You know what I mean, right? I'm talking about the tale of a woman of unquestioned beauty, so astonishingly attractive that she can launch a thousand ships to war. (I've always called this the 'Helen Of Troy' Effect, though I suspect someone wiser than I has a better name for it.) It's a phenomenon employed in thousands of genre films -- with a bit of variation -- like King Kong (1933), The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935), or even The Stepford Wives (1975) to a degree. I suppose the point of what some may deem misogynist overtones is that, yes, a pretty face can drive the sane or insane mind to do just about anything; and that sentiment has found a means to weave its way into our culture in thoughtful and even campy ways.
And speaking of camp? I'd like to tell you a little something-something about a little film called Robot Monster (1953).
Even in its day, Robot Monster was laughed at by critics and audiences alike. It's a bad film -- conceived poorly, shot poorly -- but despite our betters pushing us to embrace more intelligent features Robot Monster endures to this day. It's found a cult audience -- the kind of folks who aren't afraid to laugh at something that transcends lunacy -- and perhaps no one else is as deserving of the praise as the actors and actresses who helped 'sell' this thing to the audience, one of which was the lovely Claudia Barrett.
A California native, Barrett toiled away in obscurity until being contracted by Warner Bros. into their studio system. Essentially, her task was to fill in bit part after bit part within the corporate structure. As often happens in Tinseltown, her beauty pushed her higher and higher up the credit list until eventually she found prime billing status aboard Robot Monster. I suspect this little feature -- shot somewhere on a budget between $13,000 and $16,000 (I've seen different numbers) -- probably didn't light the right kinds of fires; and she disappeared back into the studio system. Her last picture was dated at 1964, and then she simply vanished from starring roles of any type.
I've scanned a few obituaries of the lady who passed recently. It would seem that she didn't leave Hollywood behind exactly so much as she found a calling that brought her greater hapiness: apparently she spent years with the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) in fostering the Oscars presentation for those scientific and technical awards which get their own separate ceremony and a brief recap at the big show. Good for her!
Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this lovely lady.