The Missing Lady (1946)

US / 60 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: Phil Karlson Pr: Joe Kaufman Scr: George Callahan Story: Stories in Shadow Magazine based on characters created by Walter B. Gibson Cine: William Sickner Cast: Kane Richmond, Barbara Reed (i.e., Barbara Read), George Chandler, James Flavin, Pierre Watkin, Dorothea Kent, James Cardwell, Claire Carleton, Jack Overman, Jo Carroll Dennison, Frances Robinson, Almira Sessions, Nora Cecil, George Lewis, Dewey Robinson, Anthony Warde, Bert Roach, George Lessey, Douglas Wood.

The third and mercifully the last of Monogram’s series of The Shadow B-features. Surprise, surprise, but The Shadow/Lamont Cranston (Richmond) finds himself accused of murders he didn’t commit—although, as Lamont himself points out, there’s a variation in the formula: last time, in Behind the Mask (1946), Lamont had to clear The Shadow of murders he didn’t commit; this time The Shadow has to clear Lamont.

Barbara Read as Margo (left) and Dorothea Kent as Jennie

Wealthy collector James Douglas (Lessey) is murdered in his home and a valuable statuette, the Jade Lady, is stolen. The obvious culprit, so far as we viewers are concerned, is hoodlum Ox Walsh (Overman), whose enmity Continue reading

In Cold Blood (1967)

vt Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

US / 134 minutes / bw / Pax, Columbia Dir & Pr & Scr: Richard Brooks Story: In Cold Blood (1966 “nonfiction novel”) by Truman Capote Cine: Conrad Hall Cast: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Jeff Corey, John Gallaudet, James Flavin, Charles McGraw, Will Geer, John McLiam, Ruth Storey, Brenda C. Currin, Paul Hough, Vaughn Taylor, Duke Hobbie, Sheldon Allman, Sammy Thurman, Raymond Hatton, Teddy Eccles.

In Cold Blood 1967 - 2 The convict who knows

Floyd Wells (uncredited), the convict who knows.

While in the joint, con Dick Hickock (Wilson) allowed himself to be persuaded by cellmate Floyd Wells (uncredited) that Kansas farmer Herbert “Herb” W. Clutter (McLiam) is extremely wealthy and keeps a safe filled with at least $10,000 in his basement. Accordingly, as soon as Dick’s old friend, limping Korea Gold Star vet Perry Smith (Blake), is released on parole from his own sentence, Dick recruits him to go to the depths of Kansas and rob the family, Dick’s plan being that there’ll be “no survivors”. In parallel with this main narrative strand, we see scenes of the Clutters going about their daily business—Herb the genial paterfamilias, his neurotic wife Bonnie (Storey), their son Kenyon (Hough), whose smoking is an open secret between himself and his dad, and their sweet-sixteen-year-old daughter Nancy (Currin), in a flutter over the boyfriend she’s mad about. At last the family beds down for the night, and the two crooks quietly draw up in front of the farmhouse . . .

In Cold Blood 1967 - 5 Nancy faces death

Nancy Clutter (Brenda C. Currin) faces her nemesis.

What happens next we don’t discover until late into the movie; for now, we cut straight to the following morning, a Sunday, with the cops investigating the scene of a vile mass murder. The only clues that Alvin Dewey (Forsythe) of the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigations) and his team have at the outset are a distinctive shoeprint left in the blood of Herb Clutter and a less unusual but nonetheless identifiable one beside it, plus the military-style knots used in the ropes that bound the Clutters.

In Cold Blood 1967 - 1 The clue

The incriminating shoeprint.

The thieves found, of course, no safe. They came away with $43, a pair of binoculars and a transistor radio as the profit from their crime. With Dick in the driver’s seat, they go on a spree of Continue reading

Irish Luck (1939)

vt Amateur Detective

US / 54 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: Howard Bretherton Assoc Pr: Grant Withers Scr: Mary McCarthy Story: “Death Hops the Bells” (seemingly unpublished) by Charles Molyneux Brown Cine: Harry Neumann Cast: Frankie Darro, Dick Purcell, Lillian Elliott, Dennis Moore, James Flavin, Sheila Darcy, Mantan Moreland, Ralph Peters, Donald Kerr, Howard Mitchell.

The first of the eight movies Darro and Moreland made for Poverty Row studio Monogram together; although the name and specifics of Darro’s character might change, these movies essentially form a series of comedy thrillers/mysteries with minimal but not zero noir interest.Irish Luck - Jefferson fakes the 'jumper'

Jefferson (Mantan Moreland) fakes a “jumper” in order to bring the cops to the scene.

It was at Darro’s suggestion that Monogram took Moreland on, and the effectiveness of the Darro/Moreland double act was immediately evident. Although in his earlier scenes Moreland is largely constricted to depicting the kind of weak-minded, cowardly black that the Hollywood of the day regarded as hilarious, the later stages of this movie represent the first black/white double act in US cinema history, even though, to keep Southern cinema managers happy, Moreland appears halfway down the cast list and throughout proceedings was made to address Darro “deferentially”: how woesomely petty and just downright tedious small-minded bigotry can be. The irony is that today, of course, it’s probably Moreland’s presence rather than Darro’s that still draws audiences to these movies. The two men swiftly became fast friends in real life; Darro himself clearly didn’t subscribe to the condescension Hollywood then offered toward people of color.

The others in the series were:

            Chasing Trouble (1940)

           On the Spot (1940)

            Laughing at Danger (1940)

           Up in the Air (1940)

           You’re Out of Luck (1941)

           The Gang’s All Here (1941)

           Let’s Go Collegiate (1941)

All the city’s emergency services are called out when Continue reading