The Threat (1949)

the threat 1949

Good B movie with Charles McGraw as a tough as nails crook who escapes from prison. He’s out to get the cop and the D.A. who put him there.

Arnold “Red” Kluger (Charles McGraw) busts out of Folsom Prison. Before he went in he threatened to kill D.A Barker MacDonald and Detective Ray Williams (Michael O’Shea). Inspector Murphy (Robert Shayne) calls Barker and Ray and warns them. Red gets his boys Nick and Lefty and they kidnap Ray and Barker. They also nab chorus girl Carol (Virginia Grey). She’s the girlfriend of Red’s partner in crime Tony. They’re using Ray’s car.

At their hideout Red and the boys listen in on police calls. Red is suspicious that Carol ratted on him. The cops found a box with bonds and jewelry in it but a hundred grand in cash is missing. Ray says a tip was phoned in from Mexico. Red calls a moving company and tricks a driver into coming out.

They load the van up with their hostages along with furniture and the car. Red says they’re going to the desert outside Palm Springs. He and Tony made an arrangement to meet just in case Red went to prison.

They almost get caught at a roadblock but make it through. They abandon the van and take off in the car while police search by land and air for the van. They reach the meeting place and stay inside a cabin.

The sun is getting hot and tempers are getting hotter. Barker and Ray are tied up in a back room. Like all good movie heroes they have their coats and ties on despite the heat. They use the police radio in Ray’s car and Red forces Ray to give a phony message to Murphy. Ray gives a code that he hopes his wife will understand.

This is a good time passer for fans of the one hour crime movie. Robert Shayne appeared in many movies and TV shows. He’s best known as Inspector Henderson in “The Adventures Of Superman” (1952-58).


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The Four Just Men (1959-60)

the four just men

Based on the Edgar Wallace series. The show updates it from the original storyline which started in 1905. In 1925 Wallace changed it to “The Three Just Men.” The show’s scenario has the four meeting in World War Two while fighting in Italy. They fight for truth, justice and all the rest of it.

The show only lasted for thirty-nine episodes in spite of its great cast of Dan Dailey, Richard Conte, Jack Hawkins and Vittorio de Sica.

Opening episode: September 17,1959 – “The Battle Of The Bridge” –  The four all received a telegram from their old commander Major Cyril Bacon. He’s dead and has left a tape for them to hear. He flashes back to their mission to blow up a bridge.

When they land they’re met by partisan fighter Ricco Picarri (Vitorrio de Sica). He has a young boy named Guido who will guide them to the top of a cliff. There’s a German sentry. Guido says he’ll distract him and ends up getting shot. The sentry shortly has a knife stuck in him.

Time to wire up the bridge. There’s another sentry. Since they’re about the same size war correspondent Tim Collier (Dan Dailey) takes his uniform. A patrol comes by and it looks like they’ll keep going. One of the Germans calls something back to Collier who doesn’t speak the language.

Now it’s a firefight and Collier is wounded. The charges are finally set. They have to wait for another German patrol to show up. When it does Jeff Ryder (Richard Conte) pushes the plunger and everything blows up. When the smoke clears a priest leads a group of children out of a cave.

Back to the present.

Coming out of another room in a wheelchair is Guido. He says Bacon was his adoptive father. The tape rolls and Bacon continues to talk about justice. Guido hands them a note from Bacon that says money has been left for them in a bank account to carry on the fight against injustice wherever it occurs. Tim is now a foreign correspondent, Ryder is a lawyer, Ricco works with children and Ben Manfred (Jack Hawkins) is a member of Parliament. Guido says they’ll be referred to as the Four Just Men.

The screenplay was written by Gene L. Coon, one of the creative forces behind “Star Trek.”

November 5,1959 episode: “Dead Man’s Switch” – Richard Conte is featured is this dull episode. Thanks to a throwaway weekly newspaper bigotry against Puerto Rican immigrants runs through the New York neighborhood. At a boys club a punk named Frankie stabs Joey Rivera during a brawl. A copy of the newspaper is found on the floor.

The publisher is Garnes (Bill Nagy). He gets a visit from lawyer Jeff Ryder (Richard Conte). Garnes sticks by his editorials. Joey’s father goes to Garnes’ apartment. His wife lets him in. Rivera has a live grenade with the pin pulled. When Garnes comes home Rivera says if his son dies then he’ll take Garnes with him.

A cop comes in and tries to take Rivera out at gunpoint. He’s shown the grenade and Rivera lets him leave. Jeff shows up and tries to talk sense to him. Fueling the fire is Garnes who isn’t backing off from his bigotry.

Joey’s operation will take six hours. A psychiatrist is allowed into the apartment. He says Rivera is for real. Rivera lets Mrs.Garnes leave. Next in is Rivera’s priest. He joins Garnes and Jeff in being trapped with Rivera.

The original Wallace books are so much better and the series is just his core idea rather than anything close to his suspenseful writing. It doesn’t matter how old something is. If it’s good then, it’s good now. Maybe they should have stuck with the time period of the books.

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Night Tide (1961)

night tide 1961

Despite Dennis Hopper’s good performance as an innocent sailor on leave in Venice,California, this is a waste of time. It tries for strange but ends up being silly and dull with lots of bad acting along the way.

Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) is on leave in Venice,California and stops into a coffee house with a good Jazz combo. He’s attracted to a girl sitting by herself and joins her. An older woman comes by and speaks Greek to her. She gets upset and leaves. Johnny follows her.

He walks her home and finds out her name is Mora (Linda Lawson). She has an apartment above the merry-go-round at an amusement pier. She plays Mora The Mermaid in a side show. Of course they become involved.

Johnny meets the merry-go-round operator and his granddaughter Ellen (Luana Anders). She tells him two of Mora’s previous boyfriends were murdered. The phone rings. It’s for Johnny. No one is on the line. Outside he spots the woman from the coffee house. He follows her to Sam Murdock’s house. He runs the Mermaid show.  He ran across Mora as an orphan on a Greek island.

He tells Johnny the legend of the Sirens in Greek Mythology and hints that Mora may be one of the sea people. He warns Johnny that he’s in danger. A tarot card reader also told him he was in danger.

Back at Mora’s apartment she’s taking a bath and Johnny sacks out on the couch. He has  a dumb dream that wakes him up. Mora’s gone. He follows her footprints to the sea. She’s in the water under the pier. He carries her back to her place.

The movie continues on its dumb way from there. It’s a total bust and not worth wasting time watching, even for Hopper’s performance.

Luana Anders reunited with Hopper when she played Lisa in “Easy Rider” in 1969.

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Flirting With Danger (1934)

flirting with danger 1934

Surprised that a good cast like this didn’t walk off the set when they realized, or at least should have realized, just how terrible this alleged comedy would turn out. This is one of the worst ever.

Bob Owens (Robert Armstrong), Jimmie Pearson (Edgar Kennedy) and Lucky Davis (William Cagney) are mixers in a dynamite and gunpowder plant. They all room together. Jimmie used to live in the Philippines and left a wife behind. He keeps trying to mix a high explosive formula but it never turns out right.

Early one morning at the plant Jimmie mixes his formula and causes an explosion destroying some equipment. The boss takes it well but still decides to transfer the trio to the South American country of San Rico. Before they go Lucky has a romance with plant bookkeeper Marian. Bob and Jimmie warn him against marriage. He won’t listen. They send a phony letter to Marion supposedly from Lucky. It says he has a wife in Ohio. He doesn’t know why but he gets a letter from Marion saying she has a husband in Ohio.

The trio is now in San Rico. So is Marion since the boss wants her to keep an eye on things and check the account books. Jimmie speaks Spanish and as a joke teaches Bob a phrase he thinks will tell any girl that he loves her but doesn’t believe in marriage. He doesn’t know it but Jimmie actually taught him to say he’ll marry her. One night in a club Bob goes crazy over a dancer named Rosita. He keeps repeating the phrase. He’s in trouble now.

Later on they go back to the club and get roaring drunk. The next day they’re alone in the plant. No one told them everyone had the day off because of San Rico’s Independence Day. Outside they hear fireworks but mistake the noise as gunfire. They think a revolution has started and they make some bombs. Now the movie gets even worse.

Short and sweet. Avoid this one. It’s beyond awful.


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Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album (1994)

If nothing else. it’s a conversation piece. That doesn’t mean you’ll ever have to play it. But…in case you do:

Highlights include: “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and “The Christmas Song.”

Back before it all started..Tiny was Herbert Khaury

Back before it all started..Tiny was Herbert Khaury

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Private Hell 36 (1954)

private hell 36 1954

Good crime movie directed by Don Siegel and starring Ida Lupino who also co-wrote the screenplay. A lot of familiar faces along the way.

In New York a bank messenger is killed and robbed of two hundred thousand dollars. A year later L.A. cop Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) is passing a drug store at night. He looks in and sees two men robbing the place. He sneaks in, kills one and arrests the other (King Donovan).

One of the fifty dollar bills is hot and traced back to the New York robbery. The druggist (Richard Deacon) tells Bruner, his partner Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) and their boss Capt.Michaels (Dean Jagger) where it came from.

Bruner and Farnham go to a bar and question the bartender (Dabbs Greer). He says the bars’ singer Lilli Marlowe (Ida Lupino) gave it to him. She says it was a tip from a customer. At first she doesn’t want to but agrees to help track the man down. More hot bills have been passed at the track. She wanders around trying to spot the man while Bruner and Farnham keep an eye on her.

After several days she spots him. Bruner and Farnham hop in their car and chase him down. The man crashed through a road closed sign and went over an embankment. He’s a goner. Money starts pouring out of a box. They pick it up and Farnham gets a look in his eye but puts it in the box. Bruner grabs eighty grand of it.

Farnham doesn’t want anything to do with it but Bruner rents a trailer (#36) and stashes the cash. By now Bruner and Lili are involved. Farnham is drinking too much and constantly arguing with his wife Francey (Dorothy Malone). A delivery boy (Jimmy Hawkins) comes to Farnham’s and is full of hero worship after seeing his picture in the paper.

At the police station a cop makes a joke hinting that Farnham kept some of the money and gets punched out for his attempt at humor. Captain Michaels calls Farnham and Bruner into his office and points out a mistake they made. A bit later he says the man must have had a partner.

Farnham is really falling apart now. That night Bruner gets a call from the hood demanding his money. Bruner tells Lilli they should go to Mexico. She doesn’t know it but he plans to sell the money there.

It all comes to a nice wrap up and is well worth checking out.

In the very beginning the body in the elevator is Chester Conklin, one of the original Keystone Kops. His acting career ranged from 1913-60. Not much to do in this one but lay there.

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Isaac Asimov’s Moons-Edited by Gardner Dozois and Shelia Williams

gardner dozois-sheila williams(editors)-isaac asimov's moons

Seven stories revolving around the Moon from 1988,89,91,93,94,95. Favorites:

“The Shadow Knows” (1993) – Terry Bisson – The Voyager has returned with a passenger. It’s a small black object that lives in a bowl. They don’t know whether to call it and ET or AO for Alien Object. It crawls up on an arm and the person writes Old Man. That leads Captain J.B. “Here’s Johnny” Carson to get retired Captain Bowley. They go to the Moon and Bowley finds out that rather than crawl on his arm to communicate, the ET or AO has to crawl up somewhere else.

“A Walk In The Sun” (1991) – Geoffrey A. Landis – Trish Mulligan crashes on the Moon. She’s the only survivor. She’s told a rescue mission won’t get there for thirty days. Trish decides to spend the time walking the circumference of the Moon.

“John Harper Wilson” (1989) – Allen M. Steele – Alternate history story about the first Moon landing in July 1969. Forget Neil Armstrong. The first person to step on the lunar surface was John Harper Wilson. He’s currently living in obscurity in a log cabin in New Hampshire. He led the mission known as Eagle One. There was a four and a half minute gap in communications from the Moon to the Earth. Now he breaks his silence about what occurred. All this happened back in the day when a popular TV show was “Star Trek.” It was all about Captain Jim Kirk and his wise cracking sidekick Arnold Spock.

Other authors: Robert Reed, Kim Stanley Robinson, Tony Daniel and R.Garcia Y Robertson.

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