Monday, May 22, 2017

Now I'm curious

Over the weekend, somebody linked to this review of a DVD called Ozploitation Trailer Exploitation. Unfortunately, the review is three years old, and the DVD is now out of print.

I don't know how much I'd want to buy a DVD of nothing but trailers. But I wouldn't mind seeing some of the titles mentioned in the review. The reviewer talks about "'respectable' Oz features", and names a couple of titles that showed up a few years back when TCM did its spotlight on the Australian New Wave hosted by Jacki Weaver.

A few of the titles have shown up in places like TCM Underground, or the old IFC back when they actually showed independent film and didn't have any commercials, such as The Cars that Ate Paris and, I think The Last Wave. I never got around to watching either of those, however.

And then there's the one title that I've wanted to see for a long time, The Man from Hong Kong. I have no idea if it's any good, but it spawned a big hit, "Sky High", from the group Jigsaw. And ever since I learned that ages ago, I'd been curious to see the movie. There are several movies like that. I was pleased finally to be able to see The Happening (which gave us that great Supremes song); I've never seen Unchained (which gave us the melody later covered by the Righteous Brothers and used in Ghost. I didn't know until after seeing the movies that Percy Faith's A Summer Place theme and Roger Williams' version of Autumn Leaves were not the originals.

As for The Man from Hong Kong, it does seem to have gotten a DVD release at one point, but like the collection of trailers that spawned this whole post, it seems to be out of print.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


So I was looking for something available on DVD to watch off my DVR. Today, that selection is Gymkata.

The opening shots are an intercut between a guy doing a gymnastics routine at a tournament, and another guy in some third world country trying to escape on foot from a bunch of guys pursuing him on horseback. The gymnast is a success; the other guy gets shot by an arrow, falling to his death.

Cut back to the gymnastics tournament. As our gymnast, Jonathan Cabot (Kurt Thomas), is leaving, he's taken aside by a man who turns out to be a federal agent. That agent informs Jonathan that his father was killed. It turns out that his father was that guy we saw in the opening sequence. Dad was not a fugitive so much as taking part in a high-stakes game that is now being used for geopolitical purposes.

It seems that in the far-off country of Parmistan, they have a weird game. (I don't think it's referred to as "Gymkata", only as "the game".) Apparently condemned criminals get a chance at parole, while foreigners get a chance to have one wish granted to them, if only they can win the game. And that game involves a cross-country pursuit in the style of The Most Dangerous Game, with some of the Khan's men chasing after the competitors. And nobody's won this game in like 900 years. But various countries have started training their best athletes to take part, because Parmistan just happens to be the perfect location for a missile base that both the Americans and "the other side" (not mentioned!) want.

Anyhow, Jonathan's father was killed playing that game, and now the government wants Jonathan to train for it, since he's already a world-class athlete and would have the added motivation of avenging his father's death. Plus, there's a Parmistani princess Rubali (Tetchie Agbayani) to whom Jonathan is immediately attracted, although she is one tough woman. Anyhow, we get a bunch of training before we get to Parmistan.

There's also a meet-up with another agent in a third country somewhere on the Caspian (a fictitious city in a fictitious country), and that poses all sorts of danger for Jonathan even before he can get to Parmistan. Indeed, Rubali is kidnapped, and Jonathan vows to rescue her before heading off to Parmistan. He does this despite taking on about a dozen expert terrorists. You get where this movie is going from the fact that Jonathan keeps facing ridiculously long odds and winning.

Anyhow, Jonathan finally gets to Parmistan, where he finds out that Rubali has been betrothed by her father the Khan (Buck Kartalian) to the Khan's closest advisor Zamir (Richard Norton). And Zamir, it turns out, is actually against the Khan, but the Khan is too damn naïve to understand this. Zamir is intending to break all of the rules of the game to make certain that Jonathan does not in fact win.

It's all utterly ridiculous. While the movie does have a plot, that plot is mostly one trope after another, hanging as a pretext for a series of set pieces that allow Kurt Thomas to use his gymnastics moves. One fight has him improvising a high bar in a narrow alley, while in another fight, there's a prop that just happens to have two handles on the top, enabling Thomas to use it as a pommel horse. While the fight scenes aren't very good, they're good for a laugh. And why does Rubali have a catsuit on under her dress?

But there's also the direction, which at times equally ridiculous. For no good reason, the director decided to have a lot of sections of the fight scenes where the action suddenly switches from normal speed to slow motion and then back to regular speed. And I don't think any direction could have helped Kurt Thomas who isn't much of an actor.

To be fair, it's all so bad that it's good. Go into this expecting a movie that's not going to be any good, and you'll have a blast laughing at how ludicrous it all is. And there's some nice location shooting. This was done as a co-production with a Yugoslav film company back in the mid-1980s when Yugoslavia was the "liberal" Communist country -- remember, they didn't join the boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics, and they gave us the Yugo car. Some of the old towns look like they'd be interesting places to visit, assuming it's not all done on a backlot which I don't think they had.

The TCM Shop has it available at a very low price. If you're interested in really bad movies, you might want to take a flyer on it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bedazzled (1967)

Bedazzled is going to be on FXM Retro tomorrow at 4:00 AM and 11:20 AM. It doesn't seem to be available on DVD, so you're going to have to catch the rare FXM showing.

Dudley Moore plays Stanley Moon, who works as a cook at the Wimpy Bar, which isn't a bar but the sort of urban diner people went into in vintage movies to get cheap meals. Stanley flips burgers for waitress Margaret (Eleanor Bron) to serve to the patrons. Secretly, Stanley is in love with Margaret, but she has no idea of any of this, as Stanley is too timid to approach Margaret and tell her how he really feels about her. As a result, Stanley feels trapped in a dead-end life.

Feeling that his life is at that dead end, Stanley decides that the only thing for him to do is commit suicide. So he sets up a noose, ties the other end around a water pipe, and prepares to jump off a stool to his death. Except that this succeeds only in breaking the water pipe, spilling water into his flat and making his life even more of a mess, no pun intended.

Into all of this walks George Spiggott (Peter Cook). George seems to know a surprising amount about Stanley and his ancestry, more than Stanley knows about himself. The reason for that is George is in fact the Devil, and it's his job to know about people and use that information in an attempt to win people's souls. To that end, George offers Stanley seven wishes, after which George will be in eternal possession of Stanley's soul.

Stanley eventually decides to take George up on that offer. But of course, there's a catch, and here I don't mean the catch about George getting possession of Stanley's soul at the end of all this. Instead, every time Stanley makes a wish, George makes it come true. At least, only as far as Stanley specified things. Those parts of the wish Stanley failed to specify, well, George is going to interpret those in a way that makes Stanley dissatisfied. And when Stanley wants out of his wishes, he finds that George is constantly engaging in all sorts of mischief on the poor people of Earth.

Along the way, Stanley talks a lot with George on why anybody would want to become the devil if it's not as glamorous a life as you'd think, and why he acts the way he does, and George has some interesting -- and at times sensible answers. There are points that could actually be thought-provoking, although the movie is meant as a fairly light comedy in spite of the subject matter.

Peter Cook (r.) having a bit of fun with Dudley Moore explaining why he grew tired with God

In thinking about it more, I think I'd consider Bedazzled to be almost an alternate-universe version of Oh, God!. Where you have a charming George Burns wanting John Denver to let people know that, yes, God is still here; in Bedazzled you have a charming Peter Cook wanting to let at least one person know that yes, the Devil is still here. (The wishes seem detached from reality, and there's no indication that the other characters know what's going on in those wishes.) And indeed, both Cook and Moore are charming in their roles, to the point that you feel sympathetic for both of them even though Moore is on the verge of losing his soul. There are, however, a few points at which the movie feels it's running on a bit much. That criticism aside, Bedazzled is well worth a watch.

Note that Bedazzled was remade in 2000 and updated to have the Devil be played by a woman (Elizabeth Hurley), which I think not having seen the movie that it would add some unwanted sexual tension to the movie. Both versions did get a DVD release somewhere, which is something to watch out for if you're looking for an expensive used copy of the Cook/Moore version. The older one is, I think, out of print everywhere; the remake is not listed at the TCM Shop but seems available on streaming video for Amazon Prime members who can do the streaming thing.

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 19, 1992

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Amy Fisher's shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco. For those who don't remember, Fisher, dubbed the "Long Island Lolita", was a 16-year-old who met auto body shop owner Joey Buttafuoco and began an afair with him that resulted in the shooting of Joey's wife.

Now, I was thinking about which old movie comes closest to the events in the sordid Fisher tale. Of course Fisher was referred to as the "Long Island Lolita" based on the Nabokov book and later movie, but Lolita doesn't shoot Mrs. Humbert or anybody else if memory serves.

Gene Tierney lets Cornel Wilde's kid brother die in Leave Her to Heaven, andn even goes so far as to kill herself and put the blame on her sister (Jeanne Crain) when that sister is found to be in love with the Wilde character. I suppose it's a bit of a reverse of the mistress trying to kill the wife.

Another woman got in the way of Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins in Pretty Poison, but that woman was Weld's mother, not Perkins' wife. Still, Pretty Poison is worth another watch, or a first if you've never seen it before.

Imitation of Life would have been much more interesting if Sandra Dee had tried to kill Lana Turner and run off with John Gavin. And in similar family shootings, there's Where Love Has Gone with Joey Heatherton killing her mother's new boyfriend. But that's a replay of Lana Turner/Joey Stompinato, and not Amy Fisher.

Ah yes, there's also Dead Ringer, in which Bette Davis kills the wife of her former lover, the wife also being played by Bette Davis. But in that one, the husband has already died.

Any other good ideas? There's gotta be a lot of them in noir.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #149: The Renaissance

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This weeks theme is the Renaissance, and once again I've selected a bunch of older movies:

Prince of Foxes (1949). Tyrone Power plays Orsini, a low nobleman in the Borgias' court, Cesare being played by Orson Welles. Cesare has his eyes on another principality up in the mountains, and sends Orsini as his emissary in a complicated plot to take over the place. Of course, Orsini goes there and falls in love with the Count's daughter (Wanda Hendrix), as well as finding out that there are leaders who are nicer than the Borgias. Power is right at home here, and it's a shame that they weren't able to film in Technicolor, since it was done on location in Italy and San Marino.

Carnival in Flanders, aka La kermess heroïque (1935). Set in the early 17th century in Flanders, which at the time was part of the Spanish Netherlands. A troop of Spanish soldiers is coming through a town which is about to celebrate its annual carnival. The town fathers don't want to have to confront the beastly Spaniards, so they come up with a ruse that one of the town fathers has died and the rest of them are in mourning, which is why they can't wait hand and foot on the Spaniards. So it's up to the women to make the soldiers' night in this small town pleasant, and sparks fly as they use their feminine wiles to keep the peace. A delightful little comedy.

El Greco (1966). Biopic about the Greek-born painter (played by Mel Ferrer) who moves to Spain and spends his artistic life there. As is often the case, there was conflict between the painter's artistic desires and what his patrons (this was Spain, where the Catholic church was particularly strong) wanted. Unfortunately, the only time I saw this one on the old Fox Movie Channel years ago, they ran it in a panned-and-scanned print.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Frances Dee night

TCM is spending a night tonight with actress Francess Dee, who in addition to the movies she made was also married to actor Joel McCrea for 57 years until his death in 1990. There's a nice variety of movies here, from I Walked With a Zombie at 11:30 PM, to the Bette Davis version of Of Human Bondage at 2:45 AM.

I think the one I'm really looking forward to might be a TCM premiere, that being An American Tragedy at 9:30 PM. At least, I don't think it's been on TCM in ages, although the daily schedule has a genre next to the movie instead of a "TCM Presents" which tends to show up next to premieres. Anyhow, Phillips Holmes plays the son of a mission worker (Lucille Laverne) who goes off to the big city, gets a job with an uncle's factory, falls in love with a co-worker (Sylvia Sidney), and then meets and falls in love with a rich woman (Frances Dee) which causes all sorts of problems. If all this sounds familiar, it's because the movie is based on a Theodore Dreiser novel and the material was remade into the 1951 classic A Place in the Sun.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Home Movies

Some years back, I briefly mentioned the Robert Benchley short Home Movies. I found that it's an extra on the DVD of My Favorite Wife that's in the four-film Cary Grant box set that TCM (well, technically Warner Home Video) put out, so I can do a full-length post on it. Or as full as one can do for a seven-minute short.

Benchley tells us that he's going to tell us how to make good home movies, if only he can find that camera under all the film stock. Cut to a scene of Benchley hosting a bunch of neighbors and showing his vacation movie. I recall my Dad doing this for people of the pictures he took of his trip to Germany nearly 30 years ago, only my dad didn't have a movie camera; he took slides instead. Does anybody make slides any longer? Nowadays you'd just have the photos on a computer and hook that up to a large screen or a projector. In fact, Dad still has the slides and was in the process of converting them to digital before Mom died. That, and the old computer went belly-up after a lightning strike and I don't know if the software is Windows 10-compatible.

Anyhow, in the Benchley short, we see that all of his "friends" come up with excuses to get home early; apparently the being bored of other people's photos when you visit their home has long been a thing. This is why you'd go to the movies to see a Traveltalks short instead. And all of Benchley's movies are terrible. Benchley tries to make all of this funny, but he doesn't really succeed. The one funny bit comes at the end, but that one would no longer work either now that we have safety film.

I can recommend the feature films in the box set (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Night and Day, and the aforementioned My Favorite Wife), but as for the short it's one of the worst Benchley shorts I've seen.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Movies I blogged about years ago: May 15-16, 2017

I'm not certain what to blog about today, and with work still being a bitch I don't have as much time to do a good post on weekdays as I'd like. So I was looking at the schedules and saw a couple of movies I blogged about years ago that are coming up:

Seven Days to Noon will be on overnight at 1:45 AM on TCM. This is a nice little British thriller about a nuclear scientist who suddenly decides that Britain's work on the bomb needs to stop, and dammit, he's going to make them stop. It isn't perfect because of its small budget, but if you haven't seen it before it's well worth a look.

Come to the Stable is on FXM Retro this morning at 7:15 AM, but is going to be on again first thing tomorrow morning at 3:00 AM. Loretta Young and Celeste Holm play a couple of nuns over from France who get the small town they go to to put up a new children's hospital and church. Hokey at times, but good for the whole family.

The Big Street will be on TCM tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM as part of a morning and afternoon of Henry Fonda movies. Fonda plays a busboy at a nightclub who accidentally injures moll Lucille Ball, and then vows to take her down to Florida for a cure. It's a movie I have some serious problems with, mostly because it seems not to know whether it wants to be a screwball comedy or a drama, and winds up not succeeding at doing either.

[Edit:] I should have added that there's also a half hour of Lumière shorts overnight at 3:30 AM on TCM. I don't know which ones are in the set, and how they're presented.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dance, Fools, Dance

The movie I watched off my DVR this morning because it's available on DVD from the Warner Archive is Dance, Fools, Dance.

Joan Crawford plays Bonnie Jordan, daughter in a wealthy family, with a brother Rodney (William Bakewell). Neither of them has had to do a day of work in their life and live a decadent life of parties with their wealthy friends on Dad's yacht, even going swimming in just their undies which they can do since this is a pre-Code movie. Of course, since the movie was released in 1931, you know all of this intro is set in the past and that the stock market crash of 1929 is going to come.

Sure enough, that crash comes, and Dad, who trades stocks on the floor of the exchange, is wiped out. Not only that, he suffers a fatal heart attack on the floor of the exchange! Poor Bonnie and Rodney are told by the family's attorny that not only was Dad wiped out, he wasn't even able to save any money for the two kids in any sort of trust fund to leave the children set up in case of a situation like this. They're both going to have to work. Well, maybe not Bonnie; she's got Bob (Lester Vail) who's willing to marry her and give her a life of comfort.

But Bonnie won't have that, wanting to make her way in the world honestly. She decides to get a job at the newspaper, working her way up from the bottom writing crappy human interest stories. Poor woman. Rodney, meanwhile, hasn't been able to get any honest work, and since he's got a tab with the bootleggers (remember, this is the Prohibition era), he decides to meet up with the gangster Jake Luva (Clark Gable) and become a distributor and do other odd jobs for Jake.

One of those odd jobs involves driving the getaway car in a rub-out that's basically the St. Valentine's Day Massacre redux. But Rodney never knew that he was going to get into anything like this, and he can't stomach it. Worse, he can't keep his mouth shot. At the bar in Jake's nightclub, Rodney spills the beans to a lookout man who in fact isn't the lookout, but a veteran reporter on the newspaper where Bonnie works. Jake orders Rodney to shoot the reporter dead.

The newspaper knows fully well Jake's gang is involved, but can't get the goods. So they get an idea, which is to have Bonnie go undercover and work at Jake's nightclub to find out who really killed their reporter. All the threads eventually come together.

Dance, Fools, Dance is a moderately entertaining movie. There are other better pre-Codes that I would recommend if I were trying to get people interested in pre-Codes. But Crawford and Gable are both worth watching in this one. Crawford even gets to dance (for some values of dancing) in a number at the nightclub, where Bob finds out what Bonnie has been doing for herself. The story, however, takes a while to get going, as almost half of the movie goes by before the real action begins. And it ends a bit too abruptly. However, this first pairing of Crawford and Gable proved to be a big success, which is why we get a bunch of later movies teaming the two.

Dance, Fools, Dance is yet another of those movies which would be well-served with a release on one of those four-film sets TCM likes to hawk. Unfortunately, it only seems to be available on a standalone Warner Archive DVD.

Briefs for May 14-15, 2017

I've got a full-length review coming up later in the day, but I was looking through the TCM and FXM Retro schedules and there are a few things I wanted to mention.

First, in my last briefs posts earlier in the week, I mentioned one of those Canadian "Spotlight" posts. The one that first brought the series to my attention when I saw it on TCM some years back, Spotlight No. 3, is going to be on TCM this morning after the Noir Alley selection, so around 11:45 AM. This one includes the value of the elements in the human body (not much), as well as a hill in New Brunswick that has strange magnetic qualities.

This being Mothers' Day, TCM brings out a lot of the usual suspsects for films about mothers. Mildred Pierce, for example, gets its umpteenth Mothers' Day showing at 2:00 PM, and there's I Remember Mama at 8:00 PM. Pocketful of Miracles, the remake of Lady for a Day, shows up at 10:30 PM, and that one doesn't show up quite as often. Frankly I wouldn't mind seeing a programmer daring enough to show things like Throw Momma From the Train, Our Mother's House, or Autumn Sonata on Mothers' Day.

This week's Silent Sunday Nights is a series of five one-reelers, so as always I have no idea what order they're going to show up in. They run from 1:00 to 2:00 AM, and are all Mack Sennett-directed shorts that are over 100 years old.

Finally, FXM Retro has brought Gospel Road out of the vault, showing it twice tomorrow, at 3:00 AM and 1:35 PM. They probably should have brought it out last month for easter. It's not quite my thing, but people who like the music of Johnny Cash will probably find it interesting.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Face of Fire

So I was looking for a movie to watch on my DVR this morning that's available on DVD so I could do a blog post on it. My selection was Face of Fire, which you can get courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection.

Based on a story by Stephen Crane, this one is set in the fictitious small town of Whilomville circa 1898, and informs us in an intertitle just after the opening credits that it portrays small-town people as fully human, and neither with the doe-eyed saintly view or as pure evil rubes. Monk (James Whitmore) works as a handyman for local Dr. Trescott (Cameron Mitchell) and is generally beloved around Whilomville, as can be seen in the opening scene where's returning from taking a group of local boys fishing at the local watering hole. He's also got a girlfriend whom he's planning to marry.

But tragedy strikes the town. The Trescotts' house catches fire. While the good doctor and his wife are able to get out, their young son Jimmie is trapped in his bedroom. Monk goes into the house and ultimately saves Jimmie, which ought to make him a hero. There's a catch, though, in that in trying to get Jimmie to safety, he has to go through the doctor's laboratory, where there are all sorts of dangerous acids around. One of the flasks spills open, dripping hot acid on Monk's face.

It looks as though Monk isn't going to survive the fire, but if that were the case, the movie would end then and there and we'd have a pointless two-reeler. So you know that Monk is going to survive, except that he's got a horrendously disfigured face and has likely suffered brain damage as a result of the fire. (Amazingly, the smoke inhalation didn't get him.) Trescott sets Monk up with a farm family just outside of town where Monk can recuperate without being bothered by anybody.

Apparently something about Monk's presence has frightened everybody, since nobody wants to visit the farmer any longer and Monk decides to escape. He makes it back to town, but when he shows up anywhere, his appearance scares the bejeezus out of people the the point that they suffer breakdowns or something. (OK, at least in one case the injury makes sense as a woman's screaming spooks a horse which results in a carriage running the woman down. But most of the others are just ridiculous.) The "proper" wives in town all decide that no, dammit, we're not going to have this monstrosity frightening us, and husbands, you're going to do what it takes to get rid of Monk. Eventually, Monk hops aboard a freight train and the next morning his body is found in the next town over.

Meanwhile, the men of Whilomville are still searching for Monk not knowing that the station-master in the next stop has announced Monk's death, and their posse nearly kills an innocent man. And of course, the wives (led by Lois Maxwell who's married to a character played by veteran character actor Royal Dano) has a feeling that Monk really isn't dead and she won't be satisfied until her husband sees the body. He sensibly tells her to go look for herself, and when there's a funeral you'd think the snotty wives would insist on an open-casket funeral.

All this obvious foreshadowing is leading the viewer to think that, of course, Monk is not dead, and that he's going to show up soon enough. But will the town ever get over its fear of Monk?

Face of Fire is a good movie with some interesting ideas, but at times it goes over the top. I found it faintly ridiculous that the townsfolk would go from loving Monk to absolutely hating the idea of his presence in the town. Also, you'd think Dr. Trescott would have tried to prepare the townsfolk for the idea that Monk had suffered a terribly disfiguring injury, and that any brain damage might have left him acting a bit childlike. Sure, some children would probably still be frightened by the new face, but the adults, on being informed of what happened to Monk, would have at least made a good faith effort to treat him well. Harold Russell's character in The Best Years of Our Lives comes to mind here, although to be fair the people around him are mostly family.

Face of Fire also has an interesting visual look. That's because Allied Artists produced this movie in a co-production with Svesnk Filmindustri (the studio that produced a lot of Ingmar Bergman's work) in Sweden. Indeed, quite a fair number of the behind-the-scenes crew are Swedish. If you went into the movie not knowing this, you might get the impression from the exteriors and cinematography that there's something vaguely "off" about the movie compared to other 50s movies from the various low-budget studios. That doesn't really distract from the movie, however, especially since it's a story that could have been set almost anywhere.

All in all, Face of Fire is a pretty good movie that probably deserves a better DVD release than the over-priced Warner Archive Collection. It's certainly worth a watch.

Rambling Film

I couldn't really think about much to blog about yesterday, as I mentioned by watching a one-reeler and doing a post on it. So when I noticed Brittani over at Rambling Film doing a series of posts in the Thursday Movie Picks blogathon, I decided to look at the blog.

It turns out the blog is one with a completely different focus on the movies than the one I have, since I prefer older movies; I have to admit to not knowing much about indie film. That's part because I've generally preferred older movies, but also because living in the middle of nowhere and with my lifestyle, I don't get to watch too many indie films.

Oh, I did watch the old IFC back when it was a commercial-free channel and they actually showed independent movies, and there were a couple of interesting movies I saw there. They not only showed "indie" movies, but also some foreign films that wouldn't show up elsewhere. I think that's where I first saw Dark Blue World and Death of a Cyclist. And I'm pretty certain I first saw Divided We Fall there many years ago, a movie about a Czech couple in World War II who wind up hiding a Jew for the duration, something that obviously brings up a whole bunch of problems. It's so sad to see that channel no longer there.

But back to Rambling Film. I've stated pretty much every time I add a blog to my blog roll that the two criteria for addition are being interesting, and being posted to on a relatively regular basis. This one fits both, so onto the blogroll it goes.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Audition (1933)

What with all the overtime I've been doing and not knowing what to blog about, I decided to watch an extra off of one of the DVDs in the Warner Gangsters set that I've been working my way through. Since I had last popped open The Mayor of Hell to watch the animated The Organ Grinder, I put that one in and watched the musical short The Audition.

Frankly, there's nothing in this short. Bandleader Phil Emerton (who apparently never appeared in another film) is leading his bland band in an audition for some impresario (not in the IMDb credits). The impresario suggests that the band needs a novelty, so we get a series of novelties. First is Hannah Williams, who also never made another movie, doing a rendition of "Get Happy". She's not bad, but not somebody you'd remember very long afterward.

Next the suggestion is made to do a location setting which would require nutty uniforms: a levee. So we get stock footage of a steamboat, and a group called the X Sisters (who actually appeared in four films) singing some songs. Finally, there's a very energetic tap dance number featuring a pair of dancers named Larry and Larry who also, according to IMDb, never appeared in another movie.

The problem is, the entertainment is no great shakes, and there's absolutely no plot. At least some of the later shorts (I'm reminded of the one I blogged about with Jan Savitt) made no pretense of being anything other than putting a big band leader on the screen. And many of those aren't very good. This one is even worse.

At least The Mayor of Hell is a really good movie.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #148: Deserts

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This weeks theme is Deserts, and as always I've picked three older movies.

Five Graves to Cairo (1942). Franchot Tone plays a British army officer whose tank is shot in the Sahara, leaving him the only survivor. He winds up at a hotel run by a local (Akim Tamiroff) and the Frenchwoman Mouche (Anne Baxter). The only problem is that Erwin Rommel (Erich von Stroheim) shows up with a bunch of his officers, and they're talking about something secretive enough that if they found out the truth about Tone's character, they'd execute him on the spot. Can he figure out the secret before the Nazis figure out his secret?

Destination Gobi (1953). Richard Widmark plays a naval officer who gets stationed along with his men in... the Gobi Desert! The reason for this is that it's World War II, and the navy needs accurate weather forecasts. The Navy assumes that if they can get people further west than the Pacific, they can learn what weather is coming up since weather patterns tend to travel from west to east. The Japanese find them, of course, and bomb the camp, leaving the survivors to make it to safety, which is difficult since they're in occupied China.

Inferno (1953). Robert Ryan plays a businessman married to Rhonda Fleming, and going to Arizona to investigate a business deal along with his partner, William Lundigan. What he doesn't know is that his wife and business partner are having an affair, and they decide that since the mineral rights investigation is in the desert, this would be the perfect opportunity to kill him by abandoning him with a broken leg and no horse. Only, Ryan decides he's not about to be abandond, and tries to walk to safety. Ryan is excellent, and the movie originally used 3-D, from what I've read mostly to make the desert seem bigger. And Fleming and her red hair are as gorgeous as ever.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Possibly back on FXM Retro: May 11, 2017

So in last week's Thursday Movie Picks thread, I mentioned The Day Mars Invaded Earth as one of the movies about the Doppelgänger. I was under the impression that it was going to be on FXM Retro this coming Thursday, for those of you who haven't seen the movie and who have access to FXM. And indeed, my DirecTV box guide lists it as being on at 3:30 AM Thursday.

However, as I was preparing to look that up to write this post, I looked on TitanTV, since I've got a link to that on my computer. And that doesn't list The Day Mars Invaded Earth. Instead, they've got Chronicle on at 2:00 AM, followed by an "FXM Presents" piece and an 80s movie called Gleaming the Cube at 4:00 AM.

Zap2It, which seems to have redone its TV schedules to make them more accessible again (Yay!), presumably gets its listings from the same source as DirecTV -- as I understand it, there are actually a fairly small number of listings sources. They have Chronicle at 1:30 AM (both have the same running time for it, 103 minutes although that would include commercials), followed at 3:30 by... The Day Mars Invaded Earth.

So I went to the FX channels' page -- individual channels don't get their own sites there -- to get the schedule straight from the horse's mouth. They have Chronicle on at 1:30 AM, and then nothing until 6:00 AM, when all of the schedules agree that The Desert Rats will be on.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that because the FX page has Chronicle at 1:30, that The Day Mars Invaded Earth will in fact show up at 3:30 AM. But frankly I have no idea. I'm up that time of the morning since I start work at 6, but I'm not live-blogging what's on FXM.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Leaving the factory

My bosses have been expecting us plebes to work an obscene amount of overtime recently, to the point where I couldn't post first thing this morning because I was getting up to go in early. So since my job doesn't require me to use my brain, I was thinking about what to blog about, and was thinking about that old Lumière short of a bunch of workers leaving the factory at the end of the shift en masse to go home. It turns out, I blogged about it four and a half years ago on Auguste Lumière's birthday.

So what other movies have scenes of people clocking in and out? My next thought was of how the Montgomery Clift character meets the Shelley Winters character at the end of the work day in A Place in the Sun. By the same token, Thelma Ritter isn't meeting anybody, but she and her co-workers can be seen at the end of a shift as temp workers in a scene in The Mating Season.

There's a funnier end-of-shift scene in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, although that's not at a factory, but on the building site. A different funny factory scene, albeit of the assembly line instead of clocking in and out, is in I'm All Right Jack.

But perhaps the best of them all is in Metropolis:

That's how I've been feeling these past few weeks.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spotlight No. 2, and other shorts

About a year ago, I mentioned that TCM was running a short rather cryptically titled Spotlight No. 3. It's a Canadian short showing a couple of quick vignettes about Canada. As you can tell from the title, there are multiple shorts in the series. Overnight, or early tomorrow morning at 4:17 AM (following The Last Sunset), TCM is running Spotlight No. 2. IMDb's page does list the vignettes in this one, but that seems to be the only information, as this one doesn't have any IMDb reviews.

Back in October, I mentioned the 1935 short Crew Racing, which as I said back then sounds like it might be a Pete Smith short but in fact isn't; it's part of a different MGM series, the "Sports Parade". This one will be on again at 10:20 AM this morning, following Go Into Your Dance. Pete Smith fans, I think, don't get another short until Thursday, when The Fall Guy, the final entry in the series, shows up on TCM.

And there's yet one more chance to catch Crashing the Water Barrier, tonight at 9:42 PM after The Far Country. This is an interesting one made even more interesting if you read up on what happened to the short's protagonist afterwards.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


I DVRed Lizzie when TCM ran it at the end of March. It's going to be on TCM again tonight at 8:00 PM, so I made it a point to watch the movie last night so I could do a full-length post on the movie today.

Elizabeth Richmond (Eleanor Parker) is a young woman who works at a museum by day and goes home to live with her aunt Morgan (Joan Blondell) at night. Elizabeth is a mousy little thing, having only one friend, in the form of coworker Ruth (Marion Ross). And home life isn't so good either, as Morgan spends most of her time drinking bourbon, the only thing that's worth drinking apparently. Add to all that that Elizabeth is constantly fatigued and receives death threats from somebody calling herself "Lizzie", and you've got a young woman with serious problems.

Ah, but that's just the beginning. One night, as Elizabeth is going up the stairs to her bedroom, she calls aunt Morgan a drunken slut, and claims to have no memory of having done so. We then see her putting on garish makeup and going out to a dive bar that has as the only thing going for it the presence of Johnny Mathis at the piano. This is Lizzie, and Lizzie is a polar opposite from Elizabeth. At the bar, Lizzie meets one of the co-workers from the museum, who obviously recognizes that there's something going on.

As for aunt Morgan, she doesn't recognize it until one morning when the bottle of bourbon is empty. Elizabeth claims to hate bourbon, and Morgan knows she didn't drink it all. So she talks with her neighbor Walter (Hugo Haas, who also directed) about it, and Walter suggests Elizabeth seek professional health. And Walter knows just the man for the job, psychologists Dr. Wright (Richard Boone).

Elizabeth does go to see Wright, who puts her under hypnosis revealing that Elizabeth has another personality in Lizzie. Actually, she's also got a third personality in Beth, who is probably the original personality that was suppressed under the extremely shy Elizabeth and the extremely vicious Lizzie because Beth had to survive some chidhood trauma. But what is that trauma, and how could it mess Beth up that much?

Lizzie is very reminiscent of The Three Faces of Eve, and both came out in the same year. Lizzie isn't remembered as much, probably because it didn't have studio backing -- it was produced by Kirk Douglas' independent production company. It's really not a bad movie, but it's one that's hampered by its subject material. It's so easy to wind up over the top when you've got as your story a person who plays three wildly different people, and then add pyschiatric counseling to all that. Lizzie, unfortunately, falls into that trap at times, with the result that you'll probably find yourself laughing at points that aren't supposed to be funny. Some would point out, however, that this makes it even more of a reason to watch Lizzie.

Lizzie has received a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive collection (the movie was distributed by MGM; I don't know the rights status of other films produced by Kirk Douglas' company). It probably ought to be on one of those four-movie box sets than a standalone.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Music in My Heart

Since it's the weekend and I've got time to watch somemovies to do full-length posts on, I pulled out my Mill Creek set of Columbia romances and watched Music in My Heart. (Look up the title on the TCM Shop and you'll find the Mill Creek set for something like $5.99.)

Tony Martin plays Robert Gregory, an understudy to the lead in a Broadway show who just wants to get his chance. However, he's got other problems besides the star's never getting sick. Apparently he was born abroad and immigrated as an infant with his parents who have since died, because he's about to be deported and no good explanation is given, save something about his parents screwing up the citizenship papers. Anyhow the lead gives him his one chance to do the show, after which he's put on a taxi to the next boat over to Europe.

Along the way, his speeding taxi careens into another taxi, which has as its passenger Patricia (Rita Hayworth). It turns out that she's on her way to the same boat, where she's going to meet wealthy Charles Gardner (Alan Mowbray) and go to Europe with him to get married. Obviously she's doing it for his millions, and it's clear to Robert that she doesn't really love him. Anyhow, the taxi collision means that the two miss the boat, and have to go back to Patricia's Lower East Side (I think; I'm not certain of my New York City geography) digs, which are in the same building as a restaurant mananged by her "uncle" Luigi and run by Rusian émigré Sascha (George Tobias).

Patricia's kid sister, like everybody else in the movie, recognizes that Robert is the right man for Patricia, even though there's the problem of his looming deportation, or even imprisonment for fleeing the immigration agents. Meanwhile, jilted Charles realizes he's still in love with Patricia, and his butler Griggs (perpetual Hollywood butler Eric Blore) decides he's going to do something to make Patricia come back to Charles....

The story in Music in My Heart isn't a bad one, if nothing terribly original. Unfortunately, the movie stars Tony Martin. He's got all the charisma of a bassoon, and sings in that horrendous operetta style. In fact, he sings multiple songs in that manner, and the film (which is only 70 minutes to begin with) comes to a screeching halt on the occasions they have him sing. Thankfully, one of those occasions is the finale, so that doesn't brin the film to quite as much of a halt.

I mentioned that I got Music in My Heart as part of an eight-film box set. The box set is more than worth it for the price. Music in My Heart wouldn't be worth it on its own. Unless you like that style of music.

Just a reminder about The Essentials

I mentioned some weeks back that The Essentials was coming back to TCM, and tonight is the premiere. Alec Baldwin will be the host, and his first guest host is David Letterman. Tonight's Essential, at 8:00 PM, will be The Bad and the Beautiful, one of the great Hollywood-on-Hollywood movies. It's also the opening for a night (well, half a night, since there's TCM Underground overnight) of Kirk Douglas movies, including the first airing in a long while of Champion, which follows The Bad and the Beautiful at 10:15 PM. The last of the Douglas films is Lust for Life, at 12:15 AM.

And for an OT note: Google screwing over the preview until you click to dismiss the "warning" about including a photo not hosted by Blogger is really obnoxious.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Alice Faye, 1915-1998

Alice Faye and Tyrone Power in a publicity still for Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)

It's been a while since I've done a birthday post, but with work piling up and no features I can think of to blog about right now, now would be a good time for another post. Today marks the birth anniversary of Fox star Alice Faye, who was born on this day in 1915. Faye made about 30 films for Fox over a 10-year period, before her career came to an abrupt halt with Fallen Angel. Of course, Faye was a musical star, and her career at Fox was being overshadowed by the rise of Betty Grable.

But in those 10 years, Faye made quite a few movies that are worth a match. Alexander's Ragtime Band, a musical about a musician (Tyrone Power) who rises, losing his girlfriend (Faye) along the way, might be the best. Of course, that's in part because of all the Irving Berlin songs; the story is well-done but nothing new.

In Old Chicago, another love triangle set against the backdrop of the Chicago fire of 1871, might be better known, but I prefer Alexander's Ragtime Band.

For sheer fun and nuttiness, however, there's The Gang's All Here, which has Busby Berkeley at perhaps his most bizarre.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #147: Clones and Doppelgänger

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This weeks theme is Clones and/or Doppelgänger, and as always I've picked three older movies.

A Stolen Life (1946). Bette Davis plays Kate and Patricia, a pair of sisters who both meet Bill (Glenn Ford) and fall in love with him. Patricia marries him much to Kate's chagrin, but when they both go out on their boat, the boat capsizes killing Patricia. Kate is found unconscious, and when she recovers, she decides to take Patricia's place so she can have Bill. It's reasoably well-made, but not nearly as entertaining as Davis' later:

Dead Ringer (1964). Davis plays Edith and Margaret, both of whom loved the same wealthy man. Margaret married him and Edith became a poor, debt-laden spinster, but when the man dies, Edith gets the brilliant idea to kill Margaret, make it look like it was Edith who died, and take Margaret's place in a life of luxury. There's only one small catch. It turns out that Margaret no longer loved her late husband, and was having an affair with playboy Tony (Peter Lawford), who obviously figures out something is going on.

The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963). Kent Taylor plays Dr. Fielding, heading up an unmanned space probe mission to Mars. Something goes wrong upon landing, and it turns out that incorporeal Martians have decided they don't like having space probes show up on their planet. So they use the radio link back to Earth to travel over it, and take the place of Dr. Fielding and his family. Well, first they have to clone the Fieldings, and so there's a lot of the real Fieldings not realizing they've been cloned, and having the bejeezus scared out of them when they encounter their clones. This is one of those ultra-low-budget movies Maury Dexter was making for Fox to distribute while the Cleopatra production was hemmorhaging money (at least that's how I see it), and it's probably the best of them.

Creature features, but....

As we're in the first week of a new month, it's again time for a new feature on TCM, this one being the monthly TCM Spotlight. It's Creature Features, or those fun (if not always particularly good) monster movies mostly from the 1950s and 1960s. This week sees, among others Mothra overnight at 1:15 AM; I think it's the subtitled version since TCM's brief page on the subject mentions the English-language version of Rodan coming up later in the month. The night ends with Reptilicus, a co-production filmed in Denmark and with different versions for Denmark and the US; again, the website mentions that we're getting the American version (more unsurprisingly here).

However, the TCM page on the spotlight is in general quite brief. As with last month, there's no mention made of who's going to be the host of the spotlight. Since there was a guest host last month, I'd guess there's one this month too. In general the TCM pages seem to be less informative than in the past. Apparently to find out things like guest hosts you have to do the social media thing now.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

James Whitmore night on TCM

TCM is taking the time to show some of James Whitmore's movies tonight on TCM. Whitmore was one of those actors who showed up in a lot of stuff from the 1950s on, but never became a big star; and, with the advent of television, didn't get to do quite the meaty film work that earlier stars got to do. He was also at MGM, which means some of those B programmers the studio was churning out in order to subsidize the big budgets for the Freed Unit musicals. I'd like to mention a couple of the movies on tonight that I don't think I've mentioned in these parts before. Unfortunately, my Internet connection is a bit wonky right now so I've only got the time for brief one-paragraph synopses rather than full-length posts.

Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone, at 11:30 PM. Marjorie Main plays Mrs. O'Malley, a feisty woman from Montana ranching country who, for reasons I don't quite recall and which I don't think really matter for the point of the plot, is taking the train east to New York. (It's probably been since the last TCM showing some years back that I watched this one.) Whitmore plays Malone if memory serves. He's a lawyer trying to get paid by his previous client (Ann Dvorak). O'Malley is convinced she's seen a murder committed on the train, and dammit, she's going to prove it and prove who did it. You can imagine trying to deal with Marjorie Main, detective.

Shadow in the Sky, at 3:00 AM tomorrow. Whitmore plays a World War II veteran living with his wife (Nancy Davis before she became Reagan) and two young children trying to move into the middle class like a lot of returning veterans. However, his wife's brother (Ralph Meeker) suffered shell-shock in the war (as they called it then; now it would be PTSD) and has spent his time since the war in a military hospital trying to recover. They've determined that he can live outside the hospital, but it's going to take the support of somebody like his sister and her husband to help him recover fully. And the poor soldier still has a terrible fear of thunderstorms. You can probably guess where all this is heading. It's actually a pretty good little movie for one of those early 1950s MGM B movies, even if it does get a bit heavy-handed at times.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TCM Star of the Month May 2017: Clark Gable

Clark Gable (r.) and Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935); tonight at 11:30 PM)

So we're in the first full week of a new month, which of course means time for a new Star of the Month on TCM. (Well, excepting February and August.) This month, that means Clark Gable. Gable did a lot of work at MGM, so it's fairly easy for TCM to get the rights to those movies.

Gable's Academy Award, however, came when MGM sent him over to Columbia to punish him for whatever reason. That movie, It Happened One Night, became a surprise hit, and is a fitting choice to kick off TCM's Star of the Month salute. As mentioned in the caption to the picture at the top, the 1935 Gable version of Mutiny on the Bounty will be on at 11:30 PM tonight.

In fact, tonight's lineup includes a bunch of Gable's early movies, with Mutiny on the Bounty being the most recent from 1935. The movie that really made him prominent, A Free Soul, comes on at 3:00 AM. He was in a supporting role as gangster Ace Wilfong -- the male leads were ostensibly played by Lionel Barrymore (who won the Oscar for it) and Leslie Howard. But watching Gable here, it's easy to see why he was noticed for this. In between Bounty and A Free Soul, at 2:00 AM, there's a documentary on Gable.

The other two movies on the lineup are No Man of Her Own at 10:00 PM, starring Gable and future wife Carole Lombard years before they'd get married; as I understand it, they didn't become an item because of this movie. It's also the only movie they made together. And then, at 5:00 AM tomorrow, Gable has a smaller role as the chauffeur keeping the lady of the house drunk in Night Nurse, while nurse Barbara Stanwyck discovers he's having the children starved so he can get at the trust fund money!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Danielle Darrieux turns 100!

Danielle Darrieux, Helen Broderick, and Mischa Auer in The Rage of Paris (1938)

Today marks the centenary of French actress Danielle Darrieux, who is in fact still with us at 100. TCM is marking the day with a night of Darrieux' movies, including The Rage of Paris at 8:00 PM. This one, a realtively typical romantic comedy of the era, has Darrieux playing a girl struggling to make a living, who winds up falling for two rich men (Louis Hawyard and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and then getting involved in a scheme with her friends to try to rope one of them into a romantic relationship with her.

Darrieux spent most of her career in France, making a couple of movies in Hollywood both before the war and then in the 1950s, and having the bad luck of being stuck in occupied France during World War II.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Where Have I Seen This Before?

So I watched The Ear this morning, a Czechoslovak movie about a couple being spied upon that reminded me at times of The Confession. Unfortunately, the movie only seems to be available on DVD in Europe, and I'm not certain if that DVD is even in print. So I can't do a full-length post on it, which is a shame since it's an interesting movie.

Anyhow, tomorrow is the first day of a new month which means some movies back on FXM Retro after an absence. Tomorrow at 7:15 AM, FXM Retro is running Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Cesar Romero plays a 1920s Chicago gangster who meets a pretty lady (Virginia Gilmore) in the park and decides he wants her close to him. However, that would mean hiring her as a governess... and he doesn't have any children. So he hires a boy to play the part of his son, and that boy, well, is a holy terror. And there are the other competing gangsters.

If this sounds familiar, it probably should. Tall, Dark, and Handsome was released in 1941. Nine years later, Fox decided it would remake the property, and I've blogged about that movie, Love that Brute before. I really enjoy Love that Brute, although that may be in part because I'm a Paul Douglas fan. I can't recall whether I've actually seen Tall, Dark, and Handsome before.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Two Way Stretch

I was thinking of what to blog about today, and decided I'd look through my DVDs for something I haven't blogged about before, ultimately deciding on Two Way Stretch, off the same Peter Sellers box set as The Smallest Show on Earth, which I blogged about seven weeks ago.

Sellers plays Dodger Lane, whom we see at the beginning in a relatively cushy prison cell along with cellmates Price (Bernard Cribbins) and Knight (David Lodge). Part of the reason why it's so cushy is because the head of the guards, Jenkins, is a pushover who has an eternally optimistic view of the prisoners and their capability for rehabilitation. To that end, he's aided by the warden, called the Governor in British English (Maurice Denham). The Governor is even bringing in a welfare group to show them how good the prisoners are, unaware that they're taking severe advantage of him.

And then the Governor has a visitor for Lane: Stevens, Lane's vicar from his old parish (Wilfrid Hyde-White). Except that, from the way Lane responds to seeing the vicar, it's clear that the vicar and Lane have some problems in their relationship. Indeed, the vicar isn't a vicar at all, but a fellow criminal in the same gang as Lane, Price, and Knight. And Stevens was the only one with an alibi for the last heist, which is why he's a free man and they're in prison. But he's got a brilliant idea. Some sultan is coming to pick up his diamonds that he stores for safekeeping in the UK, and Stevens and the gang are going to steal the diamonds during transport. There's only one catch: Lane and his cellmates need to break out of prison for the heist, and then smuggle their way back into prison, so that they have an airtight alibi. (The prisoners are scheduled to be released on completion of their sentence soon, but after the transport that will result in the heist.)

With the Governor and Jenkins, getting out will be easy. So of course there's going to be a snag, which is that Jenkins is past retirement age, but has stayed on mostly because there's nobody to replace him. Only now, there is somebody to replace him, and Jenkins will soon be leaving. He's going to be replaced by Crout (Lionel Jeffries), who is an over-the-top martinet and brooks no nonsense from the prisoners in his charge. Getting out under Jenkins' watch would have been a breeze, but under Crout's watch? That's a problem.

There's nothing earth-shattering, ground-breaking, or even of any great significance, in Two Way Stretch. All it is is a jolly good ride. The movie was made in the pre-Strangelove stage of Sellers' career, when his characers weren't the irritating things you want to smack and which make some of the later movies nearly unwatchable. And he's got a wonderful supporting cast of British character actors, to the point that this is almost more of an ensemble cast than a Sellers vehicle. The gags almost uniformly work and don't insult the viewer's intelligence, even if there's relatively little new here. I particularly enjoyed the one involving distracting the guard supervising prison visits.

As I said back in March, the Peter Sellers box set is being sold at a fairly moderate price on Amazon. For that price, the films are more than worth it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

About Mrs. Leslie

Almost a year ago, I briefly mentioned the movie About Mrs. Leslie. It's running on TCM again tonight at midnight, and is worth a watch.

Mrs. Vivien Leslie (Shirley Booth) is a now unmarried woman living in Los Angeles, running a rooming house. Among her roomers are an older couple who are only in town to deal with a relative in hospital, a young woman who wants to make it in Hollywood and seems to be a party girl, and a young man who would probably be better for the young woman, but does he have the gumption to convince her of it? Vivien tries to make everybody's lives a little less humdrum in her own subtle way.

Meanwhile, there's the story of how Vivien wound up in Los Angeles. Fifteen year ago, before World War II, she was working as a nightclub singer in New York (yeah, Shirley Booth of the 1950s as a nightclub siren). Into the nightclub come a couple of businessmen, including George Leslie (Robert Ryan). George is captivated by Vivien, and Vivien seems flattered by the man's erudition. He makes her a strange offer: accompany him on a trip to California for six weeks, and after that time they'll go their separate ways.

Amazingly, she takes him up on the offer, and unsurprisingly, the two fall in love. But there's a catch: George Leslie is only using his first and middle names. His last name would give the game away as he's in the news and once the war comes he's one of those people who serves the government by offering his expertise free of charge, like the Charles Coburn character in The More the Merrier. And he's already married into a prominent family. Of course Vivien finds out eventually, but what will that do to their relationship? And what will happen to the folks in her romming house and the girl next door?

It's with good reason that TCM is running About Mrs. Leslie as part of the Spotlight on post-war melodramas: boy does this one fall into that category. It's actually not a bad little movie however. That probably has a lot to do with the two leads, both excellent actors who could rise above less-than-stellar material. And the material here is at times less than stellar. Most of the screen time is given to Booth, with Ryan close behind; the stories of the rooming house tenants are decidedly secondary, thankfully.

I'm not certain if About Mrs. Leslie has ever been released to DVD, so you'll have to catch the rare TCM showing.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #146: Police (TV Edition)

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week is that week of the month where the theme focuses on TV shows, and this month it's TV shows about cops, and I've picked a couple of older shows:

Ironside (1967-1975). Raymond Burr, who had been the heavy (no pun intended) in a whole bunch of movies in the 1940s and 1950s, and usually excellent in that role, did a volte-face in the late 1950s when he played defense attorney Perry Mason. After that show wrapped, Burr moved on to playing Ironside, the head of the police detectives who solved cases from his wheelchair rather than going on disability. I think I actually learned about Burr from this show before learning about Perry Mason or his movie work, since this was syndicated and we'd watch it when Grandma was babysitting us.

T.J. Hooker (1982-1986). What William Shatner did when he wasn't doing Star Trek movies. The intro above is a very early episode, since Heather Locklear hadn't come on yet; she would be in the cast by the middle of the first season. And what ever happened to Adrian Zmed?

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). One in which the cops, influenced by corrupt Boss Hogg, are the bad guys. Character actor James Best played Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, and future Congressman Ben Jones played Enos (and got a spinoff series). Of course, the series might be best known for Daisy Dukes, the cut-off short shorts worn by the Catherine Bach character.

Jonathan Demme, 1944-2017

The death has been announced of Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. Demme, who won for directing Silence of the Lambs, was 73.

Directing Silence of the Lambs obviously means that Demme directed a couple of actors there to Oscar wins, since the movie took all the big awards that year. But Demme directed other stars to Oscar wins as well. I think the first was Mary Steenburgen in Melvin and Howard, a movie about Howard Hughes' controversial will and the people around Hughes at the end of his life. That came about a decade before Silence of the Lambs.

A couple of years after Silence of the Lambs, Demme directed Tom Hanks to the first of his Oscar wins in Philadelphia, although the less said about that movie the better since I find it terrible: it makes Guess Who's Coming to Dinner look subtle.

I wonder if Demme would have been offended if we celebrated his life with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Younger Generation

TCM is running a bunch of Ricardo Cortez movies on Thursday. A search of the blog claims that I haven't done a full-length post on The Younger Generation before, and it's a really interesting little movie.

The Goldfishes are a Jewish immigrant family led by patriarch Julius (Jean Hersholt). He's got a wife Tilda and two children, son Morris (Ricardo Cortez) and daughter Birdie. They, like a lot of Jewish immigrants of the early 20th century, live in the tenements of lower Manhattan, where Julius works as a peddler, buying and selling stuff from a push cart.

Immigrant parents want their children to have a better life, and to that end, Morris starts from the bottom in childhood as a paper boy, while Birdie wants to marry her sweetheart Eddie, a budding musician. Morris grows up to become a second-hand dealer, and then a dealer in antiques, making good for himself and being able to move uptown.

There's a catch, however. When you talk about the "polite" society uptown, it really means Gentile society. And the Goldfishes are Jews. Morris is anxious to fit into that society enough that he's willing to change his surname. And then he brings his parents uptown, only for them to find they don't necessarily like polite society. Meanwhile, Eddie is about to get in a legal jam....

The Younger Generation is a very early Frank Capra movie. So early, in fact, that it's only a partial talkie. The movie was conceived back in the silent days, but with the release of The Jazz Singer (a movie with similar themes that also happens to be a partial talkie), studios realized that talking pictures could work. So they did some of the scenes as sound, and the result is a mix of silent and talking picture, something that's always interesting even if it doesn't always work.

In the case of The Younger Generation, it does more or less work, although the themes play almost as tropes and there's a lot of melodrama. I don't think the movie has ever been released to DVD, so you'll have to catch the exceedingly rare TCM showing. It's worth a viewing, too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Another set of new-to-me shorts

Coming up early tomorrow (or overnight tonight depending on your point of view) on TCM, you can catch Holland Sailing at 3:35 AM following Tea For Two (1:45 AM, 96 min). Given the date (1956) and the subject (boat racing in the Netherlands), I figured this had to be another of the RKO Sportscopes I've mentioned on the site before. Sure enough, IMDb says that's what it is. Specifically, they say it's #6 from the 1956-57 season, which makes me wonder just how many of these Sportscopes were made. I'm sure there's a complete list somewhere but up until now I haven't bothered to look for it. I just did a cursory search, and couldn't find much.

I was only going to mention two shorts, but I just noticed earlier in the overnight, at about 1:25 AM, there's Mr. Whitney Had a Notion. From the title and date (1949), my first guess was John Nesbitt's Passing Parade, confirmed by looking at IMDb. (Passing Parade No. 71, no less; my goodness a lot of these were made.) But I mention this one about Whitney's invention of the cotton gin because the part of Eli Whitney is played by... a young Lloyd Bridges.

The other short I had planned to mention is For Your Convenience, at 7:34 AM after Speedy at 6:00 AM. The subject here is inventions that presumably make things more convenient, and since it's from 1939, my conclusion was that it's another Pete Smith short. But it's not. It's from Warner Bros. And it's in color. Unfortunately, the one IMDb reviewer claims it's not any good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Back on FXM Retro: April 24-25, 2017

For some reason, I thought I had mentioned recently that The Roots of Heaven is bck in the FXM Retro rotation, as it's been running for a month or two. It's going to be on at the end of this morning's FXM Retro block, at 12:50 PM, and then starting tomorrow's at 3:30 AM.

Coming on immediately before today's airing of The Roots of Heaven is Guns at Batasi, at 11:05 AM today. Both movies are overlooked, although you could argue that The Roots of Heaven deserves to remain overlooked.

Both movies have received DVD releases in the past, and The Roots of Heaven even got a Blu-Ray release. It's also available from Amazon's streamin service. I don't think the DVDs are still in print, however.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


This morning I watched The Confession on my DVR, having noticed that it's available on DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection. You can get it at Amazon and the TCM Shop, although being the Criterion Collection, it is a bit pricey. If it shows up again as a TCM Import, watch it.

The movie starts off in Prague in early 1951. Gérard (Yves Montand), nom de guerre of Artur London, is an undersecretary at one of the Communist government ministries, and a dedicated Communist. The movie is based on the real-life story of Artur London, and in one scene in the movie the character of his wife Lise (played by Simone Signoret) is referred to as Londonová which would be the proper Czech surname for her, but IMDb and my box guide refer to Gérard's actual name as Anton Ludvik. For what it's worth, the character is almost exclusively referred to as Gérard. Anyhow, when Gérard leaves the office for home, he notices he's being followed by another car. And it's been going on for a couple of days.

So that night at his house he meets several other Communists with whom he shares something in common: they all fought in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War against the Falangists/Fascists. Although they fought against Fascism, and some of them including Gérard wound up spending time in Nazi concentration camps as a result, they're all in danger. As we learned from the movie Dark Blue World, those who fought Fascism on the western front came back to Czechoslovakia not to be hailed heroes, but considered enemies of the state by the Stalinist Communists. Such was eventually to be the case for the International Brigade members, too.

Gérard finally gets picked up off the street one day and taken to a special prison, where he's subjected to torture in the hopes of extracting a confession from him. He's not the only one, of course, and any time one of them makes a confession, regardless of whether the confession is at all truthful, that material can be used against the others. Artur seems to hold out the longest, because the film implies he was arrested in January 1951, while the show trials were held in November 1952.

We know he survives, however, because halfway through the movie the action briefly switches to France in 1965 and Gérard is seen telling his story and being told he should write a book about it. That did eventually happen and the movie is the result of that book.

The Confession was directed by Costa-Gavras, and as I was watching it I couldn't help but think of the similarites to his previous movie Z. They both deal with political intrigue and totalitarianism, and both of them have a slightly non-linear storytelling process that at times makes you question reality. Having said that, I'd introduce people who aren't well-versed in foreign films to Z first. The reason is that The Confession is unrelentingly brutal, in a way that really made me uncomfortable at times. Oh, the movie is well made, and Montand and Signoret are both quite good; it's just that the totalitarianism is harsher and more disturbing here than in Z, making it a bit harder to watch. At least for me. As I said at the beginning, however, definitely make it a point to watch it if it ever shows up on TCM again or if you can do the streaming thing; Amazon seem to imply it's available from them courtesy of streaming as well as DVD and Blu-Ray. It's too bad that Criterion price their DVD's so expensive.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison

So I watched Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison off my DVR this morning since I saw it's available from the Warner Archive. It's worth a watch, but I don't know that it's worth buy at Warner Archive prices.

The movie starts off with an overview of California's Folsom State Prison, and a narration from the point of view of the prison itself of how conditions were much more inhumane in the past. Cut to the 1920s, and a prison riot in which they take one of the guards and Warden Rickey (Ted de Corsia) hostage. The riot, of course fails, and the warden concludes that the way to get people to stop rioting is to be more brutal, which gets a reporter to show up for one throwaway scene.

That reporter is apparently what leads to the state authorities taking notice of the prison conditions, because they decide to send a new man Benson (David Brian) to head up the prison guards. Benson is a college man, and has "modern" ideas on how to treat prisoners, ideas that mean not being so brutal. Needless to say, this ticks Rickey off to no end, and he tries to undermine Benson at every turn.

Meanwhile, among the prisoners, we get several tropes of the genre, with about the only one I didn't see being the new guy who just doesn't know how to handle prison life. There's Daniels (Steve Cochran), the guy who's planning a breakout, and Red (Philip Carey), who is marking time until he can get out and go back to his wife and kids. They're actually friends, even if they have different ideas on how to get out of the place. As for Red, he's trusted enough to drive with a guard out of the prison to pick up dynamite for the prison's quarry operation. Unfortunately, hiding in the truck is another prisoner (William Campbell), and Red decides to alert the other guards in order to prevent his parole from getting hung up. Of course, he's considered a stool pigeon for this....

Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison is a movie I found to be standard-issue prison fare. There's nothing new here, and it's all done with a B-list cast. Most if not all the tropes are here; including the ones I've already mentioned there's the brutality of solitary. Indeed, when I was watching one scene of the warden roughing up a prisoner for information, I couldn't help but think of Hume Cronyn and his truncheon in Brute Force. Looking at the IMDb reviews, I'm not the only person to have that thought.

Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison is a perfectly competent movie, and another of those that would probably be best served by being on one of those four-movie TCM box sets -- say, with a prison theme. Unfortunately, it only seems available as a standalone from the Warner Archive collection, with the commensurately higher price that I'm not certain I'd want to pay for what is essentially a B movie.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Briefs for April 21, 2018

I see TCM is airing an RKO Screenliner I don't think I've seen before: The Beach of Nazaré, at about 7:50 PM, following Dear Heart (5:45 PM, 114 min). This one is about a Portuguese coastal village.

For anybody who wasted their money on TCM's Now Playing magazine, don't do it any longer. TCM has announced that they're discontinuing it and doing an email version. Now that there are no longer any Robert Osborn articles and with schedules available online so much easier, what's the point? Heck, what was the point ten years ago already? Unsurprisingly ome of the TCM Message Board commenters are in a tizzy.

TCM is bringing back The Essentials starting in May, hosted by Alec Baldwin and a changing lineup of guests accompanying him. As I understand it, the first three guest hosts will be, in order, David Letterman, Tina Fey, and director William Friedkin. The less said about the Essentials mini site, the better.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #145: Disappearances

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is disappearances, and once again I've picked three older movies. Well, technically four, since one of them was remade.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). An early British example of Alfred Hitchcock's mastery of suspense, this tells the story of a family (father Leslie Banks, mother Edna Best, and daughter Nova Pilbeam) on vacation in Switzerland. Somebody gets killed, and with his dying breath tells Dad an important international secret. There are nefarious people who don't want that secret falling into the "wrong" people's hands, so they kidnap the daughter and take her to England. Mom and Dad go around London separately trying to find her. This was of course remade by Hitchcock in Hollywood with James Stewart and Doris Day as the parents, but the original is a fun little 75-minute affair. Actually, I could have done an entire entry using only Alfred Hitchcock's movies, as others that fit include The Lady Vanishes, Foreign Correspondent, Saboteur and, I suppose, The Trouble With Harry.

Les diaboliques (1955). Michel (Paul Meurisse) is a martinet of a school master at a French boarding school, with both a wife (Vera Clouzot) and mistress (Simone Signoret) who are unhappy with him. The two women decide to gang up and murder him, drowning him in a bathtub and then dumping the body in the school's swimming pool. When it comes time for the police to search for the body, they drain the swimming pool... only for there to be no body! Needless to say, this is quite a shock to the women, one of whom handles it less well than the other. For those who are frightened by the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho, this one is a perfect antidote. This one was remade in Hollywood in the 90s with Sharon Stone, but the less said about the remake, the better.

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965). Carol Lynley plays Ann Lake, a young American single mother with a daughter who decides to go to visit London to visit her brother Steven (Keir Dullea). Ann puts her child in a preschool, but when the time comes to pick the daughter up, the daughter isn't there... and there's no record that the daughter was ever at the school. Steven takes the case to the police, led by detective Laurence Olivier, but nobody is ever able to find any evidence that the kid existed. Is Ann going insane, and never even had a child? Or is something more nefarious happening? Noël Coward plays an upstairs neighbor.

Emperor of the North (Pole)

Coming up on FXM Retro tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM, and available on DVD, is Emperor of the North.

The movie starts of with a scrolling intertitle telling us that the time is 1933, which means the Great Depression, and a lot of hobos riding the rails. We then see one particular hobo trying to hop a train, except that this time there's a bit of a difference. The conductor, named "Shack" (Ernest Borgnine) is more vicious in getting people off his train, and responds by hitting the guy in the head with a hammer, killing the guy as he falls off the train.

After the credits roll, accompanied to some horrible music by Marty Robbins, we met another hobo, A Number 1 (Lee Marvin). He's one of the more experienced hobos, and knows how to evade detection. He hops on an empty car in Shack's train. And he'd be able to get where he's going too, except that not long afterward, another idiot, young Cigaret (Keith Carradine), insists on getting on the train in the same car as A Number 1. Cigaret is an obnoxious jerk, and thinks he can be just as "good", or renowned, a hobo as A Number 1.

The two hobos eventually have to burn their way out of the boxcar they were riding in after Shack locked them in, but Cigaret decides he's going to tell anybody who will listen that he rode Shack's train. And dammit, he's going to do it again, just to show proof of concept of something, not that they used that phrase back in the 1930s. A Number 1 is none too happy about this, and decides he's going to be the one to show everybody how it's done, although he's going to have to take Cigaret under his wing since Cigaret isn't going to stop following him.

Shack, of course, is brutal, as we already saw from the way he hammered a guy to death. And when Shack finds he's got a pair of hobos riding his train, he's going to try any means he can to get the bastards off. And they're going to try anything they can to stop the train and get on it, leading to the climactic fight scene....

Emperor of the North is entertaining enough, although not without its problems. It runs a shade under two hours, but is the sort of story that could probably have been told in only a 90-100 minute running time. Parts of the story really drag. The bigger problem, however, is the Cigaret character. He's one of those obnoxious jerks constantly screwing things up for A Number 1. Sure, there are characters you want to see get their comeuppance, but good writing can make such characters fun: think the way southern sheriffs are often portrayed as buffoons. Cigaret isn't so well written, and the result is the sort of character I wanted to see A Number 1 smack.

Overall, however, if you haven't seen Emperor of the North, it's a movie well worth a watch.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Claude Rains double feature: They Won't Forget/They Made Me a Criminal

Back in January when I was doing a Thursday Movie picks post on legal thrillers, one of my choices was Claude Rains as a prosecutor in They Won't Forget. I mentioned in that post that you might think Rains is miscast as a southern prosecutor, but then he was just about as good playing a police detective from Queens in They Made Me a Criminal.

I didn't know it at the time -- and I'm not certain if the April TCM schedule had been released at the time I wrote that post -- that the two movies were going to be on back to back. Tonight, TC is looking at a bunch of movies Rains made in the 1930s, not even including The Adventures of Robin Hood. Among those movies are They Won't Forget overnight at 1:30 AM. That wil be followed at 3:30 AM by They Made Me a Criminal, which has Rains investigating boxer John Garfield who is on the run for a murder he didn't commit.

Both movies are well worth watching.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hollywood Handicap

Another new to me short is Hollywood Handicap, which will be on TCM today at about 5:45 PM, or following What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? a(3:30 PM, 134 min).

The plot involves a group of black stable hands who form a singing group and pool their money to put a horse into the Hollywood Handicap horse race at Santa Anita. But it really seems to be an opportunity to show a bunch of stars enjoying a day out at the track. The cast list includes a whole bunch of stars, from multiple studios. The short was distributed by MGM and so has Mickey Rooney and Robert Montgomery. But there's also Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour who I think were both at Paramount at the time; I think Ruby Keeler and Al Jolson were with Warner Bros. Or, at least, they had been. Oliver Hardy appears; Stan Laurel doesn't. The short was also directed by Buster Keaton in that sad period of his life when he was no longer starring in movies and reduced to stuff like this.

The short has been released on DVD as an extra. IMDb says it's the 2007 release of The Jazz Singer, which I think would mean this set from the TCM Shop. It's also currently on Youtube here, although it's not in the public domain and the screenshot that accompanies the short (the one you'd see over in the sidebar) looks to be in rather poor quality.

Monday, April 17, 2017

TCM Guest Programmer April 2017: William Daniels

Tonight sees the monthly Guest Programmer segment on TCM. That programmer is William Daniels, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Daniels is probably best known for his roles on the TV series St. Elsewhere as well as Knight Rider, where he provided the voice of the car KITT. TCM's site is listing Daniels as having selected only three movies, which makes me wonder if he had selected a fourth but for some reason TCM wound up hitting a snag in getting the rights to it.

Anyhow, Daniels has actually selected two of his own movies, both of which are roles he had done earlier on the stage. First, at 8:00 PM, there will be the musical 1776, about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence; Daniels plays John Adams.

That will be followed at 11:00 PM by A Thousand Clowns; Daniels plays one of the social workers. But I have to admit I haven't seen the movie in ages. The kid was so obnoxious that one viewing was more than enough for me.

The third film is Dodsworth, at 1:15 AM. Walter Huston plays a retired businessman who finds that spending retirement with his wife isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Presumably, the last movie of the night, Cass Timberlane at 3:15 AM, is not being presented by anybody.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Another movie I didn't realize is available on DVD is Tish, which you can find at the TCM Shop courtesy of the Warner Archive. To be honest, however, Tish is really a movie that's only worth buying if it were part of one of those four-film sets TCM/Warner Home Video put out, likely focusing on one of the character actors who populate this film.

The star is Marjorie Main, playing Letitia "Tish" Carberry, a spinster aunt in one of those New England towns who's raised her nephew Charlie (Lee Bowman) from a young age. He's gone on to become the editor at the town newspaper, and if he could work up the courage, would finally propose to Kit (Virginia Grey), who is the daughter of the town's Judge Bowser (Guy Kibbee).

The judge, for his part, doesn't really like Tish, mostly because Tish insists on trying to run everybody's life in that small town. Tish, for her part, is slightly helped by her two widow friends, Aggie (ZaSu Pitts) and Lizzie (Aline MacMahon), who live at the local boarding house now that they're on limited incomes. Also living there is young orphan Cora (Susan Peters), who thinks she's in love with Charlie and who Tish thinks would be much better for Charlie than Kit would. However, the one who really loves Cora is the judge's son Ted (Richard Quine, who would later quit acting and become a director).

Tish tries to set up Charlie and Cora, but it turns out all she's really able to do is make life difficult for everybody. And it's at this point that the movie takes a surprisingly dark turn. Ted wants to make a man of himself, and since the opening part of the movie is presumably set before Pearl Harbor (the movie was released in September 1942 and the action covers well over a year), Ted signs up to train to be a pilot and fly Lend-Lease planes from Canada to the UK. And once he gets that job, Cora realizes she loves Ted, so elopes with him, to follow Ted to Toronto once he gets settled and the good salary starts rolling in. Cora runs off to Canada stealing some money Tish had in her purse that actually belonged to the church's organ fund, and Ted's boat gets torpedoed on the way back across the Atlantic. And Tish winds up with temporary custody of Cora's baby....

Tish really isn't a bad movie, a good example of the sort of B movies that MGM was producing back in the day. I generally prefer Warner Bros. B movies, but this one is one of the better-made and more interesting ones to come from MGM, with a bit less of the treacly moralizing that I often find in MGM's B movies. Marjorie Main dominates, of course, and not just because she's the leading character. Aline MacMahon and ZaSu Pitts are both quite good in support as Tish's two best friends. Lee Bowman is OK but his character is supposed to be a bit mousy so he comes across as bland. Not Bowman's fault, but more the way the character is written. Poor Susan Peters wound up with a tragic life; she sparkles. Guy Kibbee doesn't have all that much to do.

Tish, as I said, is pretty good, so it's a bit of a shame that it's only available in a standalone format from the Warner Archive. Those discs can be pretty pricey, and for a B movie, there should probably be something in a budget option available.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


I looked through my DVR and saw that Tension is available on DVD from the TCM Shop (the same DVD can be had at Amazon), so I figured I'd watch that one in order to have something to blog about today.

Los Angeles police lieutenant Bonnabel (Barry Sullivan) tells us a good portion of the story in narration. He's a homicide detective who likes to up the tension on the people in a case until the key people snap and the details are revealed, enabling him to find the killer. And boy has Bonnabel got a doozy of a story this time....

Warren Quimby (Richard Basehart) is a pharmacist at one of those all-night drug stores, working the night shift because somebody's got to be open to handle any emergency prescriptions that have to be filled. He's also doing it because the money's good and he wants to buy a house to satisfy his wife Claire (Audrey Totter). They're living in an apartment above the pharmacy, and she doesn't like it. Then again, she doesn't like much of anything, since she's perfectly willing to leave her husband behind to spend evenings with people like Barney Deager (Lloyd Gough) and his beach house.

Eventually, Claire leaves Warren for good to live with Barney, and Warren's none too happy about it. But he's the stereotypical 98-pound weakling, complete with glasses, while Barney is a much biger and more virile man. One day, however, Warren gets an idea while at the eye doctor. Soft contact lenses are a new thing, and Warren figures if he gets himself a set, he can completely change his identity, and use the new identity to kill Barney and leave Warren in the clear!

To that end, Warren takes the name Paul Sothern, and takes an apartment in a complex along with shutterbug Mary (Cyd Charisse in a non-dancing role). She falls for him, and eventually the feeling is mutual. And then the day comes when Warren intends to carry out his plan to murder Barney. He goes to the house, only to find that Claire is out with yet another man, meaning that Claire is going to treat Barney the same way she treated Warren. That seems to Walter like punishment enough for Barney, so why compound it by murdering him. Just get a divorce from Claire and let other people suffer with her.

When Warren gets back to his apartment over the pharmacy, apparently planning to come clean to Mary or something because he can't go on as Paul, he's in for a surprise. Claire shows up, saying that Barney has been murdered! Now, we know that Warren didn't do it. But since everybody knew this Paul Sothern had threatened Barney, all the suspicion is going to fall on Paul, which ultimately means it's going to fall on Warren....

Tension is entertaining enough, despite the fact that it's wildly unrealistic. Richard Basehart is quite good as somebody much wimpier than he played in He Walked By Night, while Audrey Totter gets to be a fun over-the-top as the nasty, nasty wife. Surely Warren would have figured out long ago that she wasn't worth marrying, but noooooo.... Barry Sullivan as the head detective, and William Conrad as his partner, are both more than adequate in supporting roles. There's nothing special here that hasn't been done in other noirs, but it all does work, and is more than worth a watch.