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Monday, December 20, 2021

Katzman Stages a Columbia Rumble

 


Juve Jungle Exposed in Rumble On The Docks (1956)


Sam Katzman does On The Waterfront with rock and roll and J.D. overlay. Jimmy Darren is the wayward youth who ties in with dock racketeers as Brando did, and keeps a telescope on his tenement roof rather than pigeons that decorated Waterfront's. So why not copy a thing that worked? Union v. mob yarns had become a 50's sub-genre, yet another torn off daily headlines. Rival street teens wear shirts emblazoned with name of respective gangs, which at least makes them easy to ID by cops, and simple for us to tell apart in title-pledged rumbling. "Rebels .. With Plenty Of Cause," said ads, which also referenced the "turbulent novel" on which Rumble was based. There's Freddie Bell and His Bellboys singing one called "Take The First Train Out Of Town," a highlight boosted big in the trailer. Come to find that Freddie and Bellboys performed Hound Dog pre-Elvis, and hearing their version inspired Presley to record the number himself.



J. Darren was Columbia's hope to resurrect James Dean and dazzle girlish stub-holders; must have worked, as they'd stick by Darren for nearly a decade. My trouble was always getting him mixed up with another of Columbia dreamboats, Michael Callan. As a pocket Waterfront, Rumble On The Docks serves fine, Katzman not the sort to overstate social message, and dishing enough fist-and-shiv to serve action appetites. His instincts were surely right, as Rumble On The Docks brought home gratifying $429K in domestic rentals, the best Katzman money that year outside an initial two rock and roll exploiters. Rumble On The Docks has played Sony's Movie Channel in crisp 1.85 and HD.

6 Comments:

Blogger James Abbott said...

From Rumble to T.J. Hooker in one career....

Merry Christmas Greenbriar Brothers!

12:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I like how the studio felt obliged to provide a translation for "Rumble" on the one-sheet. Guess they thought people would think it was about a minor earthquake.

4:52 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer checks in re RUMBLE ON THE DOCKS:


“Rumble on the Docks” doesn’t have the cachet of “Rebel Without a Cause.” There aren’t a plethora of books and articles about James Darren and the “kids,” talking about the masterly director, Fred F. Sears, and the way he dragged truer-than-life performances out of them. You know, the sort of stories that have grown and grown around James Dean and his association with Nick Ray in “Rebel.” Outside of Greenbriar Picture Shows, I’m not sure anyone has really taken a look back at this not bad little flick that had its moment. In a Wikipedia article, though, Darren is quoted as saying that Sears was a “wonderful” director and that after “Rumble” came out, he started getting 300 fan letters a week, which caught the attention of his studio. Fred F. Sears, of course, is better known among sci-fi cultists for pictures like “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and “The Giant Claw.” He was a competent director who got the job done with a minimum of fuss. “Rumble on the Docks” was one of an incredible nine films directed by Sears that were released in 1956.

7:20 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dear John:

Greetings and salutations and all best wishes for the holiday season!

Although it seems like people began muttering about "the collapse of the studio system" back in 1949, a company like Columbia had a string of contract players for many years to come. It is interesting to look at Darren's career and observe how the studio developed the actor, casting him in a remarkable array of movies over four or five years, even initiating his singing career (and promoting his recordings on its record label). While the GIDGET pictures made him a teen idol, they also typed him as such; they played havoc with any dreams Darren might have had of becoming a full-fledged movie star. The actor isn't bad at all in THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, and his performance showed a certain amount of promise. [It would be interesting to know the details of his casting; did Columbia execs say to Foreman, 'okay, you can have those Brits and Irene Papas, but you gotta take Darren!' Still, he acquitted himself fairly well in the big-star film.] But the studio didn't really follow up on Darren's association with Foreman's big hit, subsequently casting him in two more GIDGET movies.

Darren was perhaps a little inexperienced and colorless -- a little moreso than Col colleagues Kerwin Mathews and Michael Callan -- and he was probably out of his depth in LET NO MAN WRITE MY EPITAPH, Columbia's very ambitious semi-sequel to KNOCK ON ANY DOOR which simply didn't come off to any extent. But the actor was easy to take in most of his films for the studio.

That's a great Italo poster for RUMBLE; I hope Darren has a copy hanging in his home!

It is holiday-themed -- and impressive to behold -- but I feel I must inquire: What is the source for the provocative image of the Santa's Helper you're using as a header this week? Is that a drive-in screen (however impossibly wide) behind her? Is she curled up on the roof of the drive-in's projection booth/concession stand? What was she originally holding for us to see? A lot of questions, but some Greenbriar regulars here want to know!

Merry Christmas, sir.

Regards,
-- Griff

REPLY FROM JOHN: Maybe Santa's Helper is poised in the foreground of that California drive-in where they used to show Cinerama. Can't remember where I came up with this image.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

Boy, is that illo not PC! I used to love those bosomy all-but-the-nipple blonde sexpot illustrations. Talk about white privilege....

1:30 PM  
Blogger Tbone Mankini said...

Strange to think,by a decade later, Darren was known as "the guy off TIME TUNNEL"(despite a guest slot on THE FLINTSTONES as singer Jimmy Darrock!) and then 30 years later,as singer Vince Fontaine,on STAR TREK:DEEP SPACE NINE....as if each new incarnation had wiped the existence of the previous....I can remember being shocked seeing Joan Blondell in a 1930s WB,only knowing her from HERE COME THE BRIDES....

9:55 PM  

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