Whatever became of Beverly Michaels?
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Beverly was a formidable presence, especially seductive and threatening in the two pictures she did for Hugo Haas, before Hugo defected to Cleo Moore: Pickup and The Girl on the Bridge (both 1951). Haas was a true primitive: his films are threadbare in both budget and vision, the poverty of production inadvertently underlining the correlation of beauty with power in deceptive women. A lowly butterball, Hugo often cast himself as the naïve cuckold gone to seed after being bamboozled by gold digging sexpots. Pickup is a pastiche of elements from The Postman Always Rings Twice and La Bête humaine, Beverly marrying rail worker Hugo for his money while banging a young stud on the side. By the same token, The Girl on the Bridge borrows heavily from Woman in the Window. The combination of her allure with his antediluvian technique makes Pickup oddly compelling. Check her out giving the boys a show in this clip (that’s Hugo ogling in the straw hat):
Blatantly sexual, Beverly may have been too ‘too’ for the ‘50s. Unlike other actresses of the period who equated carnal bliss in the public’s mind—Marilyn, Kim Novak, Jayne Mansfield, Jane Russell, etc.—Beverly had no airs and employed no gimmicks. Hers is a raw sexuality, at once disquieting and enticing. The hardness in her face didn’t endear her to audiences, but her performances hint at dramatic and comedic talents that were never explored. She probably scorned the movies, perhaps savvy to the corporate manipulation that corrupts hearts and minds…the stuff that drove Marilyn crazy.
Trailer for Wicked Woman