When You Get Really Close to a Movie Screen, Film Emulsion Looks like…
Boiling Sand

Earlier this week I had dinner with a friend who told me a couple of Christmases ago, he was in Paris drinking champagne with Olivia DeHavilland at her apartment.

Well, I’ve never done that, but once I was in the same convention hall with Beverly Garland.

I was working on an Alzheimer’s documentary, so the rest of the crew and I were covering an AARP convention in Atlanta to get some sound-bites on the subject.  The day had been a tight schedule and we got there just as the big pow-wow was dispersing.

Making my way through the crowd, I picked up a crumpled activity program from the floor.  I noticed that Beverly had been keynote speaker just a few minutes before.

The images of Garland, perky-titted and fighting space aliens, flooded my brain.  Memories of those Saturday afternoons in front of the TV, and weeknights when the family would go to the drive-in, poured kerosene on my ardor, and a kundalini rush of film-geek fandom consumed me.  I jumped on one of the hall’s ass-buster chairs and searched the crowd, but had no idea what she looked like 30 years after THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE.

So, I never got to speak to her — didn’t even get a glimpse.  But I can still feel the rush.

While many leading ladies in 1950s sci-fi would stand in the corner and shriek, Beverly Garland kicked ass against invading extra-terrestrials.  When the Big Bubba who looked like a giant cucumber in IT CONQUERED THE WORLD was …er… conquering the World, Beverly threw a shotgun in the back of her Caddy convertible and went off to plug it with buckshot (but before pulling the trigger, she hisses “You’re ugly!!” to the creature).

So yesterday I stumbled upon a DVD at the library called Drive-In Movie Memories.  The video is so-so but it does have soundbites from Beverly, who balances her frame of reference for those films with humor and matter-of-factness.  Best part:  she tells the interviewer she can really throw out a good scream and gives a sample.  SHE WASN’T LYIN’.

A leggy and armed Beverly Garland in SWAMP WOMEN

An armed and leggy Beverly Garland in SWAMP WOMEN

Whenever I drive north on 101 in L.A. to merge with the Ventura Freeway, I get a certain warm, bosom-y charge out of driving past the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn.

Here’s to you, Beverly.

BTW, did I mention she was righteously brilliant as the secretary in D.O.A.?

Doug from PostModernJoan

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2 Comments to “BEVERLY GARLAND, YOU ROCK !!”

  1. Ralph Benner says:

    Tuesday Weld claimed she’s at her worst in “Pretty Poison.” She’s not. What’s impossible to avoid is that when movie makers dare put Tuesday and real-life 3rd cousin Tony Perkins together, the danger of amusing psychomania swamping the atmosphere would be inevitable; they’re to the late 60s and early 70s what Sean Young and Patrick Bergin are to the late 80s and early 90s. But there’s some great piqué in Tuesday’s perilous relationship with Beverly Garland playing her mother. There’s no way not to enjoy the incautious slaps they slam each other with them, or fail to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime glee on Tuesday’s mischievous face when she discharges payback into Bev.

  2. Doug says:

    Yes, there are some great moments in PRETTY POISON. I don’t know who decided to cast Garland in that role, but it was a great choice.

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