Kim vs Sabrina

While I find my sea-legs en Amerique, here’s one I prepared earlier.


Since posting about my obsession with/craving for B-movie starlet Kim Parker from FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (“She has an unusual quality of intelligence,” said Fiona. That must be what I’m responding to), I’ve heard from my chum Diarmid, who runs The Unsung Joe, an astonishing investigation into the world of the bit-part player. Although Kim played actually roles with character names and dialogue, Diarmid has kindly dug up the dirt on this neglected — and mistreated — figure.


A small titbit to fuel your unhealthy obsession with Kim Parker, from an article from 1958:

“She [Carpenter] came to Britain in 1945 as a refugee from Vienna after being interned in a German concentration camp.”

I wonder what she did to annoy the Nazis. Jewish? Communist? Who knows?

The quote comes from a story about her attempt to divorce her husband, on the ground that he’d had an affair with someone called ‘Sabrina’. The proceedings didn’t go as smoothly as she’d planned, incidentally, as this story from a year later shows:



A British divorce court Judge today ordered Austrian-born actress Kim Parker to return to her Canadian husband within 14 days.
The court granted a decree for restitution of conjugal rights to the Husband, actor Paul Carpenter who lives in Britain. Miss Parker did not
contest the suit. Attorneys told the court she has started divorce proceedings against Carpenter in Nevada.
In 1958 Miss Parker started a divorce suit in London charging Carpenter committed adultery with Sabrina, a singer and showgirl with a 41-inch bosom. Sabrina — whose real name is Norma Sykes — intervened in the suit to deny the allegation. Carpenter denied it too and Miss Parker withdrew the suit.”

Fancy that: a decree for restitution of conjugal rights. If you ever find yourself wondering whether 1970s feminism *really* changed things for women, just remind yourself that a judge used to be able to command a woman to stop being difficult and go and have sex with her husband.

Anyway, that’s all that there seems to be on her in my usual places.

Thanks, Diarmid! A sobering and strange story.

Sabrina, incidentally, appeared in several ST TRINIANS films, playing a saucy schoolgirl, generally without benefit of dialogue. Not so much an actress as an exhibit.

Buxom — to the point of caricature — as she was, I can’t understand any man preferring her to Kim.

“Maybe she was better in bed?” suggests Fiona.

“Well, he couldn’t really use that as an excuse for cheating,” I suggest, “since how would he know?”



9 Responses to “Kim vs Sabrina”

  1. As long as we’re talking unsung players …

    Anyone written anything about Sonia Darrin, who played Agnes in the Hawksian “Big Sleep”? (“Did I hurt you much, sugar?” “You and every other man I’ve ever met!”)

    I know her as the receptionist in “Caught” and have half-memories of her in a middle-of-the-night viewing of “Bury Me Dead” (director: Vorhaus: cinematographer: John Alton) … but that’s about it.

    Always liked her, though.

  2. “Buxom to the point of caricature” eh?… Well I googleimaged said Sykes and bluddy hell you weren’t joking – those aren’t bosoms surely they’re Kenny Everett’s elbows. Oh and thank you very much for drawing my attention to “The Miracle of Flight”. Brilliant. I’d never seen it before (although I recognized a lot of the images from Gilliam’s book “Animations of Mortality” which I got for Christmas I think when I was five.) The whole cut-and-paste technology seems to have forced a wonderful dryness into this early stuff that’s totally missing from his direction of actual humans from Munchausen onwards. (He must have spent all of his time on the set of Brothers Grimm just shouting “Be more unrealistic and awful!”)

  3. Oh I remember Sabrina. She was the British version of Dagmar — an American television “personality” of no known talent save for “a balcony you can do Shakespeare from.”

    At the absolute nadir of his career Frank Sinatra founf himsself forced to cut a “novelty” record with Dagmar called “Mama Will Bark.” (Shades of “Rock Around the Rock Pile” in The Girl Can’t Help It)

  4. Did Dagmar actually bark on the record, accompanying Frank’s crooning? “Cause that would be kind of interesting. If you’re going for a nadir, might as well reall aim low!

    You can see in The Meaning of Life, where Gilliam had more money and people to do the work fro him, the animation gets more elaborate and less enjoyable. The forced aesthetic of cheapness was something he really made himself work well within. It’s a bit like John Carpenter’s music becoming horrible as soon as his synthesiser can make more than two noises.

    Gilliam claims Time Bandits was an effort to make a feature that matched his drawings, by casting people with the proportions of cartoon characters.

    One thing that really hurts Grimm is shooting in Eastern Europe, since Gilliam is unable to fill the cast with British comic actors in tiny roles. The Making Of book is a terrific insight into what he was up against with the Weinsteins, though.

    I enjoyed Bury Me Dead, but it’s not as nice as The Amazing Mr X. Darrin is very good, but Cathy O’Donnell gets the plum role of the erratic sister – those Vorhaus cheapies are the only films that gave O’Donnell something to do beyond being girl-next-door soft. Apart from They Live By Night, of course.

  5. Speaking of canine gestures …

    “Dancer In The Dark” will always have my affection, despite and/or because of its peculiarities, in that it’s the film where Catherine Deneuve barked like a dog.

  6. It was her tribute to Dagmar.

  7. Maybe it was her comment on the film itself.

  8. Complaining about Gilliam’s actors being unrealistic is like, I dunno, faulting a Dardenne brothers film for the absence of flying elephants.

    I agree about the absence of strong supporting players in Grimm, but for my money Munchausen features the most acceptable versions of Eric Idle AND Robin Williams on record. In Idle’s case that’s not saying much, but Williams really flies.

  9. Idle actually gets most of the laughs in that film, I think. The visuals are beautiful rather than actually funny, so it’s his reactins that provide the comedy. Williams works really well, in a role that would have gone to Sean Connery (!) if the film had been on schedule. Bob Hoskins would have had Ollie Reed’s role.

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