Good Girls gone noir: Coleen Gray, Cleo Moore, Jennifer Aniston

Coleen Gray aka The Good Girl:

She could play the bad girl if she had to (her drug-dealing nurse is easily the best thing about the underbaked THE SLEEPING CITY), but Coleen Gray almost always played a dependable gal in a pinch.
She tried in vain to steer Sterling Hayden away from his final doom in THE KILLING, saved what was left of Tyrone Power at the end of NIGHTMARE ALLEY, and she helped John Payne wade through a river of thugs in KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL. Source:

Cleo Moore was born on Halloween, 1928 in Baton Rouge. At 15 she was briefly married to Huey Long's youngest son, and had very likely already assumed the sort of undulating corporeal proportions that can make a guy break down and weep. She would eventually set records for the longest filmed kiss on live television, run for governor of Louisiana and enter the world of real estate before dying of a heart attack at the age of 44.

Robert Ryan as Jim Wilson and Cleo Moore as Myrna Bowers in Nicholas Ray's "On Dangerous Ground" (1952)

But in the 1950s she was a star of sorts, the muse of eccentric Czech-born auteur Hugo Haas, slated at one point to star in a bio-pic of Jean Harlow, though I knew her only for her memorable cameo in Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1952). If we shave off just one of its four titles, the recently released Bad Girls of Film Noir, Vol. 2 could just as easily be titled The Cleo Moore Signature Collection.

Cleo Moore and Ida Lupino were co-stars in "On Dangerous Ground" (1952) and "Women's Prison" (1955)

The girls in these titles tend to not be all that bad, and the films certainly not all that noir. Too transparent for manipulation, Moore didn't play the femme fatale. At the start of Haas's One Girl's Confession (1953), Moore's waitress steals $25 000 from her scumbag employer, hides it, and thereafter turns herself in.

This strange tale of feminine self-reliance and the perils of coveting dirty money is highlighted by pleasingly bizarre plot twists and Haas's distinctive use of close-ups. It's a bit disappointing when Moore winds up content to be romanced by a horny fisherman, but in her private thoughts, conveyed through dreamy voice-over, she confesses that she's genuinely drawn to him. He has clean fingernails, she thinks: "From all that salt water, I guess."

"Married to the doltish Phil (John C Reilly), Justine’s bored. Bored at home. Bored at work. Then she meets passionate young checkout boy Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), and trips into a fiery affair.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Holden Worther in The Good Girl (2002)

Easily Aniston’s most accomplished screen performance, Good Girl finds the actress being bold and daring for the first time. Outside of her comfort zone, she’s electric as Justine – frumpy, miserable and borderline unlikeable. Ironically, it makes us like Aniston all the more. Source:

New publicity stills of Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Good Girl" (2002) directed by Miguel Arteta

Please, revisit my old post: Noir Tales