Cobra Woman. 1944. USA. Directed by Robert Siodmak. With Maria Montez. 71 min.
Having inspired Jack Smith, Charles Ludlam, Gore Vidal, and Mart Crowley, it only made sense that 1944’s Cobra Woman would get a screening at Club 57 on July 24, 1980. This Maria Montez movie, directed by Robert Siodmak, whose specialty was usually film noir, is one of the epitomes of 1940s Hollywood bizarreness. Like its Twentieth Century-Fox equal, The Gang’s All Here, it’s so supremely escapist that it becomes surreal. And surrealism was the underlying basis of Club 57. Maria plays twins, good and bad, on a fabulous tropical island. And one twin must win! It’s 1940s USA fluff, so you can guess which one wins, but the bad one has the best costumes and the ferocious cobra dance! And all in vivid, old-school, three-strip Technicolor that really is luscious. Let’s hope it will be converted into 3-D someday! Siodmak would, two years later, make his good-twin-bad-twin film noir The Dark Mirror with Olivia De Havilland. From American Directors: Volume 1 by Jean-Pierre Coursodon: ‘Cobra Woman…despite its utter silliness, may have been of more than routine interest to [Siodmak].’” (film notes by John Epperson).