A Dangerous Dame’s Debut

Carol Ohmart

I believe no less an authority on such things than the Film Noir Foundation’s quarterly magazine Noir City consider The Scarlet Hour from 1956 the end of the classic cycle of films noir. I’ll leave that up to film scholars.

The Scarlet Hour Lobby Card

Directed by none other than the great Michael Curtiz, the film was supposed to launch the career of Carol Ohmart (1927 – 2002), a Seattle/Spokane beauty pageant contestant who’d been modeling for famed comics illustrator Milton Caniff as “Copper Calhoun” in his Steve Canyon strip, and who the studio was already promoting as a “female Brando” and the next Marilyn Monroe. But every blonde starlet was probably billed as the next Monroe then. Apparently playing a manipulative, alcoholic schemer didn’t endear Ohmart with movie goers, since she was dropped by Paramount shortly after, and her career never really took off quite as planned. Many know her best as Vincent Price’s nasty wife in The House On Haunted Hill. But I say she made one hell of a great femme fatale in her film debut, even if some highbrow critics claim that The Scarlet Hour was a lackluster finale to film noir’s original classic era.

The Scarlett Hour B&W

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