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Monday, June 24, 2024

Lawdog McGraw Hampered By One of His Own?


Favorites List --- The Narrow Margin

I’ve a fundamental beef with Marie Windsor’s character in The Narrow Margin. As shown above, she turns out to be a policewoman gone undercover on behalf of the “Internal Affairs Division” to root out cops receiving “graft and payoffs.” Her function then is to fink out fellow law enforcement officers in event they coddle criminals. Posing as the widow of a murdered kingpin, she will be escorted cross-country by detective sergeant Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) and work partner of six years, Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes (Don Beddoe), “Mrs. Frankie Neall” slated to testify against Mob interests, except Mrs. Neall is really “Sarah Meggs” who is planted for purpose of “testing” Brown and Forbes in event they choose to play ball with baddies. Gus is shot down as the pair attempt to escort their phony witness down shabby apartment stairs, after which faux Mrs. Neall disparages the late Forbes for having “got himself killed.” Brown understandably hates her and we are encouraged to do likewise. Here’s the thing: I disapprove of Ms. Neall/Sarah Meggs much the more on realizing she not only brought about Forbes’ death but will devote herself to making the now-solo Brown’s mission a miserable one, being non-stop rude toward the detective who blames himself for Gus’s death. She is determined also to corrupt clean-record Brown by proposing they both prosper on thirty-thousand so far offered by assassins who have boarded Chicago-to-L.A. train with intent to kill. “Why did they stick me with a decoy?” asks Brown once put right re the scheme and indeed we might pose the same question. Would less lives have been lost had “Mrs. Neall” confided her true identity to lighten Brown’s considerable load? Consider carnage she caused to possibly entrap what we know to be an upright cop. My sympathy over her fate went right out a window upon unmasking of this Internal Affairs plant. Does response derive from repeated seventies-eighties movie incident of venality within IA ranks? Harry Callahan got pains a-plenty from them, and often as not, IA personnel were themselves on the take. Maybe I’m muddled for years of slip-slide ethics as practiced by movies. Is it too late to bring back simple white hats and black hats?

The Narrow Margin
wasn’t meant to ponder beyond 71-minute runtime but note that like with comedy or any preset genre, characters are expected to behave as viewership might, given a same set of circumstance, this assuming we root with such characters. I on one hand might admire the policewoman's sacrifice and risk she took, but meaningful is fact the film does not address this nor refer to Officer Meggs after her death. Was recognition passed over to keep focus on Margin's witness/potential victim switch? To explore result of Meggs' conduct might muddy an already crowded third act. Fleet-paced programmers had not time or inclination to iron wrinkles in narrative, and even if they did, would a 1952 audience sit patient for it? Tis not for me to complain of how The Narrow Margin resolves, but might detective Brown reflect once smoke clears and he’s back on a daily beat? Having reviewed events at greater leisure with fixed income colleagues who have their own beef with higher-ups, might Brown protest, take the argument upstairs, bawl out the Commissioner even (but what if latter is dirty and previous object of Officer Meggs investigation?). Like Harry Callahan later on, Brown might toss his badge in the drink and opt henceforth for private work, or maybe like McGraw on other screen occasions, investigate insurance fraud (Roadblock), perhaps switch sides and knock over an armored car (William Talman could have used McGraw brains for that Robbery gone ultimately wrong).

Readership might someday tell me to shut up and enjoy these old pictures for what they are. Trouble is complexity within best of them crying out for alternate reads which I doggedly apply. Remember My Man Godfrey, Holiday, Suspicion? This is getting to be a habit. Is there such thing as Classic Era Rehab? The Narrow Margin was seen as special right from belated start, being finished two years before but for Howard Hughes as head of RKO dithering over release. He in fact wanted to scrap a whole thing and begin again as an A project with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, HH nuts enough to take the loss and have things his peculiar way. His Kind of Woman was said to have been a very different show before being virtually remade in Hughes image. Remember juggling of The Window before it finally got into theatres? As with The Narrow Margin, huzzahs called that 1949 thriller a sleeper. RKO was odd sort of address where miracles could happen. Merchandising however shrank from sleeper label because no, The Narrow Margin was wide awake and sure enough to be a mainstream hit, ads going offbeat direction to let patrons know this was no ordinary suspense ride, nor arty beyond their grasp. I sense Terry Turner behind this campaign and why not? He was live wire for Snow White’s reissue, ditto King Kong, and Sudden Fear, all selling 1952 tickets by bushels. The “Fat Man with a Gun” gag was something new. Did it remind watchers of Hitchcock's profile as assist to his output? Canadian venues compared The Narrow Margin with “Classic Tradition” of Hitchcock and Carol Reed. TIME magazine evoked The Lady Vanishes and Night Train (to Munich), reputations of these heady since long before. “A new school of ad styling” said the Motion Picture Herald, and yes, for something without stars, The Narrow Margin offered a memorable night out, if placed on lower level of bills.

Opinions weren’t uniform, the Catholic Film Society (London) figuring The Narrow Margin best suited to “normal male adolescents.” 1952 appealed to such for clear majority of showgoing, as in aim toward youth or go hungry. We like noir but for then-reviewers, they were common as dirt, including diamonds amidst much ruffage. The Exhibitor called Margin “a mishmash … the twists become ludicrous.” And here we are writing how inventive those twists are. A crowded marketplace barely saw difference between ordinary genre product and ones above fray mostly frayed. Still it was news when The Narrow Margin stayed eleven weeks at New York’s Trans-Lux, oft-art address not given to penny candy, anything they’d book amounting to endorsement for the venue’s invitation alone. Management left it for local press and discriminating critics to do the rest. Wider spread cinemas took their own chance, some to thrive, others to thud. “Make sure you sell the streamliner,” said the Motion Picture Herald, “display model railroads in the lobby” if possible, this presupposing you’d book The Narrow Margin for more than a day or two, many if not most situations opting for short hops, Margin its own streamliner rushed through town and on to a next brief stop. Outlying management ID’ed what may have been a central problem: “I would surely like to know who puts the titles to some of these motion pictures. Our business was no good because the title was not understood. Why couldn’t they have named it “The Eastbound Death” or something with a snappy title?” Why indeed? Nostalgia drives this train, even, or especially, for those of us who never knew dining cars, red caps, upper berths, the rest. Confinement speeds tempo. I’d as soon McGraw begin another murder hunt on heels of this one, such is comfort riding beside him. Adjustments? Less of gabby Gordon Gebert, otherwise yes to Photoplay bouquet for “a movie that moves, with a story that clicks!” The Narrow Margin so far eludes on Blu-Ray, but there is a DVD of good quality.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Stuff of Comedy Turned Serious


Why Shouldn't Quiz Shows Be Crooked?

There once were public intellectuals that walked the Earth. They spoke on radio, sparred with comedians, and enriched millions, not disdained for being cultivated but adored because they were. Wit was what many (most?) wanted supply of, good vocabulary to be admired and emulated. Bing Crosby displayed erudition weekly and that became part of his ongoing appeal. We’d tune in nightly broadcasts to laugh and learn. Information Please really was informational, plus it had personalities to keep fun in the mix. Oscar Levant raised laughs not in spite of being smart, but because he was smart. Deems Taylor was egghead lite, never to take himself too serious and an eager guest to Duffy’s Tavern where invited. Newspaper columnists were also treasured asset. They could read, write, spell, and often amuse. Folks quoted a columnist and took personal credit for the insight, hoped others had not read the squib, as one of them might be waiting to spring same gag. There were “Quiz Kids” to ennoble what we’d later call geek behavior. Acquire of knowledge could in fact make one rich. Postwar emphasis on education opened collegiate doors not just to veterans, but for all who wanted smarts like what guessers after cash displayed on radio and lately television where geniuses had faces to go with mental agility. To this phenomenon came Champagne for Caesar, where bookworm Ronald Colman turns media sensation for his know-it-all-ness, a goal we’d all aspire to in 1950, and in fact many did.

Good sport KTLA permitted its camera to be used, “Milady Soap” quiz show presumably theirs, except I wonder if real stuff on primitive air was as lavish as depicted here, contest in terms of staging and large studio audience more like radio and resources that medium could manage (radio/TV simulcast is suggested). What televised game shows from 1950 survive? Little enough is around from later in the decade, and Caesar notion that cash prize for knowledge could reach into millions is fanciful beyond anyone’s concept of then-reality. Premise is Colman as eccentric “Beauregard Bottomley” driving double-or-nothing toward bankrupt point for soap manufacturer and sponsor Vincent Price. Champagne for Caesar is comedy with a thinking cap on, us invited to ponder comedown for culture that TV represented. Colman/Beauregard’s is voice in a wilderness for literacy exploited by slick operators who want him to win until suddenly they don’t. We are to understand that it is all about money, television at dawn of evil it would do for fullest share of an audience. Everyone around Beauregard sees his store of knowledge as useless but for moment’s blip he will register as human encyclopedia repurposed to sell soap. Champagne for Caesar came at a peaking time for education so far as a general public regarded it, college doable thanks to the GI Bill and recognition that learning was needed to vault out of a working class. Beauregard was thus figure of fun but up to a point, his not profiting from genius but from what genius might earn in hard cash. Toward settling for comforts of life, he’ll blithely sell out champ status and throw the game, his own corruption a neat two-hander to see everyone happy for Caesar’s fun fade.

Happy Sellouts: Rigged Gaming is Good Enough for Celeste Holm and Ronald Colman

That last is what endears me to Champagne for Caesar, Beauregard knowing all the world’s a sham and making sure he gets his end of it, “wrong” answer a right one toward tooling off with wealth, new wheels, and Celeste Holm who will toss his books away for their not needing them on a honeymoon. Caesar’s is a cheerfully cynical wrap plus raspberry to 1994’s Quiz Show, which dealt with a same racket, but took cribbing plus false wins seriously as Vietnam and Watergate filmmakers claimed such conduct led up to. Righteous Robert Redford as producer/director did not write Quiz Show, but his weighty thumb is upon proceeds start to end, exposure of crooked game shows during the fifties where America “lost its innocence.” How often have chalk-walkers charted past events that cost us innocence, as if we ever had it, and how many viewers cared a fig in 1956 that NBC fixed Twenty-One? Quiz Show bases upright self upon too tragic truth by nineties definition, a dark night of our national soul. Evil men of television warp principles in service to big business and only public confession from high-profile winner Charles Van Doren can redeem us. Quiz Show doubled with Champagne for Caesar is best evidence of how self-serious movies became over a forty-year canyon, made by ones who always get to be right backed by fawning reviews to assure them that of course they are always right. Only difference between Beauregard and Van Doren is former really knowing answers but taking a dive for profit, the girl, and getting back his private life, all sane and sensible reasons for chucking a championship that really meant nothing to begin with. Champagne for Caesar posits itself, and a frankly farcical theme, as comedy it was and is.

Could a “senate oversight” investigator have been bothered in 1950 to investigate perfidies of some dumb game show? Champagne for Caesar suggests not … could it have even occurred to them? Maybe it was good sense we lost, not innocence, but common sense, where so much was made of Van Doren being fed right answers and walking a public plank for it. Were same jealous forces that later framed a payola scandal to wreck rock and roll behind this imbroglio? I enjoy Quiz Show, parts are funny, truer truth spoke by Martin Scorsese as string-pulling sponsor that is Geritol, his speech good a time as any to exit Quiz Show and figure this was where best lesson of the movie lay. He’s like Lonesome Rhodes knowing the score on Vitajex and saying sure, I’ll sell your phony pills, and let’s all get rich doing it. I’m a sucker for “villains” in movies voicing wisdom by my admittedly singular lights, as if preachers with pens and directors with pretensions inadvertently left a free thinker in their movie to voice for those who won’t buy into agenda so resolutely pushed. Not by design does Scorsese’s character and “Robert Kintner,” played by Allan Rich, emerge as heroes and role models for warped sort as I, but thanks be to Quiz Show for including them. Who knows but what Disney might “correct” Quiz Show with edits to better confirm who should be hissable among folk it portrays. And don’t laugh, for this conglom won’t shrink from heavy hand upon past inventory to stay on “the right side of history,” as shown vivid by before-afters all over You Tube.

UPDATE 6/17/2024 --- GIFTS FROM GRIFF --- Earlier today he corrected me re spelling of Vitajex and sent along neat images for which many thanks, Griff:

Monday, June 10, 2024

Ads and Oddities #6


Ad/Odds: D. Copperfield for the Liberty?, Raoul Walsh Putting On Brakes, The Lone Ranger Opens for Sears, Posing with Posters

THERE CAN’T BE MORE THAN ONE OF THESE --- Propelling memories way back, remember when Greenbriar told tale of Freddie Bartholomew slated to appear in person at the Liberty March 16, 1948? He was to act in The Hasty Heart till fate dictated otherwise, Freddie a no-show with lawsuits ensuing. I had in 2006 retrieved a newspaper ad for the event, but little else to memorialize its non-happening. Local articles addressed the legal flap, but readers were not told what damages, if any, were collected. For us to even come close to hosting a star of Freddie’s caliber was heady stuff, him no longer being a star per se less important than the fact here was David Copperfield, rather here wasn’t David Copperfield. Did we figure Freddie and handlers blew us off for being such a jerkwater stop? All we had to then, or after, was occasional cowboy names, none too proud to twirl guns on the Liberty stage. Fact is, Freddie had fallen far way by 1948, as evidenced by comparison of Captains Courageous one-sheet art circa initial release in 1937, then for a 1946 reissue lobby card. Ever see billing plummet so? But why not, for a near-generation had come of age since Freddie was a boy and horizons seemed endless. I understand there were grasping relatives who got much of what he earned, an oldest story for child stars. What Wilkes knew was that Freddie was promised and all a sudden no he wasn't. You could not blame us and Liberty management for taking it personal. Imagine embarrassment of having to refund those advance admissions. North Wilkesboro’s entrée to big-time theatre was choked in the cradle, making the collectible shown here a wistful one. Freddie Bartholomew went into television, behind-scenes, and retired from there years later. He sat for an interview in late life and seemed to have rid himself of the British accent, shed finally and altogether as David Copperfield … and The Hasty Heart.

JACKRABBIT ATTACK --- Seems Feg Murray was making merry of inside Hollywood with gloves on and off. I’m guessing a most press director Raoul Walsh had was when that hair raising hare came through his car window and launched shards enough to half-blind the actor/helmsman. For Murray to make a cartoon of it was mere show-doing business, Walsh least to complain, as what was this incident but more of each man in his time collecting one more anecdote to seize floors wherever he brought it up? Walsh for most part wore his patch after, sometimes not. He didn’t mind being photographed either way. Patchless poses chill me a little, Raoul with what looks like a dab of cotton stuck in the socket and never mind appearance past that. He was conceded toughest of tough breed that made action movies. Did he really ride with Villa, steal John Barrymore’s body out of a morgue to prank Errol Flynn? As to the latter, I much hope not. Raoul Walsh was a known tall tale teller. For him the truth was no more required than right/wrong feathers on an Indian. They’d be shot all the same and so would accuracy if interviewers asked Raoul a too specific question. In quiet moments (few), he’d reflect and maybe hint as to something that really happened, few of filmmakers so good at summing up character and personalities of folk he knew or worked with. We won’t get Walsh-types again, his kind and the kind of work he did long gone and not coming back.

LEE POWELL’S IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD --- I should be more conversant about certain serial and western names. Buck, Tim, and Hoot are known to extent by me, nowhere near degree of earlier generations, yet way ahead of what future dwellers will know. These action aces are so much dinosaur bones for all folks care today, fewer all a while to keep lamps burning, and maybe a last to have notion who Lee Powell was. Suffice to say he meant plenty when Sears and Roebuck in Bloomington, Illinois hosted him as the Lone Ranger on Wednesday, July 12th at 10:30 am, but what year? Surely late thirties, maybe early forties before Powell enlisted and went to island combat from which he never returned. Did outpour of grief follow his 1943 death? Powell was not so active as to be another Buck Jones. Nor could his passing be so keenly felt as that of Fred Thomson. Lee Powell enlisted with the Marines. Before that, he had been in westerns and some serials, most notably two where he played the Lone Ranger, these to confer what of immortality he’d get. That was plenty, because even while the serials are forgot, the Ranger as a character is still recognized by lots, and most will hear if not remember that an actor named Lee Powell was once prime enactor. The Lone Ranger serials disappeared after initial runs and missed reissue or TV exposure for decades to come. Cowboy cons ran bootleg chapters to full rooms. Boys-to-eventual men drove far to see Lee Powell be the Ranger and recapture childhood paradise that was late thirties theatergoing. Both chapterplays are readily had if on dupey terms. Reason they vanished in the first place was adapt rights expiring and Republic not spending to clear or renew them.

LET’S POSE WITH POSTERS --- There is an inscription on the back of this snapshot, from somebody to somebody, only I can’t read it and would defy anyone else to, this what I’ve always disliked about “cursive” writing. Truth is I was force-taught cursive and refused to use it at school forever after, taking the position that print where deftly applied could always be understood, and show me please one person out of a hundred who can do cursive legibly. Goal in youth was to print clearly as TV listings in the newspaper or even more ideally, pages in the TV GUIDE. Teachers sometimes got punitive for my shunning cursive. Cruel, cruel school! To topic at hand, why didn’t I pose in front of favorite posters back in the day? Given poses at Liberty entrance beside one-sheets for Brides of Dracula or Goldfinger, well … they’d be banners at Greenbriar yet, maybe passport photos or on my driving license. Photos like this turn up from time to time. Was novelty of movies such in 1922 to be backdrop (foreground!) for fans wanting to memorialize a trip to the show? The Truthful Liar looks good from a hundred years out, but I’ll guess it is lost today. What a comfy afternoon this appears, with attendee clad in simple attractive dress, a straw hat to suggest mid-Fall, perhaps early Spring. Imagine hearing from this Miss what the Great War was like on home front and what she recalled of nickelodeons. We need spectral visitors to return and explain life as it was … books and even films are just not enough. Such ghosts would not scare me if they’d be anything like this cheerful vision.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Parkland Picks with Popcorn #4


PPP: Northwest Mounted Police, Diary of a High School Bride, The Black Shield of Falworth, and Battle of the Worlds

NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE (1940) --- Try tracking this in the US. So far as I know, can’t be done. There is a rights snafu on home shores, has been for years since syndication had Northwest Mounted Police, not a best of DeMilles either way, but his first in Technicolor, and there is recommendation enough. Mine is a disc import, legitimate in place of origin, as good quality as one could hope for in a Region Two DVD. Still years since watching, Northwest Mounted Police makes up in size, cast, and color what it lacks in structure and story. DeMille had tendency to sprawl --- he would have acknowledged as much --- though oft-times a grand show grand enough will compensate for weary spots along lengthy way, in this case 126 minutes. Gary Cooper takes several reels to arrive, till then Preston Foster and Robert Preston doing mustachioed duty, trouble for me telling them apart at times. Madeleine Carroll, fairly forgot by the time Northwest Mounted Police played 50’s reissue dates, stays passive and changing bandages for Mounties brought onto sound stages she occupies rather than second-unit exteriors from which she is absent. Vexatious aspect of DeMille was keeping indoors while underlings shot big sky action, albeit ably, but wasn’t spectacle supposed to be C.B.’s especial gift? Best to bask within walls the director confines himself to, admire details he designs after Belasco model, and realize that if somehow we could go back to lavish plays of a past century, Northwest Mounted Police is what the best of them would look like. There is what makes Cecil B. DeMille unique, his concept of place and people filling it was unsurpassed. No rival settings could compete. Watch if you can some of behind-scenes shorts Paramount did to pump DeMille during the thirties. Each give glimpse of his office with decorative, and functional, props used for projects gone back to the teens, and handy still for future projects. He kept enough swords and chain mail to equip legions, often had players don apparel for a first interview. Among happiest Liberty attends for me was Samson and Delilah, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Ten Commandments. The sixties surely weren’t making them like that anymore.

DIARY OF A HIGH SCHOOL BRIDE (1959) --- Long since solemn vow to see this and here it finally is on You Tube, reliable rescue shelter for feature obscurities. Diary of a High School Bride makes me long for drive-in life but faintly known. Oh, but to be there when AIP was aiming these toward rain-splattered screens, transport with top down where weather wasn’t inclement, and canteen treats a roofed venue would not sell (ever have ice cream at a hardtop? Not me). Diary of a High School Bride tells it in the title … she’s seventeen and he’s twenty-four, meaning jailbait and a sap inviting an active sentence, right? Depended on state residence, not sure how California saw law, “Judy’s” parents resorting to bribery rather than badges to lure daughter away from wedded bed with “Steve.” Anita Sands and Ronald Foster are the young couple. I could not recall seeing this actress in anything before, and sure enough, she did no other feature, only TV, energy lacking on my part to root out specific episodes of My Three Sons or Hawaiian Eye. Ron Foster was spawn of TV as well, and further unknown quantity. Just more eager youngsters fed into AIP chipper and acting for virtually free. Jim/Sam spent undoubted nickels to make Diary of a High School Bride, though it brought back hefty-for-them $239K in domestic rentals, more than was realized from most horror/sci-fi the company released. High School Bride fairly celebrates cheapness, opening with our couple driving against romantic backdrop of process screens, Judy clutching her stuffed animal and apprehensive over forthcoming nightfall. This picture will not take sides, says post-title scroll, and be assured nothing exploitive will happen here. Look to ads instead for what is tawdry. One Tony Casanova, “Star of American International Records,” performs the theme plus “Say Bye Bye,” done after fashion of E. Presley. High School Bride's husband earns $40 a week and “plays house” with Judy in a “one-room flat,” says accusing parents. “At least it’s clean” replies Steve. There is a coffee shop with hipsters, lots of sunglasses, modern art, and a flamenco player. Why was I born so late? Welcome and unexpected bonus for a third act is psycho menace “Chuck” (Chris Robinson) who chases Judy all over AIP soundstages at the old Chaplin studio, this after explaining to her that his father produces there and lately made piles of dough off The Screaming Skull. Talk about meta. Chuck has plenty punishment coming, but to be electrocuted, then plunged off a roof-high platform, there was pay-off plenty severe.

THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH (1954) --- A first “deluxe,” comparatively speaking, for Tony Curtis at Universal-International, The Black Shield of Falworth meant to match MGM and their so-far spectaculars, Scaramouuche, Ivanhoe, that U could not hope to challenge other than with hope and sheer bravado. Tony’s was still a bubble-gum audience, as in grown-ups not so engaged by him as they might be with Robert Taylor or Stewart Granger. Still Shield is a game bid by all and in Cinemascope as well, economies betrayed by the wide lens it’s true, but a public knew by now to deal gentle with U-I and its beginner rank of stars. Fan mags were atwitter over Curtis back with offscreen wife Janet Leigh, borrowed from Metro, and there is Herbert Marshall to remind us that class could and often did help the humble aspire upward. Black Shield was shot on castle grounds laid years earlier for Tower of London and used forever since. I played amidst surprisingly solid structures through summer 1975 and USC’s filmmaking program where three days of each week was spent at Universal. Surely the edifice is knocked down by now --- would it be any more sacred than the Phantom stage which we know for recent rendezvous with wrecking balls? The Black Shield of Falworth has vigor to sustain 99 minutes, better still where one is happily enrolled at college of U. Remember stories told by contract talent of classes taken, in fact required, at fencing, riding, dance? We see them put to tests here, yet Tony is frequently doubled, oft by David Sharpe taking Curtis falls. Can't let the ice-cream face be banged up. Delay of even days could wreck a fragile system like Universal’s. Something so storybook as The Black Shield of Falworth reminds us that what pleased youngsters early in the century could do so as effectively in the fifties, source story handiwork of Howard Pyle, who defined the age of chivalry for moderns eager to relive an era far more a romantic fantasy than any sort of historical reality. Several import Blu-Rays are available, and all appear to be multi-region.

--- The single time Col. Forehand gave me a pressbook for a film he was not disposed to show was Battle of the Worlds. It had a lush color cover and I noted right away that Claude Rains starred. Since then (1964), Battle of the Worlds was high quest to see, but who owned it, or even ever saw it? Italian produced, Battle entered the US under “Topaz Corporation” auspices, its companion feature Atom-Age Vampire. Not sure how good distribution was for Topaz product, only that the Liberty never got further than Battle's pressbook. My interest was of course Claude Rains, so welcome came The Film Detective with its Blu-Ray, doing best as could be with elements some steps down from what went through cameras, curiosity yet satisfied by what was salvaged. Battle’s ubiquity at You Tube leads me to believe PD status attached some while back. Show is reminiscent of TV sci-fi like Rocky Jones or Space Patrol where interplanetary hoppers talked their way through galaxies, rolling about space stations on office chairs with little wheels on them. What special effects there are do not convince, but maybe I’d enjoy them less if they did. Rains is there to lend stature and earn money at undoubted behest of a wife, who had spending to do and insufficient means for doing it. Our (sole) star starts off at irascible pitch and has nowhere to go but up. By the end, we are as exhausted as him. Don’t know if Claude had crib cards around the set, but either way, he spews techy monologues like a Roman fountain. I caught him a few times rolling R’s. Did Rains figure no one would see this farrago? If so, he was nearly right. Till the Film Detective came to rescue, I never figured Battle of the Worlds would enter my universe.
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