Before Morning (1933)

before morning 1933

This just creaks along but it is interesting to see Leo Carrillo play a snake many years before riding into TV fame as Pancho on “The Cisco Kid” (1950-56).

Actress Elise Manning (Lora Baxter) has a daughter in the hospital. She is about to give up the stage. Her old friend Jim Nichols drops by. He always had designs on her but his wife probably wouldn’t understand. She’s says she’s thinking seriously of marrying a man named Horace  Barker. Jim understands and they’re still best friends.

Jim isn’t feeling that great. His doctor told him to lay off the booze because of a heart condition. He’s about to leave when he doesn’t feel well. He lies down in Elsie’s bedroom. That’s it. He’s now in the endless sleep. His wife probably really won’t understand that circumstance.

Elsie calls some friends downstairs at a party to help. They decide to take the body to Dr.Gruelle’s (Leo Carrillo) sanitarium and say he died of heart failure there. As they’re about to take him out, Horace drops by. While proposing to Elsie her pals walk out with the body and drop it. Horace is upset but agrees to go along with it and he still wants to marry Elsie.

Dr.Gruelle is her next visitor. He says Jim died of nicotine poisoning. He found a copy of his will in his jacket pocket. It leaves two hundred thousand bucks to Elsie. Gruelle wants half to stick with the heart failure story. Then he phones Jim’s widow and tells her to come over.

He tells Elsie to wait in another room and he makes the same blackmail offer to Mrs.Nichols. Elsie comes out and says she’s not covering up anything. This is one of the slowest moving films around but it does come to a nice ending.

Lora Baxter was better known as a stage actress. This was her only movie.

Lora Baxter

Lora Baxter

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At Last The 1948 Show (1967-68)

at last the 1948 show

Forerunner of Monty Python starring John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Comedian Marty Feldman was also a cast member for the sketch show that lasted thirteen episodes. Eric Idle was a guest star. The title refers to TV executives taking forever to make up their minds about everything.

Opening episode: February 15,1967: Stars with Chapman as a priest trying to get his congregation to sing a hymn. Frustrated he tells them to sing anything and they start doing “Oklahoma.”……Aimi MacDonald does a short bit at the piano….John Cleese does a very funny sketch where he’s a psychiatrist who lies on the couch and proceeds to talk about his last patient while his current one, Tim Brooke-Taylor, tries to get his problem out.

Another quick bit from Aimi….The theme from “The Avengers” is heard and Marty Feldman brings Cleese his tea. Cleese says he’s the head of the secret service and assigns Feldman to burn down the Kremlin. Cleese doesn’t know where Moscow is located. The sketch gets funnier as it goes along….Aimi’s back with a sing-a-long called “I Love The Lovely Aimi MacDonald.”.

Cleese is a zoo curator and asks the reptile keepers to come in. They carry a boa constrictor and put it on his desk. Inside is another keeper. Cleese is mad because it’s the fourth time he’s been swallowed. Cleese says he’s going to leave him in there….Aimi does a fund raiser for herself….Now a bit that doesn’t work. We learn a new dance called the chartered accountant from Brooke-Taylor…Aimi comes out to thank everyone connected with The Aimi MacDonald show and gets the names wrong. Then she asks for a big hand for herself.

The show closes with Cleese, Chapman, Feldman and Brooke-Taylor talking about how rough they had it growing up. The bit was revived a couple years later for Monty Python. Overall it’s a very funny show. Watch this one along with the soon to come Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin in “Do Not Adjust Your Set.”

Aimi MacDonald

Aimi MacDonald

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The Saint’s Girl Friday (The Saint Returns) (1953)

the saint's girl friday (1953)

Entertaining movie based on characters created by Leslie Charteris. The movie is not based on any Charteris story. Louis Hayward makes a smooth Simon Templar. The Saint is trying to find out who murdered an old girlfriend.

Simon gets a cable from Judy Fenton. She’s in trouble. Simon catches a plane from New York to London. His friendly enemy from Scotland Yard, Inspector Claude Teal, isn’t happy to see him back. Simon finds out that Judy is dead and was the victim of a mob involved in gambling, His valet Hoppy will help him out. Simon has fun ditching the man Teal has following him. Now it’s time to get serious.

Simon goes to his friend Irish. He’s an artist and makes up some counterfeit bills for him. Now he makes the round of nightclubs looking for some gambling. At this time it was illegal. Finally he makes a connection through Carol Denby. She takes him to a barge which is a gambling club. He was blindfolded halfway there.

It’s not long before he’s recognized by club manager Max Lannar. He has him tossed out. Simon had the last laugh since he lost the phony bills at the roulette wheel. Simon knows there a mysterious figure known as “The Chief” who heads the mob. No one has seen him. He discovers that Carol is being blackmailed to find customers for the club.

One night he’s searches Lannar’s apartment and finds a map of a country estate. He also finds a blonde bombshell (Diana Dors). She phoned Lannar when she spotted Simon searching the place. He told her to keep him there. She does but of course Simon escapes.

He goes out to the estate and there’s Carol. She left a message with Hoppy that she couldn’t keep their date for that night. He also comes across Keith, a young man in debt to the mob. He asks Carol to be his girl Friday and help him investigate. She takes off.

There’s some good action along the way as Hayward returns to the role after sixteen years. He was in the first, “The Saint In New York” in 1938. On TV he portrayed Michael Lanyard in “The Lone Wolf” (1954-55).

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The Shadow On The Window (1957)

the shadow on the window 1957

Good one about a robbery that turned into murder. Now the three teenagers that committed the crime are stuck with a hostage.

A six year old boy named Petey (Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers) looks through the window of a farmhouse where his mother is working. He sees her employer hit over the head. He wanders off in shock. A couple truckers pick him up and take him to the produce company they work for. The dispatcher calls the cops who can’t get anything out of him and send him to a doctor.

His father is Detective Sgt.Tony Atlas (Phillip Carey). He and wife Linda (Betty Garrett) have been separated for eight weeks over the fact that she took a job as a stenographer. Petey doesn’t recognize his father and sodium pentothol can only get him to remember seeing something through a window.

Back at the farmhouse Jess (John Drew Barrymore), Gil (Corey Allen) and Joey (Gerald Sarracini) argue about what to do about Linda. Jess wants to kill her but Joey puts his foot down. Tony heads back to their apartment to try and find out where her steno job took her that day.

The three teens almost panic when the phone rings. It’s the farmer’s niece. She was expecting her uncle over for dinner. The three come up with a plan. Gil will go home. He’ll wait for his drunken stepfather to pass out so he can steal his car keys. He’ll drive back to the farmhouse and take everyone across the border. to Mexico.

Before Gil can leave he has to hide behind a hedge as the niece drives in with her husband. They go to the garage after not getting an answer at the door. It looks suspicious because there’s a light on inside the house. In the garage they see Linda’s car. The husband sees the registration and thinks the farmer is having a good time and he doesn’t want to interfere. They drive off.

Tony and a number of officers are continuing their investigation. At the farmhouse Linda has a plan. Gil’s big plan isn’t working out so well.

Lots of good stuff to come. See this one.

John Drew Barrymore is the son of the legendary John Barrymore and the father of Drew Barrymore. He had a very strange existence and ended up a derelict.

John Drew Barrymore means business

John Drew Barrymore means business

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Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967-69)

do not adjust your set

Another sketch show that was a forerunner of Monty Python. This one features Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

Opening episode: December 26, 1967 – Show opens with the cast trying to do King Lear. A woman looks at the TV and thinks there has to be something better on. She hits the TV and on comes “Musicians At Work.” They start playing chamber music and wind up with an over the top Spike Jones type bit….Palin owns a grocery store. David Jason comes in with an order and he doesn’t exactly get what he wants….A TV science show as Eric Idle explains gravity. This bit is way too lame….Time now for the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with Neil Innes and their version of “Monster Mash.”….A quick sketch in a maternity ward… End of first half

Second half opens with a quick sketch at a border guardhouse followed by another quickie with Denise Coffey and “The Wonder Of Words.”…Now a sketch where you can see the Monty Python to come. Palin is a police constable who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang…Neil and the band are back with their version of “The Sound Of Music.”…A real quick bit with Eric Idle who is introducing a movie until he gets a surprise….Time for the best bit of the show. David Jason is the running character Captain Fantastic. He’s a secret agent who gets notes in his lunch box from a group that warns they’re taking over the world. This is funny stuff and ends with a cliffhanger….The show closes as Denise introduces the Scottish group The Tartan Thistle Club.

The second half is better but Python fans should watch it as well as “At Last The 1948 Show.”

Denise Coffey

Denise Coffey

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A Lotus For Miss Quon-James Hadley Chase (1960)

james hadley chase-a lotus for miss quon

An American in Saigon finds two million dollars worth of diamonds in the wall of his home. He has to figure out a way to get to Hong Kong so he can sell them and disappear. This another good,fast moving novel from  Chase.

Sam Jaffe lives in a rented villa in Saigon while he works for a shipping company. He has a Vietnamese mistress named Nhan Lee Quon. His houseboy Haum disapproves as do a lot of Vietnamese. One day Sam spots a painting that reminds him of Nhan so he buys it. In the villa he has Haum help him hang it. When Sam hits a wall with a hammer it opens a bigger hole. Inside he finds a sack of diamonds.

Haum, says the villa was owned by the mistress of a general who was killed by a bomb and the jewels belong to him. Sam says they’re his now and Haum insists on turning them over to the police. Sam panics and kills him and hides the body in a closet. His cook and Haum’s girlfriend stop by and get suspicious when Sam says Haum isn’t there.

Sam knows he’s in trouble and has to leave the country. That’s a lot easier said than done. He approaches nightclub owner Blackie Lee for help in getting a fake British passport so he can get to Hong Kong. It’s going to cost him and will take some time. He tells Nahn the whole story and she wants to go to the police. He talks her out of it and she agrees to hide him out at her grandfather’s outside of town.

Sam borrows a car from his friend at the US embassy. His pal is currently enjoying some time with a hooker so the car is free. Now Sam has to drive past a police post. He has Nahn hide on the floor. He doesn’t know the Viet Minh set up three peasants with hand grenades to destroy the post and kill the policemen.

The peasants do their job but end up dead thanks to Sam and Nahn. The car is a wreck and they grab two bicycles and head out. A police inspector visits Sam’s buddy and then reports to his superior, Colonel On-dinh-Khuc, the Chief of Security Police.  They go to Sam’s villa and discover the body and the hole in the wall. They know the diamonds were there.

The Colonel has Haum’s body taken to the site of the killings and puts out the story that Jaffe was kidnapped by the Viet Minh. He also puts out a shoot on sight order. His time in office is running out and he wants those diamonds before he’s forced out.

Lot of good stuff to come in a story that seems all too plausible. Chase fans will like this one and it will get him some new ones.

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From Headquarters (1933)

from headquarters 1933

Slow moving police procedural as the cops try to find out who killed the society playboy who just happened to be a gun collector. It is interesting seeing some of what passed for high tech at the police station and the lab.

At first it was thought Gordon Baxter was a suicide. When it was proven to be murder Inspector Donnelly assigns Lt.Stevens (George Brent) and Sgt.Boggs (Eugene Pallette) to the case. It looks like one of Baxter’s dueling pistols was the murder weapon.

There was a blood stained handkerchief found at the scene with the initial “W.” The cops bring in Broadway star Lou Ann Winton (Margaret Lindsay). Her prints were on the gun. She admitted the two argued. She described her self as his half fiancee. The fight started when he said he wouldn’t marry her but she could live with him. Complicating things is her former boyfriend Lt.Stevens.

Her hot headed brother shows up and admits he and Baxter slugged it out when he discovered her fighting with Baxter. His prints were also on the gun. Lou Ann says they were being helped by Baxter’s valet Horton in trying to recover some blackmail letters involving their mother.

Baxter also liked oriental rugs. Dealer Anderzian wants some letters back from Baxter’s safe. They were bills of sale. Bank robbery suspect Muggs Manton has something important to tell the cops but they’re too busy to listen to him. The lab makes an interesting discovery in Anderzian’s letters.

The movie takes a long time to get started as it goes through arrest procedures and methods and to show off the punch card sorter and other assorted wonders. There’s a decent running gag with Hugh Herbert as the hustling Manny Wales who is a lawyer/bail bondsman trying to get some business. A number of suspects are presented along with how the lab sorts them all out. Don’t be in a hurry to see it.

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