The Neanderthal Man (1953)

the neandrethal man 1953

An anthropologist who studies The Stone Age goes nuts with his crazy experiments. More dumb than funny even though there are a nice supply of unintended laughs and lots of overacting from Robert Shayne.

Professor Clifford Groves (Robert Shayne) lives in a cabin in the Sierras with his daughter Jan and Celia. Celia is a deaf mute Mexican servant from a charity ward in Bakersfield. Looks like an animal has escaped Cliff’s lab. The first hint that it’s huge is its roar.

At the local bar a hunter is gathering some laughs with tales of a huge cat with tusks. Even the game warden, George Oaks, shakes his head a time or two. Then he drives home. Who’s laughing now Georgie?  A saber toothed tiger jumps on his hood. That makes the radio change the station to a loud big band. He takes a few pistol shots at it. He’s a bad shot.

George and the sheriff take a plaster cast of the paw print. George takes it to zoologist Dr.Ross Harkness in L.A. . He has a few laughs but then…..George is good at sincerity and the two head back to the mountains. Ross stops at a café where waitress Nola Mason (Beverly Garland) tells him where George is. Also sitting at the counter is Cliff’s fiancée Ruth. He gives her a lift to Cliff’s place and Jan invites him to stay the night.

Cliff is in L.A. giving a lecture to some scientists about the evolution of the brain. They think he’s doing stand up. He loses it and says he’ll show ’em! Back home he’s not happy to see Ross and gives Ruth the cold shoulder. He can’t wait to get to his lab and inject something into a cat. Later Ross and George come back with a story about killing a saber tooth tiger. Now it’s Cliff’s turn to laugh. With a smile on his face he accompanies the two back to the site. Whaddya know…the body’s gone.

Back at the lab Cliff is busy. Ruth has a talk with him. After hurling verbal abuse at her and ordering her to get out she says she’ll be there for him. Okay. She’s gone. Cliff decides it’s time for him to get some serum.  All of a sudden he needs a shave and haircut along with a visit to a nail salon. He goes out the window. You just know some murders will occur.

Ross can’t help himself. He investigates Cliff’s lab…and cat. Say…what are those pictures of Celia?

This movie fans is science!

Robert Shayne appeared in a boatload of movies and TV shows. His most famous role was Inspector Henderson in “The Adventures Of Superman” (1952-58).

Beverly Garland appeared everywhere. She’s credited with starring in TV’s first series about a female cop, “Decoy” (1957-59). She’s also know to sitcom fans as Barbara Harper Douglas on “My Three Sons” (1969-72).

Uh-Oh. Cliff just isn't himself these days

Uh-Oh. Cliff just isn’t himself these days


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Wolfblood-A Tale Of The Forest (1925)

wolfblood-a tale of the forest 1925

Sometimes marketed as a horror film but it’s not. It’s a drama about a man who thinks he may be a wolf following a blood transfusion. There are a lot of title cards so it’s easy to follow. It’s just not worth it.

Dick Bannister (George Chesebro) bosses a logging camp for the Ford Lumber Company. Not that far away is the rival Consolidated Lumber Company bossed by Jules Deveroux. He sends one of his men out to shoot a Ford lumberjack, not to kill but to wound him so he can’t work. There’s nothing he won’t do to destroy the Ford Company.

Bannister calls the manager of the company to tell owner E.Ford he needs a surgeon. He doesn’t know the E. stands for Edith (Marguerite Clayton). She likes to booze it up and dance to hot Jazz. Her fiancee, Dr.Gene Horton would rather have it quieter. They both go to the Canadian woods to help Bannister.

Jacques the bootlegger (Milburn Morante) keeps the lumberjacks well supplied. That includes Ford watchman Old Pop. The lumberjacks pour it down as they worry about being shot at. Bannister kicks Jacques out of the camp. One person he doesn’t kick out is Edith. Watch out Horton.

Bannister rides toward the Consolidated camp and sees that Deveroux has built a dam so the Ford logs can’t go down the stream. They start to battle. Deveroux is joined by one of his men who crowns Bannister with a rock. They roll his body down an embankment. Right nearby….wolves.

Riding back from the village, Horton spots Bannister and takes him to a cabin. It belongs to Jacques. Horton tells him Bannister needs a blood transfusion to save his life. Jacques refuses. He recommends his pet wolf for the job. Horton has a book on blood transfusions. One page mentions animal to human is possible. But, the human may just take on the nature of the animal. Horton goes for it. He swears Jacques to secrecy.

Seems like Bannister is having a personality change after a week long recovery. He finds the book and reads all about it. It doesn’t help that Jaques has been shooting off his mouth. Edith tries to stop him running off into the woods. No luck. next thing you know word gets back that Deveroux has been killed by a wolf. Is Bannister running with the pack?

The movie comes to a convenient ending with a generous dose of schmaltz. Overall it’s a slow mover and pretty dull.

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Fire Maidens Of Outer Space (1956)

fire maidens of outer space 1956

If you’re looking for a movie that will bring out your inner comedian, here it is. If you like movies that get worse as they move along ,check it out. There is other life in our solar system….and boy can they dance!

The U.S. and Britain get together on Project 13. It’s a joint effort to reach the thirteenth moon of Jupiter. Blast off! Like all 50’s rockets it has to get through a meteor storm along the way. Our five heroes manage to avoid them and go into orbit around moon number thirteen. Then…a voice. Luckily it speaks English. It tells them where to land.

What luck! The atmosphere is almost like Earth’s and it’s safe to breathe. Let’s all go outside! Who is that throwing rocks and what is that thing chasing a girl in a toga? She leads them to a cave entrance. Captain Larson (Paul Carpenter) and Luther Blair (Anthony Dexter) go inside while the other three hang around at the entrance. Larson tells them if they’re not back in thirty minutes, go back to the ship.

Inside Luther and Larson meet Prasus. Is he really Hugh Hefner? Is this an outer space Playboy Club? Who are all those girls? Turns out the joint is what happened to Atlantis and the sexy painting on the wall is Prasus’s granny. After the flood took out Atlantis the survivors had to go somewhere so why not the thirteen moon of Jupiter? Old Prasus and the girls are the descendants. Dance for the Earthmen!

Since Prasus is the only male left and Viagra hasn’t been invented yet males are needed. Larson and Luther are drugged and have a nice snooze while Prasus’s daughter Hestia (Susan Shaw) has her eye on Larson. Meanwhile outside the three men have passed the half hour mark and head back to the ship to have a smoke.

They run out of patience and decide to head back to the cave. Uh-oh, there’s the creature again. Bullets have no effect. A smoke grenade is useless. The creature has had enough for now and heads off. Oh no! The cave entrance is missing! They finally get to a wall. One climbs a tree to see what’s on the other side. Oh boy!!! Girls!!!!!!

Back inside it doesn’t look good for Larson and Luther. It’s even worse for Hestia.  She switched goblets between Prasus and Larson. Now look whose drugged! The Fire Maidens feel they must sacrifice her to….something.

Will Prasus ever wake up? Will the creature return? Will the girls learn a new dance routine? The suspense will have you enthralled.

Will they stop dancing long enough to answer a message from SETI?

Will they stop dancing long enough to answer a message from SETI?

Posted in British Movies, Science Fiction, vintage movies | Tagged | 2 Comments

They Made Me A Criminal (1939)

they made me a criminal 1939

Busby Berkeley directs John Garfield and The Dead End Kids in the story of a boxer hiding out because he thinks he killed someone. He doesn’t know he’s innocent.

Johnnie Bradfield (John Garfield) just won the championship. In his post fight interview he talks nice about his mother and comes across like the all American boy. Detective Phelan (Claude Rains) returns a watch to him he says was recovered after a year in a pawn shop. Johnnie says his mother gave it to him after saving up the household money.

Phelan has been relegated to morgue duty ever since a man he arrested went to the electric chair. It was too late when it was discovered he was innocent. Phelan comments to Johnnie about his distinctive stance in the ring since he’s a southpaw. He puts the watch on Johnnie’s wrist for him and leaves.

Later Johnnie is getting drunk with his girlfriend Goldie West (Ann Sheridan) and his manager Doc Ward. All that talk after the bout was just made up because the suckers like it. Gloria’s drunken loud mouth friend Budgie comes in with a guy. Turns out he’s a reporter and he says he’s going to print everything Johnnie said about his phony image.

Johnnie goes to take a swing at him but falls down. He doesn’t see Doc hit the reporter over the head with a bottle. Johnnie’s passed out when Doc discovers the reporter’s dead. Budgie is passed out. Doc and Gloria take Johnnie to a cabin in the woods. Doc takes Johnnie’s money along with the watch, his car and Gloria.

They’re speeding along when they hear a call go out for the cops to stop them. The reporter’s body has been found and Budgie says Johnnie did it. The car crashes and catches on fire burning Doc and Gloria beyond recognition. The cops think the body is Johnnie. Case closed.

Johnnie goes to his lawyer for advice. He asks him to go to the bank and get his ten grand that’s in a safety deposit box. When Johnnie goes to get his money his lawyer gives him two hundred fifty bucks and says the rest is his fee. The lawyer tells him to change his name to Jack Dorney and hop a freight.

Johnnie ends up on a date farm in Arizona. It’s run by Peggy and her grandmother. Picking dates are the Dead End Kids. One of them, Tommy (Billy Halop), is Peggy’s brother. It’s an attempt to reform them. After a rough start they become friends with Johnnie. He shows them some boxing techniques including how to fight dirty. One of the kids goes to take his picture and Johnnie warns him not to do that. A bit later he gets the picture anyway.

It’s also a rough start with Peggy but that soon changes. Everything is just swell until…..the picture wins a contest and ends up in the paper. The paper makes its way to New York and Phelan. It shows Johnnie in the ring from behind but there’s no mistaking that stance. The other cops laugh at Phelan and think he’s crazy. They all believe Johnnie is dead.

In order to raise money so Peggy’s brother Tommy can open a gas station Johnnie decides to get back into the ring. A traveling show is coming through with a boxer challenging anyone to last more than two rounds with him. If anyone does they’ll get five hundred dollars for each round they last. Johnnie signs up.

The night before the fight he spots Phelan at the box office buying a ticket. All of a sudden he changes his mind. The Kids aren’t talking to him and Peggy breaks down. Now what does he do?

The movie is entertaining and Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and company are their usual fast talking selves. It all comes to a feel good ending that has a logical explanation.

Billy Halop ended his career as Bert Munson on “All In The Family” (1971-76).

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Shadow Squad (1957-59)

shadow squad

British private eye series that started with Rex Garner as ex-cop Vic Steele who opened the agency with George Moon as Ginger Smart. Smart is an ex con who did time for safe cracking.  After thirteen episodes Garner left the series and was replaced by Peter Williams as Don Carter.

November 28,1957 episode: “The Missing Cheese”-Part 1 – Scotland Yard investigates a spate of jewel robberies from homes outside London. Meanwhile at The Cheddar Cheese Pub a young couple named Harry and Annette are arguing. He’s drunk and spots a bracelet on her arm and she plays coy about where it came from. The publican Mr.Mears and regular customers Mr.Meadows and Mr.Jackson look on as the couple leave and jump in Harry’s car and take off. Later on the car crashes. Annette is killed and Harry is in hospital.

The publican hires Carter to find out who is doing some petty pilfering from behind the bar. Ginger goes undercover as a barman. After hearing a police report on the radio about the accident Ginger goes to call the police. In walks Detective Constable Wills who is investigating the crash because the bracelet turned about to be stolen merchandise.

The investigation is going nowhere until there’s another robbery. A witness says he was knocked down by a man on a bicycle. He managed to grab a walking stick from the bike, He was so mad he tossed it in the river. It sank instead of floating. Wills finds out from him that a rear light on the bike was in the wrong place. Superintendent  Whitelaw orders the river dragged for the cane.

December 2,1957 episode: “The Missing Cheese”-Part 2 – Both investigations continue. Mr.Meadows drops into the pub. He asks Ginger to get him some vodka from the top shelf. That gives him a chance to steal a small wheel of cheese from a plate on the bar. Carter calls Supt.Whitelaw to let him know since Meadows is a suspect in the burglaries.

Carter calls on Meadows and swipes an object from a table. He asks Meadows about his bike that’s locked in a shed. Meadows says he hasn’t ridden it in years and gets indignant when Carter wants to have a look at it. That night Ginger breaks into the shed and discovers the light in the wrong place on the bike and the missing cheese in a saddlebag.

At a dry cleaners a pair of trousers dropped off by Mr.Meadows has glass in the cuffs from a robbery. Ginger finds a clue they’ve been looking for when he takes part in a charity whist tournament. Supt.Whitelaw also gets a clue as the walking stick is recovered from the river. It has an interesting property.

The episodes are pretty dull and not an inducement to check out the rest of the series.

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Traitor To The Living-Philip Jose Farmer (1973) (Exorcism Trilogy)

philip jose farmer-traitor to the living

This is the third entry in the series. The first two are “The Image Of The Beast” (1968) and the second is “Blown” (1969).  The first two were published as porn but this one is totally different. This one is about a device called MEDIUM. Use it for a big fee and you can talk to the dead. Private Detective Herald Childe returns but now he has a new name, Gordon Carfax and he’s a history professor.

Gordon is once again a P.I. thanks to his cousin Patricia. Their cousin Western has taken credit for MEDIIUM. She says her father Rufton was the real inventor and accuses Western of murdering him and blowing up his house destroying any and all evidence. Of course he manages to rob the safe of all schematics so he could build it himself.

Gordon has been on the lecture circuit saying the contacts made with MEDIUM aren’t the dead but possibly aliens from another universe who can mock humans.

Gordon meets with Western and has a session with MEDIUM where he tries to talk with his uncle Rufton.  The entity seems to charge out of the machine and Gordon freaks and runs out of the room. Patricia tells him of a medium named Mrs.Webster who seems legit and they take part in a seance. That doesn’t go too well either.

A group consisting of various religious leaders uses MEDIUM to see if it’s the real thing. A bishop dies of a heart attack after talking with a playmate he had when he was eleven. Mass trouble begins. An atheist flies his plane into the building and destroys MEDIUM.

The book turns into an action thriller as bullets fly and more things blow up. Gordon and Patricia try and track down Western and solve the mystery of MEDIUM. They also discover what other experiments their cousin had in mind. A Senator gets involved when they find out MEDIUM can be used as a cheap source of power that could put utility companies worldwide out of business.

The thriller aspects are the main parts of the novel with SF mixed in. If you’re looking for an action novel as opposed to a SF story then you’ll probably like this one.

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Radio Cab Murder (1954)

Lana Morris

Lana Morris

Good British B about a cab driver who goes undercover to bring down a robbery gang.

A woman robs a travel agency of foreign currency at gunpoint. On the way out she fires a few shots to keep everybody in place. She hops in a stolen cab. Cab driver Fred Martin (Jimmy Hanley) spots the getaway cab and chases after it. The woman takes off her disguise and tosses some nails out the window. Fred gets a flat and slams the cab into a stone bench. The bad guy and girl getaway.

An anonymous letter is received by Fred’s boss wondering why they would have an ex safecracker working for them. The boss gets mad and takes the letter to the police. Fred was in stir for three years after pulling a job. He learned safecracking in the military and even took a course at Scotland Yard.

He’s gone straight since getting out of jail and his boss has absolute faith in him. One of the dispatchers, Myra (Lana Morris) is his fiancee. Inspector Rawlings says there’s a gang working the area that blackmails ex cons into working for them. They ask Fred to go undercover and he agrees. An unhappy Myra will be the go between.

To keep the plan secret Fred’s boss pretends to fire him. That gets the drivers mad and they threaten to strike unless he’s reinstated in seven days. They can’t be told what’s really going on. Finally Fred’s old cellmate makes contact. The gang is planning an elaborate bank robbery. They need Fred to blow the safe.

Fred tells Myra where the bank is and she passes the message to the cops. Of course they told Fred the wrong bank. Now the job is underway and the cops raid the wrong bank. The job goes almost smoothly but they get away with it. Back at the hideout a woman named Jean tells the others that Fred was the driver who chased her. He’s in trouble now. It’ll take the fleet of radio cabs to get him out. There’s a nice ending. It’s quick but still decent.

Aside from movies, Lana Morris appeared in a lot of British TV series. Her last was as Vanessa Rolfe on “Howards’ Way” (1987-90).


Posted in British Movies, Crime-Mystery-Spy, vintage movies | Tagged | 2 Comments