One year, one film: 1961
A Cold Wind in August, dir. Alexander Singer
Starring Lola Albright
Recommended | HIGHLY RECOMMENDED | Must-See
A Cold Wind in August may have been independently produced on a low budget, but it would give Lola Albright what she considered to be her best role of all time, per a 1960 interview with The Los Angeles Times.
Albright stars as Iris, a thirty-something burlesque dancer who lives in New York City but works outside of the city in attempt to maintain some sense of privacy. Her estranged husband wants her to start working in New Jersey, closer to home. She’s reluctant at first, but eventually agrees when he offers to finalize their divorce if she performs.
Before starting her short stint in Jersey, Iris meets Vito, the 17-year-old son of her apartment building’s super. The two have a fling, and things get complicated.
I reviewed A Cold Wind in August in 2013 and was impressed by the way it explored a “May-December” romance without glamorizing it. The issues within the relationship are explored beyond just society’s reaction to it, and Albright’s character is one of depth, elevating the film above what could have been a simple exploitation flick.
What did the critics of 1961 think about this film and its taboo subjects? Reviews seem to have been somewhat mixed, but the film did win over quite a few critics.
The New York Times gave the worst review of the film, calling it a “crudely obvious romance” and “not so hot,” only giving Albright props for “a few scenes” rather than her performance overall. Time also dragged the film, calling it “a nutty melodrama.”
Variety thought the film was “of considerable quality,” praising Alexander Singer’s “blunt and powerful realism” as well as the camera work. The New York Herald Tribune and Saturday Review each gave positive reviews as well, sharing my opinion that the film is more than your average exploitation flick.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly to those of us who are TCM devotees, Robert Osborne is apparently a fan of this film and considers it one of Hollywood’s very best depictions of a May-December romance. So, despite those mixed reviews, trust Robert O. and I, and give the film a watch!