20th Century Fox delivered its only 3D movie with 1953’s Inferno.
But don’t let that put you off.
In any dimension, Inferno is surprisingly bracing for a big studio commercial release, rife with sex, intrigue and infidelity.
It’s female star, Rhonda Fleming (seen above and below with lover played by William Lundigan), became something of a Fifties 3D Queen, tied for appearing in the most features shot in the format (three) with Patricia Medina, who also made 3D appearances in a trio of forgettable titles.
When it comes to Fleming, the reality behind the onscreen portrayals is confounding.
This talented actress, who graced a broad range of pictures in the late Forties and Fifties, was often presented as an unnervingly beautiful, sexy, unscrupulous vixen, testing the likes of Robert Mitchum, Dana Andrews and Robert Ryan, among others, in five of the best film noirs ever made.
Her acting resume includes such heralded titles as Out of the Past, Cry Danger, The Killer is Loose, Slightly Scarlet and While the City Sleeps.
In these pictures Fleming was usually a nasty piece of work, and not to be fooled with. For example, she costars with tough guy Ted DeCorsia as a blazing redhead in Allan Dwan’s 1956 thriller, Slightly Scarlett, and winds up blowing a hole in DeCorsia’s chest using a harpoon gun. Ouch!
Offscreen, Fleming was (and is; she is still with us at 96) a smart, savvy woman with her head screwed firmly in place. She is a generous donor to a host of worthy causes and charities, loves sports, the idea of adopting rescue dogs, is highly religious and politically conservative. She was one fine actress, one who exuded sufficient sex appeal to drive male characters to their doom.
Fleming’s distinguished noir work is in addition to her wide range of movies from comedies to sci-fi, an occasional Italian epic and westerns. And, yes, she really was discovered by an agent who actually asked: Have you ever thought of being in motion pictures?
Costar Lundigan is one of those stalwart leading men of the 1940s and 50s who’s forgotten today but shouldn’t be.
He began his career in the late 30s. Universal signed him, groomed him for a few years, then gave him a break casting him opposite Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls Grow Up. Then he moved over to Warners were he had small parts, usually as the kid brother (Olivia deHavilland’s in Santa Fe Trail) or the young recruit (The Fighting 69th).
His career was interrupted by his wartime service in the Marines. Then he apprenticed with B movies at Metro. When he moved over to 20th Century Fox he finally hit his stride in the late 40’s and early 50s when he starred opposite Jeanne Crain in Pinky, and June Haver in Love Nest (which featured the not-yet-star Marilyn Monroe.)
Lundigan costarred with Susan Hayward in I’d Climb the Highest Mountain –– a hit for the studio — but his best films (and the ones we recommend) are 1951’s The House on Telegraph Hill and Inferno.
In latter he’s the adulterous would-be murderer, with lover Rhonda Fleming, as they abandon her injured husband, Robert Ryan, to die in the oven called the Mojave desert. Lundigan isn’t perfect for the part, he’s a bit too straight arrow. He is, however, is serviceable at worst.
But Ryan, pictured at the top, is superb — as usual — in the part of the super dehydrated wronged husband. Our message: see Inferno. It’s a taut thriller 3D or no 3D.