Over-Exposed (1956): Lewis Seiler’s Crime Noir, Starring Cleo Moore and Richard Crenna

Lewis Seiler directed Over-Exposed, a B-level crime noir, starring Cleo Moore (in her penultimate role) and Richard Crenna.

Ambitious and vivacious Lily Krenshka is new in town and is arrested for working at a clip joint. She is told by the police to take the next bus out of town.

Krenshka asks photographer Max West to not print her arrest photo, and he offers to pay her for swimsuit poses,

Never one to overlook an opportunity, she learns the art of photography from him. Shortly after, she sets out for New York to start a new career, changing her name to Lila Crane at West’s suggestion.

A chance meeting with reporter Russ Bassett (Crenna) leads to meeting nightclub owner Les Bauer, who employs Lila as a ‘flash girl’ to take pictures at the club.

A newspaper gossip-columnist, Roy Carver, surreptitiously offers to pay her $5 for candid shots of important guests, which she shrewdly negotiates into $10.

After Crane gets a photo of Horace Sutherland, an attorney known for gangster clientele, together with his mistress, Crane extorts him for a job at Club Coco, a fancy nightclub with ‘more important’ patrons.

Flattering high-society maven Mrs. Payton Grange, a former client of West, with a good photo, Crane’s makes a name for her as photographer.

She quickly becomes well-known and well-paid, acquiring her own clients and contracts, and resisting Bassett’s offer to get her a steady, respectable job with his news-agency employer. She and Bassett develop a relationship, but he’s not happy about her drive for fame and money.

Bassett plans to leave for Europe after she rejects his marriage proposal. One evening, Grange dies on the dance floor at Club Coco. A photo Crane took of her collapsing is stolen by Carver and published, sullying Crane with her club boss. As a result, he fires her and most of her other clients follow suit.

Crane then shows Sutherland an incriminating photo she had taken at the club, of his boss “Backlin” and a rival crime boss, who had been murdered later that night. She offers to sell it to Sutherland for $25,000. Her attempt at blackmail gets her kidnapped by Backlin’s henchmen.

Realizing Crane is in trouble, Bassett rushes to her apartment where he disarms one of the kidnappers, forcing him to reveal where she’s held. Bassett then overpowers all three men and rescues Crane.

She reveals Backlin to the police despite the fact she could be jailed for withholding evidence. As they leave the police station, Crane decides to renounce her career in order to marry Bassett.

This film was released on DVD by Sony Pictures in 2010 as part of the Bad Girls of Film Noir Volume II, alongside with Night Editor, Women’s Prison and One Girl’s Confession.

 

Cast
Cleo Moore as Lily Krenshka / Lila Crane
Raymond Greenleaf as Max West
Richard Crenna as Russ Bassett
Jack Albertson as Les Bauer
Isobel Elsom as Mrs. Grange
Dayton Lummis as Horace Sutherland
James O’Rear as Roy Carver

Note:

TCM showed the movie on Jan 22, 2021.