Incident at a Corner (1960 TVM)

US / 49 minutes / color / Shamley, Alfred Hitchcock Productions, NBC Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Pr: Joan Harrison Scr: Charlotte Armstrong Story: Incident at a Corner (1957) by Charlotte Armstrong Cine: John L. Russell Cast: Vera Miles, George Peppard, Paul Hartman, Bob Sweeney, Leora Dana, Warren Berlinger, Philip Ober, Jerry Paris, Alice Backes, Charity Grace, Leslie Barrett, Alexander Lockwood, Jack Albertson, Eve McVeagh, Tyler McVey, Joe Flynn, Barbara Beaird, Mary Alan Hokanson, Wendell Holmes, Hollis Irving, Florence MacMichael.

Based on a Charlotte Armstrong novella, this minor piece of Hitchcockiana was aired as #27 (of 33 episodes) in the NBC TV series Startime (1959–60), one of the first TV shows to air in color. About half the episodes were variety presentations, the other half narrative pieces, usually dramas like this one. Hitchcock got involved because Lew Wasserman, then head of MCA, which had struck a package deal to supply star actors for the series, was also Hitch’s agent. It’s worth noting that Hitch wisely brought with him Joan Harrison as part of the enterprise.

We’re first shown three different versions of an altercation at a street corner next to a school. Mary Tawley (Dana), obnoxious wife of important local stuffed shirt Malcolm Tawley (Ober), owner of the Security First Bank, remonstrates with the elderly crossing guard whose STOP sign she drove past, James “Jim” Medwick (Hartman).

Vera Miles as Jane and George Peppard as Pat

In the third view we discover the scene was observed by two newcomers to the neighborhood, Harry (Albertson) and Georgia Crane (McVeagh). Georgia recognizes Jim and is terrified he’ll tell the neighborhood about her wild youth as Georgia Clooney (sic!) when they both lived in Continue reading

Indestructible Man (1956)

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Is he insane, or is he just dead?
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US / 71 minutes / bw / CGK, Allied Artists Dir & Pr: Jack Pollexfen Scr: Vy Russell, Sue Bradford Cine: John Russell Jr Cast: Lon Chaney (i.e., Lon Chaney Jr), Casey Adams (i.e., Max Showalter), Marion Carr (i.e., Marian Carr), Ross Elliott, Stuart Randall, Kenneth Terrell, Robert Foulk, Marjorie Stapp, Rita Green, Robert Shayne, Roy Engle (i.e., Roy Engel), Peggy Maley, Madge Cleveland, Marvin Press, Joe Flynn, Eddie Marr.

To all intents and purposes, this is a fairly good second-tier film noir in the mold of The NAKED CITY (1948)—we keep expecting Max Showalter’s voiceover to inform us that “There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them”—with the single exception that it has a daft scientific/technological premise, thanks to the presence of an idealistic maverick scientist who, in his quest of a cure for cancer, manages instead to resuscitate the dead.

First of all, the noirish setup:

After an armored-car robbery gone wrong, Charles “Butcher” Benton (Chaney) awaits execution on the morrow in the gas chamber at San Quentin. Visiting him is his shyster lawyer, Paul Lowe (Elliott), and it’s clear at once that they don’t enjoy an ordinary lawyer–client relationship.

Lowe (Ross Elliott) visits the Butcher (Lon Chaney Jr) in San Quentin.

Lowe tells the Butcher that he might as well tell him where the $600,000 proceeds of the robbery are hidden, because the Butcher’s not going to be able to spend the loot when he’s dead. But the condemned man is having none of that. He knows that his confederates in the holdup, Joe Marcelli (Terrell) and Squeamy Ellis (Press), squealed on him, which is why he is here, and he knows that Lowe betrayed him in the guise of defending him.

Joe Marcelli (Kenneth Terrell, left) and Squeamy Ellis (Marvin Press) hear on the radio the news of the Butcher’s death.

Butcher: “I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that none of you three crumbs are going to spend it.”
Lowe: “What about Eva? Don’t you owe her something? You tell me where the money is, I’ll see she gets your share.”
Butcher: “I’ve got a different idea. I’m going to kill you and Squeamy and Joe. Then I’ll take care of Eva myself.”
Lowe: “You thick-headed ape—you’re going to die tomorrow.”
Butcher: “Remember what I said. I’m gonna get ya—all three of ya.”
Lowe: “Even for you, Butcher, that’d be quite a trick. So long, dead man.”
Butcher (to Lowe’s retreating back): “Remember what I said. I’m gonna kill ya. All three of ya.”

In real life you’d laugh off a threat like that one in a debonair fashion, which is what Lowe tries to do; but in this class of movie you know Continue reading