This is some of what's been looked at in a past
week. Not ones I'd feature in a post, but worth at least a word or two.
There'll be more, as two dozen are done. I'd like to keep this up, and enjoy it
so far, flaking out always a possibility of course, but who knew Greenbriar itself would approach seven years?
THE LONG HAUL (1957)---Excellent and tough as nails
Brit-thriller from Columbia DVD-On Demand. Victor Mature repeatedly said he was
no actor. This proves otherwise. Nasty business among low-downers driving
trucks out of Liverpool --- is this a life
Beatle members might have drifted into had not fame rescued them? Similar to
Hell Drivers of greater repute ... I liked this one as much. UK noir seems
to me grittier than US counterparts. So many are still out there to discover
THE BISHOP MURDER CASE (1929)---Stiffer even than
when Bill Powell cracked the Canary case, lacks also Louise Brooksfor a
bracer, but there isThe Great Bazas Philo Vance, and his two profiles stick
together nicely throughout. A stone-age talker where one guy handled
"stage direction" and another did the rest (but what rest?), thus a
shared director credit. Longish (88 minutes) as in five and ten minute naps for
me throughout, but I always watch when TCM shows it --- someone there must like
Bishop. Roland Young is the most relaxed player here. He always comes off very
modern to me. Story gets complicated at times. Guess mystery watchers then were
sharper than I am now.
OF DOOMED MEN (1940)--- Peter Lorre was great in "A's," but
ideally suited for programmers where they could build sixty-five minutes around
his warped persona. He cruelly oversees a prison atoll here, and has Charles
(Ming) Middleton for a lieutenant. The kind of "B" better left to
those who grew up with such stuff onTV. The above still and caption in Castle Of Frankenstein #5 was what cranked me up to see it in Summer '64. Columbia's
On-Demand DVD is stellar --- all theirs so far have been. Used to be in Screen
Gems' "Son Of Shock" package and was everywhere, at least until the
early 70's. Who's going to visit this Island after
us Monster Kids die out?
SLATTERY'S HURRICANE (1949)--- A good vehicle for
rising star Richard Widmark, partly shot on Florida coastlines. Andre DeToth directs,
his then wife VeronicaLake is along, looking
different and somehow wrong minus the signature hair style. Linda Darnell plays
another of her been-around characters and is fine. Slattery isn't noir and
that's kept it obscure. Herman Wouk wrote the source novel (he's now
ninety-seven and counting!). Dick unknowingly smuggles giggle powder and that's
where trouble starts. This is one I wish Fox had done a better job transferring
for On-Demand DVD. It merits re-mastering.
TIMBER STAMPEDE (1939)--- You need only watch a
handful of George O' Briens to become a fan, his among tip-top series westerns
from beginnings with the genre to a late-30's end (other than isolated instances
after). Timber Stampede was for RKO in 1939. It doesn't look cheap like misconception
most have of B westerns. Better ones by the mid-30's had polish to rival A's,
especially O' Brien's. He's got muscle to whup heavies by the bushel, slinging
'em around like Maciste in sword/sandal pics to come (in fact, George could
easily have done a Samson or two himself, given the inclination). I'm looking
for Warner Archive to eventually package these.
JUNIOR MISS (1945)--- Peggy Ann Garner in the title
role and based on a Broadway hit. She meddles/misunderstands to chaotic effect,
but Mom/Dad forbear and hugs go round for a happy finish. There'll never be
teens like these again (Mona Freeman the older sister). It takes place in NYC
(circa 1945), thus kids chatter about shows at the Roxy and Rialto theatres. In fact, they're all
movie-mad, which adds to fun. Peggy thinks her father's having an affair
because Clark Gable was that way in a pic she saw. Callow boys wear ties,
overcoats, fedoras. Try that now and folks would laugh, or think you're
cracked. Junior Miss made me wish (again) I'd lived back then. Course I'd
probably be dead now, so guess not. Delights are compounded by a gorgeous
transfer Fox did for their On-Demand DVD.
HARMON OF MICHIGAN (1941)--- Tom Harmon played football --- well enough for Columbia to make a movie about his feats. Fallen
short of a leading man face, Tom did have personality and was natural with
dialogue. His rookie coaching turns ruthless (something about a "Flying
Wedge," which we're told is unethical, if not illegal) and Harmon, as
Harmon,stops at nothing toward the big win. There's an "Old Pop"
mentor that gets a worst of things from ingrate TH. Famous booth announcers
make grid stuff credible. Tom was a good sport to portray himself as so
misguided (doubt he would have if Harmon were similarly askew in real life). He
straightens out at the end, but only just. I don't know football from hurling
javelins, but I enjoyed this a lot. Wonder how often Harmon and Nelson family
members revisit it. Another excellent Columbia DVD.
ESCAPE IN THE FOG (1945)--- Must confess to
clock-watching through a lugubrious 65 minutes. "Oscar Boetticher Jr."
directed, but it wasn't much help. There's no cheap so enervating as Columbia cheap. It's six
days out and I can't recall what happens in this thing. Did I fall asleep
again? Another picture Nina Foch didn't like to mention when she taught acting
years later. I hear Columbia
(like RKO) staged things dark to avoid decorating sets, though Otto Kruger
supplies usual beacon of light. Interest flags when he's offscreen. Columbia delivers another
splendid DVD. Their preservation dept. puts as much care in cheapies like this
as on big titles.