Cast & Crew
Vera Parkinson masterminds a bank robbery and, along with her sister Helen and accomplices Joyce Johanneson, Marie Williams and Agnes Clark, all disguised as men, steals $200,000. Upon their getaway, a trussed employee attempts to trip the alarm, causing Vera to pistol-whip him brutally. Vera and Joyce then bury the loot outside an abandoned shack, planning to let the case cool down for two years before they retrieve it. The next morning, at the nightclub Vera owns, Vera seduces a new delivery boy and then visits Agnes. Agnes, who is employed by the bank, has heard that the employee Vera wounded is in a coma, and is hysterical with fear that they will be caught. Vera soothes Agnes with sleeping pills but, while the girl is asleep, asphyxiates her with gas from the heater, then arranges the room so the death appears to be a suicide. She then visits Marie, a hairdresser who is concerned that Helen may be too young to handle the pressure of their secret. Vera, who is fiercely protective of her sister, dismisses Marie's fears. Meanwhile, Lt. Bill Hanley investigates Agnes' death by stopping by the club, where he finds himself attracted to Helen, who is practicing her singing act. When Vera returns, she appears convincingly aghast when informed of Agnes' death and agrees to testify at the inquest. Later, Vera loans Helen a skimpy dress to wear during her performance, but when she discovers that Bill has sent Helen a corsage, she orders her to stay away from the policeman. Bill comes to see Helen perform that night, and Marie, an alcoholic, pickpockets his wallet before Vera can warn her of his profession. Vera manages to return the wallet to him, and later maneuvers Helen so Bill cannot speak to her alone. At the end of the evening, Vera, Marie and Joyce go upstairs to Vera and Helen's apartment, where Marie mourns Agnes and Joyce worries about Bill's presence at the club. After Marie leaves, Joyce guesses the Vera killed Agnes, prompting Vera to threaten Joyce with a knife. At Agnes' inquest, Vera lies persuasively, then refuses Bill's offer to take her and Helen to dinner. When Bill looks for Helen at the club that night, however, the cigarette girl informs him that she is at the movies, and he is able to spirit Helen out on a drive without Vera's knowledge. The couple soon fall in love, and see each other in secret over the next few weeks. One morning, a drunken Marie visits Joyce and guesses that Vera has killed Agnes and will soon kill them, too. Joyce puts her to bed, then leaves for work as a masseuse. On the street, she spies Helen and Bill, and immediately informs Vera. To verify Joyce's story, Vera phones Bill's apartment and pretends to be a nurse calling to inform Helen that Vera has been hurt. Helen rushes home and, appalled to uncover the deception, proclaims that Vera cannot keep her away from Bill. Vera slaps her, causing Helen to rush to Bill's house. Joyce, who has witnessed the scene and is worried that Vera is allowing Helen too much liberty, borrows Vera's car and secretly follows Helen. At Bill's apartment, Bill comforts Helen and proposes, and in response she warns him that, after he returns from his upcoming business trip, she must tell him a story "that isn't pretty." She drops him off at the airport and drives home, not realizing that Joyce has damaged her tire. When Helen stops to examine the tire, Joyce, driving Vera's car, runs her over a cliff. The next morning, Vera discovers that Helen is missing and assumes that she has run off with Bill. Days later, Marie, drunk once again, confronts Vera, who she suspects is killing off the accomplices one by one. Marie insists on receiving her share of the loot, and although Vera agrees, she and Joyce later kill Marie. Upon returning to the club, Vera learns that Helen, who survive the crash, is in the hospital in a coma. She races to Helen's bedside, and when Helen awakens and blames Vera for trying to kill her, Vera realizes that Joyce is the culprit. As Helen reveals her involvement in the robbery to Bill, Vera chases Joyce to the shack, where the two struggle. Vera shoots Joyce, who manages to strangle Vera before dying. At the hospital, not knowing that the rest of the robbers are now dead, Bill reassures Helen that her cooperation with the police will earn her a suspended sentence, allowing them to marry.
Monica Elizabeth Henreid
Edward B. Barison
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Ruby R. Levitt
Robert E. Smith
The Gist (Girls on the Loose) - THE GIST
Girls on the Loose (1958) was one of the few completed releases for Jewell Enterprises, a short-lived production company also responsible for 1952's bizarre Untamed Women and, most famously, the Americanized 1956 version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (which included additional shots with Raymond Burr). The film was actually distributed by Universal Pictures, a studio prone to alternating its prestige titles with a healthy slate of horror, western, and exploitation titles. Though the title sounds a bit generic, the film is elevated by a strong, provocative lead bad girl in the form of Corday, who had already gone from a small role as a teen in juvenile hall in Problem Girls (1953) to leading roles in monster movies such as Tarantula (1955), The Giant Claw and The Black Scorpion (both 1957). Despite her strong showing here, she focused primarily on TV work afterwards (perhaps connected to her appearance the same year as a Playboy Playmate of the Month for October shortly after the release of < B>Girls on the Loose) and eventually took a two-decade sabbatical to focus on her marriage to actor Richard Long (star of TV's Nanny and the Professor) and their children. After her husband's death, she reappeared occasionally at the behest of her friend Clint Eastwood for roles in his directorial efforts including The Gauntlet (1977), Sudden Impact (1983), Pink Cadillac (1989), and The Rookie (1990) before a permanent retirement.
While the cast of Girls on the Loose may not offer any huge surprises, many film buffs might be quite unprepared for the name of its director: Hollywood veteran Paul Henreid. The Hungarian-born actor made the transition from minor German films to a substantial Hollywood role in 1939 with Goodbye, Mr. Chips and enjoyed a solid run of major hits capitalizing on his suave, debonair persona including Now, Voyager (1942), Of Human Bondage (1946), and his most enduring role as Victor Laszlo in 1942's Casablanca.
However, the 1950s proved to be a far more rocky transition than anticipated as he was blacklisted by Hollywood as an actor following an investigation by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Undaunted, Henreid jumped into directing after the respectable debut effort of 1952's For Men Only. In fact, 1958 saw another Universal "bad girl" film from Henreid, the equally lurid Live Fast, Die Young, about two sisters joyriding through a cavalcade of seedy '50s situations.
Henreid's surprising flair for pulpy genre tales propelled him into a busy career as a TV director (including notable stints on Universal TV properties like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Thriller), though he still returned to the big screen for the occasional directorial effort like Dead Ringer (1964, a gothic-laced noir with Bette Davis as a pair of twins). His occasional acting appearances were relegated primarily to "special guest star" status in titles such as Vincente Minnelli's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962), Operation Crossbow (1965), The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969), and a truly odd choice for his final film, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), after which he retired from the screen entirely.
Perhaps less surprising than Henreid's participation are two other names behind the camera who were just coming into their own at Universal and would both go on to become regular collaborators with director Blake Edwards. Girls on the Loose was also the very first credit for cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop, whose efficient and clean compositions on both of Henreid's 1958 films ensured a gig on Blake Edwards' popular TV series, Mr. Lucky. He went on to shoot every Edwards film through 1971's Wild Rovers before branching off for a wide variety of disaster films and movie projects for directors like Walter Hill, Sam Peckinpah, and Wes Craven.
Slightly more experienced at the time was composer Henry Mancini, who had been working as a second-string composer at Universal on films such as It Came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and This Island Earth (1955). He quickly came into his own in 1958, however, scoring not only the two Henreid films but another nine feature films including his big breakthrough, Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. He quickly became one of Hollywood's busiest and most popular composers, scoring all of Blake Edwards' films and scoring major chart hits with the likes of The Pink Panther (1964) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) as well as a string of hit instrumental pop albums.
As for the "girl gang" genre of which Girls on the Loose remains a proud member, the trend which had started roughly in 1952 with the simply-titled Girl Gang largely remained the domain of second- or third-billed drive-in titles for much of the decade thanks to the likes of Roger Corman's Teenage Doll (1957), the Ed Wood-penned The Violent Years (1956), and the bizarre 1966 favorite, Teenage Gang Debs. Eventually the genre began to mutate, fusing with bikers, truckers, and prison inmates (a few examples: She-Devils on Wheels ,Switchblade Sisters ,Truck Stop Women ,Women in Chains ,Reform School Girls ,Caged Heat , etc.). However, if you want to see this lucrative if disreputable segment of American cinema at the beginning of its peak period, look no further than this low-budget oddity from a truly unexpected auteur.
Producers: Richard Kay, Harry Rybnick
Director: Paul Henreid
Screenplay: Julian Harmon; Alan Friedman, Dorothy Raison (screenplay and story); Allen Rivkin (story)
Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Robert Emmet Smith
Music: Henry Mancini
Film Editing: Edward Curtiss
Cast: Mara Corday (Vera Parkinson), Barbara Bostock (Helen Parkinson), Mark Richman (Lt. Bill Hanley), Joyce Barker (Joyce Johanneson), Lita Milan (Marie Williams), Abby Dalton (Agnes Clark), Paul Lambert (Joe, bartender), Ronald Green (Danny, gigolo), Fred Kruger (Mr. Grant), Monica Henreid (Lili, cigarette girl), Jon Lormer (Doctor).
by Nathaniel Thompson
The Gist (Girls on the Loose) - THE GIST
The working title of this film was Take Five from Five. According to a October 4, 1957 Daily Variety news item, production company Jewell Enterprises assigned Paul Henreid to direct the film before they had secured a distributor. As noted in a October 22, 1957 Hollywood Reporter article, Universal acquired the distribution rights later that month. Although a November 25, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Roy Gordon to the cast, he was not in the released film. Daily Variety reported in July 1965 that Universal bought the full rights to Girls on the Loose and Live Fast, Die Young, also directed by Henried and produced by Harry Rybnick and Richard Kay (see below).