You Have to Run Fast (1961)

vt Man Missing
US / 73 minutes / bw / Harvard, UA Dir: Edward L. Cahn Pr: Robert E. Kent Scr: Orville H. Hampton Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Craig Hill, Elaine Edwards, Grant Richards, Willis Bouchey, Ken Mayer, Shep Sanders, John Apone, Brad Trumbull, Jack Mann, Max Mellinger, John Clarke, Claudia Barrett, Ric Marlow, Jack Kenney, Joel Lewinson.

You Have to Run Fast - 5 Laurie (Edwards) has things out with Frank (Hill)

Laurie (Elaine Edwards) has things out with Frank (Craig Hill).

One night in the big city, two hoodlums arrive at the open-all-hours surgery of Dr. Roger Condon (Hill) bringing with them a savagely beaten cop, Lou Miles (Kenney). Despite Condon’s protests, the two depart. When Condon gets back to the patient he finds the man has died, and calls the cops. Lt. Dan Carbo (Mann) shows Condon the usual mugshots, and Condon identifies the hoods as Jay Rocco (Marlow) and Big Jim Craven (Richards). Carbo puts out an APB, and Rocco is soon caught, but Craven escapes. Condon attempts to carry on his life but, when the cop set to guard him is killed by one of Craven’s men, realizes he has to go on the run from Craven, who’s clearly desperate to eliminate the witness who can pin Miles’s death on him.

You Have to Run Fast - 3 Dr Roger Condon (Hill), who barely resembles Frank Harlow

Dr. Roger Condon (Craig Hill) — who could guess he’s the same person as outdoorsman Frank Harlow?

We next find Condon a year later in the guise of Frank Harlow, working as a clerk at a sporting goods store in the small town of Summit City, whose economic base seems to rest entirely on the hunting season. Condon is living at the Buckhorn Lodge, which is managed by Laurie Maitland (Edwards). Her father, Colonel Maitland (Bouchey), is wheelchair-bound in consequence of injuries received in the Korean War. Needless to say, Frank and Laurie have fallen for each other, although the Maitlands cannot understand why their lodger is so circumspect about himself.

You Have to Run Fast - 1 Laurie Maitland (Edwards) and her war-wounded dad the Major (Bouchey) discuss Frank

Laurie Maitland (Elaine Edwards) and her war-wounded dad, The Major (Willis Bouchey), discuss their enigmatic lodger.

You Have to Run Fast - 4 hoods Bert (Sanders) & Stan (Apone)

Hoods Bert (Shep Sanders) and Stan (John Apone).

Craven, lying low with his moll Fran (Barrett), is sending out hunters to all the towns in the area in search of Condon. In Summit City arrive the killers Bert (Sanders) and Stan (Apone); from gas jockey Chuck (Clarke) they learn the names of five men who have come to live in Summit City within the past year. They pay a small boy (Lewinson) to photograph the five, and they mail the snapshots to Craven. He’s unsure, but thinks Frank Harlow could be Condon.

You Have to Run Fast - 2 loyal moll Fran (Barrett) and fugitive Big Jim Craven (Richards)

Loyal moll Fran (Claudia Barrett) and fugitive gangster Big Jim Craven (Grant Richards).

Calling himself Booth, Craven comes to Summit City to see for himself. When he is identified by Deputy Sheriff Chet Burrows (Trumbull), he instructs Bert and Stan to take the man into the woods and murder him.

You Have to Run Fast - 6 having shot the sheriff Bert & Stan hide from ol' Doc Rayburn

Having shot the sheriff, Bert (Shep Sanders) and Stan (John Apone) hide from ol’ Doc Rayburn.

Burrows still isn’t quite dead, though, when Native American guide George (Mayer) comes across him. Since the local sawbones, Dr. Rayburn (Mellinger), is off hunting, Frank/Condon must attempt an emergency operation on Burrows in the basement of the Buckhorn Lodge. But then Craven and his two goons turn up at the lodge . . .

You Have to Run Fast - 7 the great standoff twist Maitlands & hoods

The great standoff! Plucky Laura (Elaine Edwards) and her disabled dad The Major (Willis Bouchey) are threatened by Big Jim Craven (Grant Richards) and his goons Bert (Shep Sanders) and Stan (John Apone).

Director Cahn is primarily remembered today for his science fiction/horror/schlock outings, such as Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), The She-Creature (1956), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), Voodoo Woman (1957), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) and The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959), and for the Our Gang comedies of the 1930s, but he made quite a few crime movies during his long career. His direction here is rather leaden, as are some of his cast—including, unfortunately, his leading man; as Harlow, Hill seems natural enough, but as Dr. Condon he comes across like a boy playing the part of a physician in the school play. This is oddly disconcerting, because it’s the Harlow character who’s supposed to be the impersonation and the doctor who’s the real deal. There are some good performances among the support cast, though, notably Sanders as the more intelligent of the two hitmen and Bouchey as the crippled sharpshooting army vet, while Edwards—who appeared in several of Cahn’s movies as well as the cult outing The Bat (1959)—makes a far more intriguing romantic interest than one expects to find in a movie of this caliber.

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On Amazon.com: You Have To Run Fast

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2 thoughts on “You Have to Run Fast (1961)

  1. Yes John, I do indeed know of Cahn’s work in the science-fiction shlock genre, and the last two films you mention there are minor classics. Most would name IT THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE as the inspiration for ALIEN, and as far as the spooky and grisly FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE it was a CHILLER THEATER mainstay, and a showcase for the incomparable Henry Daniell. The Our Gang comedies of course are peerless institutions, and Cahn’s involvement there must be considered his most prominent. Alas I have not yet seen the film you have framed here with a masterful analysis. Certainly you make a reasonable case for it.

    • I’ve gotta confess I’m no great Cahn fan myself, Sam. There is some interest in the movie thanks to Edwards, Sanders and a couple of the others, but it’s almost as if they’re bringing life to proceedings despite the direction.

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