snapshot: The Lady who Dared (1931)

vt The Devil’s Playground

US / 57 minutes / bw / First National, Vitaphone Dir: William Beaudine Scr: Forrest Halsey, Kathryn Scola Story: Kenneth J. Saunders Cine: Tony Gaudio Cast: Billie Dove, Sidney Blackmer, Conway Tearle, Judith Vosselli, Cosmo Kyrle Bellew, Ivan Simpson, Lloyd Ingraham, Mathilde Comont.

Billie Dove as Margaret.

Charlie Townsend (Blackmer), US Vice-Consul to an unidentified South American country, takes his lovely wife Margaret (Dove) for granted, deserting her at every turn in favor of his duties. He doesn’t notice that, when internationally renowned big-game hunter Jack Norton (Tearle) arrives in town, there’s immediate electricity between Margaret and the newcomer.

Sidney Blackmer as Charlie.

Also in town is a top US Treasury Department agent, Farrell (Ingraham), who’s keen to Continue reading

Man who Walked Alone, The (1945)

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Snobbery ahoy!
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US / 71 minutes / bw / PRC Dir & Story: Christy Cabanne Pr: Leon Fromkess Scr: Robert Lee Johnson Cine: James Brown Cast: Dave O’Brien, Kay Aldridge, Walter Catlett, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, Isabel Randolph, Smith Ballew, Nancy June Robinson, Ruth Lee, Chester Clute, Vivien Oakland, Vicki Saunders, William B. Davidson, Tom Dugan, Eddy Waller, Don Brodie, Dick Elliott, Jack Raymond, Jack Mulhall, Lloyd Ingraham.

I have to admit it. The title, the packaging, the summary that I glanced at far too quickly—all of them conspired to make me think this movie was far more noirish than it actually is. To say it’s even of associational interest is to stretch matters a little. So, if it’s grim nihilism, thrills, suspense, psychological unraveling or any of that other good stuff that you’re after, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you can tolerate a gentle romantic comedy, with echoes (no more) of the screwball and a subtext of social commentary, bear with me while I briefly (I promise!) talk about The Man who Walked Alone.

Dave O’Brien as Marion Scott and Eddy Waller as the old codger who taunts him as he tries to hitch a ride.

When we first meet Corporal Marion Scott (O’Brien) he’s on a dusty country road trying to Continue reading

Never Too Late (1935)

vt Hit and Run

US / 53 minutes / bw / Reliable Dir: Franklin Shamray (i.e., Bernard B. Ray) Pr: Bernard B. Ray Scr: Jack Natteford, Carl Krusada Story: Bennett Cohen Cine: Pliny Goodfriend Cast: Richard Talmadge, Thelma White, Robert Frazer, Mildred Harris, Vera Lewis, Robert Walker, George Chesebro, Bull Montana, Paul Ellis, Lloyd Ingraham.

Never Too Late - 1 Helen spies through the window on Lavelle

 Helen (Thelma White) spies through the window on Lavelle.

Seducer, blackmailer, jewel thief and all-round Frenchman Maurice Lavelle (Ellis) has used his sleazy skills to extract a string of pearls from Marie Hartley (Harris), wife of Police Commissioner George Hartley (Frazer). Marie’s loyal, cute, feisty, spunky, brash (add adjectives to taste) and most importantly unmarried sister Helen (White) is doing her best to get them back. She watches through a hotel window as he hides them in the heel of a gimmicked shoe and puts the shoe in his trunk. As she tries to stick him up, the cops arrive, Lavelle flees and Helen tiptoes away from what looks to be a pretty substantial shootout.

Next we know, the reclaimed trunk and its contents are being offered as a job lot at a police auction of recovered goods. Helen is there, bidding as much as she dare for the item; bidding against her are two obvious sleazebags, who, as we’ll later discover, are Lavelle’s goons: Matt Continue reading

Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)

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What is the mystery of the empty 13th chair?

vt The Mystery of the 13th Guest
US / 61 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: William Beaudine Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Tim Ryan, Charles Marion, Arthur Hoerl Story: The Thirteenth Guest (1929) by Armitage Trail Cine: Mack Stengler Cast: Helen Parrish, Dick Purcell, Tim Ryan, Frank Faylen, Jacqueline Dalya, Paul McVey, John Duncan, Jon Dawson, Cyril Ring, Addison Richards, Lloyd Ingraham, Fred “Snowflake” Toones, Shirley Jean Anderson, Lester Dorr, Herbert Heyes.

Mystery of the 13th Guest - 1 The mystery envelope ...

Mystery of the 13th Guest - 1a ... and what it contained

Thirteen years ago, in the old Morgan home at 122 Mill Road, Grandpa Morgan (Ingraham) convoked a meeting of his ten possible heirs, plus his lawyer, John Barksdale (Ring). The twelve of them sat around a table at which a 13th chair remained empty—the nonexistent “13th guest” of the title, even though this would be technically not the 13th but the 12th guest. Grandpa announced that his will was contained in a sealed envelope, which he passed to his seven-year-old granddaughter, Marie (Anderson), on condition that she open it on her 21st birthday while seated at this very table.

Fast forward to today, as one dark night the grown-up Marie Morgan (Parrish) lets herself into the old family heap. She’s astonished to find that, even though the place has been closed up for thirteen years, the phone and electricity are still on. In the gloom a shot rings out and, the next we know, Marie Continue reading

World Accuses, The (1934)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Chesterfield, Batcheller Dir: Charles Lamont Scr: Charles Belden Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Vivian Tobin, Dickie Moore, Cora Sue Collins, Russell Hopton, Harold Huber, Paul Fix, Sarah Edwards, Jamison Thomas, Mary Carr, Robert Elliott, Bryant Washburn, Barbara Bedford, Robert Frazier, Lloyd Ingraham, Broderick O’Farrell, Jane Keckley.

World Accuses - 0 opener

It’s 1928 or 1929. Formerly a celebrated Broadway actress, Lola Weymouth (Tobin) now lives with her milquetoast socialite husband John (Fix) and her baby son Tommy (uncredited at this age). The marriage is troubled by the fact that John is work-shy and the couple are living off whatever of his inheritance his termagant mother Lucille (Edwards) chooses to let them have. John lacks the guts to support his wife against his mother; it’s partly that he hasn’t let go of her apron strings, partly that she hasn’t let go of the purse strings.

World Accuses - 1 Weak-willed John can't face up to his mother

Weak-willed John (Paul Fix) can’t face up to his mother (Sarah Edwards).

One night after a row between Lola and Lucille, the young couple leave Tommy in the care of his nurse (uncredited) and go out on the town, meeting up with various of Lola’s quondam Broadway chums. One of these, unfortunately, is a very drunk old flame of Lola’s, Checkers Fraley (Huber). He picks a fight with John, knocks him down, and inadvertently kills him.

Checkers goes off for a long spell in the pen, while a viciously spiteful Continue reading

Missing Girls (1936)

US / 66 minutes / bw / Chesterfield Dir: Phil Rosen Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Martin Mooney, John Krafft Story: Martin Mooney Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Roger Pryor, Muriel Evans, Noel Madison, Sidney Blackmer, Ann Doran, Dewey Robinson, Wallis Clark, Cornelius Keefe, Ed. Keane, Oscar Apfel, Frank Sheridan, Matty Fain, George Cooper, Ben Carter, Frank LaRue, Ethel Clark, Lloyd Ingraham, Vera Lewis, Robert Fiske, Al Hill, John Dilson.Missing Gir;s 1936 - 0a openerMissing Girls 1936 - 0c opener optionMissing Girls 1936 - 0b opener option

After being struck by her father George (LaRue, no relation, so far as I can establish, of Jack La Rue, whose birth name was Gaspere Biondolillo) for going out on a date with “that Dixon boy,” Ann Jason (Doran) runs away from home and heads for the big city. There she finds work as a waitress, but when one day the boss tells her that in future she’ll be working for no wages, just tips, she turns in desperation to the Travelers Aid Society, a charity run by Dorothy Benson (Evans) to help all the unfortunate runaway women who’re seeking their fortune. Dorothy impulsively offers Ann a job as a Continue reading

Midnight Warning (1932)

vt Eyes of Mystery
US / 63 minutes / bw / Mayfair Dir: Spencer Gordon Bennett (i.e., Spencer Gordon Bennet) Pr: George W. Weeks Scr: John Thomas Neville Story: Norman Battle Cine: Jules Cronjager Cast: William Boyd, Claudia Dell, Huntley Gordon, John Harron, Hooper Atchley, Lloyd Whitlock, Phillips Smalley, Lloyd Ingraham, Henry Hall, Lon Poff.

Midnight Warning - 0 opener

In town for a medical convention, prominent New York nerve specialist Dr. Steven “Steve” Walcott (Atchley) stays at the Clarendon Arms. He’s visited in Apartment A there by his old friend William “Bill” Cornish (Boyd), a senior investigator in some official capacity (it’s never spelled out exactly what). Cornish has discovered a charred human earbone in the room’s fireplace. While they’re chatting about this curio and other matters, Walcott stands at the window trying out a pair of astonishing spectacles Cornish owns ‑‑ these optical marvels have the power of binoculars!

Suddenly he collapses in a heap. Cornish phones for the hotel management, who Continue reading