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

Hollywood Mystery (1934)

US / 54 minutes / bw / Fanchon Royer, Regal Dir: Breezy Eason Pr: Fanchon Royer Scr: John Thomas Neville Story: William Bloecher Cine: Ernest Miller Cast: June Clyde, Frank Albertson, José Crespo, Tenen Holtz, John Davidson, Stanley Price, Cyril Ring, Edith Terry Preuss, Frances Morris, William H. O’Brien.

Hollywood Mystery 0 opener

Daniel Patrick Ryan (Albertson), usually known as “Dan” or “Danny”, is in charge of PR for Poverty Row studio Supreme Pictures. His boss, Benjamin “Benny” Vogel (Holtz), is in the habit of firing and then rehiring him. The reason he’s being fired today is that he has committed the studio to making a movie called The Racketeer, when everyone knows the public’s tired of gangster movies. Worse still, the director he has lined up for it is the foreign auteur he insisted the studio hire a year ago and who’s done nothing ever since, Siegfried Sonoff (Davidson). It’s a match made in hell. (Why a PR guy should have been doing such things is a bit of a puzzler, but this is a Poverty Row production itself.)

Hollywood Mystery 1 Danny makes his case to Benny

Danny (Frank Albertson) makes his case to Benny.

Dan has an inspiration, and he sells the idea to Sonoff. What about casting a real gangster in the lead role? Sonoff, master of European realism, adores the idea. Benny Continue reading

Girl on the Run (1953)

US / 65 minutes / bw / Astor, Rose Tree Dir: Joseph Lee, Arthur J. Beckhard Pr: Robert Presnell Sr. Scr: Cedric Worth, Arthur J. Beckhard Cine: Victor Lukens Cast: Richard Coogan, Rosemary Pettit, Frank Albertson, Harry Bannister, Edith King, Charles Bollender, Renee De Milo, Joseph Sullivan, Mike O’Dowd, John Krollers, Scott Hale, Florence Beresford, Harold Grau, Loretta Dale, plus the dancers: Valerie East, Maria McKenna, Roxanne, Goldie Saunders, Karen Valo, Dorothy Westcott.

Girl on the Run 1953 - 0 the headline

Reporter Bill Martin (Coogan) is hiding out at Blake’s Carnival with his girlfriend Janet (Pettit) while the cops hunt him for the murder of his managing editor, George Marsh. The carnival has been at the center of a vice inquiry spurred on by Bill’s reporting; the latest newspaper headline says the inquiry has been axed and Bill fired. Although it’s never made entirely plain to us, it seems that the carny’s dwarfish owner, Blake (Bollender), and local vice kingpin Clay Reeves (Bannister), plus an unnamed Mr. Big, have been smuggling some of the dancers from the carny’s Girls of All Nations burlesque show across state lines for immoral purposes.

Girl on the Run 1953 - 1 Bill & Janet in hiding

Bill (Richard Coogan) and Janet (Rosemary Pettit) cower in hiding.

Reeves owns the local PD, a sergeant (Hale) from which is combing the carny in search of the fugitive pair, sometimes with Continue reading