THEY WERE SO YOUNG. US title of Mannequins fŁr Rio. 1954-1955, Corona Filmproduktion [Germany]/ Lippert Productions [US]. Johanna Matz, Scott Brady, Ingrid Stenn, Raymond Burr, Gisela Fackeldey. Director: Kurt Neumann.


   One wonders, when one often does it situations such as this, why on earth Scott Brady and Raymond Burr found themselves in a German movie about (of all things) white slavery in Brazil. There is only one answer. The second and third do not count.

   The production code in the US would not even allow the movie to be shown over here, or so Iíve been told, until some scenes were added at the beginning and end to change the emphasis from prostitution to everyday ordinary racketeering. (The scenes are not included in its recent repackaging for DVD, thank goodness.)

   Iím referring to a box set called Forgotten Noir, Series 1, and I can tell you frankly that if one of the leading players weren’t in it, Raymond Burr, an absolute icon of film noir in his pre-Perry Mason days, this movie would still be forgotten, Scott Bradyís presence 100% notwithstanding. Brady made some good movies, but a heavyweight in the genre of film noir, heís not.


   The idea is that young European women are enticed by ads in newspapers and magazines into becoming models for an agency that trains them, treats them well, then ships them off to Brazil while keeping their passports and other papers, then forcing them (in a high-class way) to becoming good friends with the male ďbuyersĒ who come to their staged and strictly phony fashion shows.

   One girl who rebels, Eve Ullmann (Johanna Matz), finds a friend and ally in American engineer Richard Lanning (Brady), whose boss Jaime Coltos (Burr) he does not realize is really behind the racket. Donít worry. Youíll realize the same thing as soon as you see him (Raymond Burr, that is). Brady is a little slow on the uptake, but thatís OK. His intentions are good.


   So a noir film? No, not really, but if you wanted to stretch the point, I suppose you could make a decent case for it. All it really is is a low budget black-and-white crime thriller thatís moderately entertaining in its better moments, and having a plot twist or two in between. It falls to less than mediocre at other times, though, so itís your dime, and you can call it.

PostScript. I see that I didnít say much about Johanna Matz, who plays the innocent Eve Ullmann with a double-barreled combination of virtue and courage that the role required. I donít think it was an easy task. (She’s the girl on the left in the photo just above.)

   In all honesty, the more I think about it, if she hadnít been up to it, I donít believe that the story would have been palatable at all. (According to IMDB she appeared in about 50 German movie and TV productions; this may be the only one she was in that was ever released in the US.)