Another Face (1935)

vt It Happened in Hollywood
US / 69 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: Christy Cabanne Assoc Pr: Cliff Reid Scr: Garrett Graham, John Twist Story: Thomas Dugan, Ray Mayer Cine: Jack MacKenzie Cast: Wallace Ford, Brian Donlevy, Phyllis Brooks, Erik Rhodes, Molly Lamont, Alan Hale, Addison Randall, Paul Stanton, Hattie McDaniel, Inez Courtney, Oscar Apfel, Frank Mills, Si Jenks.

“Broken Nose” Dawson (Donlevy) is a murderous gangster recognizable in at least fifty states because of the monstrous schnozzle referred to in his nickname. Accordingly, he gets plastic surgery from illicit physician Dr. H.J. Buler (Apfel) to straighten the nose. Afterwards, as protection, he gets his henchman Muggsie Brown (Mills) to murder the surgeon . . . then narks Muggsie out to the cops so he dies in the proverbial hail of bullets.

Brian Donlevy as Dawson — pre-operation and Oscar Apfel as Dr. Buler

What Dawson doesn’t know is that Muggsie failed to eliminate the nurse who attended on his operation, Mary McCall (Lamont). This will have implications further down the line . . .

Molly Lamont as Nurse Mary McCall

Armed (so to speak) with his new nose, Dawson heads (so to speak) out to Hollywood, where he talks his way into the Zenith Film Studios lot and gets a job on the new movie starring Sheila Barry (Brooks, channeling Bette Davis). It’s obvious Continue reading

The Unseen (1945)

vt Her Heart in Her Throat; vt Fear
US / 80 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Lewis Allen Assoc Pr: John Houseman Scr: Hagar Wilde, Raymond Chandler, Ken Englund Story: Midnight House (1942; vt Her Heart in Her Throat) by Ethel Lina White Cine: John F. Seitz Cast: Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks, Isobel Elsom, Norman Lloyd, Mikhail Rasumny, Elisabeth Risdon, Tom Tully, Nona Griffith, Richard Lyon, Mary Field, Sarah Padden.

In the small New England town of New Bristol, the imposing pile at 11 Crescent Drive was boarded up twelve years ago after its owner, Commodore Tygarth, died. Now his much younger widow (Elsom), is planning to open “The Commodore’s Folly” and put it on the market.

Sarah Padden as Alberta.

One rainy night an old woman, Alberta (Padden), sees a light moving behind the boards. Pausing to investigate, she drops a watch—a treasured gift from her mother. Before she can find it on the ground, a man rushes out of the house and pursues her into nearby Salem Alley, where he strangles her. Little does he know he’s been observed . . .

Next day Continue reading

Dangerous Passage (1944)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Paramount, Specialty Dir: William Berke Scr: Geoffrey Homes Cine: Fred Jackman Jr. Cast: Robert Lowery, Phyllis Brooks, Charles Arnt, Jack La Rue, John Eldredge, Victor Kilian, Alec Craig, William Edmunds.

Crooked attorney Daniel Bergstrom (Arnt), working from the South American port of St. Angel, tracks Joe Beck (Lowery), who for six years has been working for oil companies in the British Honduras, to tell him he’s inherited $200,000 from his grandmother; he should take the Southern Queen to Galveston to claim his fortune.

After leaving Bergstrom’s office, Joe’s attacked by a knife-wielding mugger, whom he soundly beats; believing he may have killed the man, he instead ships out aboard the tramp steamer Merman. The steward, Dawson (Craig), proves in due course to be an undercover insurance investigator hoping to expose the Merman‘s Captain Saul (Edmunds) and First Mate Buck Harris (Kilian), who, in league with shipping company executive Vaughn (Eldredge), have been scuttling the line’s ships for the insurance money. Also aboard is chanteuse Nita Paxton (Brooks), who’s fleeing the lowlife and is in cahoots with Dawson. Soon Joe and Nita are in love.

After Dawson has been murdered and a clumsy attempt made to frame Joe for the crime, Bergstrom joins the ship along with the St. Angel mugger, Mike Zomano (La Rue), whom Bergstrom plans to pass off in Galveston as Joe in order to steal the money. The agendas of the two sets of crooks collide when the mariners deliberately run the ship onto rocks and leave the rest to face a watery fate . . .

As one would expect from Homes, this tight little noirish thriller is more than competently scripted. Lowery and Brooks work well together, managing to ensure that even the potentially schmaltziest lines come over as quite fresh. Craig does well in his small part as the diffident steward/investigator. Of the rest of the cast, none make much impact except Arnt, who does an excellent Sydney Greenstreet impersonation despite the physical dissimilarity.

A few years after this, Lowery would take the lead in Batman and Robin (1949 serial), the second actor to take this role (after Lewis Wilson in Batman [1943 serial]). Brooks was later married to Congressman Torbert Macdonald, a close friend of John F. Kennedy, who was godfather of their eldest son.

On Dangerous Passage