Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pamela Tiffin ~ Harper (1966)

This is the first in a short series about '60s actress Pamela Tiffin, with whom I have a developing fascination.

Harper (1966) is cool. Cool is the best word I can use to describe it. This adjective can be applied to the story, Paul Newman, Pamela Tiffin, the set decor, the designs, the clothes, the cars and the locales. Lew Harper (Paul Newman) is a cool private detective who has been having some bad luck lately. His wife Susan (Janet Leigh) wants nothing to do with him and business as a detective has been kind of slow. His lawyer-friend Albert Graves (Arthur Hill) gets him a juicy job searching for Richard Sampson, the missing husband of an invalid millionairess (Lauren Bacall). Harper sets out to look for the drunk millionaire along with playboy pilot Alan (Robert Wagner) and Sampson's hot daughter Miranda (Pamela Tiffin). Harper encounters a medly of strange characters along the way, including Julie Harris as an addict and Shelley Winters as an out of work entertainer, and finds out the sordid details of Sampson's life and the people in it.

Pamela Tiffin's role as Miranda is vastly different from the ditzy brunette roles of the other films I've seen of hers. Miranda Sampson is a bitter and jaded rich girl. She's had a difficult relationship with her father who had an obsession with money, women and booze. Her daddy issues prevent her from having healthy relationships with men. Lawyer Albert Graves is in love with her but she keeps him at arms length only until she needs him. Cool detective Lew Harper is new and exciting and she keeps chasing him even though he rejects her advances everytime. Then there is playboy Alan. Their relationship is purely physical, a way for both of them to pass the time in their otherwise boring lives.

Like most jaded rich characters, Miranda enjoys pushing boundaries and testing people. There is a numbness that comes with privilege and Miranda is desperate for something, anything that will awaken her senses. Driving fast cars and toying with people are among her hobbies. Her step-mother is a constant target of a barrage of insults which are fired right back at her. Miranda needles Harper about his impending divorce and he delivers the great line You've got a way of starting conversations that end conversations.

Pamela Tiffin also tests the limit of gravity by dancing to some cheesy '60s music on a diving board. Now I leave you with some pictures from the film of this breathtakingly beautiful actress. Enjoy...


  1. Yay! Paul Newman's late 60's movies are the defenition of cool in my book. The coolest, acording to me being The Thomas Crown Afair made the year after this one. Pamela Tiffin is new to me but you're right, she's definitely a stunner!

  2. This does look very cool. I just added "Harper" to my Netflix queue, and can't wait to watch! I'm a huge Paul Newman fan (and may well become a Pamela Tiffin fan, too). Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Harper might just be my favourite detective movie of the Sixties. Paul Newman was exceeding cool and Pamela Tiffin was incredibly beautiful. They were a perfect combination. In fact, I am not sure even the Bond films of the era had a lead actress quite that good looking!

  4. Pamela was also in a very early episode of The Fugitive with David Janssen; I think the title of the episode had something like "Little Egypt" in it.

    Newman was certainly the definition of cool when I was a teenager in the 60s. Connery as Bond was make-believe cool, but Newman was the real thing and everybody knew it, especially after Cool Hand Luke.

  5. Now we're talking! Glad you enjoyed HARPER, Racquelle! It's in my opinion one of the best private eye films of all time, and as you say, Newman just oozes cool, and I love how he pops the ultra-glib dialogue out around his aggressively chewed gum.

    Tiffin is at her sultry best in it. It's a pity she didn't make more films of this caliber.

  6. What a cast! I'm really looking forward to finding this one. I can't believe I haven't seen it yet!

    Pamela sure grew up after State Fair. :) No more good little girl!

    Love the new layout, btw!


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