The Walking Target (1960)

US / 74 minutes / bw / Zenith, UA Dir: Edward L. Cahn Pr: Robert E. Kent Scr: Stephen Kandel Cine: Maury Gertsman Cast: Joan Evans, Ronald Foster, Merry Anders, Harp McGuire, Robert Christopher, Berry Kroeger, Bill Couch, Norm Alden, James Callahan, J. Edward McKinley, William Fawcett, Guy Wilkerson, Harvey Parry.

A more than competent little crime outing that would certainly have been included in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir had it not flown below my radar; although its ending somewhat unexpectedly abjures the principles of noirish nihilism—I wouldn’t say it’s outright happy but it’s certainly hopeful—the rest of the movie, cinematography excepted, is full of noirish tropes. This is a film noir in all but recognition as such. I console myself with the fact that it’s managed to fly under all the other relevant radars, not just mine.

Ah, well, I can make amends now.

Nick Harbin (Foster) has done five years for a payroll heist that went horribly wrong: he was captured, his accomplice Jerry (Parry) was shot dead at the scene and his other accomplice, Sam Russo (Alden), was killed by the cops later when making an ill advised run for it.

Ronald Foster as Nick Harbin

The day of Nick’s release comes, and Warden John B. Haggerty (McKinley) warns him that, since he’s never divulged the location of the loot, he’ll be a Continue reading

Paradise Express (1937)

US / 53 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: Joseph Kane Pr: Nat Levine Scr: Jack Natteford, Betty Burbridge Story: Allan Vaughan Elston, Paul Perez Cine: Jack Marta Cast: Grant Withers, Dorothy Appleby, Arthur Hoyt, Maude Eburne, Harry Davenport, Donald Kirke, Arthur Loft, Lew Kelly, Anthony Pawley, Fern Emmett, John Holland, Bob McClung, Bruce Mitchell, Guy Wilkerson, George Cleveland, Horace Murphy, Ralph McCullough.

The Moon Valley Short Line Railroad is on its last legs, despite the efforts of its curmudgeonly boss, Jed Carson (Davenport), and his feisty granddaughter Kay (Appleby). Both of them initially loathe the receiver the company’s creditors have appointed, Lawrence/Laurence (the movie gives both spellings) “Larry” Doyle (Withers):

Kay: “[He wants] more dismissals? It’s a pity someone can’t dismiss Mr. Lawrence with a well aimed sledgehammer.”

The trouble is that the Armstrong Trucking Corp., led by slimeball Armstrong (Kirke), is undercutting the railroad’s prices and even its transit times.

Dorothy Appleby as Kay and Grant Withers as Larry.

Yet Larry proves to have the railroad’s interests at heart. He soon earns Kay’s devotion and Continue reading

Swamp Woman (1941)

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A jailbird on the run and a burlesque dancer meet treachery in the swampy vastness!

US / 68 minutes / bw / PRC Dir: Elmer Clifton Pr: George R. Batcheller, Max Alexander, George M. Merrick Scr: Arthur G. Durlam Story: Fred McConnell Cine: Eddie Linden Cast: Ann Corio, Jack La Rue, Mary Hull, Ian MacDonald, Jay Novello, Richard Deane, Lois Austin, Earl Gunn, Guy Wilkerson, Jimmy Aubrey, Carlin Sturdevant, Ernie Adams, Frank Hagney.

Swamp Woman - 0 opener

Our tale begins with a preamble that sets the scene:

“Nearly three hundred years ago, a proud and self-reliant people founded a community within the swampy vastness of the deep south. Today, the descendants of the founders maintain traditional independence, many even choosing to ignore the world beyond their barricade of swamp waters.”

Heading into this swampy vastness is a runaway convict, Jeff Carter (Deane), hotly pursued by a rifle-toting Detective-Lieutenant Rance (MacDonald), who wears a marshal’s star for reasons I can’t quite fathom, plus an unnamed guard (Hagney) and a pack of dogs that (presumably for budgetary reasons) we never see but just hear plaintively howling. Says Rance:

“There may be a hundred villages yonder, but if it takes from now ’til doomsday I’ll search them all to find Jeff Carter, and unless he makes a foolish move I’ll bring him in alive . . . but, dead or alive, I’ll bring him in.”

Swamp Woman - 1 Rance tells the guard that 'dead or alive, I'll bring him in'

Detective-Lieutenant Rance (Ian MacDonald) tells the guard (Frank Hagney) that “dead or alive, I’ll bring him in”!

Jeff runs many a mile, swims a river, struggles through undergrowth and is just about dead on his feet when he at last reaches some human habitation, the cabin of sparky young bride-to-be Elizabeth “Lizbet” Tollington (Hull). She’s been told by local wise-woman Granny Grundy (Sturdevant) of a superstition that, Continue reading