sterling, but that combined with Lamarr's game attempt make it worth a glance from devoted fans of behind-the-scenes Hollywood flics.