Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Fantasy Girlfriend - Sheree J. Wilson

I have alluded before to my fatal weakness for red hair (I blame the Irish ancestry), and the lovely Ms Wilson is one of the prime exemplars of that type - at least in the one film I know her from, Sam Raimi's Crimewave. I don't think she's a natural redhead; she seems to have blonde or light brown hair in most later pictures I've seen of her; but in that film, she is the heart-melting paradigm of flame-haired beauty. Well, actually, her character is mostly rather annoying (all the characters in the film are rather annoying, which may be one reason why it flopped at the box office), but I have found myself lapsing into a crush on her anyway.

She has kept herself in fairly regular acting work for over 25 years, without ever breaking through to the big time. I don't think I've ever seen her in anything else (well, apart from the Coen brothers' Barton Fink, where I'd swear she has a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in an early restaurant scene, but that appears to be uncredited and doesn't make it on to her IMDB resumé). I gather she starred in the later years of Dallas (ha! I didn't even realise that was still running through the later '80s; thought it had been just a late '70s and early '80s phenomenon) and then had a recurring role in Walker, Texas Ranger (which, despite my many, many visits to the States over the last 20 years, I have managed never to see a single second of); and then a bunch of B-movies and made-for-TV fare. Crimewave may be the only 'proper' movie she's ever made; and that, unfortunately, became a notorious box office disaster. Here's the only clip I can find of her in it (looking ravishing in an evening dress) - suffering a date-from-hell with arch cad Bruce Campbell and then being ineptly "rescued" by well-meaning nerd Reed Birney (who looks disconcertingly like the racing driver Sebastian Vettel).

This was Raimi's first studio picture, after the huge success of his privately financed debut comedy horror flick The Evil Dead. He and his regular star, Campbell, have often bitched about how interference from the producers butchered the film they wanted to make (for example, in these interviews for Jonathon Ross's late '80s British TV series The Incredibly Strange Film Show), but it looks to me as if they have to take responsibility for the uneven script and weird concept themselves (it's a highly stylised, cartoonish black comedy, with a lot of rough slapstick in the style of The Three Stooges - challengingly sui generis). However, despite the film's slightly alienating oddity, if you give it a chance, it is darned good fun. There are a few sequences of pure genius in it, particularly those involving Paul J. Smith as the lumbering psychopath 'Crush'. This, for example...

This is a film I find myself going back to rewatch at least once a year, at times when I particularly need to cheer myself up a bit. And each time I watch, I have a little swoon over Sheree.


JES said...

I've never seen Crimewave and am not even sure I even knew it existed till now! (Did you check Wikipedia on it? It says there that the Coens co-wrote it. Huh.)

Froog said...

No, I hadn't thought look on Wikipedia. I think that autobiography of Bruce Campbell's must be worth a look.

I think this film is too relentlessly oddball, too sui generis to appeal to paying customers in the cinema. Everything about it is too over-the-top: the visual style, the somewhat sadistic physical comedy, the goofy acting, the cheesy dialogue - it's a struggle to know what to make of it. But in the comfort of your own home (with diminished expectations!), it's a winner.