Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The First Traveling Saleslady


A turn-of-the-century comedy starring Ginger Rogers, who was pretty much at the end of her movie career. She was 45, and really too old for this sort of role. She still had 40 years to live. She did a little television and appeared on stage, but her glory days were over. With the exception of the wonderful Monkey Business with Cary Grant, all her films of the fifties have a B-movie look to them. I know posters were often laughably lurid in those days (I once owned a William Faulkner paperback whose cover might as well have been for Erskine Caldwell), but take a look at the poster for Black Widow.

The movie wasn’t even good enough to finish. I bailed out halfway through. But I did stick around long enough to see James “Marshall Dillon” Arness, who had starred in a lot of second-rate pictures before this, the only one we remember being The Thing From Another World. He was the Thing. He was just starting a 20-year run on “Gunsmoke,” still the longest-running drama series on TV. Also about that point in the movie who should pop up but Clint Eastwood, in his first credited screen performance. He was 26 and looks even younger. He hadn’t done any of his spaghetti westerns yet. Also present is Carol Channing, looking so young I wouldn’t have recognized her except for her distinctive voice. I’ve always thought she was a little like Ethel Merman, just right for Broadway stardom, but too brassy for the movies.