Wendkos would be far better known today if his first film, the great low-budget noir, The Burglar (1956), were more readily available. The Burglar, an unabashedly arty film based on the David Goodis novel of the same name, starred Dan Duryea in the title role, and Jayne Mansfield as his ward (a serious acting role that preceded her “bombshell” period). A fatalistic heist film clearly influenced by Orson Welles, particularly The Lady From Shanghai, The Burglar ends at an Atlantic City pier funhouse where a loudspeaker proclaims, “We, the Dead, Welcome You!”
Wendkos directed several other films of interest, the well-known but atypical Gidget (1959), The Mephisto Waltz (1971), and two more stylish noirs, The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) starring Darren McGavin as an undercover cop, and the fascinating rural noir Angel Baby (1961) which stars Salome Jens as an Aimee Semple McPherson-like revival preacher, and has a terrific supporting cast that includes George Hamilton, Mercedes McCambridge, Henry Jones, Joan Blondell, and Burt Reynolds. Angel Baby‘s striking black and white cinematography, most of it shot in the Deep South, was by Haskell Wexler.
If anyone ever published an interview with this *unknown* auteur, I would love to see it.