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

Drag-Net, The (1936)

US / 62 minutes / bw / Burroughs–Tarzan Dir: Vin Moore Pr: W.N. Selig Scr: J. Mulhauser (i.e., James Mulhauser) Story: play by Willard Mack Cine: Edward Kull Cast: Rod La Rocque, Marian Nixon, Betty Compson, Jack Adair, John Dilson, Edward Keane, Donald Kerr, Joseph W. Girard, John Bantry, Ed LeSaint, Allen Mathews, Sid Payne.

The Drag-Net - hardworking social report Kit Van Buren (Nixon)

Hard-working, hard-partying social reporter Kit Van Buren (Marian Nixon).

Ne’er-do-well playboy Lawrence “Larry” Thomas Jr. (La Rocque) is turfed out of the family legal practice by his father (LeSaint) for his idleness and decadent habits. Instead he must take a job as assistant to DA Thomas J. Harrison (Girard). The night before joining the DA’s office Larry takes his society-reporter girlfriend Katherine “Kit” Van Buren (Nixon) to a dancing/gambling niterie called The Dover Club, run by notorious hoodlum Joe Ross (Adair):

Larry: Tonight we celebrate.
Kit: Celebrate? But that’s what we do five nights in a week, isn’t it?

The Drag-Net - Mollie (Compson) arrives at the Dover Club

Mollie (Betty Compson) arrives at the Dover Club.

That evening Mollie Cole (Compson) arrives to see Ross. Her husband Fred (Bantry) is doing eight years for a crime he committed with Ross and crooked shyster Arnold Crane (Dilson); Crane promised he’d Continue reading

Lady Refuses, The (1931)

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                                            June (Betty Compson) returns to the drab, rain-filled streets whence she came

US / 71 minutes / bw / Radio Dir: George Archainbaud Pr: William LeBaron Scr: Wallace Smith Story: Robert Milton, Guy Bolton Cine: Leo Tover Cast: Betty Compson, John Darrow, Gilbert Emery, Margaret Livingston, Ivan Lebedeff, Edgar Norton, Daphne Pollard, Halliwell Hobbes.

In London, Sir Gerald Courtney (Emery), desperate to get his son Russell (Darrow) out of the clutches of drink and unsubtle gold-digger Berthine Waller (Livingston), hires tyro prostitute June (Compson) to lure him away from Berthine and onto the path of virtue. The plan seems to work well: Russell dumps Berthine, sobers up, stops partying, and starts to do well in his profession of architect. But there are problems, too: although June thinks she and Russell are just good pals, he’s fallen in love with her; meanwhile, June and Sir Gerald have become enamored of each other. When June tells Russell the truth, he has a relapse, finally passing out from drink on her bed. Next morning, Berthine is discovered in Russell’s flat, murdered ‑‑ in fact by her jealous lover and partner-in-crime Nikolai Rabinoff (Lebedeff) ‑‑ and Russell is the cops’ Suspect #1. While Russell, Sir Gerald and the family lawyer Sir James (Hobbes) discuss strategy, June arrives and gives Russell the alibi he craves: he was in her apartment all night. Sir Gerald immediately assumes the worst . . . just the way he’d promised her he would never do.

The movie starts as a light romantic drama/comedy, lurches into more powerful drama and only in the final act ‑‑ with the murder and the exposure of upper-class social hypocrisy ‑‑ does it begin to seem a little more noirish. The ending is very noirish indeed: June, having ripped up the check Sir Gerald gave her for saving Russell, is back on the streets, just where she began; the nihilism is tempered, however, by the knowledge that a thoroughly repentant Sir Gerald has promised he’ll find her wherever she might be.

Although the material might seem promising, the production standards let it down more than a tad. The pacing is noticeably clumsy and laborious; the US principals have difficulty hanging onto their English accents; and Sir Gerald’s such a dreary, whiny old stick that it’s hard to believe June could be drawn to him. Yet Compson’s fine in her role, and some of the cinematography — as in the still at the head of these notes — is nicely evocative.

It’s sometimes claimed this was based on a novel or play called A Lady for Hire, but no such entity appears to exist; most contemporary sources indicate the movie was based on an original screen story by Milton and Bolton. The movie did, however, have A Lady for Hire as one of its working titles, and this may be the root of the confusion.

On Amazon.com: The Lady Refuses (1931)