Panther’s Moon (1950)

vt Spy Hunt
US / 74 minutes / bw / Universal International Dir: George Sherman Pr: Ralph Dietrich Scr: George Zuckerman, Leonard Lee Story: Panther’s Moon (1948; vt Hunter’s Moon) by Victor Canning Cine: Irving Glassberg Cast: Howard Duff, Marta Toren (i.e., Märta Torén), Philip Friend, Robert Douglas, Philip Dorn, Walter Slezak, Kurt Kreuger, Aram Katcher, Otto Waldis, Ivan Triesault, Jay Barney.

Although it’s technically a US production, this outing has “UK film noir” stamped all over it, including the use of a fading US star as leading man: Duff was accused in 1950 of communist sympathies and, if not for his relationship with Ida Lupino, whom he married in 1951, might have found himself ostracized by the industry. British and other European actors dominate the cast, notably the radiant Swedish actress Märta Torén as the female lead, and the movie is based on a novel by the stalwart UK thriller writer Victor Canning.

Marta Toren as Catherine

It’s the early days of the Cold War, and Europe is aswarm with clandestine agents of diverse allegiances.

In Milan, an agent called Gormand (Waldis) passes a piece of microfilm he’s brought from Istanbul to Catherine Ullven (Torén), who seems to be working with the British Secret Service. She in turn, pretending to be a journalist for the Apex News Service, sweet-talks Steve Quain (Duff), who’s escorting a pair of black panthers by train across Europe for eventual delivery to Bradley’s Circus in the US, into leaving the animals briefly Continue reading

Shrike, The (1955)

US / 88 minutes / bw / Universal‑‑International Dir: José Ferrer Pr: Aaron Rosenberg Scr: Ketti Frings Story: The Shrike (1952 play) by Joseph Kramm Cine: William Daniels Cast: José Ferrer, June Allyson, Joy Page, Kendall Clark, Isabel Bonner, Will Kuluva, Joe Comadore, Billy M. Greene, Leigh Whipper, Richard Benedict, Mary Bell, Martin Newman, Herbie Faye, Somar Alberg, Jay Barney, Edward C. Platt, Fay Morley, Jacqueline de Wit, Adrienne Marden.

The Shrike - 0 opener

Jim Downs (Ferrer) is admitted to the mental ward of the city hospital following a suicide attempt; with him comes his worried wife Ann (Allyson), who wants to be by his side always, even when the doctors would prefer she not be, and who keeps repeating how her love for him is undying. Doctors Barrow (Bonner) and Kramer (Barney) are impressed by her supportiveness, even when it emerges that Jim and Ann have been separated for some while, and that Jim’s heart now lies with a new girlfriend, Charlotte Moore (Page).

Because Jim attempted suicide and suicide is regarded as a violent crime, and because he’s been brought to a public hospital, he falls into the category whereby he can be held until the psychiatric staff believe him to be no longer a threat to other people. (I have no idea if this was the law at the time but, if so, the law was being a ass.) Further, the person who really has control over his freedom is Ann: he can be released into the custody of his wife, not into that of Charlotte, whom the staff obviously consider to be just his bit on the side.

The Shrike - 2 Charlotte, forever stalle from visining Jim

Charlotte (Joy Page), forever stalled from visiting Jim.

After he’s made a physical recovery from the effects of the phenobarbital he swallowed, Jim’s transferred to Continue reading