Hot Blood (1956)

Genres - Adventure, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Adventure  |   Release Date - Mar 1, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Hot Blood may be a pretty lousy movie -- and believe me, it is -- but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a certain entertainment value. To start off, it's directed by Nicholas Ray, and even if the result isn't one of his better films, it still has a distinct and unusual flavor to it. It also has one of the most deliciously garish color schemes ever seen, a lurid, gaudy celebration of hues that is really quite something to see. It also has in Jane Russell and Cornel Wilde two very physically attractive performers who do add to the beauty quotient whenever they're onscreen. What Blood doesn't have is a coherent plot or a cohesive tone. Apparently, Blood started out as a serious study of the gypsy subculture in America. But somewhere along the way, a ridiculous love story got grafted onto it, and the film suffers from an identity complex: is it about gypsies or is it about Hollywood's conception of gypsies, two very different things? Ray's work has its usual intensity, but it's like using a laser beam to crack open a peanut shell. For their part, Russell and Wilde try hard, but they're sunk by the material; only Luther Adler rises above it. Adler is miscast, but he's so persuasive that you almost forget that fact. The Ross Bagdasarian score is poor, to say the least, but some of the choreography is good. (Wilde, by the way, was athletic and limber but not a dancer, and much of his dancing is doubled by Matt Mattox.) Blood fails as film, but it has such energy to it that it manages to be quite enjoyable -- for a bad movie.