Dick Barton at Bay (1950)

More Barton!

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Marylebone–Hammer, Exclusive Dir: Godfrey Grayson Pr: Henry Halsted Scr: Jackson C. Budd, Ambrose Grayson, Emma Trechman Story: Ambrose Grayson, based on characters created for Dick Barton—Special Agent (1946–51 BBC radio series), devised by Norman Collins and scripted by Edward J. Mason and Geoffrey Webb Cine: Stanley Clinton Cast: Don Stannard, Tamara Desni, George Ford, Meinhart Maur, Percy Walsh, Joyce Linden, Campbell Singer, John Arnatt, Richard George, Patrick McNee (i.e., Patrick Macnee), George Crawford, Paddy Ryan, Fred Owen, Yoshihide Yanai, Ted Butterfield.

Although this was the third and last to be released of the three DICK BARTON movies produced by Hammer, it was actually the second to be made. It therefore seems to make sense to discuss it here before Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949), the last to be made. The predecessor of Dick Barton at Bay was Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948), about which I waffled here the other day.

As soon as the credits are over it’s obvious this movie is a cut above Special Agent. There’s a genuinely suspenseful chase as a War Office agent called Phillips (played by an almost unrecognizably youthful Macnee) flees through the docks at Limehouse from two bad guys. They eventually catch him in a phone box and shoot him dead, but not before he’s been able to phone Dick Barton (Stannard) and gasp out an enigmatic message: “Two longs and a short.”

Patrick Macnee as a man on the run.

Dick races to the phone box and discovers the imprint of a three-fingered hand on the glass.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Continue reading

o/t: Robert Osborne

Just a note to record my sadness on learning just now of the death of movie scholar and historian Robert Osborne (May 3 1932–March 6 2017), for many years the “face” of Turner Classic Movies.

One of those people of whom I’ve never heard a bad word spoken, he gave expert introductions to countless elderly movies for TCM, including of course films noirs galore. He’ll be much missed.

o/t: February’s leisure reading

Not a classic crop of reads during February, but there were some definite goodies, like the Williams, the Nielsen, the Bank and the Tey, while there was a lot to like about the Rankin, the Wentworth and the Wright . . . Hm. Maybe the month was better than I thought.

The links are as always to my often hurried Goodreads notes.


o/t: Hair Raising Oscar telecast and Get Out on Monday Morning Diary (February 27)

##Thanks to the party thrown by the extraordinarily generous Sam and Lucille Juliano of the amazing movies’n’otherstuff site Wonders in the Dark, we had a great Oscars Night . . . and too much excellent food. Just as I was realizing I could eat not one mouthful more, along came the homemade chocolate brownies: golly, but they were good.

We chatted with a bunch of people, notably including pal Sam himself, and in the background Oscars got awarded. I was disappointed by the animation picks (the Academy playing it safe) and elated by the foreign-language pick.

Wonders in the Dark



by Sam Juliano

Well, well, well. So in the end those who bashed the Academy for the likely choice of “La La Land” for Best Picture can now take all their shameful conspiracy theories and inane cultural blight crap and bury them. I don’t always agree with the Oscars but I respect them. And this year they chose a great film -Moonlight- one of my own Top 10 of the year as the Best Picture, after that embarrassing envelope snafu that has since been owned up by Price Waterhouse, the accounting firm. And our own insightful voters on this very page last week also chose “Moonlight” as Best Film of the Year. No need for “La La Land” rooters to cry though. The beloved musical copped 6 Oscars including Best Director and Best Actress, and many other awards from critics’ groups.

What a great night we had at the Tiger…

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o/t: a great man

I must be the last person on the planet to realize that Sidney Poitier is 90 today. Happy birthday to the great man!

I was thinking to myself that it was a shame he made so few movies of noirish interest, but then I went and checked in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir and discovered there were more references to him than I’d remembered:

  • NO WAY OUT (1950)
  • EDGE OF THE CITY (1957)
  • The DEFIANT ONES (1958)
  • HANKY PANKY (1982)
  • SHOOT TO KILL (1988)

I really cannot now understand why I didn’t give an entry to In the Heat of the Night (1967) and its two sequels; even though they’re not noir they’re obviously of very strong associational interest. In the remote event of the book going into a second edition, I’ll obviously include them.

Probably my favorite of all the movies of his that I’ve seen is Lilies of the Field (1963), in which he plays an itinerant handyman who befriends a destitute immigre community of Eastern European nuns. I must at some point persuade myself, on however spurious a premise, that this movie has been *koff* sufficiently influential on the film noir genre as to deserve a writeup here.

o/t: leisure reading during January 2017

Several real goodies here, I’m pleased to say. The links are as usual to my often hasty Goodreads notes.

Unter Ausschluß der Öffentlichkeit (1961)

vt Blind Justice; vt The Whole Truth
West Germany / 98 minutes / bw / CCC, Bavaria Filmverleih Dir: Harald Philipp Pr: Artur Brauner Scr: Harald Philipp, Fred Ignor Cine: Friedel Behn-Grund Cast: Peter van Eyck, Marianne Koch, Eva Bartok, Claus Holm, Wolfgang Reichmann, Werner Peters, Susanne Cramer, Alfred Balthoff, Leon Askin, Rudolf Fernau, Gudrun Schmidt, Ralph Wolter, Heinz Weiss, Jochen Blume, Kurd Pieritz, Albert Bessler, Herbert Wilk, Peter Schiff, Heinz Welzel, Claus Dahlen.


Staatsanwalt (District Attorney) Robert Kessler (van Eyck) believes he’s just about to strike the winning blow in his latest sensational court case—that of airplane engineer Dr. Werner Rüttgen (Holm), accused of murdering his wife of many years by poison to begin a new life with lovely young mistress Helga Dähms (Cramer)—when court proceedings are interrupted.


Helga (Susanne Cramer) testifies at the murder trial of her lover, Werner (Claus Holm), seen at rear.

Another lovely young woman, Mrs. Laura Beaumont (Bartok), leaps to her feet and proclaims that the dead woman committed suicide: she knows because she was Frau Rüttgen’s oldest and best friend, and was there when Continue reading

o/t: my youngest reviewer yet?

There’s an interesting site called LitPick that’s devoted to reviews of books for children and young adults. The premise of the site, which has grown to be fairly huge by now, is that the books should be reviewed not by adults but by children themselves.


When I heard this morning that the reviewer who’d written for them about my book Eureka: 50 Scientists Who Shaped Human History is aged just 11, I was slightly startled — after all, the book’s intended for young adults. But Continue reading

Çarpisma (2005)

The fatal power of coincidence!

vt Crash
Turkey / 18 minutes / color / Atlantik Film, T.C. Ministry of Culture, Tourism Directorate General of Copyright and Cinema, MTN, Galaksi, Sinefekt, Melodika, Cobay, Sinemaj Dir & Scr: Umut Aral Pr: Umut Aral, Ömer Atay Cine: Gökhan Atilmiş Cast: Ruhi Sari, Gürkan Uygun, Ali Çekirdekçi, Selçuk Uluergüven, Inanç Ayar.


One day, on the sidewalk in front of the train station in Konya, there’s a collision between three men. By coincidence, all three are criminals, and the consequences of this accident are going to be profound.

The accident occurs because small-time pickpocket Ali Akar (Sari) is being chased by a street cop (Ayar) and fails to see the other two in time to dodge them. Those other two are Continue reading

Ivy League Killers (1959)

A rare Canadian noir set among bikers and their molls!

vt The Fast Ones
Canada / 68 minutes / bw / Ivy League Dir: William Davidson Pr: Norman Klenman, William Davidson Scr: Norman Klenman Cine: William H. Gimmi Cast: Don Borisenko, Don Francks, Barbara Bricker, George Carron, Jean Templeton, Patrick Desmond, Barry Lavender, Igors Gavon, Art Jenoff, John Ringham, John Paris, Gertrude Tyas, Jack Blacklock, Boyd Jackson & The Black Diamond Riders.


Apparently the producers of Ivy League Killers, Norman Klenman and William Davidson, were eager to establish a commercially successful movie industry in Canada, and so they rather cynically tailored this teen melodrama as an attempt to cash in on the US fad, begun with movies like Rebel Without a Cause (1955), for dramas featuring juvenile delinquents. Whatever their motives, Klenman and Davidson succeeded in creating, out of a minuscule budget and a group of unknown actors, a movie that is actually rather fine, and one that could quite reasonably be considered a film noir.


Nancy (Jean Templeton) and Don (Don Borisenko) in the face-off with the rich kids.

Four rich kids in posh sports cars—Susan Grey (Bricker), Andy (Francks), Charlie (Desmond) and Bertie (Lavender)—exchange words with a biker gang, the Black Diamond Riders, led by Don Gibson (Borisenko). Andy, the leader of the posh kids, is pretty rude to the bikers, and Don is rather reluctantly goaded by his jittery deputy, Bruno (Carron), into Continue reading