Boys and Girls [2000]

Joan Collins defined the "Greed is Good" decade as Alexis Carrington on Dynasty, and became a pop culture icon in the process. This eye-opening boxed set recalls her formative years as a contract player for Fox studios. Movie superstardom eluded Motion Picture Magazine's Most Promising New Star of 1957, but these five films show her to mostly excellent advantage. Three are enormously entertaining, one is a guilty pleasure, and, in Stopover Tokyo (1957), a tepid Cold War drama costarring Robert Wagner, she seems to be channeling Elizabeth Taylor. The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) offers Collins one of her juiciest roles as Evelyn Nesbit, the wide-eyed chorus girl at the center of the real-life crime of the turn of the century, the murder of her married lover, architect Stanford White (Ray Milland) by Nesbit's unstable husband, Henry K. Thaw (Farley Granger). Another sure bet is Seven Thieves, with Collins holding her own opposite Edward G. Robinson, Rod Steiger and Eli Wallach as a "mantrap" with a seductive role in the $4 million heist of a Monte Carlo casino. The suburban sex farce Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys (1958) is dated, but naughty good fun, with an intoxicating Collins as a bored housewife with designs on neglected husband Paul Newman. Sea Wife (1957) stars Richard Burton at his brooding best as a man desperately seeking to reunite with the woman with whom he was once shipwrecked on an island. Little does he know that she is a nun. Collins is a bit at sea herself in this film's more melodramatic moments, but there are tantalizing glimpses throughout this collection of the prime time diva to come, as in the The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing when a cooly contemptuous Nesbit finally stands up to Thaw's family, or in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys, when she surprises Newman' in his hotel room, just as his own wife (Joanne Woodward) arrives unannounced at his door. --Donald Liebenson

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