ONE WAY STREET. 1950

 

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I thought I had stumbled on a little Noir gem when I found ONE WAY STREET on You Tube.
Well, the first 20 minutes are noir heaven,but the broad middle of the movie looks as if it has been slipped in from some other script.Then the last 10 minutes lights up again. What a waste.
But that first twenty minutes is dynamite.

The film opens with the sound of sirens heard in an apartment where Dan Duryea,William Conrad and King Donovan are playing cards. Marta Toren, in a slinky black dress,cigarette in hand, is casually looking over Duryea’s shoulder.

The conversation mentions the sirens and the hope that someone called ‘Arnie’ has made it. Though they don’t seem too concerned.
There’s a black bag on the table nearby. It looks like a doctor’s medical bag.
Duryea tells Marta to call ‘Doc’ from the next room. She goes next door and looks smoulderingly at James Mason. She leans forward to kiss him, but he pulls back, picks up his medical bag and they join the others.

We then discover Conrad has been wounded and Mason attends to him. It becomes clear the threesome were part of a holdup and have stolen $200,000. And are waiting to see if the fourth member of the gang shows up. Mason is working for Duryea.
Before you can draw breath, Mason calmly gives Duryea some pills for his headache then tells him that he’s taking the bag full of money. The pills were poison and Duryea will be dead in an hour.
Duryea believes him. Marta decides to take her chances with Mason who says he’ll phone Duryea in an hour with the antidote.
Mason and Marta take off in a car (with the two bags) and he tells her, “What I gave him was as harmless as an aspirin.”

 

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Just when you think things will settle down for a bit, they get a shock when Jack Elam pops up from the back seat,gun in hand.(Elam being the fourth gang member).
Action man Mason jumps on Elam,the gun goes off and Elam is dead.
Marta takes her eye off the road and they crash! When the cops arrive, they assume Elam was killed in the crash. (Eyesight check needed, the bullet hole is in plain sight).
Mason and Marta are allowed to leave the scene. After all, he gave the police his card.

 

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They rent a plane and head for Mexico City,only for the plane to develop trouble and the pilot has to land near a sleepy Mexican village.
So far, so good, but then it all comes to a grinding halt. We hardly see Duryea and Conrad for the next half hour. Mason starts wearing a sombrero and right away, they feel right at home. He deals with local bandits, listens to the local padre and treats the villagers who are used to the ministrations of a medicine woman.

 

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Finally ( though it seemed forever) Mason,knowing Duryea will never give up till he finds him, goes back to confront him. The ending is in keeping with that great beginning.
I’m not surprised hardly anybody talks about this film. Duryea and Conrad were just plain wasted.
But it’s worth a look just for that riveting start.

 

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STAND BY FOR CRIME

 

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Catching up on some old radio and TV shows, I was interested to hear Glenn Langan and Adele Jergens in a 1953 radio series, Stand By For Crime“. An enjoyable half hour in which Glenn plays a radio reporter,Chuck Morgan and Adele is Carol Curtis, his secretary. The banter between them is good .

Glenn and Adele were married for over 40 years.  Adele will always be ‘Yvonne Ledoux’, the two-timing wife of Douglas Fowley in Armored Car Robbery; and in complete contrast, the straight laced  girlfriend of Randolph Scott in Sugarfoot.

Also enjoyed one of the many radio detectives, “Crime and Peter Chambers” (1954),starring Dane Clark.

Dane Clark

Dane Clark

 

From 50s television ,”Robert Montgomery Presents” had an interesting episode from 1953 called ‘The Deep Six’.

Loosely based on the novel by Martin Dibner, it bears a few ,fleeting resemblances to the Alan Ladd film of the same name which came out in 1958.

The episode is introduced by Mr. Montgomery who says,

“John Payne has been in many motion pictures,the most recent of which is 99 River Street.”

All the action is  on board a ship during the Second World War, John is Alex Austin, and, like Alan Ladd in the movie, he draws in his spare time. There’s a character called ‘Frenchy’, (William Bendix in the movie), and there’s also an obsessed,war damaged officer who resents Austin.

If it hadn’t been for the Deep  Six connections, I doubt I would have watched the whole episode. Picture quality was poor and it was rather slow.

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“Four Star Playhouse” had an episode called ‘House For Sale’ in 1953,starring Ida Lupino and George Macready.

Reminiscent of  Ida’s 1952 film, Beware My Lovely , Ida is trapped in an old house with escaped mental patient,Macready.There’s a neat twist at the end.

(Four Star Playhouse featured  four rotating stars – Dick Powell, Charles Boyer,Ida  Lupino and David Niven.

It was previously a radio series in 1949, with Fred MacMurray,Loretta Young, Rosalind Russell and Robert Cummings, but the radio show only ran a few months.The TV series ran 4 years.)

Also on Four Star Playhouse, how could I resist the combination of Frank Lovejoy and Audrey Totter,(with an added bonus of Percy Helton). This 1954 episode is called “Meet McGraw”, with Lovejoy as a detective for hire called McGraw. Audrey is in femme fatale mode,feeding him a story that she needs a bodyguard to protect her from her husband whom she is divorcing. Percy plays a hotel clerk – what else.

Lovejoy and Totter should have made some movies together, they make a great team.

“Meet McGraw” became a series on its own.42 episodes were made with Frank Lovejoy. We never learn McGraw’s first name.

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Frank Lovejoy,Audrey Totter

 

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Frank Lovejoy,Percy Helton

 

A great site for checking out these 50s radio and TV shows is Free Classic Movies.com

 

PHOTO MIX. 11

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A rare moment of happiness in the life of ‘Dixon Steele’ played by Humphrey Bogart in IN A LONELY PLACE.
With Gloria Grahame.

 

 

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I bet Clark Gable didn’t expect to win an Oscar for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT!

 

 

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Not too many quiet moments in the fiery relationship of Robert Ryan and Barbara Stanwyck in CLASH BY NIGHT.

 

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If you havent seen INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, why not!

 

 

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Gene Kelly’s first film, FOR ME AND MY GAL, with Judy Garland and George Murphy.

 

 

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Well, if I must choose….
Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman. THE TALK OF THE TOWN.

 

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Great HITCHCOCK shot from NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Cary Grant should have stayed in Rapid City.

 

 

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No thanks.
Cary Grant in NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

 

 

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Who’s in the silhouette and what’s the movie?

 

 

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What a pity Cary Grant and Ava Gardner didn’t make a film together .

ADVENTURE. 1945

 

 

image It’s famous for the tag line, “Gable’s back and Garson’s got him!”, but MGM didn’t do Clark Gable any favors with his first film after war service,ADVENTURE.

Clark Gable,Greer Garson and Joan Blondell do their very best but can’t overcome a weak script.

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Greer Garson, Clark Gable, Joan Blondell

Gable (as Harry Patterson) and his mates (Thomas Mitchell,Tom Tully, John Qualen and Richard Haydn) are in the merchant navy during the war. They enjoy being at sea,having a girl in every port.No responsibilities,no decisions to be made. Having a good time is all that matters. 

When their ship is torpedoed,they survive in a life raft.Thomas Mitchell (as Mudgin) swears he will give up drinking,women and fighting if they are rescued – which they are. When they land in San Francisco,Mudgin finds it hard to stick to his promises and fears that he has lost his immortal soul. He and Harry are passing a library and Mudgin thinks he can get help.  Librarian Emily (Greer Garson) is sympathetic to Mudgin’s fears.

Emily’s friend, Helen (Joan Blondell) comes in and is immediately smitten with Harry. But Emily and Harry keep needling each other.   image And so,the slow – very slow- plot continues,with a quick Reno marriage for Harry and Emily, and an equally quick divorce – Harry has no plans to quit the sea and will be happy to see Emily every 6 months or so. image An hour in, and I’m thinking when is this story going to take off. But it never does. In a scene straight out of Gone With The Wind,director Victor Fleming arranges Clark and Greer for their first kiss below a shining sky with both in shadow.   image

John Qualen (sans Scandinavian accent) as ‘Model T’, Tom Tully as ‘Gus’,Richard Haydn as ‘Limey’ make the most of their roles and are thoroughly likable. Thomas Mitchell almost steals the film with his portrayal of the lost soul.

SPOILER

Thomas even has a death scene similar to Only Angels Have Wings,with Gable by his side rather than Cary Grant.

 

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Listed on IMDB as 1 hour 35 minutes, I timed it at 2 hours 5 min. – far too long.

There was a better,lighter  story there, with just Gable and Blondell in the leads. I didn’t see any chemistry between Clark and Greer.

You’d never guess Clark hadn’t been before a camera for two years. He looked in great shape and tried his darndest to make his character likeable.

 ADVENTURE ( a misleading title if ever there was one) didn’t hinder his career, but it sure didn’t help Greer Garson who was reaching that age in Hollywood  (40) when a female star’s career goes into terminal decline. Incidentally, she looks so beautiful in this.

 

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STARDUST. 1940

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STARDUST is a good addition to the Hollywood films about Hollywood.It looks at young people who are offered a studio audition,and how,for some,it results in a contract.
But for others,they have to use the return part of their train ticket to take them back home.
Roland Young plays a former silent star who now goes round the country to schools and colleges ,seeking out new film talent.

Roland Young

Roland Young

Three young hopefuls whom Roland brings out to Hollywood are Linda Darnell, John Payne and Mary Healy.
Charlotte Greenwood is a joy as always,playing Lola Langdon,the studio’s dramatic coach. Lola is always enthusiastic when a new star emerges. She proclaims,
She’s Alice Faye,Ginger Rogers,Eleanor Powell all rolled into one!”

Charlotte Greenwood

Charlotte Greenwood

Later,when Charlotte is trying to help Linda, she tells Roland,
Doll her up like Dietrich,Colbert or Lombard. Have Bud Westmore do her hair,borrow a gown from Adrian,wrap her in fur till she drips.And get her a limousine and chauffeur !”
Also in the cast is Mary Beth Hughes who has a contract – she looks down on the others. And she has a ‘friend’ in casting director,Donald Meek.

Donald Meek

Donald Meek

Thankfully, the film’s original title, “Twinkle,Twinkle,Little Star” was changed, and Mary Healy sings Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’.
Charlotte Greenwood who is a bundle of energy ( and a good singer) performs ‘Dont Let It Get You Down’,showing Mary how it should be done.
This was Linda Darnell’s third film and she teamed well with John Payne.
The film ends with Linda putting her hand prints at Grauman’s Chinese,with Sid Grauman thanking her.
(Linda herself was immortalised at Grauman’s in March 1940.)

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The New York Times,when reviewing the film, said,
“STARDUST is unlikely to stem the westward migration of yougsters with hallucinations of swimming pools and a six-figure apotheosis to stardom.”

Apotheosis? Had to look it up – means climax or culmination.

Greenwood and Young stole the film. They should have been teamed again.

John Payne,Linda Darnell

John Payne,Linda Darnell

THIS N’ THAT 5

 

Barbara Hale

Barbara Hale

(1)   Great to see the May,2014 interview with Barbara Hale after a screening of The Window.
Interviewed by Alan K.Rode in Palm Springs,Barbara spoke well about her film and TV career, and long marriage to Bill Williams.
Gail Patrick ( producer of Perry Mason) became one of her dearest friends.
The interview can be seen at the Film Noir Foundation archive here.

 

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 (2)     LARAINE DAY on The Locket:
 My character was the greatest challenge I ever had- a destructive young woman who’s a kleptomaniac. The form of the film – flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks – was criticised by some reviewers of the time as too confusing.
Today,though,its style is highly regarded by film historians.
Many movie fans seem to remember me best from the DR KILDARE series, but first and foremost,I remember The Locket.”

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(3)       One of the funniest posts I have read is at the Widescreenworld blogspot. The subject being the lack of Oscars for Edward G.Robinson, and written in the gangster vernacular EGR was famous for.
Can’t recommend it enough. It’s so very well written.
“There’s one guy they never gave an Oscar to.Never even nominated him for one. So we’re gonna do what should have been done a long time ago. We’re gonna steal the Oscars for Edward G.Robinson…..”

The  full piece can be read here.

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Edward G.Robinson.KEY LARGO

 

(4)   1970 interview with JACK LEMMON:

“Harry Cohn,head of COLUMBIA Pictures,a very feared man. I had a marvellous relationship with him,but I had never met him till I finished my first film, IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU.
He called me up to his office and I said, good,finally I’m meeting my boss…. He said, ‘The name is out.’ I said, what name,I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He said,’It’s gonna be Lennon.’ I said no,they might think I’m a Russian revolutionary. And he said,’No, I looked it up, it’s LEN-IN.

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(5)  CLASSIC QUOTES:

Sidney Greenstreet, THE MALTESE FALCON.

image       Kasper Gutman :

“Well,Wilmer.I’m sorry indeed to lose you,but I want you to know I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. Well,if you lose a son,it’s possible to get another.There’s only one Maltese Falcon……”

 

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CLIFTON WEBB in LAURA:

Lydecker:  “In my case,self-absorption is completely justified.I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention.”

 

 

Robert Mitchum, Vincent Price

Robert Mitchum, Vincent Price

 

In HIS KIND OF WOMAN, Robert Mitchum ( as Dan Milner)  and Vincent Price (as Mark Cardigan) prepare to take on gangster Raymond Burr.

(Cardigan is a film star).

Milner: I’m too young to die. How about you.”

Cardigan: Too well known.”

Milner: “Well, if you get killed,I’ll make sure you get a first rate funeral in Hollywood, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.”

Cardigan: I’ve already had it. My last picture died there.”

 

 

Katy Jurado

Katy Jurado

 

Katy Jurado as Helen Ramirez in HIGH NOON:

“Kane will be a dead man in half an hour,and nobody’s gonna do anything about it. When he dies, this town dies too. I can feel it.

I am all alone in the world. I have to make a living. So I’m going some place else. That’s all.”