The Female Animal

The Female Animal is a 1958 American CinemaScope film noir drama film directed by Harry Keller and starring Hedy Lamarr, Jane Powell, Jan Sterling and George Nader.

The Female Animal
Directed byHarry Keller
Produced byAlbert Zugsmith
Screenplay byRobert Hill
Story byAlbert Zugsmith
StarringHedy Lamarr
Jane Powell
Jan Sterling
George Nader
Music byHans J. Salter
CinematographyRussell Metty
Edited byMilton Carruth
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 22, 1958 (1958-01-22) (New York City)
  • April 23, 1958 (1958-04-23) (Los Angeles)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

Although she lived until 2000, this was Lamarr's final film in a Hollywood career of nearly 30 years.


Movie star Vanessa Windsor is nearly struck by a camera on the set, saved at the last second by Chris Farley, a handsome extra. A cut on his arm is attended to and Vanessa invites him to dinner at her Malibu beach home, where she clearly has designs on him for a night of romance.

Their evening is interrupted by a message that Vanessa's grown daughter, Penny, is sick. Vanessa rushes to her only to find that Penny is drunk, not ill. A hostile Penny accuses her mother of adopting her simply for the publicity.

Vanessa decides to offer Chris a job as caretaker at the beach house. He is considering an offer from a friend, Hank Lopez, to shoot a film in Mexico, but the job pays nothing, so Chris accepts Vanessa's offer instead. In time, they become lovers as well.

Not knowing who she is, Chris comes upon Penny being physically manhandled by a date. Chris punches the man and takes a tipsy Penny back to the beach house. She doesn't indicate any recognition of the home as her mother's. Penny is so drunk that Chris places her under a shower, whereupon she kisses him.

Vanessa begins having Chris as her escort in public, but endures disapproving looks as well as snide remarks from Lily Frayne, another aging actress out with a younger man. Chris resents being a kept man and Vanessa buying him a half-dozen new suits. He decides to do the film in Mexico, but by now, after Penny reveals her true identity, he ends up having a fling with her and becomes unsure what to do.

A jealous Vanessa catches him speaking with Penny and sarcastically congratulates him on landing both mother and daughter. A depressed Vanessa later tries to kill herself. Chris rescues her again and she assures him that she will not try it again, but once he leaves, she sobs into her pillow.



The Female Animal was the "A" picture that was distributed as a double-bill with the "B" picture being Orson Welles's Touch of Evil.

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