THE FEMALE ANIMAL is unabashed melodrama, as if some afternoon soap opera were fashioned out of SUNSET BOULEVARD... BUT there is a big BUT. Despite the idiocies of her character and the milieu in which it is established, the wondrous surprise is Hedy Lamarr's performance. She had done good work in the past when given half a chance, but that wasn't often. Here, as her career was sadly waning, she offers a sensitive and truthful portrayal of a fading film queen. Only in the worst of the soap opera moments is she unable to rise above the situation. I've seen criticism of Jane Powell's work, but it is not bad at all, thwarted by that same Wagnerian plot line. She gives it a good try. George Nader looks good but has the most ill-defined role of all. He, too, tries. And, then, there is the marvelous Jan Sterling, here in a bitchy role that, if better written, could have merited her professional attention. Jan, we miss you. Keller's direction is somewhat okay, with unobtrusive camera work and backed with clean cinematography. THE FEMALE ANIMAL is not a waste of time when one watches glorious Hedy showing what she can done, and with the underlying wonderment of how a good script could have taken these four performers to great heights.