Johnny Cool (1963)

US / 104 minutes / bw / Chrislaw, United Artists Dir & Pr: William Asher Scr: Joseph Landon Story: The Kingdom of Johnny Cool (1959) by John McPartland Cine: Sam Leavitt Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Richard Anderson, Jim Backus, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter, Wanda Hendrix, Hank Henry, Marc Lawrence, John McGiver, Gregory Morton, Mort Sahl, Telly Savalas, Joan Staley, Sammy Davis Jr., Katharine Bard, Steve Peck, Douglas Henderson, Frank Albertson, Mary Scott, Elisha Cook (i.e., Elisha Cook Jr), John Dierkes, Robert Armstrong, Michael Davis.

A deliberate evocation of the films noirs and gangster movies more usually associated with releases from two or three decades earlier, this adds glossy production values, a splendid score and plenty of star names. And yet, while highly watchable, it seems to lose much of those qualities—most obviously in the areas of direction and cinematography—that made its models so grittily absorbing.

Michael Davis as the young Giordano

In 1943 in Sicily, young Salvatore Giordano (Michael Davis) learns to kill as part of the Resistance fighting back against the fascists who killed his mother. Twenty years later, he’s a bandit chieftain, a Robin Hood figure with a huge price on his head . . . yet unlikely to be arrested because the local cops and politicians are on his side.

One day, though, as Giordano (Silva) attends a wedding, the authorities arrive in force and chase him off into the wild countryside. There they apparently put an end to the career of the great Salvatore Giordano.

Henry Silva as Johnny/Giordano

But no. Next we know he’s in chains in Rome, where Continue reading

The Night Stalker (1972 TVM)

|
“The story may be apocryphal, but I believe it.”
|

vt Kolchak: The Night Stalker; vt The Kolchak Papers; vt The Kolchak Tapes
US / 75 minutes / color / Curtis, ABC Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey Pr: Dan Curtis Scr: Richard Matheson Story: Jeff Rice Cine: Michel Hugo Cast: Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Kent Smith, Barry Atwater, Larry Linville, Jordan Rhodes, Elisha Cook Jr., Stanley Adams, Virginia Gregg, Peggy Rea, Helen O’Brien.

The Night Stalker was the first of two TV movies—the other being The Night Strangler (1973 TVM), which I’ll be covering here soon—that heralded a TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974–5). The series ran for just a single season of 20 episodes, which were aired at somewhat irregular intervals, so can hardly have been regarded as especially successful in its day. Even so, it has maintained a cult following ever since . . . as I’ll be pointing out when I write about it shortly for the Wonders in the Dark site’s current TV Countdown.

In the meantime, though, this movie:

Las Vegas, and the authorities are alarmed that there seems to be a serial killer on the list—not so much because he’s killing people as because, Continue reading