Original Airdate: January 15th, 1972
Sometimes you run into something so (wonderfully) bonkers, you are left a little beyond words. When the thing that is loopy happens to be a TV movie, you can sometimes count on the late great Alvin Marill to help clear things up. To quote his entry from Movies Made for Television on the 1972 telefilm Madame Sin:
In her initial movie for television, Bette Davis is a ruthless, all powerful mystery woman who abducts an ex-CIA agent and forces him to help her steal an ultra-modern Polaris submarine.
Thank you Alvin, this gets us started. I mean, sure that description is outlandish, but where does the bonkers come into play, you ask? Well, first of all Davis is a half-Asian evil-doer residing in a Scottish castle. She has holograms of musicians playing enormous round harps, and her underground laboratory looks like the sinister workings of a Progressive auto insurance advert!
|Flo from Progressive in 30 years|
|Evil never looked so strangely fab!|
|I'm here all week, guys.|
|A board meeting of EVIL! Malcolm must be taking notes off camera|
Davis also felt that despite forty plus years in the biz, she was working on a role that that was fresh. In her interview with Sight and Sound she said, “This film is a new experience for me. For one thing, it‘s a crime fantasy and usually I like to find some way of relating to my characters. But how can you relate to someone as outrageous as Madame Sin? So I have to invent all the time. It’s fun.”
|Life is good when you're this wicked!|
Madame Sin: It’s so disappointing to beat men. They never admit when they’ve lost. Unlike myself. But I’m never faced with the problem of losing because I always win.
Malcolm: Well I’m with you. That is if I understand you correctly, which seems highly improbable.
|Evil harpist must be a resume builder...|
|Location, location, location!|
Its premiere on American television went over much better critically, although Davis’ TVM debut didn’t set the world on fire (shame on us!). Kevin Thomas of the LA Times said Madame Sin was “lots of fun,” and he enjoyed the “handsome production.” Still, the ratings were average, and the TVM drew an 18.4/24. Not horrible but much like its West End run, it was only OK.
|Promotional still used in Sight and Sound magazine|
Classic TV Blog Association's Classic TV Villain Blogathon. Get the full list of participants with links to their articles here. And, enjoy!
*And thank you to Gore Blimey from the Trilogy of Terror podcast for helping me with information regarding Glengorn Castle. You're the best!