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It’s getting harder  – watching all the A.C.Lyles 1960s westerns. You look at the cast and think, give them a good script and you will have a good western.

Unfortunately, Lyles and co-writer Steve Fisher weren’t able to do that and it’s the cast and viewers who suffer.

One  of the problems in JOHNNY RENO (1965)  is the number of characters, most of whom are very thinly written. Lon Chaney is in service again as a weak sheriff who can’t stand up to the town Mayor (played by Lyle Bettger).

It is Richard Arlen’s turn this time to have a walk-on part. Arlen is in a couple of scenes and has about two lines of dialogue. Such a waste.


Dana Andrews is a Marshall who stumbles into a hotbed of intrigue in a small town – he’s there to catch up with Jane Russell whom he knew years before. Jane ,of course , is a saloon gal. Their rekindled romance isn’t convincing.

Bettger is intent on killing Tom Drake who is accused of killing an Indian who happens to be the Indian chief’s son.


John  Agar as a rancher who follows Bettger’s orders, as does store owner Robert  Lowery. It’s obvious they are covering up the real killer.


John Agar, Lyle Bettger, Robert  Lowery.


Tom Drake gets a bit more characterisation as he accepts he may not survive and tells Andrews to get out of town.


The film has the usual punch-up between Andrews and Bettger ( though their doubles are very obvious.) And the shoot-outs are particularly violent.

Dana Andrews looked all of his 56  years in this.

Of the cast, Lyle Bettger and Tom Drake came off best.


Jane Russell, Dana Andrews.

I thought we would at least get a song from Jane, but no.



A great poster for an indifferent film. (“The Whole Town is to Blame.”)


Eva Marie Saint, Cary Grant NORTH BY NORTHWEST



The enormous indoor set for Mount Rushmore.


Mary Astor,  Ronald Colman.THE PRISONER OF ZENDA.


Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Wyman. STAGE FRIGHT


Greer Garson, Ronald Colman. RANDOM HARVEST


Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly. TO CATCH A THIEF


Van Heflin, Alan Ladd. SHANE.


James Stewart, Cary Grant, Ruth Hussey, Henry Daniell, George Cukor. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY


Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Bette Davis. ALL ABOUT EVE


Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas .GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL




I always liked that unusual title, PRIVATE HELL 36. What could it possibly mean.

The number refers to a  trailer park address and the ‘Private Hell’ refers  to the fear of getting caught.

Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff ) are two police detectives assigned to a stake-out at the Hollywood park racetrack. They are after a killer/bank robber  whom Lilli Marlowe (Ida Lupino) can identify .

Cal falls for Lilli, a nightclub singer but she doesn’t want the life of a policeman’s wife. Jack’s wife is Francey (Dorothy Malone). She is always worrying about his safety.

After the wanted man shows up and Lilli points him out, there’s a car chase which ends in the man dying after his car crashes. Cal and Jack are the only ones on the scene and they find the stolen money.

Jack is all set to gather all the money up, ready to take it in , but Cal immediately suggests they keep some of it. Jack, very reluctantly agrees.

Cal rents a trailer and they hide the money there, each of them having a key. Later Cal is sitting in Jack’s garden and Jack says, “I buried a key there. Some people plant flowers in their back yard. I plant keys.”

Jack is conscience-stricken from the start. He cant tell his wife though he wants to. (They have a daughter called Bridget – which just happens to be the name of Ida Lupino and Howard Duff’s daughter).

Whenever his phone rings, or the door bell goes, Jack is jumpy. he slugs one of his colleagues when they make a joke about the missing money not turning up.

On the other hand, Cal is quite cool, just thinking about he and Lilli will spend the money. He isn’t in the ‘private hell’.



Their boss, Captain Michaels (Dean Jagger) is suspicious and tells them the dead man must have had a partner. Cal gets a call from someone saying they want the money. So someone knows they took it. (over $100,000).

Cal hasn’t told Lilli what they did but she guesses when he says they are going to Acapulco. Although Lilli has made it clear she’d like to be rich, she has fallen for Cal and tells him she doesn’t need a diamond ring. But he wants the things money can buy.



Steve Cochran, Howard Duff

Jack wants to give themselves up and Call pretends to agree, but he plans to kill the guy who phoned him.

They drive to the trailer park and the finale has a good twist which I didn’t figure out.

The film’s  emphasis is on Cal and Jack. Ida Lupino and Dorothy Malone are short changed. Ida is playing a character very similar to ‘Lili’ in ROADHOUSE.  She even sings at the piano, but we only hear a very short clip of “Didn’t you Know” (maybe cut in the print I saw from Olive films?)

Howard Duff isnt quite up to displaying a lot of emotion, but he and Cochran make a good team. I’m a big fan of Steve Cochran who always gives a solid performance. He has a nice laid back style.

Ida and her ex-husband Collier Young wrote the script and Don Siegel directed. (Young was still a partner in The Filmakers. Wonder why Ida didn’t direct it.



Howard Duff, Dorothy Malone




Dean Jagger














Whilst still very active making films, Alfred Hitchcock became very involved in television , lending not only his name but presenting every episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR. The series was so successful, it ran for ten years from 1955 to 1965.

And each season had between 33 and 39 episodes!

Recently I have been watching the last three seasons of the series when  each episode ran  50 minutes ( only 10 mins of ads back then). ( The first 7 seasons had 25 minute  episodes).

Hitchcock’s Shamley  Productions and Universal Television produced some great television. Long time Hitchcock associate, Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd produced many of the episodes.

Writers included  Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury,Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch. Stories from the Alfred  Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and the Ellery Queen Magazine were also used.

And the casts often had well known faces.

In fact these 50 minute stories were mini-films. With the Hitchcock name, production values were high and it made for an excellent television series.

Hitchcock only directed one of these 50 minute episodes. Actors Harry Morgan, Robert Douglas and Paul Henreid each directed some episodes.

The opening theme of the entire series became forever associated with Hitchcock -Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette”.

I read that , for some seasons, the opening remarks had Hitchcock speaking in French and German for international audiences.


Ray Milland

One  of my favorite episodes features Ray Milland in a story where the patient inmates take over an asylum!


Angie Dickinson, James Mason


Teresa Wright

Another favorite has Teresa Wright as the wife of travelling salesman, Dan Duryea who is a bigamist. Teresa starts killing off her competition!



Richard Basehart

Richard Basehart as an amnesiac who can’t remember the last three years of his life.



Hugh Marlowe

Barry Sullivan murders his wife but when his conscience gets the better of him,nobody will believe him. The cast of this episode includes Hugh Marlowe, Louis Hayward and K.T.Stevens.


Gig Young

Good episode with Gig Young as a gambler who gets into too deep with gangsters.



Kent Smith,John Forsythe

John Forsythe mounts his own defence after a car accident.


Peter Falk

Peter Falk as a fire and brimstone preacher  who commits murder.



Dean Stockwell

Great performance by Dean Stockwell as a character insanely in love with a married woman.


Joan Fontaine as a ‘Harriet Craig’ style wife . Gary Merrill is the long suffering husband who realises she will never change. He decides to get rid of her.


Gloria Swanson is in a ‘ haunted house’ episode . ( wonder why she didn’t do more in the 50s and 60s).

Poison is often the murder method of choice. Dan Dailey poisons his wife Jan Sterling.

Michael Rennie is slowly poisoning his rich wife, Phyllis Thaxter.

Tony Randall has a good episode ,playing an alcoholic, the kind of character he would never play on the big screen.

Another good episode has Robert Sterling blackmailing MacDonald Carey .

Other stars include. Michael Wilding, Anna Lee, Laraine Day, Gilbert Roland,Ruth Roman,Gladys Cooper, Victor Jory.

Bess Flowers even gets a line in one episode !

Great series.




Tyrone Power




Beulah Bondi, James Stewart

Beulah Bondi, James Stewart. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE





SPELLBOUND . World premiere.

“Bergman The Incomparable!”



Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright.

Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright.




Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Looking serene. THE AFRICAN QUEEN.The start of the high collars.



Glenn Ford, Bette Davis

Glenn Ford, Bette Davis A STOLEN LIFE

Or A DOUBLE LIFE. Davis x two.





Don’t  look inside.




THE 39 STEPS Lucie Mannheim, Robert Donat

Watch out for that missing finger.




James Stewart,Margaret Sullavan

James Stewart,Margaret Sullavan


I haven’t even seen it yet but I’ve read a lot about it and hope it becomes available on DVD this year.

Premiered on 5th March, 2017, ” FEUD, BETTE AND JOAN ” is an 8 part TV drama series featuring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. It is set in 1962 when they were making WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE.

I’ve never been sure just how bad the rivalry was between Bette and Joan, but obviously it makes for good drama. For BABY JANE, perhaps it was part rivalry, part publicity stunt.

Also in the cast is Judy  Davis as Hedda Hopper. Judy’s such a good actress, I reckon she could have played Joan or Bette too!

From the brief You Tube clips and photos, Susan Sarandon seems to have caught more of Bette Davis’s look than Jessica Lange as Joan.

And Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Olivia DeHavilland, with Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell. (Olivia and Joan Blondell’s characters provide a framing device for the story when they are both interviewed in the 1970s and discuss Bette and Joan.)

Hedda Hopper, Judy Davis


Kathy Bates, Joan Blondell


Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell


Bette and Joan


Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange


The cast also has Alfred Molina as director Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner and Mark Valley as Gary Merrill.

Alfred Molina, Robert Aldrich

Cant wait to see it. Looking forward to some blogger reviews.





Rory Calhoun

BLACK SPURS was 4th  in the  13  A.C.Lyles western series of the 1960s. It felt as if  it was much later in the series, because the plot was tired and not well written.

Regulars Bruce Cabot, Lon Chaney and Richard Arlen are on the scene but with little to do. Rory Calhoun leads the cast as a man who wants to raise some money and marry his fiancée (played by Terry Moore). He decides to go after a bank robber called ‘El Pescadore’ who is  known for the black spurs he wears.

Calhoun tracks the robber for 10 mths before he captures him. He takes off the robber’s black spurs as proof he killed him.

There’s no sign he has kept in touch with Terry  whom he finds has married and left town. He decides to become a bounty hunter full time, and starts wearing the notorious spurs.

Next he’s in Kansas and takes a job from Lon Chaney who wants the railroad to run through his town by making the other candidate town lawless. For $50,000, Calhoun says he’ll get it done.

Rory Calhoun, Lon Chaney

The other town (called Lark) just happens to be the one Calhoun’s ex-girlfriend has settled as the wife of the sheriff (James Best).  Calhoun brings in gambler Bruce Cabot and Linda Darnell and her saloon gals.

There’s a touch of Randolph Scott’s “Bounty Hunter” in the plot – some of the citizenry are anxious at his appearance.

It’s all very predictable, though it was a surprise to see Scott Brady as a fighting preacher!

Rory Calhoun, Scott Brady

It could have been so much better and the cast really are let down by the script.

What makes the film a sad experience was seeing Linda Darnell in what was basically a walk-on part. This was her last film – Linda died in 1965 aged 41 after a house fire.

A.C.Lyles, Linda Darnell

I don’t what happened to Linda’s career in the 50s. She had started in films in 1939 and within a year she was co-starring with Tyrone Power in THE MARK OF ZORRO. Throughout the 1940s she had been in many successes – HANGOVER SQUARE, FALLEN ANGEL, FOREVER AMBER, A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, MY DARLING CLEMENTINE.

By the time of Black Spurs, Linda hadn’t made a film since 1957. She still looked lovely .

On the set. Rory Calhoun, Terry Moore.

I’m perservering with this series but so far only a couple have been good.