Episode 5 of ‘Buck Rogers’

Here we are again! With another great episode of Buck Rogers! 🙂

So … on with the show!

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My Review of ‘Woman on the Run’ (1950)

This is a most interesting entry into the film noir canon, particularly since the protagonist is female. And not a femme fatale.

The woman in question is Eleanor Johnson (played with spirit by Ann Sheridan), and she’s on the run because her struggling artist husband Frank witnessed a hit by an unseen assassin. Except Frank catches a glimpse of his face when he is exposed while finishing off his victim (who was a rather stupid naĂŻve blackmailer).

Via Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Frank does his civic duty and summons the police. But flees the scene when he learns the victim was supposed to testify against a gangster, leaving him to do that job. Between that and the fact that the shooter was an excellent shot, Frank is outta there—despite the police detectives’ assurances of protection.

And our heroine, Eleanor, seems to know and care little about Frank, what he does, how he is, what his favorite color is, etc.

Via The Movie Gourmet

The point being that this is a crime thriller and film noir that explores with bitterness some tough truths (as seen at the time) about “modern marriage.”

Eleanor refuses to help police. In fact, she seems pretty laissez-faire about the whole business. However, her apparently cold exterior must hide some warmth for Frank, because she tries to sneak out of the house (to evade the cops, who are watching her closely) to see her hubby. And while attempting this feat through a window in the attic, she stumbles across reporter Danny Leggett (played by Dennis O’Keefe). Despite a fractious start, Danny offers help and $1,000 for an exclusive story.

Via The Movie Gourmet

As details about Frank—including his obvious love of art, sensitivity, and fragile state of health—come to light, Eleanor appears to warm further to the husband with whom she has so badly failed to communicate. Frank, likewise, hasn’t made his feelings clear to Eleanor, either. They’ve allowed petty squabbles to ruin a perfectly good relationship.

Okay, so you have a witness on the run, wife following and picking up clues, friendly reporter at the ready, cops tailing them—where is this going?

I will only say that the climax is amazing, the tension unbearable, and the cinematography and sound—OMG! Nothing short of breath taking.

Apparently, the filmmakers were protégés of the great Orson Welles. There are definitely traces of his influence in the amusement park scenes at the end. The roller coaster sequences alone are well worth the viewing.

Via Reel SF

And when Danny Boy and Eleanor exchange banter, the dialogue crackles. According to Eddie Muller, the actors wrote some of their own lines. And it feels mighty spontaneous and sharp.

You’ve gotta love a film noir with a goodhearted (if initially cool) female lead. One who can hold her own and not only susses out the killer, but goes above and beyond to try to save her husband.

Totally gripping! This one gets five stars from me! 🙂

You can watch this one in its entirety here!

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Episode 4 of ‘Buck Rogers’

Well, if you’ve enjoyed Episode 1, Episode 1.5, Episode 2, and Episode 3 of Buck Rogers, then get ready to feast your eyes on Episode 4 of the movie! 🙂

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Episode 3 of ‘Buck Rogers’

Hello, there! 🙂 Ready for another exciting episode of Buck Rogers?

Well, ready or not, here you go! 🙂

PS: Please consider supporting the blog on Patreon! I’ve just added a complete two-book ebook of all my film noir and neo-noir reviews so far for supporters at the $5 tier!

Posted in Action Films, Adventure, B-Movies, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘Shadow on the Wall’ (1950)

Okay, I should probably warn you that this review contains a bit of a retired lawyer’s/law librarian’s rant. But it’s for a noble purpose! 🙂 Anyhow, you’ve been warned.

As psychological thrillers go, this one is as suspenseful as any. What we have here is a situation where a child is witness to a murder, but can’t remember the details. It would seem she has blocked out the memory of the traumatic event of seeing Celia, her step-mother (played ever-so-briefly by Kristine Miller) get shot by … someone. Despite the fact that the child didn’t seem to like her all that much sensed something off about the step-mom’s relationship with her dad (played by Zachary Scott in a rare nice-guy role).

Film ‘SHADOW ON THE WALL’ (1950)
19 May 1950

The problem that leads to this disaster situation is that Celia has fallen in love (or lust) with her sister Dell’s fiancĂ©, Crane. David (the dad) finds out they’ve been seeing each other. Then chooses the clumsiest most embarrassing way to tell everyone involved what’s going on.

The bottom line is, after Dell (played by Ann Sothern—another role cast against type) and Crane (played by Tom Helmore) split the scene, Celia and David argue. Of course. And naturally David owns a loaded gun which he just happens to have with him. However, when things heat up and David advances on Celia, she bashes him over the head with a hand mirror, and David goes out cold. The gun goes flying.

This leaves the door open for the real killer to make an entrance (no pun intended), have a quarrel with Celia, and (yes!) knock her off. And guess what the child sees!

Only the Shadow knows! 🙂

But David unfortunately ends up framed for the deed. He’s tried and convicted of first degree murder, then sentenced to the death penalty.

Okay, this is where things increasingly tested my willingness to suspend disbelief.

I could believe that Susan, the child who witnessed this, might block the memory of the event. I could even believe Nancy Davis (the future Nancy Reagan, First Lady) as the concerned psychiatrist trying to help her recover those memories and (as she points out from time to time) possibly uncover new evidence of what happened. I am emphasizing those words, because David’s lawyer claims to be incredibly interested in trying to save David’s life. And yet when given the opportunity to pursue a possible lead (albeit based on the potentially faulty memories of a child), absolutely no attempt is made to clue the cops in on this. Because he’s so convinced David did it, based on David’s own highly-suspect memories? WTF???

As a lawyer, let’s just say I found David’s legal counsel wanting in the area of “zealous representation”, i.e., not only did he breach his ethical duty, he outright ignored potential evidence that could supply reasonable doubt of David’s guilt. That’s borderline freaking malpractice, man!

And then there’s the psychiatrist herself, who apparently thinks it’s just fine to blab about her client’s psychiatric condition with a woman who isn’t the child’s guardian (or even a blood relation). Now, I realize this was in the days before HIPAA, but seriously—what shrink goes around spilling the details of such a sensitive subject to … some dame who happens to be the victim’s sister? Whatever happened to confidentiality? Or common fucking sense?

And then, there’s the part where the killer calls a law library and asks a law librarian if it’s possible for someone to be convicted based on a six-year-old’s testimony. And the librarian then proceeds to practice law without a license by giving an actual opinion instead of simply providing the necessary resources, which I can tell you as both a lawyer AND a librarian is totally crossing the freaking line.

The librarian offers to pull up the case establishing his opinion, which is fine, but you’re not supposed to interpret the materials. He said, “Give me a minute, and I’ll get the case.” And I muttered, “Give me five more, and I’ll Shepardize it for you.” For the non-lawyers you lucky people who never attended law school, “Shepardize” means “look up whether the case has been overruled or otherwise isn’t applicable” (basically). See, this is where getting advice from an active legal practitioner actually helps.

I like this movie despite that. Mainly on the strength of Gigi Perreau’s remarkable performance as the child, Susan. And Nancy Davis as the caring, if incredibly stupid and unethical psychiatrist, who won’t give up on “curing” the girl.

Via A Classic Movie Blog.

And did I mention that Susan is kept in the World’s Least Secure Psychiatric Ward? The killer just breezes in at one point and … yeah … tries to off the girl.

I swear nearly everyone in the film violates an ethical code, a legal duty, or plain common sense.

And yet it was suspenseful enough to hold my attention. Which might not be such a great thing. 🙂

Being of a kind nature, and since it did hold my attention, I’m giving this three and a half stars. It doesn’t hurt any that Nancy Davis and Gigi Perreau give truly moving performances. Besides, as long as you’re not a lawyer, a psychiatrist, or a law librarian, none of my concerns may bother you at all! 🙂

And just as an aside, I’ve compiled my two film noir/neo-noir review books into one PDF file. Which I’m providing as a perk on my Patreon page!

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Episode 2 of ‘Buck Rogers’

Well, hello! And a happy day to you!

As promised, here’s Part Two of Buck Rogers! 🙂

Posted in Action Films, Adventure, B-Movies, Public Domain Movies, Science Fiction, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Episode 1.5 of ‘Buck Rogers’

This week’s episode of Buck Rogers is actually a mini-episode.

Given the shortness of this week’s offering, I’m prepared to offer something more!

But first, here’s Episode 1.5 of Buck Rogers! 🙂

And … my short film, The Snarky Muse – Director’s Cut! 🙂

Posted in B-Movies, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Science Fiction, Serial Shorts, Short Film | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment