Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 7: Lizabeth Scott in Dead Reckoning (1947)

One of the most popular stars of film noir in the 1940s and 50s was beguiling blonde Lizabeth Scott, known by the nickname “The Threat” for her resemblance to the similarly tall and husky-voiced Lauren Bacall. Scott made her film debut in the wartime romance You Came Along (1945, dir. John Farrow), made a big splash with the film noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946, dir. Lewis Milestone), in which she played second fiddle to Barbara Stanwyck, and finally became a leading lady with the noir Dead Reckoning (1947, dir. John Cromwell). Playing off of the supposed likeness to Lauren Bacall, Scott was paired with Humphrey Bogart for Reckoning. Cast (as usual for noir) as a sultry nightclub singer, Scott performs “Either It’s Love or It Isn’t,” although she is dubbed by Trudy Stevens, who also sang Scott’s vocals in the noirs I Walk Alone (1948) and Dark City (1950). It is not clear to me why Scott was so often dubbed when she could sing (she recorded an album, Lizabeth, in the late 50s) and her real singing voice sounds decidedly closer to her speaking voice (listen to “He’s a Man” from the Lizabeth record) than Stevens’ vocals did. Even so, Scott’s allure in Dead Reckoning is indisputable as she slinks across the dance floor in a black gown designed by Jean Louis (who also designed Rita Hayworth’s celebrated “Put the Blame on Mame” dress from Gilda the previous year).

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