La Cieca must first of all express how startled she is that this particular item didn’t appear first on NYC Opera Fanatic — after all, Lana Turner as Elisabetta in Don Carlo? Well, in fact, Miss Turner never did sing any Verdi, on- or off-stage (unlike her precursor Joan Crawford), but my goodness, doesn’t she just look the part?
It is only with slight disappointment that La Cieca notes that La Turner is not even pretending to be an opera singer here. It’s a moment from the beginning of the 1969 film The Big Cube, portraying Lana’s character, the celebrated stage actress Adriana Roman, performing one of her celebrated stage roles. (Now, that does seem like a missed opportunity, doesn’t it? I mean, with a name like “Adriana Roman,” why waste your time in legitimate theater?) Well, anyway, this little scena is only the beginning of a dramatic roller-coaster for Adriana/Lana. Before you know it, her stepdaughter’s skuzzy gigolo boyfriend (George Chakiris) will be spiking poor Lana’s sleeping pills with LSD in a sinister plot to drive the poor diva mad, mad I tell you.
Now, let’s see if La Cieca can remember why she brought all this up just at this particular moment. Oh, yes, now she has it. The Big Cube has just been released on DVD in a boxed set (like Proust!) fetchingly entitled Cult Camp Classics 2 – Women in Peril. The collection also includes our Joan’s theatrical swan song Trog and the echt women’s prison movie Caged.
Which reminds La Cieca: did you realize that an operatic version of Caged could be cast easily with the singers from Dialogues des Carmélites? (Mignon Dunn as Warden Ruth Benton? Lucine Amara as Matron Evelyn Harper? Régine Crespin as “Vice Queen” Elvira Powell?)