Invasion,U.S.A. (1952)

invasion u.s.a. 1952

Cold War paranoia at its zenith. The invading forces are known as The Enemy…but we all know who they really are. Gerald Mohr and Peggy Castle have the most embarrassing dialogue of their careers. One minor item of interest….the movie has Phyllis Coates and Neil Neill in minor parts. Both had a run as Lois Lane in “The Adventures Of Superman.”

Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr) is a TV reporter. He drops into a New York City bar to take a poll about a universal draft. Carla Sanford (Peggy Castle) and tractor manufacturer George Sylvester are two customers. Vince asks the question and also asks Carla for her phone number. (This guy is an operator). Ed Mulfory, a cattle baron from Arizona is hoisting a few.

Illinois Congressman Arthur V.Harroway is handing out cigars and blabbing about how the public is against the Commies but not prepared for war. Goofy Tim is the bartender. Watching all this is Mr.Ohman (as in omen..nudge-nudge) (Dan O’Herlihy).  He says America needs new leaders and has to learn how to look after itself. He does something with his brandy glass and then leaves.

Tim turns up the TV. The Enemy (these are the guys with some of the worst Russian accents you’ll ever hear) are flying over Alaska. Now they’re dropping paratroopers into Puget Sound. Now along with conventional bombs here come the A-Bombs.

George and Ed go to the airport. All flights to anywhere are booked for weeks. Then again there are a few tickets left for George’s home town, San Francisco. George and Ed go there and Ed figures he’ll drive to Phoenix from there. The Golden Gate Bridge is A-bombed. George goes to his plant while Ed takes the cab to Arizona.

A spy at the plant helps The Enemy take it over. George does his best but is gunned down. Ed picks up his family but Boulder Dam is A-bombed and the water overtakes the cab. That’s it for them.

Back in New York Carla is a Red Cross nurse and Vince keeps volunteering and keeps getting turned down. Too many volunteers, not enough weapons. Now New York is bombed and Tim is toast. Peggy goes back to her place. Vince joins her. The Enemy breaks in.

The movie is loaded with stock footage of air and sea battles and troop drops. Considering the script they needed all the help they could get. The ending is no surprise.

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The Bat Whispers (1930)

the bat whispers 1930

Adaption of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s 1908 novel “The Circular Staircase” later adapted as the stage play “The Bat.” This was her first novel. The movie looks great and atmosphere is created by a constantly impending thunderstorm and the use of shadows. One big downfall is the manic performance of Maude Eburne as the skittish maid Lizzie Allen. The Bat is a murderer and thief who claims to have the greatest brain that ever existed.

The Bat leaves a note that he’s going to rob a safe of a valuable necklace at midnight. The owner of the home is waiting in the room. It looks like The Bat failed and even a radio report crows that he didn’t come through this time. That’s what they think.

After his success The Bat leaves a note saying he’s going to the country. Along the way he robs a bank vault of a half million dollars. The head cashier is the main suspect.

The action moves to a country mansion that’s been leased for the summer by Cornelia van Gorder (Grayce Hampton). With her is her maid of twenty years Lizzie Allen who panics at everything. The house is supposed to be haunted. They hear lots of noises. The caretaker is on hand too. Also staying is Cornelia’s niece Dale (Una Merkel).

Dale sneaks Brook into the house. He’s the bank cashier. They think the money is in a safe inside a hidden room and they want to find the blueprints. Cornelia calls Detective Anderson (Chester Morris) to investigate the goings on. Another detective is the elderly Jones who carries two guns. Lizzie says she has a great idea about how to catch The Bat and tosses a bear trap out the window and ties the heavy chain to her bed.

The nephew of the man who owns the house shows up. He’s Richard Fleming. Also stopping by is the local doctor. The house is filling up. Even a stranger staggers through the door. The Bat is there too and he also wants to find that safe even if he has to kill to get people out of his way.

There’s a lot of screwball comedy tossed in as people run around a lot and chase each other and Lizzie is never far behind screaming her head off at every opportunity.

Despite all that’s wrong with it the movie is still worth a look from those curious about the early talkies. Chester Morris is way different than his later success as Boston Blackie. The closing scene is also of interest.

A remake was done in 1969 with Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.

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Best Of Big Bands-Kay Kyser


[2:31] 1. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!
[2:22] 2. There Goes That Song Again
[2:54] 3. Indian Summer
[3:24] 4. That’s For Me
[2:42] 5. If I Only Had A Brain
[2:44] 6. Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)
[2:35] 7. (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover
[2:59] 8. Two Sleepy People
[3:06] 9. Bell Bottom Trousers
[3:16] 10. On A Slow Boat To China
[3:05] 11. Ole Buttermilk Sky
[2:59] 12. Deep Purple
[3:19] 13. (I Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle
[3:01] 14. The Woody Woodpecker Song
[3:09] 15. Huggin’ And Chalkin’
[3:16] 16. The Old Lamplighter

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The Story On Page One (1959)

the story on page one 1959

Excellent performances highlight this courtroom drama written and directed by Clifford Odets. Outstanding are Anthony Franciosa as a defense attorney, Sanford Meisner as a prosecutor and Mildred Dunnock as an over the top possessive mother. This is one not to be missed.

Mrs.Annie Brown hires attorney Victor Santini (Anthony Franciosa) to defend her daughter on a murder charge. Jo Morris (Rita Hayworth) is accused of killing her husband. Her co-defendant is her lover Larry Ellis (Gig Young). Santini interviews Jo in prison and the details of the crime are told via flashback.

Jo’s husband Mike (Alfred Ryder) is a police detective He’s abusive to her and their young daughter Avis. Jo has broken off her affair with her accountant Larry but her mother urges her to start it up again and wants her to call him after Mike leaves for work.

Jo finds out Larry’s young son was killed in an accident a month ago and she goes to console him. They meet in a strange bar where the entertainment is a woman who plays the organ.

Back home Mike has arranged for an insurance agent to come over. He wants a twenty thousand dollar policy and Jo wisecracks why not make it sixty. The agent leaves and Mike tells Jo he’s losing hearing in both ears and it will cost him his job if anyone finds out.

He leaves for work and a woman is waiting outside the door. Mike thinks she’s selling something. She comes in and Jo finds out she’s Larry’s possessive mother (Mildred Dunnock). She says she’ll tell Mike about her affair with Larry if she doesn’t break it off. Larry is in Sacramento on business and doesn’t know what Mom is up to.

Jo calls Larry who tells his friend Morris about the threat. He then flies to L.A. to console Jo. Jo, Avis and Mike are returning from a wedding party. Mike’s drunk. Jo parks the car and Larry comes out of hiding. Larry comes into the kitchen and eventually Mike hears them. He goes to the hall closet and gets his gun. Mike staggers into the kitchen and he and Larry struggle. The gun goes off killing Mike.

Back to the present and the prison interview. Santini has his doubts since Jo lied to the police and said a prowler did it. Larry’s cuff link was found on the floor and the cops traced him to Sacramento. He said he was in bed sick that night. The cops aren’t buying that story.

The trial. To run down this sequence. which is the last hour of the movie, would spoil the great acting to come. I will state that Sanford Meisner and Mildred Dunnock gave Oscar worthy performances and it’s mystifying why they weren’t even nominated. It’s no surprise that Meisner was an acting teacher. Don’t miss this one.

Mildred Dunnock did receive Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress for “Baby Doll” (1956) and “Death Of A Salesman” (1951).

Mildred Dunnock

Mildred Dunnock


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Laughter In Rhythm-Slim Gaillard 4 CD’S


Recordings from 1937-52

CD 1
(2:57) 1. There’s No Two Ways About It
(2:43) 2. ‘Cause My Baby Says It’s So
(2:52) 3. The Flat Foot Floogie
(2:39) 4. Chinatown, My Chinatown
(2:42) 5. 8, 9 and 10
(2:55) 6. Ferdinand The Bull
(2:39) 7. Tutti Frutti
(2:16) 8. Look-A-There
(2:36) 9. Jump Session
(2:38) 10. Laughin’ in Rhythm
(2:45) 11. Vol Vist du Gaily Star
(2:05) 12. Dopey Joe
(2:12) 13. Sweet Safronia
(2:32) 14. It’s Gettin’ Kinda Chilly
(2:39) 15. Buck Dance Rhythm
(3:00) 16. That’s a Bringer
(3:04) 17. A-Well-A-Take-Em Joe (Crapshooter’s Jive)
(2:53) 18. Chicken Rhythm
(2:51) 19. Swingin’ in the Key of C
(3:30) 20. Boot-Ta-La-Za
(3:14) 21. It’s You, Only You
(3:05) 22. Beatin’ the Board
(2:53) 23. Look Out
(2:38) 24. Matzoh Balls
(2:37) 25. Early in the Morning
(2:54) 26. Chittlin’ Switch Blues
(2:54) 27. Huh! Uh-Huh!

CD 2
(2:46) 1. Windy City Hop
(2:54) 2. Baby Be Mine
(2:35) 3. Sploghm
(2:53) 4. Fitzwater Street
(3:02) 5. Don’t Let Us Say Goodbye
(2:51) 6. Rhythm Mad
(3:01) 7. Bongo
(2:54) 8. Broadway Jump
(2:58) 9. Put Your Arms Around Me, Baby
(3:03) 10. Lookin’ for a Place to Park
(2:41) 11. Hit That Mess
(2:40) 12. Hey! Chef
(3:00) 13. Ah Now
(3:09) 14. A Tip on the Numbers
(2:34) 15. Slim Slam Boogie
(2:44) 16. Bassology
(2:54) 17. Bingie-Bingie-Scootie
(3:04) 18. B-19
(2:38) 19. African Jive
(2:39) 20. Palm Springs Jump
(2:39) 21. Ra-Da-Da-Da
(2:43) 22. Groove Juice Special
(3:05) 23. Vout Oreenee
(2:32) 24. Please Wait for Me
(2:54) 25. Sighing Boogie
(2:56) 26. Queen’s Boogie
(2:55) 27. Vout Boogie

CD 3
(2:47) 1. Slim Gaillard’s Boogie
(2:44) 2. Harlem Hunch
(2:48) 3. Tutti-Frutti
(3:04) 4. Travelin’ Blues
(2:48) 5. Sightseeing Boogie
(2:45) 6. Central Avenue Boogie
(2:43) 7. Slim’s Cement Boogie
(2:44) 8. Laguna
(2:49) 9. Dunkin’ Bagel
(2:52) 10. Boogin’ at Berg’s
(3:16) 11. Cement Mixer
(2:57) 12. Novachord Boogie
(2:49) 13. Tee Say Malee
(2:41) 14. Atomic Cocktail
(3:05) 15. Yep-Roc-Heresay
(3:09) 16. Jumpin’ at the Record Shop
(2:41) 17. Drei Six Cent
(3:03) 18. Dizzy Boogie
(2:42) 19. Flat Foot Floogie
(2:52) 20. Popity Pop
(3:09) 21. Slim’s Jam
(2:55) 22. Early Mornin’ Boogie
(2:53) 23. Riff City
(2:54) 24. Mean Mama Blues
(3:07) 25. Chicken Rhythm
(3:05) 26. Santa Monica Jump

CD 4
( 3:04) 1. Mean Pretty Mama
( 2:59) 2. School Kid’s Hop
(11:54) 3. Opera in Vout Parts 1-4
( 2:52) 4. Boip! Boip!
( 2:52) 5. The Bartender’s Just Like a Mother
( 2:49) 6. Arabian Boogie
( 2:53) 7. Tip Light
( 2:40) 8. Momma’s in the Kitchen
( 3:05) 9. A Ghost of a Chance
( 2:57) 10. Little Red Riding Woods
( 2:40) 11. Puerto Vootie
( 2:18) 12. Serenade to a Poodle
( 2:23) 13. Down by the Station
( 2:52) 14. When Banana Skins Are Falling
( 2:46) 15. Bongo City
( 2:33) 16. Sabroso
( 2:30) 17. Taxpayers Blues
( 2:31) 18. Eatin’ with the Boogie
( 2:53) 19. Make It Do
( 2:47) 20. You Goofed
( 2:35) 21. Gomen Nasai (Forgive Me)
( 3:07) 22. Potatoe Chips

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Law Of The Underworld (1938)

law of the underworld 1938

Good B movie spoiled by an unbelievable ending. What makes it worth seeing are the performances by Eduardo Ciannelli as a gangster and Lee Patrick as a moll.

Tommy and Annabelle are walking through Central Park the night before their wedding. They’re mugged by Rocky (Eduardo Ciannelli) and his pal Frank.

Across town the new D.A. Warren Rogers (Walter Abel) is putting together a crime fighting team. He’s trying to recruit his wealthy friend Gene Fillmore (Chester Morris). Gene says he’s too scared to take an active role.

Rocky and Frank return to gang headquarters. Rocky and the gang’s moll Dorothy Palmer (Lee Patrick) are having an affair behind the boss’ back. Now the boss returns. It’s Gene. While discussing a jewel robbery Gene designed Rocky objects. He thinks it’s too small time. It’s another attempt to gain control of the gang.

To everyone’s surprise Tommy and Annabelle barge in. Tommy has a gun. He tells Rocky he wants his money back. It’s no effort to disarm Tommy. Gene takes them back to his place. He wants them to be part of the robbery. They’ll get two grand.  Gene warns Rocky about any gun play.

Tommy and Annabelle walk into the store and ask to see engagement rings and the salesman brings out some trays. As planned Johnny (Jack Carson) and another gang member start a fight outside. In the confusion Tommy and Annabelle leave and Rocky and the others walk in and rob the place.

As they’re getting away the salesman comes out and Rocky puts a bullet in him. Inside he killed the store owner. While waiting to hear how things went Gene is telling Dorothy that this is the last job and they can get married. He turns on the radio and hears about the killing.

At gang headquarters, the Club Sultan, Rocky is waiting for Gene with a gun. It ends with Gene shooting Rocky thanks to interference from Tommy and Annabelle as Dorothy looks on. The law of the underworld kicks in as the gang wants to put Gene on trial. Dorothy lies about what happened and it looks like curtains for Gene.

Tommy and Annabelle tell them all what really happened and Dorothy storms out. She calls the D.A. and tells him if he wants the gang he should raid the club. She also asks for protection. The joint is raided and all the cops nab are Tommy and Annabelle who are hiding under a table. Gene sends gang member Batsy after Dorothy.

Things look bad for Tommy and Annabelle. The ending is way too righteous but the first two thirds are okay.

Lee Patrick changed her gun moll image of the 40’s in a big way when she played Henrietta Topper in the TV series “Topper” (1953-55).

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The Magnavox Theatre (1950) Episode: Hurricane At Pilgrim Hill

the magnavox theatre-the hurricane at pilgrim hill

This anthology series only lasted seven episodes. This was the last one. It was broadcast December 9,1950. It was a bit of fun but around the halfway point sunk in its own silliness.

There is a funny opening with two Indians selling trinkets at a train station. They’re really oil rich and are having fun pretending to be stereotypes. This is the town of Prairie Falls, Wyoming. It’s leading citizen is the elderly Sam “Bigmouth” Smedley (Clem Bevans) There’s a quick appearance by Billy Gray who later gained fame as Bud on “Father Knows Best” (1954-60).

Sam is on his way to Pilgrim Hill,Massachusetts to see his granddaughter Janet (Virginia Grey). Her husband Tom (David Bruce) is an attorney and his major client is Jonathan Smith (Cecil Kellaway). He’s the richest man in town and runs it. When Sam gets off the train Smith is there with Tom and Janet to greet him. Sam pretends to think Smith is their butler. Getting a kick out of it all is Steve. He’s the town handyman and wants to marry Smith’s daughter Debbie. Smith refuses to let him on his property.

The next day Tom is practicing golf in his backyard. Sam hits a ball through a protective canvas and it goes all the way over to Smith’s place next door. After hearing about Steve and Debbie, Sam hits three golf balls through Smith’s window. It’s all a plan to get handyman Steve over there to fix the window. Smith wants Sam arrested for destroying property. The sheriff can’t do it after hearing about the law from Tom who stands up for his family.

Now the episode starts to fall apart as there’s a ridiculous scene at the golf course when Sam proves how far he can drive a ball. He sends one onto the green and into Smith. Smith finally asks him to show him how to hit a ball that far. Sam’s plan is to show him but on a island Smith owns off the coast of the town.

The next day the sheriff sees Sam doing a rain dance. He wants to conjure up a hurricane that’ll drown Sam while he’s stuck on the island, that way Steve and Debbie can get married. It doesn’t work. But there has been a storm in the area for about a week. It’s turning into a hurricane.

Sam tells Steve and Debbie all about it and they’re horrified at Sam’s actions. He says Steve can take a boat to the island and save Smith. Sam and Janet all go along. There’s a moralistic segment before it’s all over that doesn’t work. The ending is also out of left field without an ounce of believability.


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