Wicked Woman (1953): Russell Rouse’s Film Noir, Starring Beverly Michaels and Richard Egan

Richard Egan was cast in his first leading role in Wicked Woman, a minor film noir in which he played a saloon owner and adulterous husband.

The scenario, sort of bargain-basement of “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” was written by director Richard Rouse and Clarence Greene.

Like many noirs, the tale begins with the arrival of Billie Nash (Beverly Michaels), a sexy blonde floozy, who drifts into town and gets a job as a waitress at a local bar.

She sets her sights on the bar’s handsome owner, Matt Banister (Egan), who is married to an older alcoholic woman, Dora (Evelyn Scott).

Billie plans for the two of them to sell the bar, take the money and go to Mexico.

All goes well until a short, older boarder (Percy Helton) at the rooming house where she is staying discovers her plans.  Soon, he begins blackmailing Billie, demanding that she gives him time and favors at night, after finishing work at the bar.

Caught offguard by Matt, who’s unaware of the scheming neighbor, Billie is attacked by him and dismissed as a “dirty tramp.”

At the end, Billie leaves town by bus, randomly choosing Kansas as her next destination.

Here is a noir with a femme fatale, who schemes and seduces, but doesn’t get killed at the end, In fact, unlike most noir, no one get murdered or terribly hurt.

Beverly Michaels as Billie Nash
Richard Egan as Matt Bannister
Percy Helton as Charlie Borg
Evelyn Scott as Dora Bannister
Robert Osterloh as Larry Lowry
Frank Ferguson as Bill Porter



Directed by Russell Rouse
Produced by Clarence Greene
Screenplay by Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse
Music by Buddy Baker
Cinematography: Edward Fitzgerald
Edited by Chester W. Schaeffer
Production company: Edward Small Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date: December 9, 1953
Running time: 77 minutes


TCM showed the movie April 25, 2020.