The Trespasser (1947)

US / 70 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: George Blair Assoc Pr: William J. O’Sullivan Scr: Jerry Gruskin, Dorrell McGowan, Stuart E. McGowan Story: Jerry Sackheim, Erwin Gelsey Cine: John Alton Cast: Dale Evans, Warren Douglas, Janet Martin, Douglas Fowley, Adele Mara, Gregory Gay (i.e., Gregory Gaye), Grant Withers, William Bakewell, Vince Barnett, Francis Pierlot, Joy Barlowe (i.e., Joy Barlow), Fred Graham, Dale Van Sickel, Betty Alexander, Joseph Crehan, Bobbie Dorree.

A movie that starts off as if it’s going to be yet another of those countless, nigh-indistinguishable Hollywood comedy-crime B-features, albeit better played and produced than most, but, around the halfway mark, morphs into something distinctly grimmer and more noirish, with cinematography to match—indeed, the (well choreographed) punchup of the finale is marred by the fact that the shadows are so deep you can’t see who’s getting the upper hand (fist?) in the proceedings.

Warren Douglas as Danny and Janet Martin as Stevie

Despite the order of the credits, Janet Martin is the main star of the show, with Warren Douglas and Douglas Fowley as her supports. Dale Evans has a supporting role and sings a nice song (“It’s Not the First Love” by Eddie Maxwell and Nathan Scott), but was clearly regarded as being a much bigger name than the others. Plus c’est la même chose.

Dale Evans as Linda

Stephanie “Stevie” Carson (Martin) is the daughter of the late, lamented but legendary Evening Gazette investigative reporter Frank Carson, and so, fresh out of journalism school, turns up at the Gazette offices hoping for Continue reading

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-5), episodes #13-#16

Episode 13: Primal Scream

Aired January 17 1975

US / 51 minutes / color / Francy, Universal, ABC Dir: Robert Scheerer Pr: Cy Chermak Scr: Bill S. Ballinger, David Chase Cine: Ronald W. Browne Cast: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, John Marley, Pat Harrington, Katharine Woodville, Jamie Farr, Jack Grinnage, Barbara Rhoades, Jeanie Bell, Lindsay Workman, Regis Cordic, Byron Morrow, Vince Howard, Sandra Gould.

After a month away at a science conference, Dr. Jules Kopernik (uncredited), biologist at the Oceanic International Oil Corporation, returns one night to his lab, where he’s promptly torn to pieces by an ape man. Spunky investigative journalist Carl Kolchak (McGavin) pursues the story of what seems at first to be “merely” a particularly gruesome murder. It’s only when Continue reading

Detective Kitty O’Day (1944) and Adventures of Kitty O’Day (1945)

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Two B-feature crime comedies starring the vivacious Jean Parker!

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Detective Kitty O’Day

US / 61 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: William Beaudine Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Tim Ryan, Victor Hammond Story: Victor Hammond Cine: Ira Morgan Cast: Jean Parker, Peter Cookson, Tim Ryan, Veda Ann Borg, Edward Gargan, Douglas Fowley, Herbert Heyes, Pat Gleason, Olaf Hytten, Edward Earle.

Detective Kitty O'Day - opener

A high-spirited comedy thriller/mystery from Monogram, the first in an intended series that for some reason never made it past the second outing.

Kitty O’Day (Parker) is secretary to broker Oliver M. Wentworth (Earle) and girlfriend of one of Wentworth’s gofers, Johnny Jones (Cookson). One evening, after Johnny has brought a fortune in securities to Wentworth, the broker tells Kitty to go and fetch train tickets to Boston for the following day and to meet him later at his home for a last couple of urgent letters. Johnny, who’d bought theater tickets for tonight, is naturally miffed, and sounds off on the sidewalk to her about what he’d like to do with their boss. His tirade is overheard by a nearby taxi driver (Gleason), who’s especially startled by the line: “I’d like to kill him.”

Detective Kitty O'Day - 1 Johnny and Kitty, office lovers

Johnny (Peter Cookson) and Kitty (Jean Parker) — can the two lovers find happiness?

When Kitty reaches the Wentworth establishment she finds it’s suffering a power outage. A candle-bearing butler, Charles (Hytten), tells her that Continue reading

Merton of the Movies (1947)

US / 82 minutes / bw / MGM Dir: Robert Alton Pr: Albert Lewis Scr: George Wells, Lou Breslow Story: Merton of the Movies (1919) by Harry Leon Wilson, and Merton of the Movies (1922 play) by George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly Cine: Paul C. Vogel Cast: Red Skelton, Virginia O’Brien, Gloria Grahame, Leon Ames, Alan Mowbray, Charles D. Brown, Hugo Haas, Harry Hayden, Tom Trout, Douglas Fowley, Dick Wessel, Helen Eby-Rock.

This was the third movie version of Wilson’s novel and the hit Broadway play based on it. The earlier versions were Merton of the Movies (1924) dir James Cruze, with Glenn Hunter, Charles Sellon, Sadie Gordon and Gale Henry, and Make Me a Star (1932) dir William Beaudine, with Joan Blondell, Stuart Erwin, Zasu Pitts, Ben Turpin and Charles Sellon, the latter reprising his role as Pete Gashwiler. There was also a Kraft Theatre version: Merton of the Movies (1947 TVM) with Eddie Mayehoff and Patricia Englund. Cruze’s 1924 silent has been lost, and the same may be true of the TVM.

Merton of the Movies - Gloria Grahame

Beulah Baxter (Gloria Grahame), having just told the press she does all her own stunts, prepares to let stuntgirl Phyllis Montague (Virginia O’Brien) do the dangerous bit.

A satire of the movie business, this has no real noir relevance save for the presence in its cast of noir goddess Gloria Grahame (I’ve been working on a piece about Grahame for something else, which is what brought me to this movie), not to mention actor/producer/director Hugo Haas, whose enjoyably dire shoestring noirs have a minor cult following today. There are also some regular noir supports like Ames and Fowley.

It’s 1915 and Merton Gill (Skelton) is a cinema usher in Tinkerton, Kansas, and mad about the movies; his favorite stars are Lawrence “Larry” Rupert (Ames), famed for his detective roles, and the lovely Beulah Baxter (Grahame), famed for Continue reading