Anna Lucasta (1949)

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A liberated young woman refuses to be the floozy her family wants her to be!
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US / 86 minutes / bw / Security, Columbia Dir: Irving Rapper Pr: Philip Yordan Scr: Arthur Laurents Story: Anna Lucasta (1944; play) by Philip Yordan Cine: Sol Polito Cast: Paulette Goddard, William Bishop, John Ireland, Oskar Homolka, Broderick Crawford, Will Geer, Gale Page, Mary Wickes, Whit Bissell, Lisa Golm, James Brown, Dennie Moore, Anthony Caruso.

Anna Lucasta - 0 opener

In the small town of Mayberry, Pennsylvania, ex-farmer Joe Lucasta (Homolka) rules his Polish–American family with a drunken fist—or tries to, anyway, his position of power having been largely usurped by his thuggish son-in-law Frank (Crawford), married to Joe’s daughter Stella (Wickes). Others in the household are Joe’s wife Theresa (Golm), his son Stanley (Bissell) and Stanley’s wife Katie (Page). Frank and his slavish follower Stanley are essentially layabouts and Stella’s a small-minded shrew. The most frequent line of dialogue employed by the family is “Aw, shuddup.”

Anna Lucasta - 7 Joe, in typically snarling mode

Joe (Oskar Homolka), in typically snarling mode.

The only sympathetic characters among the tribe are Katie, who seems an order of magnitude more intelligent than the others, and Continue reading

Wild Ones on Wheels (1962)

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Wild like broccoli is, like, wild, man!
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US / 83 minutes / bw / Charles Bros., Emerson Dir & Pr: Rudolph Cusumano Scr: Eugene Pollock, Joseph Thomas Cine: Ray Dennis Steckler Cast: Francine York, Edmund Tontini, Robert Blair, Jonathon Karle (i.e., Jonathan Karle), Diana George, Sydney L. Mason, Mike Cannon (i.e., Mike Kannon), Joseph Thomas, Ray Dennis Steckler, Louise Norris.

Wild Ones on Wheels - 0 opener

Duke Walker (Mason) has been in the pen for 12 years for his part in a truck heist that netted $240,000. The money has never been recovered, and the word is that Duke’s the only one who knows where it’s hidden.

Wild Ones on Wheels - 2 Hazel's brother Tom

Hazel’s brother Don (Joseph Thomas) — can he be trusted?

Duke’s very much younger wife Hazel (York) has waited for him all these years, working with her crippled brother Don (Thomas, who also co-scripted) in his diner. Just these past few months, however, she’s been canoodling with their lodger, Bill James (Blair). This may be why it has seemingly never occurred to her that it might be kind to do the ordinary thing and go pick Duke up at the prison gate; instead, they simply wait for him to arrive under his own steam. Since the diner’s on the edge of the Mojave Desert but otherwise in the middle of nowhere, he has to get there by hitchhiking.

Wild Ones on Wheels - 1 Hazel and Bill get friendly

Hazel (Francine York) and Bill (Robert Blair) get friendly.

If Hazel and Don seem lukewarm about the release of Duke, others are eagerly anticipating it. For a couple of years of his involuntary vacation Duke shared a cell with a crook by the name of Continue reading

Rogues Gallery (1944)

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The sassy crime reporter, her sidekick photographer
. . . and murder! Have we been here before?
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vt Here We Go Again
US / 57 minutes / bw / American Productions, PRC Dir: Albert Herman Pr: Donald C. McKean, Albert Herman Scr: John T. Neville Cine: Ira Morgan Cast: Frank Jenks, Robin Raymond, H.B. Warner, Ray Walker, Davison Clark, Bob Homans, Frank McGlynn, Pat Gleason, Edward Keane, Earle Dewey, Milton Kibbee, Gene Stutenoth, George Kirby, Norval Mitchell, John Valentine, Jack Raymond, Parker Gee.

Rogues Gallery - 0

One of the countless comedy mysteries that were churned out as B-movies in the 1930s and 1940s, this features a familiar pair of protagonists: the smartass reporter and her photographer sidekick.

Reporter Patsy Clark (Robin Raymond) and photographer Eddie Jones (Jenks)—not Eddie Parker, as sometimes listed—work for the Daily Express. Just to avoid confusion, this isn’t the London Daily Express but a newspaper—a newspaper seemingly somewhere in California, presumably not too far from the PRC lot. Their editor, Gentry (Keane), sends them out to cover the story of a new invention devised by one Professor Reynolds (Warner) under the auspices of the Emerson Foundation, whose head is John Foster (Clark). Even though Foster’s nephew Jimmie (Walker) is a journalist, Foster and his companions on the Emerson Foundation board don’t much hold with the breed, and so Foster’s butler Duckworth (Kirby) throws Patsy and Eddie out on their ears when they try to get in for an interview.

Rogues Gallery - 1 Patsy and Eddie try to put a bold face on their latest failure

Patsy (Robin Raymond) and Eddie (Frank Jenks) try to put a bold face on their latest failure. That thing on Patsy’s head is a hat, and it’s apparently glued there.

Their next attempt is to go to the Emerson Foundation labs hoping to Continue reading

Young Don’t Cry, The (1957)

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A teenage orphan must choose between his own integrity and the corrupted might of the law!
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US / 90 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: Alfred L. Werker Pr: Philip A. Waxman Scr: Richard Jessup Story: The Cunning and the Haunted (1954) by Richard Jessup Cine: Ernest Haller Cast: Sal Mineo, James Whitmore, J. Carrol Naish, Gene Lyons, Paul Carr, Thomas Carlin, Leigh Whipper, Stefan Gierasch, Victor Thorley, Roxanne (i.e., Dolores Rosedale), James Reese, Ruth Attaway, Leland Mayforth, Dick Wigginton, Stanley Martin, Josephine Smith.

The Young Don't Cry - 0 opener

Sixteen-year-old Leslie “Les” Henderson (Mineo) is one of the inmates at the Brockton Orphanage for Boys, somewhere in the Deep South. He wants to try for a scholarship to technical college with the aim of becoming an engineer. Like the other older boys, he acts as a big brother to a dormitory of the little kids.

His plans take a bit of a knock the day when he finds another older boy, Tom Bradley (Carr), bullying Les’s little friend Allan (Mayforth); even though Tom’s bigger, Les whales him, thereby earning a reprimand—and a week’s docking of his precious August vacation—from orphanage superintendent Gwinn (Reese). Les had been planning to go on his sailboat with friend Jimmy Brown (Wigginton) to the nearby deserted island of Warsaw for a few weeks’ camping. On the other hand, Les’s defense of the underdog, Allan, and his defeat of Bradley means he’s now accepted by staff and boys alike as one of the orphanage’s Big Fellas.

The Young Don't Cry - 3 Bradley prepares to launch himself at Les

Bradley (Paul Carr) prepares to launch himself at Les.

Another of the Big Fellas is Johnny Clancy (Carlin). We know from the outset that Clancy is a bit of a snake. Called to do something about the punchup between Les and Bradley, he just Continue reading

Violent Years, The (1956)

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From the master pen of Ed Wood Jr, a taut exploitationer promoting hot babes and, um, Christian family values?
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US / 61 minutes / bw / Headliner, Dél Dir: Wm. M. Morgan Pr: Roy Reid Scr: Edward D. Wood Jr Cine: Wm. C. Thompson Cast: Jean Moorhead, Barbara Weeks, Arthur Millan, Theresa Hancock, Joanne Cangi, Gloria Farr, Glen Corbett (i.e., Glenn Corbett), Lee Constant, I. Stanford Jolley, Timothy Farell (i.e., Timothy Farrell), F. Chan McClure, Bruno Metsa, Harry Keaton.

Violent Years - 0 opener

We know this is going to be a somber movie centered on earnest social comment because, as four lovely young women take turns walking dismissively in front of a chalkboard that bears the words

Good Citizenship—
—Self Restraint—
—Politeness—
—Loyalty—

there’s a portentous voiceover spelling out just the kind of moral lesson we should draw from the piece:

“This is a story of violence, of violence born of the uncontrolled passions of adolescent youth and Continue reading

Strange Adventure, A (1932)

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An old dark house and a hooded figure, oo-er!
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vt The Wayne Murder Case
US / 60 minutes / bw / Chadwick, Monogram Dir: Phil Whitman Pr: I.E. Chadwick Scr: Lee Chadwick, Hampton Del Ruth Story: Arthur Hoerl Cine: Leon Shamroy Cast: Regis Toomey, June Clyde, Lucille La Verne, Jason Robards Sr, William V. Mong, Eddie Phillips, Dwight Frye, Nadine Dore, Alan Roscoe, Isabelle Vecki, Harry Myers, Eddie Chandler, Snowflake.

A Strange Adventure - closer

Vile old plutocrat Silas Wayne (Mong) is, though still mobile, nearing death. Unmarried, he brings all his nieces and nephews together in his home for a pre-mortem reading of his will. Before the great performance, however, his nephew and secretary Claude Wayne (Phillips) opens the old man’s hidden safe—all the family seems to know where this is, and how to get into it whenever they want to!—and scans the provisions of the will. One of these concerns the housekeeper, Miss Sheen (La Verne):

“To her and her children I leave the Candor diamond, in the hope it will continue to be an evil omen!”

Another relates to his married niece Sarah Boulter (Vecki), who’s to get $100,000 upon the birth of her first child—a prime example of the old man’s psychological sadism because, as we find, he well knew that Continue reading

Phantom Speaks, The (1945)

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What possessed him to commit murder?
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US / 69 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: John English Pr: Donald H. Brown Scr: John K. Butler Cine: William Bradford Cast: Richard Arlen, Stanley Ridges, Lynne Roberts, Tom Powers, Charlotte Wynters, Jonathan Hale, Pierre Watkin, Marian Martin (i.e., Marion Martin), Garry Owen, Ralf Harolde, Doreen McCann, Joseph Granby, Bob Alden, Charles Sullivan.

The Phantom Speaks - closer

It begins, as so many stories do, in a park. Frankie Teal (Harolde) is there, having come in response to a note from his mistress:

“Frankie:
Harvey out of town. Meet me in the park at noon. Usual place. Important.
Betty.”

But the person who meets Frankie isn’t Betty at all: it’s Harvey Bogardus (Powers), Betty’s husband and a ruthless self-made man. He Continue reading

Deadly Duo (1962)

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Identical twins, one a sweet young widow and the other a sexpot stripper, and the fortune that only one of them wants!

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US / 69 minutes / bw / Harvard, UA Dir: Reginald LeBorg Pr: Robert E. Kent Scr: Owen Harris Story: The Deadly Duo (1959) by Richard Jessup Cine: Gordon Avil Cast: Craig Hill, Marcia Henderson, Robert Lowery, Dayton Lummis, Carlos Romero, Irene Tedrow, David Renard, Marco Antonio, Peter Oliphant.

Deadly Duo - 0 opener

Racecar driver Robby Spence dies in a spectacular crash. A month later, unsuccessful California lawyer Preston “Pres” Morgan (Hill) is recruited for a mysterious task by highly successful corporate attorney Thorne Fletcher (Lummis), acting on behalf of the mighty Spence Industries—or, more accurately, for that company’s steely owner, Leonora Spence (Tedrow). Leonora was appalled when, a few years ago, her late son Robby married Sabena Corwen (Henderson), one half of the dancing act The Corwen Sisters, the other half being Sabena’s identical twin sister Dara (Henderson again). The irate mother cut her son off without a penny. Now she wants to take her grandson, Billy (Oliphant), from Sabena and raise him herself as future CEO of Spence Industries. Pres’s task is to take a contract to Acapulco, where Sabena and Billy live, offering the mother $500,000 to relinquish all rights in the child.

Deadly Duo - 1 Leonora is initially suspecious of Pres

Leonora (Irene Tedrow) is initially suspicious of Pres.

There’s a quite effective scene in which Pres, his righteous indignation roused, tells Leonora firmly what she can do with her offer of employment, that he would never stoop so low as to collaborate in what he sees as the buying and selling of an infant . . . then discovers that his fee for the service will be $50,000.

Arrived in Acapulco, Pres goes to Sabena’s home. There he meets not just Sabena but twin sister Dara and Dara’s husband Jay Flagg (Lowery). There he marvels over the fact that the two sisters are not just beautiful but so very identical except that Sabena has shortish brunette hair while Dara has longer blonde hair. He soon notices, too, that there are behavioral differences between the rather prim Sabena and the clumsily vamping Dara.

Deadly Duo - 2a Nasty . . .

Naughty Marcia Henderson . . .

Deadly Duo - 2b . . . or Nice[Q] -- sisters Dara and Sabena

. . . or nice Marcia Henderson?

Sabena refuses Leonora’s contract point-blank—no way is she going to give up her son—and throws him out of the house.

This is to the huge displeasure of Jay and Dara, who desperately need the money. After the breakup of The Corwen Sisters, Dara struggled along on her own as best she could, which Continue reading

Case Against Brooklyn, The (1958)

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Darren McGavin socks jaws and blasts bullets as he exposes cops who’ve sold out to the Syndicate!

US / 81 minutes / bw / Morningside, Columbia Dir: Paul Wendkos Pr: Charles H. Schneer Scr: Raymond T. Marcus (i.e., Bernard Gordon), Daniel B. Ullman Story: “I Broke the Brooklyn Graft Scandal” (n.d. True Magazine) by Ed Reid Cine: Fred Jackman Cast: Darren McGavin, Maggie Hayes (i.e., Margaret Hayes), Warren Stevens, Peggy McCay, Tol Avery, Emile Meyer, Nestor Paiva, Brian Hutton, Robert Osterloh, Joseph Turkel, Bobby Helms, John Zaremba, Thomas Browne Henry, Joe De Santis, Michael Garth, Herb Vigran, Cheerio Meredith.

Case Against Brooklyn - 0 opener

Case Against Brooklyn - 0a other opener

Journalist Ed Reid (uncredited, but possibly played by himself) has blown the story wide open: not only is NYC full of “horse rooms” (illegal bookie joints) but the taking of bribes by the cops to look the other way is rife. His stories in the newspapers draw the attention of DA Michael W. Norris (Avery) and leading bookie Finelli (Paiva), albeit for very different reasons.

Case Against Brooklyn - 1 Finelli hands over the days takings to Rudi

Finelli (Nestor Paiva) hands over the days takings to his henchman Rudi (Warren Stevens).

Norris decides to set up a sting operation using recent graduates from the police academy, who presumably can be expected to have not yet discovered the allure of corruption. Chief among these—or, at least, the rookie whose story we follow—is Pete Harris (McGavin), a man who has some relevant experience in that he did intelligence work for the US Marines in Japan. Pete chooses as his sidekick his old academy comrade Jess Johnson (Hutton) and the pair rent an apartment that’s Continue reading

Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)

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What is the mystery of the empty 13th chair?

vt The Mystery of the 13th Guest
US / 61 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: William Beaudine Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Tim Ryan, Charles Marion, Arthur Hoerl Story: The Thirteenth Guest (1929) by Armitage Trail Cine: Mack Stengler Cast: Helen Parrish, Dick Purcell, Tim Ryan, Frank Faylen, Jacqueline Dalya, Paul McVey, John Duncan, Jon Dawson, Cyril Ring, Addison Richards, Lloyd Ingraham, Fred “Snowflake” Toones, Shirley Jean Anderson, Lester Dorr, Herbert Heyes.

Mystery of the 13th Guest - 1 The mystery envelope ...

Mystery of the 13th Guest - 1a ... and what it contained

Thirteen years ago, in the old Morgan home at 122 Mill Road, Grandpa Morgan (Ingraham) convoked a meeting of his ten possible heirs, plus his lawyer, John Barksdale (Ring). The twelve of them sat around a table at which a 13th chair remained empty—the nonexistent “13th guest” of the title, even though this would be technically not the 13th but the 12th guest. Grandpa announced that his will was contained in a sealed envelope, which he passed to his seven-year-old granddaughter, Marie (Anderson), on condition that she open it on her 21st birthday while seated at this very table.

Fast forward to today, as one dark night the grown-up Marie Morgan (Parrish) lets herself into the old family heap. She’s astonished to find that, even though the place has been closed up for thirteen years, the phone and electricity are still on. In the gloom a shot rings out and, the next we know, Marie Continue reading