The Back Story behind This Year's Homage to Lustful Lesbian Pulp

Fresno-born Connie Slubowski was the rare female projectionist of the WWII era, having learned the trade from her father, Max. The Majestic Theatre chain hired her to run shows at its Tower Theatre in Los Angeles, replacing regular projectionist Bert Heinman, who was conscripted to serve in the Navy. Only 22, Connie projected shows flawlessly from 1942-1945 … but she found herself unemployed once Heinman returned from the South Pacific to reclaim the booth.

On May 2, 1946 Slubowski snuck into the Tower, knocked Heinman unconscious, bound him with rope, and assumed control of the booth for four days, projecting The Postman Always Rings Twice 26 times before being discovered. Heinman survived, and was about to press charges (kidnapping and attempted murder) when Majestic Theatre president Stanley Bates, 48, interceded, seeking to squelch negative publicity. Meeting Slubowski in a cell at the L.A. County Jail, Bates was smitten with her striking features and enticing shape. An arrangement was forged: Slubowski agreed to marry the exhibitor, who paid Heinman to drop all charges.

Stanley Bates and Connie Slubowski were married August 4, 1946. The marriage was a happy one—until Bates moved from exhibition into production, selling the theatre chain (to his wife's dismay) and investing in high-risk film projects. Amazingly, the movies were hits. Bates began to hob-nob with Hollywood high-rollers, wining and dining established actresses and young ingénues alike. By '51, the Bates marriage was a shambles and Connie, now 31, was lost and alone in her Hollywood mansion. She demanded a divorce, just to get on with her life.

Bates had his own ideas: He hired Los Angeles divorce attorney Linda Loring to dissolve the marriage and leave Connie nothing. Bates, however, had no idea who he was dealing with …

Linda Loring was actually the notorious P'Gelljewel thief, art forger, and con artist on the "Most Wanted" lists of the FBI, Interpol, and Scotland Yard. The one-time Oxford graduate traveled the world seducing people out of fortunes big and small. Lamming from an extortion escapade in Istanbul in 1949, she relocated to Southern California, trading her "charms" for a law license, adopting the guise of a successful attorney, and rekindling her swindling ways.

Behind Stanley Bates' back, Linda Loring enticed his wife into her first "taboo" love affair. Meanwhile, she encouraged Bates to draw up a Last Will and Testament that left nothing to his Connie ("The divorce will take a year to finalize, and you don't want to take any chances," she explained)—but upon signing, she switched the document with one leaving everything to Connie.

NOIR CITY 13, January 16-25, Castro Theatre, San Francisco On August 4, 1951 Stanley and Connie Bates returned home from a perfunctory anniversary celebration. Connie persuaded her husband to share a bottle of champagne before turning in for the night. They toasted, drank, and Bates was headed upstairs to the bedroom when he was suddenly stricken, collapsing on the stairs and dying within seconds. From the shadows emerged Linda Loring, triumphant, aroused, and brandishing the new Last Will and Testament that made Connie Bates (nee Slubowski) a wealthy woman.

Despite the corpse on the stairs, the two women gazed at each other with a fierce and hungry passion. Connie's eyes sparked. Linda's bosom heaved. … the rest you have to pay for.

Film Noir Foundation

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poster and logo design: Bill Selby; poster and NOIRCITY photos: David M. Allen