No Orchids for Miss Blandish (film)

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (US re-release title Black Dice) is a 1948 British gangster film adapted and directed by St. John Legh Clowes from the novel of the same name by James Hadley Chase.[2][3] It stars Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott and Linden Travers (reprising her title role from the West End play by Chase and Robert Nesbitt), with unbilled early appearances from Sid James, as a barman,[4] and Walter Gotell, as a nightclub doorman. Due to the film's strong violence and sexual content for its time, amongst other reasons, a number of critics have called it one of the worst films ever made.

No Orchids for Miss Blandish
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySt John Legh Clowes
Produced bySt John Legh Clowes
Written bySt John Legh Clowes
Screenplay bySt John L. Clowes
Story byJames Hadley Chase
Robert Nesbitt
1942 (play)
Based on1939 book by James Hadley Chase
StarringJack La Rue
Hugh McDermott
Linden Travers
Walter Crisham
Music byGeorge Melachrino
CinematographyGerald Gibbs
Edited byManuel del Campo
Distributed byRenown Pictures Corporation (UK)
RKO Radio Pictures (US)
Release date
  • 13 April 1948 (1948-04-13)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Miss Blandish (Linden Travers), a sheltered heiress, is targeted for a simple robbery by a cheap thug who ultimately involves two groups of rival gangsters, their goal being her diamond jewellery worth $100,000. The robbery is botched when Riley (Richard Nielson) kills her bridegroom and the three would-be robbers decide to kidnap Miss Blandish for ransom instead (her father is worth $100 million).

The three original kidnappers are killed, and Blandish ends up the captive of the Bailey gang. Her father puts a private detective on the case. The rival Grisson gang, led by Ma Grisson (Lilli Molnar), intends to collect the ransom and kill Blandish rather than take the risk of releasing her. Meanwhile, Slim Grisson (Jack La Rue) and Blandish fall in love and plan on running off together.

Blandish sends the diamonds to her father with a note saying she is in love with Slim, but he refuses to believe it. Ma Grisson is shot by rival gangsters when she cannot get Slim to the phone. The police surround the cabin where Slim and Miss Blandish are holed up and gun Slim down, "rescuing" the kidnap victim and returning her safely home. She throws herself from her balcony over the loss of Slim.



Phillips wrote that "It is a matter of record that [the source novel] was heavily indebted to Sanctuary for its plot line."[6]

Jane Russell was sought for the leading role.[7] The part was eventually played by Linden Travers.

The film was meant to be the first of eight films shot in Britain that were set in America. James Minter was the executive behind the idea.[8]


The British Board of Film Censors requested that a 45 second kiss be reduced to 20 seconds. They also requested a scene be reshot where a character was beaten to death, which cost the producers three thousand pounds.[9]


The film caused enormous controversy on its release, because of the high levels of violence that had got past the British film censors. Though made with a largely British cast, it was set in New York, with the actors often struggling with their American accents.[10]

No Orchids for Miss Blandish received strong criticism for its treatment of violence and sexuality.[11] Cliff Goodwin says that it was "unanimously dubbed 'the worst film ever made'" by British reviewers.[4] The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen". The Observer reviewer, C.A. Lejeune, described the film as "this repellent piece of work" that "scraped up all the droppings of the nastier type of Hollywood movie".[12] The Sunday Express film reviewer called No Orchids for Miss Blandish "the worst film I have ever seen".[13] The British film critic Derek Winnert quotes reviewer Dilys Powell as writing that the film should be ‘branded with a "D" certificate for disgusting’.[14] The Australian newspaper The Age also gave a harsh review: "No Orchids for Miss Blandish is not only a disgrace to the studio that made it, but it also reflects on the British industry as a whole...the entire production is unpardonable".[15] The film was also denounced by the Bishop of London, William Wand, and several UK politicians, including Edith Summerskill.[16] Despite this condemnation, the film was commercially successful.[12]

Later critics have been equally dismissive, though for different reasons. Leslie Halliwell described No Orchids for Miss Blandish as a "hilariously awful gangster of the worst films ever made".[13] Leonard Maltin in Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide states No Orchids for Miss Blandish "aspires to be a Hollywood film noir and misses by a mile".[17]

A number of cinemas refused to show the film.[18]

The film broke box office records in Britain in territories where it was not banned.[19]

Other versions

Another film based on the novel is The Grissom Gang by Robert Aldrich (1971).


  1. Variety April 1948
  2. "Variety" film review; 21 April 1948
  3. "No-Orchids-for-Miss-Blandish Trailer – Cast – Showtimes". 20 November 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  4. Cliff Goodwin, Sid James: A Biography. Random House, 2011 ISBN 0753546825, (p. 67-68).
  5. Phillips, Gene D. (Summer 1973). "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"". Literature/Film Quarterly. Salisbury University. 1 (2): 263–273. JSTOR 43795435. - Cited: p. 273.
  6. Phillips, Gene D. (Summer 1973). "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"". Literature/Film Quarterly. Salisbury University. 1 (2): 263–273. JSTOR 43795435. - Cited: p. 271, 273.
  7. "FILM FLASHES". Truth (2989). Sydney. 4 May 1947. p. 55. Retrieved 11 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "U.S. FILMS MADE IN U.K." The Mail. 36 (1, 867). Adelaide. 13 March 1948. p. 8. Retrieved 11 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "BITS AND PIECES". Warwick Daily News (8935). Queensland, Australia. 24 March 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 11 September 2017 via National Library of Australia. The Censors in London have asked the producers...
  10. Motion Picture Exhibitor review; 14 March 1951, page 3042
  11. "No Bouquets For "Miss Blandish"". The Sydney Morning Herald (34, 422). 19 April 1948. p. 1. Retrieved 11 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Outrage: No Orchids for Miss Blandish" by Brian McFarlane in British Crime Cinema, edited by Steve Chibnall, Robert Murphy. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-16870-8 (pg. 37-50).
  13. Halliwell's Film Guide, HarperPerennial, 1994, ISBN 978-0-06-273318-4 (pg. 781).
  14. "No Orchids for Miss Blandish * (1948, Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott, Linden Travers) – Classic Movie Review 4766". Derek Winnert. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  15. "The Chiel's Film Review". The Age, 27 November 1948 (p. 5).
  16. The British Board of Film Censors: film censorship in Britain, 1896–1950. James Crighton Robertson. Taylor & Francis, 1985, ISBN 0-7099-2270-1 (p.174-5)
  17. Maltin, Leonard (2011), Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From The Silent Era Through 1965 (Second Edition). Penguin, ISBN 0452295777 (pg. 474).
  18. "1000 British Theatres Won't Show 'No Orchids'". The Newcastle Sun (9464). New South Wales, Australia. 1 May 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 11 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  19. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p210
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