The Case Of The Black Pearl (Sally Of The Subway) (1932)

the case of the black pearl (sally of the subway) 1932

Entertaining movie about a con man and his daughter bilking a jeweler with the unsuspecting help of a broke Grand Duke. The ending is way past believable but in movies of this type it doesn’t really matter.

Grand Duke Ludwig of Saxe-Thalberg (Jack Mulhall) and his aide Leopold Von Trump (Harry Semels) are stuck in a New York hotel. They owe a large bill and they’re broke. Funds from their embassy are currently frozen. Then they get some visitors.

Stanley Gordon (Huntley Gordon) and his daughter Sally (Dorothy Revier) drop by and say they had to meet Ludwig. Stanley says his son was captured by Ludwig’s until during the war. Since he was treated well Stanley had to thank Ludwig. Stanley gives him a check for a thousand dollars to cover the bill. All Ludwig has to do is act as his agent in buying a black pearl. He has one and wants a match for a pair of earrings for his actress girlfriend. In order not to cause gossip he wants Ludwig to take care of the purchase.

Meanwhile a circular comes into the police station. Sally of the Subway is back in town after three years in prison. She’s a con women who deals in jewelry and she usually worked her con in the subway.

Ludwig takes the pearl to Wallington’s Jewelers. The manager Mr.Moffitt has a minor con of his own. When a customer is dissatisfied he blames everything on Angela (Blanche Mehaffey) and pretends to fire her to satisfy the customer. Just before entering the store Ludwig sees Angela. He’s smitten.

In Moffitt’s office Ludwig says he wants a match for the pearl and doesn’t care what it costs. Gordon and his gang have their scam all mapped out. Gordon has a match for the pearl and sets up gang member Scaggs as a jeweler who tells Moffitt he has a match. Moffitt buys it for thirty grand thinking he can get at least forty from Ludwig.

One night Ludwig takes Angela out to dinner. Also there are Stanley and Sally. Angela has the circular with Sally’s picture. As things move along Ludwig feels guilty about his status and confesses to Angela that he’s broke and actually works. He tells her what his job is and she has a surprise for him. He may end up in Sing Sing.

The ending is unreal but it was important to Hollywood to make movies with feel good endings. It’s worth watching.

Dorothy Revier

Dorothy Revier

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Now Or Never (1935)

now or never 1935

Two Talmadges’ for the price of one. Neither can act. Of all his movies this belongs at the bottom.

Dick Rainey (Richard Talmadge) gets off the train to buy something to read. Pulling up to the train is Norman Gray (Richard Talmadge) driven by Audrey Ferry (Janet Chandler). Four hoods are waiting. He tells Audrey he needs to go back to the office. Since Rainey is his double the hoods go after him. They didn’t count on a acrobatic stuntman who can jump all over and under trains.

Norman is supposed to fence a hundred thousand dollars in stolen diamonds. He was going to fence them to Audrey’s father who is currently out of town. The hoods want him to do it before the day is over.

Dick traces Norman to his office. Norman tells him about delivering the diamonds. He suggests Dick take a fake package. He agrees because he thinks it’ll be a big laugh when the hoods catch up to him for nothing. They didn’t laugh. Dick gets the diamonds back and takes them to Audrey. Two of the bad guys follow Dick to Audrey’s. He gives the package to her and she puts them in a safe. Robert the butler provides the last number to the combination.

Back in town the other two hoods are keeping an eye on Norman in the street outside his office. They finally decide to go up and make sure he’s still there. Now they change their minds. They’ll sell the diamonds and cut Norman out. Norman doesn’t have a choice. He reaches in his jacket for the package. Uh-Oh. He forgot he changed jackets with Dick to fool everybody. Then he discovers the package in a different pocket and hands it over. The hoods decide to check it out. It’s an empty box. So long,Norman.

Dick discovers the body and the cops show up. He says Audrey’s in trouble and he has to save her. A cop calls and while being held at gunpoint Audrey says everything’s okay. The cops buy it but Dick doesn’t and gets away. He steals a police car and the big chase is on. He gets a chance to do a lot of stunts at the waterfront before it’s all over.

If you like stunts it’s fun but if you’re looking for at least some kind of storyline go see some other movie.


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The Horror Expert-Frank Long (1961)

frank long-the horror expert

SF/Horror author Frank Belknap Long drops his middle name for this crime novel. He should have dropped the manuscript. The title means absolutely nothing. A murdered woman liked grisly horror movies and true crime stories. That was mentioned in a couple sentences. So much for the title.

Helen Lathrup is a partner in a publishing outfit. One thing is universal..everyone hates her. She builds people up just for the fun of bringing them down. One day a man walks into her office with a gun, silencer attached. He blows her away.

In the outer office, associate editor Lynn Prentice thought she heard a noise coming from Helen’s office and goes to investigate. Her scream announces her discovery. After being questioned by the cops she walks to a nearby diner. She thinks she’s being followed. Her instincts are right. Turns out the man is a young artist looking for a break. He couldn’t be seen in the magazine office so he followed her. He shows her his portfolio and she tells him his drawings while good are not magazine material.

Time for Long to bring in Ralph Gilmore. He’s an author that’s sold some short stories and now has a novel in the works. The big envelope arrives. He thinks it’s another rejection. Nope. Looks like he’s in business. One night he’s to meet Helen at a restaurant. When he gets there a man is with her at a table. Before he gets there the man stands up and slaps Helen. Ralph punches him out. It’s not long before he gets a real taste of Helen and his hopes of being published are dashed and she refuses to see him.

Homicide Lt.Joseph Fenton is in charge of the murder investigation. A disgruntled author who had an affair with Helen confesses to killing her. Now we get page after page of Fenton and his partner intellectualizing about alcoholism. They realize the man isn’t guilty.

We move on now to associate editor Ruth Porges. She has Helen join she and her boyfriend for some dinner and dancing. Helen works her charms on him while dancing and Ruth is steaming. Time to go and Helen takes off. In a cab on the way to his place Ruth is about to blow up. Inside the apartment she lets loose. He responds by playing caveman. That doesn’t work and she storms out.

The next day Ruth is standing at a construction site before any workers show up. There’s a gap in the fence at an excavation. The chain on her locket breaks and she goes down to retrieve it. She gets it and then spots a large stone. She decides to lift it to see what’s under it. She finds a gun with the silencer still attached…the murder weapon. When she climbs back out some people from the office are walking by.

Ruth goes home and realizes where she’s seen the gun before. She decides o cover for the owner and intends to toss it in the East River. Then the doorbell rings.

Before slogging along to the ending there’s some pseudo intellectual discussion among the magazine editors and Helen’s business partner about the craziness of creative people. Now the book takes a hard boiled turn as Fenton spots something suspicious.

The ending takes close to ten pages and gets ridiculous especially the closing scene. Long has written some excellent horror novels and some fair SF. This attempt at a crime story is below the basement.

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Markham (1959-60)

Ray Milland as Roy Markham

Ray Milland as Roy Markham

Ray Milland is a P.I. who used to be a top lawyer in New York. Simon Scott played his assistant John Riggs but was dropped after a few episodes and Markham was on his own to travel the world and fight crime. The music is by Esquivel.

September 21,1959 episode: “Strange Visitor” w/Louise Fletcher and Willis Bouchey – Markham is getting ready to settle in for the night. Outside his house young Billy from the camera club tells him he’ll have his camera fixed for him. Inside he’s going to call it a day when he spots Ellen Amery (Louise Fletcher) passed out in his bed. He goes to make a phone call when three men with guns appear.

Ellen comes to and tells Markham she never saw the men who nabbed her. He says it’s a good she didn’t because they won’t have to kill her to keep her from identifying them. He even tells her to keep a sheet over her face so she can’t see them.

Ellen is a rich heiress who Markham recovered a stolen bracelet for a few months back. One of the men calls Ellen’s father Joseph (Willis Bouchey) and demands a half million dollar ransom. Joseph’s secretary Alan took the call and handed him the phone. Remembering what he did for Ellen a few months back Joseph calls Markham.

The kidnapers want his to deliver the money to Markham’s house the next morning. He does it. Just as he’s leaving here comes Billy with Markham’s camera. He walks in and starts explaining what he did to it when he sees one of the gunmen in the mirror. He tries to run off but is gunned down. Ellen runs out and now she sees the kidnappers Looks like the game is up. But…Markham has an idea and whispers to Ellen to do what he tells her.

Good episode of a good show. Too bad it didn’t last longer.


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Beware Of Ladies (1936)

beware of ladies 1936

Standard story raised a few notches by Judith Allen as a reporter covering a reform candidate out to replace the crooked machine. It’s funny now that her character’s name is Betty White.

John Williams has been the crooked D.A. in town for many years. Now it looks like there’s finally someone who can win the election from him. He’s straight arrow George Martin (Donald Cook). Newspaper editor Charles Collins handles Martin’s publicity and throws the paper behind him. He wants reporter Betty White (Judith Allen) to cover the campaign and make sure there are daily stories about Martin.

Collins can’t reach her. She’s busy telling her philandering husband Freddy they’re through. She’s moving in with her sister. She finally goes to the paper. She tells Collins she’s going on vacation. He says he’ll give her a month’s paid vacation if she covers Martin.

Williams gets in touch with Randy Randall. He has a phony law firm with fictitious names on the door. He makes his money as a blackmailer. Williams wants him to get some dirt on Martin. He’ll consider it a big favor.

Betty attaches herself to Martin. She sets up pictures of him helping old ladies, holding babies and doing anything else she feels will get him the women’s vote. Martin’s not happy with the stunts and wants her to stop. They’re becoming attached to each other.

Randall finds out that Betty is married and has his boys get a hold of Freddy. If he files an alienation of affections suit against Betty he’ll make some bucks. Okay with him.

On her own Betty calls Martin’s butler/chauffeur Henry and tells him to pack a bag so Martin can get a rest at his country lodge. A plant in Martin’s office overhears the call. He gets in touch with Randall. It’s the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.

One of Randall’s boys follows Martin to the lodge. Betty gets a call from Henry to come out to the lodge. It’s important. Of course Betty doesn’t know that Henry is doing it at gunpoint. Betty gets to the lodge and Martin’s asleep. He’s not happy she’s there and doesn’t know why she showed up. He tells her he doesn’t know anything about a phone call. She hears a noise and jumps onto Martin. That’s just when their picture is taken through the window.

Randall doesn’t tell Williams he finally has what he wants since he’s not being paid for it. He decides to shake Martin down. Martin gets a letter about Freddy’s lawsuit. It’s news to him since he always called her Miss White. Betty is steamed and goes to see Freddy and reads him the riot act. He goes to Randall’s office. Things don’t work out as planned.

The movie now goes into a more serious vein and it’s a nice wrap up. A forgotten B picture that’s worth seeing. Too bad Judith Allen didn’t make more movies. She appeared mostly in westerns.

Judith Allen

Judith Allen


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The Caves Of Steel-Isaac Asimov (1953) (The Positronic Robot Stories-Elijah Baley/R.Daneel Olivaw Series)-

isaac asimov-the caves of steel

First entry in the four book Baley/Olivaw Series. This was followed by “The Naked Sun” (1957), “The Robots Of Dawn” (1983) and “Robots And Empire” (1985).

Baley is a plain clothes detective in a far future New York City and Daneel is his robot partner. In this vision of the future three thousand years from now cities are huge and enclosed. They are referred to as caves of steel. Living in the wide open spaces are Spacers. They’re from the fifty Outer Worlds settled by human colonists. The two groups hate each other.

Earth is packed with eight billion people while the Outer Worlds are underpopulated. They rely on robot labor. On Earth robots are despised because they’ve taken jobs away. Medievalists. a group that believes in the wold as it was in our time wants them destroyed. They usually start riots and destroy robots to get their point across.

This is a murder mystery in which the two reluctant partners investigate the killing of Dr.Sarton. He’s a Spacer ambassador who lives in the appropriately named Spacetown outside New York City. He keeps trying to get City dwellers to ease up on restrictions on robots. Unlike the usual robot, Daneel is so humanoid in appearance it’s almost impossible to tell he’s an android. Somehow Baley’s wife Jesse knows that Daneel is not human.

When Baley and Daneel go to Spacetown to investigate, Baley makes a huge blunder that makes his boss and old college friend, the police commissioner, laugh at him. Later Baley makes the same mistake again. He has a hard time working with Daneeel since he is not a fan of robots. There’s one in his office, R Sammy who replaced someone and Baley hates him. Later R Sammy is found damaged beyond repair and that can be considered murder or property damage.

The murder investigation is just one facet of the book. The real interest is in the way Asimov describes this future society and the ramifications of robots doing everything and humans living in enclosed megacities. This is a great read.

The book was a retroactive nominee for the 1954 Hugo Award. The winner was Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451″. Those awards were announced in 2004. After the first Hugo ceremony it was thought that it would be the last. They were back in 1955 and have continued ever since.

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Crazy Knights (Ghost Crazy) (1944)

crazy knights(ghost crazy) 1944

Billy Gilbert, Shemp Howard and Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom portray themselves in this one hour of silliness. It all involves a gorilla, a creepy mansion, a blonde and a disembodied voice. Also in the cast, TV’s Perry White, John Hamilton.

Billy Gilbert does a carnival act with a gorilla known as Barney,The Gorilla With The Human Mind. While the gorilla is kept backstage, Shemp in a gorilla suit does the tricks.  Time to move on and the boys take the gorilla in a trailer. Driving is performer Dave Hammon.

On the road a car speeds past them. It’s driven by Maxie. He’s the chauffeur to the wealthy Mr.Gardner (John Hamilton). Also in the car is his niece Joan and his secretary Ralph Williams. Ralph tosses his hat out the window and pretends it blew out. He gets out along with everyone else. Good thing since there was a small explosion in the engine which catches on fire. Gardner always thought someone was trying to kill him.

Here comes Billy,Shemp and Dave. Maxie stays behind and everyone heads for the creepy Gardner mansion. Joan doesn’t want to go but…too bad. Meanwhile Maxie flags down a motorists. He asks to borrow a wrench to fix the engine. The man is in a hurry. Maxie tries to trick him into staying. It doesn’t work.

Billy and Shemp get scared when they arrive at the mansion. There’s a graveyard out front. The door is answered by the housekeeper Mrs.Benson. There’s a lot of Billy and Shemp routines that wear on you after a while. A disembodied voice, a changing portrait and a ghost are all involved in their sketches. Dave finally convinces them to stay the night. A jealous Ralph isn’t happy.

Showing up is the man Maxie met on the road. No one but Mrs,Benson knows he’s there. He’s Grogan, a P.I. In the graveyard one of the tombstones moves and Billy walks down the stairs. He finds a ghost costume. He puts it one to scare Shemp.

That’s how this movie goes. Of course the blonde Joan is in peril, someone knocks out Mr.Gardner and Barney the gorilla escapes. Billy tells Shemp to get into the gorilla costume. You know where that’s going. Maxie shows up and now he,Billy and Shemp join up for some comedy routines.

It’s the kind of movie that shows up at kiddie matinees and what used to be weekend morning TV. Overall it’s nothing special and seeing Shemp will probably make you watch some Three Stooges.

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