Watch Now: THE LADY IN RED
Years before John Sayles received his two original screenplay Academy Award nominations for Passion Fish and Lone Star, he wrote a crime story placed in the Great Depression-era about a poor farmer’s daughter who becomes a prostitute in Chicago and falls in love with the vicious John Dillinger. In 1979, this script became The Lady in Red, a mixture of action and drama directed by Lewis Teague. Failing to achieve any significant box office success, the film was re-released the very next year as Guns, Sin and Bathtub Gin, but only to similar financial results.
Starring Pamela Sue Martin and Robert Conrad, with a nice role played by Christopher Lloyd, Teague and Sayles’ film, however, definitely left a mark. Tarantino, for instance, labeled it “the most ambitious film ever made at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures”. “Not only do I think this thirties-era epic is Sayles’ best screenplay, I also think it’s the best script ever written for an exploitation movie,” Tarantino remarked. According to the director, he didn’t exactly have a lot of room to improvise or polish the final product. “I was given that script and told to go with it. I didn’t really have a chance to mold or change it. It was very socially conscious for an action picture about the Great Depression. I had 20 days to shoot it, and three to edit and a budget of less than a million.” At its core, it’s a close examination of a character’s rebellion against her strict religious upbringing which leads her to a life of crime, and Sayles and Teague do a really good job at telling this captivating story.