US / 80 minutes / bw / Liberty Pictures, Allied Artists Dir & Scr: Crane Wilbur Pr: C.J. Tevlin Story: The Bat (1920 play) by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood Cine: Joseph Biroc Cast: Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, John Sutton, Lenita Lane, Elaine Edwards, Darla Hood, John Bryant, Harvey Stephens, Mike Steele, Riza Royce, Robert B. Williams
Celebrated mystery novelist Cornelia van Gorder (Moorehead) has rented an old house in the middle of nowhere, The Oaks. It’s a sufficiently creepy place that all the servants up and leave her except her maid/companion Lizzie Allen (Lane) and her chauffeur, Warner (Sutton).
Agnes Moorehead as Cornelia
She’s rented the house from Mark Fleming (Bryant), realtor nephew of local bank president John Fleming (Stephens), who’s off in the forest on an extended hunting vacation with local coroner and John’s personal physician, Dr. Malcolm Wells (Price). When Fleming Sr. tells Wells he’s robbed the bank of a million bucks in bonds and arranged that naive clerk Victor Bailey (Steele) will be the patsy for the crime, the good doctor murders him, then chucks the body into a handy forest fire; in his role as coroner, he can ignore the bullethole and register Fleming’s death as caused by the conflagration.
Vincent Price as Wells
The million bucks is somewhere in The Oaks, probably in a secret room. Can Wells get to it before local top cop Andy Anderson (Gordon)?
Oh, and did I mention there’s a serial killer called The Bat on the loose? He Continue reading
US / 18 minutes / bw / Detour Dir & Scr: Elliot Lavine Pr: Elliot Lavine, Fred Klein Cine: Greg Wardell, Deland Nuse Cast: John X. Heart, Alan Dowell, Harry Rosenbluth, Harry Freeman, Sheila Lichirie, Larry Stofer, Lisa Barnett, David A. Radovich, Freddy Klein, Eddie Detour
A somewhat more ambitious movie than the same director’s earlier effort, Blind Alley (1981), being longer and with a more involved plot. However, while it’s shot in a very noirish fashion and has a screenplay that’s primarily voiceover, in a sense it seems to me less close to the heart of noir than its pared-down predecessor, being more of a psychological piece.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have precursors that are very firmly in the film noir genre, notably Fear in the Night (1947) and Nightmare (1956), both directed by Maxwell Shane and based on the Cornell Woolrich story “And So to Death” (1941, Argosy; vt “Nightmare”), written by Woolrich under his William Irish pseudonym.
John X. Heart as Del
Advertising artist Del Garvin (Heart) is being troubled by a recurring dream:
“Night after night it’s the same dream. What’s it supposed to mean? These hallways, where do they lead? Corridors, spinning and twisting . . .”
Eventually, in the dream, he finds himself in front of the door to Room 11. When the door opens to his knock he stabs Continue reading
A very good remake of a classic movie!
UK, US / 102 minutes / color / United Artists Dir: Alan Gibson Pr: Norman Rosemont Scr: John Gay Story: “Traitor’s Hands” (1925 Flynn’s Weekly) and Witness for the Prosecution (1953 play), both by Agatha Christie, and the screenplay for Witness for the Prosecution (1957) by Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz and Larry Marcus Cine: Arthur Ibbetson Cast: Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Beau Bridges, Donald Pleasence, Wendy Hiller, Diana Rigg, David Langton, Richard Vernon, Peter Sallis, Michael Gough, Frank Mills, Michael Nightingale, Peter Copley, Patricia Leslie, Primi Townsend.
Christie’s play has been filmed several times. The most famous adaptation is quite clearly Billy Wilder’s 1957 movie Witness for the Prosection, featuring Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Tyron Power and, in what’s effectively an unorthodox version of the femme fatale role, Marlene Dietrich.
Because of the fame of the Wilder adaptation, it’s easy to think it must have been the first. Not so. As far as I can gather, the first movie adaptation was Continue reading
US / 95 minutes / color / Acme, Artisan Dir & Pr: Gary Winick Scr: Shem Bitterman Story: Out of the Rain (19?? play, possibly unproduced) by Shem Bitterman Cine: Makoto Watanabe Cast: Bridget Fonda, Michael O’Keefe, John E. O’Keefe, John Seitz, Georgine Hall, Al Shannon, Michael Mantell, Kathleen Chalfant, Mary Mara, Kirk Baltz, Chris Norris. In a small town in upper New York State (the movie was actually filmed in Fulton County there), young Jimmy Reade has apparently killed himself with a double-barreled shotgun. His wastrel elder brother Frank (Michael O’Keefe), who left town after a career of hooliganism but who has evidently calmed down a lot while traveling the world, returns to see Jimmy buried and to make some sort of attempt—in the event, extremely brief—to restore relations with his father Nat (Seitz) and mother Tilly (Hall). He starts living in Jimmy’s old trailer, where one night he’s visited as he sleeps by a mysterious young woman who Continue reading
US / 18 minutes / bw / RKO Pathé Dir: Edward I. Luddy (i.e., Edward Ludwig) Pr: Lew Lipton Scr: Benny Rubin, Edward I. Luddy (i.e., Edward Ludwig) Cine: Harry Forbes Cast: Benny Rubin, Gwen Lee, Lena Malena, Mathew Betz, Maurice Black, Pat Collins (i.e., G. Pat Collins), Tom McGuire, Clifford Dempsey.
A parody of the Melvyn LeRoy-directed, Edward G. Robinson- and Douglas Fairbanks Jr-starring LITTLE CAESAR (1931), this offers Continue reading