Bix,Duke-Fats-Oscar Pettiford & Tom Talbert (1956)

oscar

Seventeen tracks saluting three of the best. Other personnel include:Clark Terry, Donald Byrd-trumpet, Jimmy Cleveland-trombone, Al Cohn-baritone sax Barry Galbraith,Freddie Green-guitar and George Wallington-piano.

Highlights include: “Keeping Out Of Mischief Now”, “In A Mist”, “Swinging Till The Girls Come Home” and “Not So Sleepy.”

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The Silk Noose (Noose) (1948)

the silk noose 1948

Joseph Calleia and Nigel Patrick make this well worth seeking out. They play Soho gangsters who run the underworld. Carole Landis is an American reporter that wants to bring them down. It’s based on a story and screenplay by Richard Llewellyn.

A girl named Milly Sparks is found floating in the Thames. Gangster Bar Norman (Nigel Patrick) gets upset and talks to his boss, Sugiani (Joseph Calleia). He thinks his henchman Basher did her in. It was his other main man Barber who strangled her with a stocking. This draws unwanted attention from reporter Linda Medbury (Carole Landis).

Linda is from Chicago and is the fashion editor of the Daily Echo. She wants to write the murder story and bring down Sugiani. Her editor wants her to stay with fashion. He threatens to send her back home. She says he won’t be able to because she’s due to marry British commando Jumbo Hyde. He reluctantly lets her have her way.

Sugiani’s girlfriend Annie Foss was a good friend of Millie’s and she goes to Inspector Kendall (Stanley Holloway) to tell what she knows. Linda interviews her and now Annie is afraid Sugiani will find out she’s an informant and take care of her. It’s another job for Barber.

Jumbo enlists his friend Pudd’n Bason to help get Sugiani and his gang. Bason runs a gym and he and his boxers agree to form an army to do battle with the Sugiani gang.

Sugiani tries to convince Linda to stop writing stories. First he sends Bar to see her. He gets nowhere. Sugiani is waiting outside and he tries and ends up getting slapped in the face and told to get out. His next move is to tell Barber he has a job to do.

This is a good one despite a climax that borders on silliness. The acting is the big draw in this mixture of crime and comedy. The comedy comes from Landis who is good as the reporter.

 

 

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Anita Sings The Winners-Anita O’Day (1958)

anita

Nineteen tracks from one of the best stylists ever. Hear for yourself. You cannot go wrong with this collection.

Highlights include: “Take The “A” Train”, “Four”, “Hershey Bar” and “Peel Me A Grape.”

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Torture Ship (1939)

This is so bad it’s good. Loosely, very,very loosely based on “A Thousand Deaths” by Jack London. A boatload of crooks including Harry The Carver, Kranz The Strangler and the notorious Ritter are guinea pigs for a mad doctor. Also on board are Poison Mary, her sweet young secretary Joan and our hero Lt.Bob. The movie has been billed as SF/Horror but those elements aren’t really major.

Dr.Herbert Stander has a boatload of captured crooks to experiment on. He’s trying to cure the criminal mind. Ritter (Wheeler Oakman) is overheard planning a takeover. Stander and his assistants put a stop to that with the help of the ship’s crew.

In another stateroom, Poison Mary (Sheila Bromley) is holding a gun on her secretary Joan (Julie Bishop). She thinks she turned her in. Lt.Bob Bennett (Lyle Talbot) saves the day. He gives Joan the key to his stateroom so she can lock herself in and be safe.

Trouble happens when Kranz The Strangler gets loose and tosses a sailor overboard and knocks out Bob before he’s subdued. Then Stander gets Bob who just happens to be his nephew.

Bob is almost a zombie. Before he can get another injection, Joan comes into the room with a gun. The distraction allows Bob to switch the serum in the hypo for distilled water. Joan is now captured and taken to the operating ward.

Bob goes into the radio room to try and send a message.  He hears people coming and goes into his drugged up act before he can finish. A short time later he manages to escape. He goes to the cabin where Ritter is locked up. He enlists his help in taking over the ship. Bad move Bob.

From here on out it gets so dumb I couldn’t help but like it.

Wheeler Oakman had a long career playing all kinds of villains. His distinctive voice was more recognizable than his face.

Wheeler Oakman

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The Year’s Best Fantasy And Horror-Eleventh Annual Selection-Edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (1998)

ellen datlow -terry windling-the year's best fantasy and horror-eleventh annual selection

Forty-six stories and poems from 1997. Not that spectacular of a selection. Of those I never came across before there are a few that are favorites in this group:

“Riding The Black” (novelette_-Charles L. Grant – Post world war two in California. An old fashioned outlaw rides into town. Everyone is afraid of him. An encounter with an egotistical TV reporter is the best incident in the story.

“Safe” (novella) – Gary A. Braunbeck – Story about a mass murderer that wipes out his family and thirty others. It’s told by the killers’ best friend to his college class.

“A Visit” – Steven Millhauser –  A man goes into rural territory to visit the best friend he hasn’t seen in nine years. He’s more than surprised to find that he’s married….to a frog.

“Residuals” (novelette) – Paul J. MacAuly and Kim Newman – Two friends rescue a woman from an alien abduction. Their fame has a negative effect after it wears off. Lots of pop culture mentions make the story work.

“In The Black Mill” – Michael Chabon – An archeologist is investigating an ancient civilization that used to file their teeth. The same rural town has a mill as its main industry and everyone works there. Something’s wrong inside as almost everyone has an injury of some kind including missing limbs. He’s blocked when he tries to get inside. This is right out of H.P.Lovecraft.

“The Last Song Of Sirit Byar” – Peter S. Beagle – Go back to the days of traveling minstrels for this story of one who is haunted by his past and journeys to sing one last song. A young girl accompanies him and tells the story.

“Wild Horses” – Charles de Lint – Part of the Newford series. A girl is looking for her heroin addicted brother. A woman with a deck of cards may help her find him.

“The Crawl” – Stephen Laws – A couple returning home on a deserted highway are being stalked by a scarecrow with a deadly scythe. When their car is damaged and can’t be taken out of first gear the scarecrow keeps getting closer.

Other authors: Emma Donoghue, James Alsop, John Kessel, Nancy Pickard,  Leslie Dick, Douglas Clegg, Christopher Jones, Christopher Harmon, Nicholas Royle, Jeffrey Shaffer, Howard Waldrop, Brennan Wysong, Sonia Gernes, Ellen Kushner w/Delia Sherman, Bill Lewis, Michael Cadnum, Molly Brown, P.D.Cacek, Pat More, Christopher Fowler, Denise Duhamel, Norman Partridge, A. Alverez, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Steve Stern, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Karen Joy Fowler, Mayra Santos-Febres, Emily Warm, Jane Yolen, Matthew Sweeney, Jack Womack, Robert Clinton, Katherine Vaz and Vikram Chandra.

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Secret Army (1977-79)

secret army

An inn run in a small Belgian village by Albert Foiret is actually a front for the Belgian resistance. The Nazi occupiers don’t have a clue. Even Foiret’s bedridden wife doesn’t know. The group takes their orders via London short wave radio. Part of what they do is get downed pilots out of the area and prepare them for the hazardous trip. The series ended with the close of the war.

Opening episode: September 7,1977 – “Lisa-Codename Yvette” – Lisa (Jan Francis) is a former teacher who now works for a doctor as a nurse and runs errands for him. He’s also part of the resistance.. She runs lifelines that get downed RAF pilots safely out of the country. The headquarters is the inn run by Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton). His mistress Monique runs the bar while his suspicious wife Andree lays upstairs. She’s bitter and it’s a good thing she doesn’t know what everyone is up to.

Three pilots are due at a farm which is a safe house.  Luftwaffe police break in as Lisa looks on from her hiding place outside. The three pilots are out in the fields and evade capture but the farmer and his wife are taken in.

In England Flight Lt.John Curtis trains pilots in escape and evasion techniques. He was in Europe and got out thanks to Lisa and the resistance. Now he’s being sent back to coordinate the lifelines. Also showing up in Belgium is Ludwig Kessler of the Gestapo. The rivalry between him and Major Brandt of the Luftwaffe police is heated when Kessler takes the imprisoned farmer from him. The farmer and his family are all sent to a concentration camp. Brandt thought they should have been allowed to stay home so he could keep an eye on them and their activities.

Two of the pilots have been captured and Lisa coordinates getting the third and some other pilots on a train to Spain. At the inn she spots Curtis. She’s very suspicious of him and she and Alfred want to know why he’s back and they’re not sure of his story since people he was in contact with last time have disappeared.

This is a good, suspenseful series and definitely worth checking out.

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Skidoo (1968)

skidoo 1968

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert always warned against seeing movies loaded with big stars. This is a prime example of what they meant. This is so awful that you may find yourself with your mouth wide open in gaping amazement at how bad it can get. The movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a gangster comedy, a satire on hippies or anything resembling a good movie.

The cast features Groucho Marx, Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Arnold Stang, George Raft, Frank Gorshin, Richard Kiel, Fred Clark, Nilsson, John Philip Law, Frankie Avalon, Cesar Romero, Michael Constantine, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, Mickey Rooney, Slim Pickens and pro quarterback Roman Gabriel. They’re all directed by Otto Preminger with music from Nilsson.

Hitman Tony Banks (Jackie Gleason) has been retired from the mob for seventeen years. Now he owns a car wash. He lives in a San Francisco suburb with his wife Flo (Carol Channing) and teenage daughter Darlene (Alexandra Hay). The movie starts off a bit promising as Tony and Flo each have TV remotes and keep changing channels on each other. She wants to watch a senate crime hearing run by Peter Lawford. Tony doesn’t want anything to do with it. As they battle it out there are some funny commercials and as an inside joke with some clips from Preminger’s “In Harm’s Way” (1965).

Now it’s a fast ride downhill.

Tony’s pal Harry(Arnold Stang) looks out the window as a 1937 Rolls Royce drives up. He thinks it a pair of brothers looking for Tony. They go outside and Tony sees it’s Darlene with a hippie. He sneaks up on him and knocks out with his gun. Darlene says she just met him and his name is Stash (John Philip Law).

If that’s not enough for Tony to deal with he gets a visit from Hechy (Cesar Romero) and his son Angie (Frankie Avalon). Hechy tells him his old boss God has a job for him. He wants him to eliminate Blue Chips Packard before he can spill the beans on the organization. One problem. Packard (Mickey Rooney) is in prison. Tony refuses. After Harry is shot and killed in the car wash, Tony changes his mind.

While Tony is off to the big house Flo brings all the flower children back to the house. To find out why Tony is missing Darlene decides to visit Angie. He’s got a hi tech bachelor pad that may remind you of Quagmire’s place on “Family Guy.” Flo gets there first and ruins Angies’ plans. He explains to them about the organization which is headed by God (Groucho Marx). They demand to see him and Angie finally agrees to take them to God’s yacht.

Meanwhile, Tony is put into a cell with Leach (Michael Constantine). Tossed into the cell is Fred (Austin Pendleton). He’s a tech wizard nicknamed The Professor. A prisoner known as The Man (Frank Gorshin) is a trustee and gives Tony a way to get into Packard’s cell. Tony is writing a letter to Flo. When he licks the envelope Fred tries to stop him. He says all his stationary is laced with LSD. Now Tony goes on an acid trip.  Afterwards he refuses to do the hit. This has to be one of the worst scenes ever in any movie.

It may be hard to believe but the movie actually gets worse as it switches to the yacht. The captain is played by George Raft. A flotilla of hippies are on their way.

Frankie Avalon is actually funny and if the movie were more about his character it may have had a chance.

 

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