The Bat (1959)

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

Purple Gang, The (1959)

|
A “youthful rat-pack of terrorists”!
|

US / 85 minutes / bw / Allied Artists Dir: Frank McDonald Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Jack DeWitt Cine: Ellis Carter Cast: Barry Sullivan, Robert Blake, Elaine Edwards, Marc Cavell, Jody Lawrance, Suzy Marquette, Joseph Turkel, Victor Creatore, Paul Dubov, Dirk London, Kathleen Lockhart, Nestor Paiva, Lou Krugman, Robert Anderson, Mauritz Hugo, Danny Mummert, John Close, Ralph Sanford, George Baxter, Paul McGuire, David Tomack, Don Haggerty, Congressman James Roosevelt.

This gives the impression—complete with pompous introduction from a political stuffed shirt—of being a dramatized documentary about the real-life Purple Gang, which terrorized Detroit during the 1920s and 1930s, but in fact its moments of consonance with the historical reality are fairly few and far between, and usually consist of the scripters merely incorporating a stray aspect of the truth in hopes it’ll somehow stand in for all the rest. Just to add to the air of divorcement from reality, while the setting is stated to be the late 1920s and the early 1930s, there’s no effort, through costume or effects, to place the action anywhere else but in the 1940s.

Congressman Roosevelt introduces our tale.

The stuffed shirt in question is Congressman James Roosevelt, Chairman (it says here) of the Committee on Narcotics of the California Delegation in the Congress of the United States, who bizarrely addresses most of his remarks not to the camera but slightly to our right of it. After he’s done, we then get a scrolled legend aiming to persuade us further of the movie’s authenticity:

This picture is based on Continue reading

You Have to Run Fast (1961)

vt Man Missing
US / 73 minutes / bw / Harvard, UA Dir: Edward L. Cahn Pr: Robert E. Kent Scr: Orville H. Hampton Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Craig Hill, Elaine Edwards, Grant Richards, Willis Bouchey, Ken Mayer, Shep Sanders, John Apone, Brad Trumbull, Jack Mann, Max Mellinger, John Clarke, Claudia Barrett, Ric Marlow, Jack Kenney, Joel Lewinson.

You Have to Run Fast - 5 Laurie (Edwards) has things out with Frank (Hill)

Laurie (Elaine Edwards) has things out with Frank (Craig Hill).

One night in the big city, two hoodlums arrive at the open-all-hours surgery of Dr. Roger Condon (Hill) bringing with them a savagely beaten cop, Lou Miles (Kenney). Despite Condon’s protests, the two depart. When Condon gets back to the patient he finds the man has died, and calls the cops. Lt. Dan Carbo (Mann) shows Condon the usual mugshots, and Condon identifies the hoods as Jay Rocco (Marlow) and Big Jim Craven (Richards). Carbo puts out an APB, and Rocco is soon caught, but Craven escapes. Condon attempts to carry on his life but, when the cop set to guard him is killed by one of Craven’s men, realizes he has to go on the run from Craven, who’s clearly desperate to eliminate the witness who can pin Miles’s death on him.

You Have to Run Fast - 3 Dr Roger Condon (Hill), who barely resembles Frank Harlow

Dr. Roger Condon (Craig Hill) — who could guess he’s the same person as outdoorsman Frank Harlow?

We next find Condon a year later in the guise of Frank Harlow, working as a clerk at a sporting goods store in the small town of Summit City, whose economic base seems Continue reading