Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Endangered List (Case File #120)



BURN, BABY, BURN (1966)
THE CAROLYN LIMA STORY

Starring
Dana Sherry as Carolyn Lima

with
Alfredo Criado
Skip Gerson
Van Lister
Jane Brantley
Tiera Edwards
Ann Morgan
John Rowe
Princess Taboo
Doris Masters
David Jessie
Josette

Directed by
John Rowe

Produced by
Charles Martinez

Associate Producer
Dale Berry

Technical Adviser
Carolyn Lima

B&W
Running time: 90 minutes

A Continental American Artists production

A
Fiesta Artists
presentation

Released by
Colonial International Pictures

Filmed in Houston, TX

Also known as THE CAROLYN LIMA STORY
and erroneously as BURN YOUR BABY

Pre-release title: THE BURNING MAN

In Houston, back in February 1961, slow-witted 18 year-old prostitute Carolyn Lima and her 22 year-old bisexual boyfriend Leslie Douglas Ashley shot and killed one of their johns, middle-aged real estate agent Fred A. Tones, after he supposedly became violent during a threeway. They then dragged his corpse to a nearby vacant lot and set it ablaze. Both killers were caught and sentenced to die in the electric chair at Huntsville State Prison. Four hours away from frying, their death sentences were reversed by the U.S. Fifth Circuit of Appeals because prosecutors failed to notify the defense that both killers had been termed "mentally incompetent." A second trial ended with Lima receiving a five-year prison sentence; Ashley was confined to a mental institution, escaped, and then was captured soon after landing on the FBI's most wanted list.

Apparently none of this is depicted in the movie, judging by this plot synopsis from the American Film Institute Catalog...

Based on an incident in the life of Carolyn Lima. Actress Carolyn Lima, released from prison after serving a sentence for murder, meets Mark Kimmery, and the two plan to marry despite objections from his mother and his friends. Dressing in front of a mirror, Mark reconstructs Carolyn’s past. As a young woman, Carolyn is seduced by the syndicate into a life of prostitution. There is a murder, and Carolyn is imprisoned. The syndicate, believing that they can pull Carolyn back into a life of crime, kidnap Carolyn and Mark to force her to cooperate in the payroll robbery of the large store where she works. The gangsters intend to murder Carolyn and Mark, but they themselves die at the hands of both the police and a gang of women who are former associates of Carolyn. Carolyn and Mark marry and plan to begin a new life.

Good luck trying to classify this one. Predictive true crime fiction? Fictionalized non-fiction? What-if speculation? Real-life fantasy? We give up. The AFI claims a Houston opening on April 9, 1966 but we found no evidence of this occurring in Houston at any point during April '66. Two months after this supposed Houston premiere, Ashley was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After his release he underwent a sex change opeation and became Leslie Elaine Perez. His side of the story is the subject of Robert L. Bentley's book Dangerous Games: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer on Death Row Who Changed His Sex and Won Her Freedom, which contains approximately one short paragraph about BURN, BABY, BURN.



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, had never heard of this film or the actual case. Now of course, I'd love to see the film.

Anonymous said...

I would Love to know where she is today