The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947)

US / 83 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: Henry Levin Pr: Helen Deutsch, Virginia Van Upp Scr: Louella MacFarlane, Allen Rivkin, Devery Freeman Story: Lenore Coffee Cine: Joseph Walker Cast: Rosalind Russell, Melvyn Douglas, Sid Caesar, Betsy Blair, Nina Foch, Charles Cane, Harry Von Zell, Bruce Harper (i.e., Coulter Irwin), Arthur Space, Richard Benedict, Frank Orth, Victoria Horne, Hugh Beaumont, Doreen McCann.

Although sometimes listed as a film noir, The Guilt of Janet Ames is really a philosophical piece ruminating on guilt, morality, the selfishness of grief, redemption; there are some noirish tropes if you care to look for them, but then you could also find parallels with It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) dir Frank Capra if you were desperate enough. (You might, for example, point to the fact that both are Christmas movies, even though they have a completely different feel.)

Rosalind Russell as Janet Ames

But before making any such claims it’s worth noting that The Guilt of Janet Ames is upfront and center concerning the inspiration it owes to George du Maurier’s 1891 novel Peter Ibbetson and in particular the Continue reading

Prescription: Murder (1968 TVM)

US / 99 minutes / color / Universal, MCA–TV, NBC Dir & Pr: Richard Irving Scr: Richard Levinson, William Link Story: Enough Rope (1960 teleplay) and Prescription: Murder (1962 play), both by Richard Levinson and William Link Cine: Ray Rennahan Cast: Peter Falk, Gene Barry, Katherine Justice, William Windom, Nina Foch, Virginia Gregg, Andrea King, Susanne Benton, Ena Hartman, Sherry Boucher, Anthony James.

The very first appearance of the iconic Lt. Columbo was in a 1960 TV movie called Enough Rope, an episode of the Chevy Mystery Show; the character was played by Bert Freed. The writers of that episode, Richard Levinson and William Link, then took their teleplay and made a stage play out of it. And, in due course they adapted their stage play back into the teleplay for the TV movie, Prescription: Murder, that would become the pilot for the phenomenally successful series. (It wasn’t the only intelligent crime series birthed by the Levinson/Link team, who Continue reading

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-5), episodes #13-#16

Episode 13: Primal Scream

Aired January 17 1975

US / 51 minutes / color / Francy, Universal, ABC Dir: Robert Scheerer Pr: Cy Chermak Scr: Bill S. Ballinger, David Chase Cine: Ronald W. Browne Cast: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, John Marley, Pat Harrington, Katharine Woodville, Jamie Farr, Jack Grinnage, Barbara Rhoades, Jeanie Bell, Lindsay Workman, Regis Cordic, Byron Morrow, Vince Howard, Sandra Gould.

After a month away at a science conference, Dr. Jules Kopernik (uncredited), biologist at the Oceanic International Oil Corporation, returns one night to his lab, where he’s promptly torn to pieces by an ape man. Spunky investigative journalist Carl Kolchak (McGavin) pursues the story of what seems at first to be “merely” a particularly gruesome murder. It’s only when Continue reading