Sensation Hunters (1945)

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The price of rebellion!
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vt Club Paradise
US / 62 minutes / bw / Monogram, Associated Artists Dir: Christy Cabanne Pr: Joseph Kaufman Scr: Dennis Cooper Story: John Faxon Cine: Ira Morgan Cast: Robert Lowery, Doris Merrick, Eddie Quillan, Constance Worth, Isabel Jewell, Wanda McKay, Nestor Paiva, Byron Foulger, Vince Barnett, Minerva Urecal, Janet Shaw, Maurice Murphy, Billy Nelson, John Hamilton, The Rubenettes, The Johnson Brothers.

Every now and then Poverty Row studio Monogram got it just right and produced a splendid minor noir, and this was one of those times. Despite the coincidence of title, it bears no relation to the earlier Sensation Hunters (1933) dir Charles Vidor, with Arline Judge, Marion Burns and Preston Foster, a far inferior movie that I plan to cover here next week.

In the opening moments we see a man arrive at a darkened frontage and ring the doorbell. A negligée-clad woman appears at a balcony overhead, and summons him upstairs. Moments later, three shots ring out . . .

The rest of the movie is one long flashback leading us up to this scene. We’re soon pretty sure who the woman was (will be?), but who was the man? And who shot whom? And why? Continue reading

Gambling Daughters (1941)

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How bad men lead defenseless girls astray!

US / 63 minutes / bw / PRC Dir: Max Nosseck Pr: George R. Batcheller, T.H. Richmond Scr: Joel Kay, Arnold Phillips, Genevieve Hogan Story: Sidney Sheldon, Ben Roberts Cine: Mack Stengler Cast: Cecilia Parker, Roger Pryor, Robert Baldwin, Sigi Arno, Gale Storm, Charles Miller, Al Hall, Eddie Foster, Janet Shaw, Marvelle Andre, Dick Russom, Joe Ortiz, Judy Kilgore, Gertrude Messinger, Roberta Smith.

Gambling Daughters 1941 - closer

Two students at the swanky Lakeside School for Girls, Lillian Harding (Storm) and Katherine Thompsen (Shaw), one night on impulse follow their French teacher, le professeur Bedoin (Arno), and discover he’s gone to an illicit gambling joint called the Angel’s Roost. The girls swank into the club there with the entitled air of two virginities looking for the quickest way to lose themselves. (Presumably in order to save money on acting fees, the bustling clientele at the Angel’s Roost are here and elsewhere represented primarily by off-camera chortles and coughs.)

Gambling Daughters 1941 - 1 Prof Bedoin at casino with piano duo Russom & Ortiz behind

Le professeur Bedoin (Sigi Arno) at the Angel’s Roost gambling den with the piano duo of Dick Russom and Joe Ortiz as backdrop.

Encouraged by the club’s manager, Chance Landon (Pryor), the two girls soon get completely hooked on the roulette wheel. In no time at all, they Continue reading

You’re Out of Luck (1941)

JUST A REMINDER THAT ALL MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS COPYRIGHT

US / 58 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: Howard Bretherton Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Edmund Kelso (i.e., Edmond Kelso) Cine: Fred Jackman Jr. Cast: Frankie Darro, Kay Sutton, Mantan Moreland, Vicki Lester (i.e., Vickie Lester), Richard Bond, Janet Shaw, Tristram Coffin, Willie Costello, Alfred Hall, Paul Maxey, Ralph Peters.

The sixth of the eight movies Darro and Moreland made together for Poverty Row studio Monogram; although the name and specifics of Darro’s character might change from one outing to the next, these movies essentially form a series of comedy thrillers/mysteries. They have minimal but not zero noir interest. The others, which I’ll get round to including here in Noirish in due course, were:

Irish Luck (1939)
Chasing Trouble (1940)
On the Spot (1940)
Laughing at Danger (1940)
Up in the Air (1940)
The Gang’s All Here (1941)
Let’s Go Collegiate (1941)

The Daily Star-Tribune—in the ample shape of reporter Pete (Maxey)—is on the necks of the cops because of the latter’s seeming inability to cope with the rising rates of gambling-related crime in the city. When gambler Hal Dayton (uncredited) is gunned down in the parking lot of the Carlton Arms apartment block, the witnesses are elevator boy Frankie O’Reilly (Darro) and his janitor pal Jeff Jefferson (Moreland). The crime’s investigated by Det.-Lt. Tom O’Reilly (Bond), Frankie’s elder brother, who has a thing going with the Arms’s receptionist, Margie Overton (Sutton).

When going through the Rogues’ Gallery at the precinct house, Frankie and Jeff recognize the man who shared the penthouse with Dayton, Dick Whitney (Coffin); in police records he’s named as Roger C. Whitman. The pair follow Whitney/Whitman to the Ringside Club, where he extracts from clubowner Johnnie Burke (Costello) the $60,000 in winnings that Burke owes the dead man. Before being himself murdered, Whitney/Whitman gives the money to Frankie and Jeff to pass on to Dayton’s sister Joyce (Shaw); but Whitney/Whitman’s sultry moll Sonya Varney (Lester) is forced by Burke to pretend to be Joyce . . .

Things go worse for our pals before their inevitable triumph over the bad guys. It’s all fairly amiable, alternating between amusing and tiresome. The racial stereotyping of Moreland’s character, portrayed as capable of being no more than a simpleton because black, grates more than a little; though on the plus side the relationship between Frankie and Jeff is depicted as a genuine friendship and Moreland’s always good value.