Johnny Cool (1963)

US / 104 minutes / bw / Chrislaw, United Artists Dir & Pr: William Asher Scr: Joseph Landon Story: The Kingdom of Johnny Cool (1959) by John McPartland Cine: Sam Leavitt Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Richard Anderson, Jim Backus, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter, Wanda Hendrix, Hank Henry, Marc Lawrence, John McGiver, Gregory Morton, Mort Sahl, Telly Savalas, Joan Staley, Sammy Davis Jr., Katharine Bard, Steve Peck, Douglas Henderson, Frank Albertson, Mary Scott, Elisha Cook (i.e., Elisha Cook Jr), John Dierkes, Robert Armstrong, Michael Davis.

A deliberate evocation of the films noirs and gangster movies more usually associated with releases from two or three decades earlier, this adds glossy production values, a splendid score and plenty of star names. And yet, while highly watchable, it seems to lose much of those qualities—most obviously in the areas of direction and cinematography—that made its models so grittily absorbing.

Michael Davis as the young Giordano

In 1943 in Sicily, young Salvatore Giordano (Michael Davis) learns to kill as part of the Resistance fighting back against the fascists who killed his mother. Twenty years later, he’s a bandit chieftain, a Robin Hood figure with a huge price on his head . . . yet unlikely to be arrested because the local cops and politicians are on his side.

One day, though, as Giordano (Silva) attends a wedding, the authorities arrive in force and chase him off into the wild countryside. There they apparently put an end to the career of the great Salvatore Giordano.

Henry Silva as Johnny/Giordano

But no. Next we know he’s in chains in Rome, where Continue reading

The Night Strangler (1973 TVM)

“Around the necks of both victims there was a residue of rotted flesh as if they’d been strangled by . . . a dead man!”

US / originally aired cut to 74 minutes; later releases have full 90 minutes / color / ABC Circle Dir & Pr: Dan Curtis Scr: Richard Matheson Cine: Robert Hauser Cast: Darren McGavin, Jo Ann Pflug, Simon Oakland, Scott Brady, Wally Cox, Richard Anderson, Margaret Hamilton, John Carradine, Nina Wayne, Al Lewis, Virginia Peters, Ivor Francis, Kate Murtagh, Diane Shalet, Anne Randall, Francoise Birnheim, Regina Parton.

“This is the story behind the most incredible series of murders to ever occur in the city of Seattle, Washington . . .”

It all begins with a belly dancer. A belly dancer who calls herself Merissa (Parton) when she gyrates on the stage of Seattle niterie Omar’s Tent but whose given name is Ethel Parker.

Regina Parton as Merissa.

But such niceties don’t matter to her any longer because she’s dead—dead in a Seattle back alley, her throat crushed by Continue reading