Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-5), episodes #1-#4

The great movie (and more) website Wonders in the Dark is currently running the second (and, according to plan, final) “TV Countdown,” in which a diversity of writers are penning essays about their favorite series and other TV items. I know very little about TV, so didn’t participate in the earlier countdown. However, WitD’s Sam Juliano, knowing me better than I know myself, told me that this time around I was going to be the one to tackle Kolchak: The Night Stalker—the series is, after all, in its way noirish.

Me being me, I went a bit overboard on the enterprise. So, while my piece on the series will be appearing in a few days’ time on WitD (and I’ll try to remember to put a link here when that happens), I’ve split off the individual entries on the two Kolchak movies—already posted on Noirish HERE and HERE—and will over the next few days be posting to this site my illustrated notes about the twenty episodes.

Episode 1: The Ripper

Aired September 13 1974

US / 52 minutes / color / Francy, Universal, ABC Dir: Allen Baron Pr: Paul Playdon Scr: Rudolph Borchert Cine: Donald Peterman Cast: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Beatrice Colen, Ruth McDevitt, Jack Grinnage, Ken Lynch, Marya Small, Robert Bryan Berger, Roberta Collins, Mickey Gilbert.

A reworking of Continue reading

Catman of Paris, The (1946)

Was he a vicious killer or just a harmless shapeshifter?

US / 64 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: Lesley Selander Assoc Pr: Marek M. Libkov Scr: Sherman L. Lowe Cine: Reggie Lanning Cast: Carl Esmond, Lenore Aubert, Adele Mara, Douglass Dumbrille, Gerald Mohr, Fritz Feld, Francis Pierlot, Georges Renavent, Francis McDonald, Maurice Cass, Alphonse Martell, Paul Marion, John Dehner, Anthony Caruso, Carl Neubert, Elaine Lange, Tanis Chandler, George Davis.

In the closing years of the 19th century, bestselling author Charles Regnier (Esmond) is back in Paris after having spent a couple of years traveling in the Orient. His latest novel, Fraudulent Justice, is selling like hotcakes—in fact, his publisher, Paul Audet (Pierlot), declares that “Not since Balzac, not since Victor Hugo himself, has an author gained such popularity!” (What, no mention of Dumas?) All very atypical for publishers, who’re these days more likely to spend upwards of an hour telling you that the market’s tough, really tough, which is why you’ve yet again accrued no royalties . . . and then asking you to go dutch on the lunch they invited you to.

Charles’s patron and best friend Henri (Douglass Dumbrille).

But then Audet does indeed segue into what we might call Publisher Chagrin Mode. Although Fraudulent Justice is a huge bestseller, the book may destroy him. The cops are very suspicious of it, and may confiscate all copies, because it bears far too close a resemblance to the facts in the 1871 trial of one Louis Chambrais (sp?), a trial so scandalous and shocking that the records were stipulated to be kept under wraps for the next fifty years . . . and yet, a mere twenty-five years later, everything is being revealed in Charles’s so-called novel!

Lenore Aubert as publisher’s daughter Marie, whom Charles discovers he loves.

Charles is having a meal at his favorite nosherie, the Café du Bois, with his generous patron Henri Borchard (Dumbrille) when he’s suddenly smitten by yet another of the migraine-style headaches he has intermittently suffered ever since that nasty fever attack he suffered while abroad, and decides to cut the dinner short and walk home through the fresh air of the Parisian streets. (Fresh air? Parisian streets? At the end of the 19th century? Hm.)

He doesn’t get home until morning, by which time a librarian in the Archives section of the Ministère de la Justice, Devereaux (McDonald), has been ’ideously murdered while Continue reading