Part Four of ‘Jail Bait’ (1954)

Are you ready for the final part of Jail Bait? I hope so, because here it is! 🙂

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Posted in 1950s Films, Crime Drama, Cult Movies, Film Noir, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Part Three of ‘Jail Bait’ (1954)

Hello! It’s that time again. Time for another part of the Ed Wood film noir, Jail Bait!

Part Three, coming right up!

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Posted in 1950s Films, Crime Drama, Film Noir, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

My Review of ‘My Name is Julia Ross’ (1945)

This is a rather interesting little movie. It’s a gothic film noir. According to Wikipedia, “gothic fiction” is sometimes called “gothic horror” and “is a loose literary aesthetic of fear and haunting.”

On that note, it’ll come as little or no surprise that when Julia Ross (played by Nina Foch), a single woman without family or many connections (other than a slim one with her landlady and a slightly more than passing interest in a certain gentleman), is hired by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hughes (played by Dame May Whitty) to be her live-in personal secretary, things aren’t going to go well.

So she agrees to live (and presumably work) in a house in London, but wakes up in another one. Two days later. And the house is in an isolated coastal town.

Plus she discovers all her clothes are gone. In fact, all her stuff is gone. Including identification. On top of which she is told repeatedly by a seemingly well-meaning nurse and a definitely not-so-well-meaning Mrs. Hughes and her son, Ralph, that her name is Marion and she’s married to Ralph.

Image via Pinterest.

And whenever she gets a chance to dispute this with impartial witnesses, those witnesses get turned when Hughes and Son start feeding them bull about how poor Marion is suffering some kind mental breakdown.

Image via AllMovie.

So, there are two major goals for our protagonist here. One is to escape what’s turned out to be a prison. The other is to figure out the answer to: Seriously? WTF? Why on earth would they do this?

Okay, first, this movie tells the whole story in a very compact 64 minutes. That’s saying something. Not only do I love a short feature, but in this case, I think it forced the writers to really ratchet up the tension fast. And the plot devices didn’t seem forced or untrue to the characters.

Second, I couldn’t help but see echoes of The Prisoner in this film. A woman is held against her will, stripped of her identity, in an isolated seaside community. For mysterious purposes, though none related to spying. Even so, Patrick McGoohan would’ve been in his late teens when this came out. I wonder if he saw it.

Finally, I’d never heard of this movie until I watched it on TCM’s Noir Alley. I can never say enough good things about Eddie Muller and his work with the Film Noir Foundation.

Reviewers were tepid about the film. But, frankly, it kept my interest. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if the ending would be horrible straight noir or not.

And here’s the trailer (contains minor spoilers):

*****

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Produced by Wallace MacDonald
Screenplay by Muriel Roy Bolton (based on the novel The Woman in Red by Anthony Gilbert)


PS: This film’s screenplay was adapted from a novel by Muriel Roy Bolton, a native of Chicago who moved to Hollywood and worked as film and television screenwriter from the 1940s to the 1960s. She also wrote plays and even a novel called The Golden Porcupine, a historical romance set in 15th-century France.

As I understand it, there was a lot more in the second half of the book that didn’t make it into the movie. Now, I’m curious about what got left out. 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Crime Thriller, Film Noir, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Part Two of ‘Jail Bait’ (1954)

Hello! Back with another part of this interesting little movie.

So, let’s watch Part Two of Jail Bait!

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Posted in 1950s Films, Film Noir, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Part One of ‘Jail Bait’ (1954)

It is with great trepidation pleasure that I present to you another film by B-movie screwball innovator director, chief cook and bottle washer Ed Wood!

And, so, without further ado, here’s Part One of Jail Bait!

PS: If you’re with the political correctness police, you might want to skip this one.

Just sayin’. 🙂

Posted in 1950s Films, Film Noir, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Review of ‘Hell Drivers’ (1957)

This movie is unique in a number of ways. For one thing, it’s a British film noir. According to Ben Mankiewicz on TCM, it marked the beginning of British New Wave cinema.

The tone of the film is unquestionably gritty. It concerns a man named Tom (played by Stanley Baker) who has some dark secret from his past. He takes a job hauling gravel by truck (or lorry, if you wish) over some of the twistyist, crappiest backwoods roads you’d never want to speed on.

There is, however, a competition among the drivers to be the fastest of the bunch. What’s at stake is a £250 gold cigarette case that the current leader of the pack offers to anyone who can beat his record of 18 runs a day.

“Well, hello, sailor.” (Image via Stardust and Shadows)

The leader is an Irishman named Red (played with, er, intensity by Patrick McGoohan). The man has something of a temper, to put it mildly. In fact, he seems to take great joy in punching guys in the face and taking punishment in return, only to spring back up for more.

So, basically, that’s the movie. Tom is bound and determined to beat Red (who, BTW, cheats—in really stupid dangerous ways), and Red is just as determined to be No. 1. (Literally. That’s his truck number.) (I’m trying really hard not to make a Prisoner joke here.)

Meanwhile, an Italian driver named Gino (Herbert Lom) befriends Tom. Gino is in love with the boss’s secretary, Lucy (Peggy Cummins). Too bad the feeling is not reciprocated. The fact that she acts sympathetic to Tom when he comes in looking for work kind of makes up for the shabby way she treats Gino. But not really. It’s clear she likes Tom and that leads nowhere good.

Along with the delightfully unpolished and frenetic camerawork that puts you right in the driver’s seat throughout much of the film, it features outstanding performances from so many emerging and veteran actors of the time, including the following:

Patrick McGoohan (who’d go on to star in Danger Man and The Prisoner)
Sean Connery (who ended up playing James Bond after McGoohan turned down the role)

“Peace out, man.” (Image via TMDB)


William Hartnell (who’d end up playing the first Doctor on Doctor Who)
Herbert Lom (who’d play the unfortunate Commissioner Dreyfus from the Pink Panther movies)
David McCallum (the future Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
Sid James (best known for the Carry On series)
Peggy Cummins (Gun Crazy)

Without revealing spoilers, I’ll just say that Gino ends up with the short end of the stick. In more ways than one.


Yes, do see this movie. It’s well worth it!

Here’s a fan-made trailer!

Directed by Cy Enfield
Produced by Benjamin Fisz and Earl St. John
Screenplay by Cy Enfield and John Kruse

PS: I now know how to make pound-thingies symbols on a Mac.

Just hit OPTION and 3. Like this £! 🙂

Posted in 1950s Films, Crime Drama, Film Noir, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Son of Dracula’ (B-Movie Review) (1943) — Part Two

Okay, ready for Part Two of the amazing film Son of Dracula from 1943?

Right. Let’s get this over with done!

Then Professor Lazlo arrives at Dr. Brewster’s house. The doctor has noticed the stupid Word Jumble rearrangement of letters … you know … Dracula = Alucard (in a mirror). I guess the book he’s reading gave him the first clue. The fact that Count Alucard can be reduced to a cowering wreck reacts strongly when he sees a cross can only bolster his position.

“Sorry. I forgot to bring the cake with file in it. Forgive me, dahling?” (Image via Midnite Reviews.)

Katherine flies to Frank (literally—as a bat!), who’s locked up in a cell for killing a non-dead woman Katherine, who’s clearly not dead. She spills the beans about the whole Alucard-Dracula thing and says she only married him for his money. Well, that and immortality. But she wants to be immortal with Frank, not some old washed-up B-movie actor a vampire with a screwed up name whose name you have to decipher. She also instructs Frank on how to destroy Alucard/Dracula/Whatever.

Just gliding along! 🙂 (Image via Observing the World.)

With this incentive, Frank breaks out of jail, finds Alucard’s coffin, and burns it. Once denied his little hidey-hole, Alucard is destroyed when the sun rises and he has nowhere to go. Dr. Brewster, Lazlo, and the Sheriff eventually find a few smoking remains of the Count.

“What the heck’s going on here?” (Image via Cheaper Drugs Now!!)

Frank, meanwhile, finds his way to the “playroom” (that’s what Wikipedia calls it, anyhow) and finds Katherine in her own coffin. In the world’s quickest and weirdest engagement, Franks places his ring on her finger and, given how dead she already looks, he goes and finishes the job.

And when everyone else shows up, all they see is Katherine’s burning coffin.

THE END

FADE OUT

No, no … hang on!

W-T-F??? (Image via Cheaper Drugs Now!!)

By shooting an undead person and having the bullets pass through an undead person to a live person who becomes undead, would Frank be potentially guilty of intent to commit murder? Or could it be manslaughter? Or womanslaughter? Even if he were shooting at a phantom a hologram an undead person?

Does it make a difference that Frank thought Alacard was not undead a living person?

Can the marriage of an undead person to the living one be annulled as illegal/immoral/impossible/way too bizarre?

And who would testify at the trial? And who would believe them?

If you’re feeling weirdly Socratic, go on then. Leave a comment. 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Horror, Saturday B-Movie Review | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrate Women in Film!

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

As I’ve mentioned on this blog previously, I’m working with a mentor on my own burgeoning emerging developing screenwriting and producing career.

As part of that, I’ve been provided various videos and other resources, including the video below.

I’d like to thank the folks at Women in Film & Video, DC for this video: A Salute to Women Directors.

Check out the variety of movies women have made!

Stay tuned! I have an idea for an interesting new challenge! 🙂

It’ll involve very little effort on your part. Just watching movies. You can handle that, right? 🙂

Posted in Announcement, Women in Film | Tagged , | 6 Comments

‘Son of Dracula’ (B-Movie Review) (1943) — Part One

Back again with another exciting interesting review of the movie Son of Dracula! Or, at least, Part One of said review.

In yet another sequel in the Dracula franchise, we get to see Lon Chaney Jr. play the titular character. Apparently, he charms a woman named Katherine Caldwell (played by Louise Allbritton), who invited him to her plantation in Louisiana. Except she doesn’t know he’s the son of Dracula, because much like a really stupid version of the Zodiac Killer, he writes his name in the world’s easiest Word Jumble by spelling it backwards. Thus, he (and Katherine, as well) calls himself Count Alucard (which kept sounding like “à la carte” to me, presumably because that’s how he prefers to bite necks—not as a dinner special, not as a 10-course meal—a nibble here, a nibble there—one neck at a time.)

“I vant to drink your blood.” (Image via Alternate Ending)

Katharine is so bewitched by Alacard’s facility with words that she throws kicks her long-time paramour Frank Stanley (played by Robert Paige) to the curb and marries the blood-sucking bastard. Frank responds by shooting Alacard, but the bullets are unreal pass right through him and seemingly kill Katherine. Freaking out Feeling confused and hoping to save the day, Frank goes out and brings a doctor to the house. Only to find Alacard and Katherine alive and well or, at least, doing a reasonable facsimile of being so.

Needless to say, Frank is shocked silly surprised by this. The undead couple then announces that they intend to do weird science together, but only at night.

“Allow me to make shadow puppets.” (Image via Fernby Films)

Yet Frank insists that he killed Katherine, despite the diagnosis opinion of a certain Dr. Brewster that she’s very much alive. So, the Sheriff covers his ass plays it safe by insisting that he search the Estate of Dark Oaks. Yes, Katherine lived lives (kinda) on an Estate. I’m assuming it’s called Dark Oaks for obvious reasons.

The doctor continues reading his copy of the book Dracula, which serves as a clue or an Easter Egg or a callback or a symbol or a meta-moment. You get to pick which.

PS: Here’s the whole film! 🙂

And here’s Svengoolie’s Fun Film Facts! 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Horror, Movies, Saturday B-Movie Review | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

My Review of ‘Pitfall’ (1948)

Hi today, I’m doing a review of Pitfall from 1948. I don’t think I’ve reviewed this one before, but I’m gonna have to check. If I did, I’m doing an updated review then. This is a review offered straight from my notes and I figured this is kind of like the way Hunter Thompson might have called in the story to Rolling Stone back in the day, uh, on deadline and, um, with very little, but here are my thoughts about Pitfall.

Dick Powell as Johnny Forbes is bored with his middle class life and lovely wife, Sue (played by Jane Wyatt). He has a brief (very subtle) fling with Mona Stevens (played by Lizabeth Scott).

Can this marriage be saved? (Image via Pinterest.)

Mac (played by Raymond Burr) is stalking her. Double Indemnity-like insurance agent, but married, blah, blah, blah, blah.

“Hello, there!” (Image via Goodfella’s Movie Blog.)

Normal tropes turned around. Mona is not a femme fatale (or a normal one).

“My life’s so dull. Love ya, baby. Wish this was Murder, My Sweet.” (Image via Film Noir Board.)

Does anyone lock their doors in this town?

No matter what Johnny did or didn’t do with Mona, it’s a clear case of self-defense.

I thought this was a pretty good film. I enjoyed it. So I’ll leave you with my notes and that thought. See what you think. Talk to you later.

Oh, now I remember this movie. Yeah, it was just okay.

“Here’s looking at you, douchebag.” (Image via Tumblr–maybe)

This is a guy movie. This movie is all about domestic unrest with a focus on the male gaze. This movie benefits greatly from the actors involved and the menace of Raymond Burr.

Directed by André de Toth
Produced by Samuel Bischoff
Screenplay by Karl Kamb, André de Toth (uncredited), and William Bowers (uncredited) (based on the book by Jay Dratler)

Here’s the trailer!

PS: This is a Father’s Day movie?! 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Film Noir, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments