Man In The Vault (1956)

man in the vault 1956

A locksmith if coerced into making keys for a safety deposit box. He’s caught between two gangsters. The movie is based on the novel “The Lock And The Key” by mystery writer Frank Gruber. The movie has a lot more dull spots than suspenseful moments and would have been better as a half hour TV episode.

Gangster Willis Trent hires locksmith Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) to make a key for a footlocker. When Tommy gets to Trent’s place a party is going on. Tommy doesn’t know this is a test of his ability. He easily makes the key and Trent tells him to enjoy himself at the party.

He spots a knockout blonde names Flo (Anita Ekberg) but she’s occupied with lawyer Earl Farraday. So he tries to chat up Betty Turner (Karen Sharpe). That doesn’t work because Farraday says she’s his girl. Farraday warns Tommy if he’s looking for trouble he’s going about it the right way.

Tommy walks past a crying Betty outside. She drives him home and goes into his place. She tells him she’s twenty-three and lives in Beverly Hills with her parents who give her anything she wants. He tries to put a lip lock on her and she takes off.

The next morning Trent stops by Tommy’s apartment. His minion, boxer Louie (Mike Mazurki) is with him. Trent offers Tommy five grand to make keys for a safety deposit box. He turns him down.

Betty left her mink stole at Tommy’s and he goes to her place to return it. She puts the freeze on but that doesn’t last long. Meanwhile Trent and Louis are in Farraday’s office. In walks rival gangster Paul DeCamp. DeCamp tells Trent that he’s moved up from the gutter when the two of them were in business together. He warns him to leave town.

Tommy and Betty are starting to fall for each other. That night they go to the closed Hollywood Bowl. They don’t know Louis is following them. After they both go to their homes Tommy is worked over by Louis who leaves the five grand behind. Betty is confronted by a drunk Farraday. He spills the beans. He says Trent paid him to romance Flo. She’s DeCamp’s girlfriend. Farraday was supposed to get the number of Paul’s safety deposit box and the name of his bank.

The next day Tommy goes to Trent’s place. When Trent opens the door Tommy punches him out and tosses the five grand at him. Trent tells him he’ll have Louis take care of Betty’s face if he doesn’t do the job.

Tommy goes to the bank and buys a safety deposit box. In the vault he makes keys for DeCamp’s box. After that he’s confronted by gangster Herbie (Paul Fix). He says the box contains two hundred thousand bucks and they can split it. Tommy says no. When Tommy goes to deliver the keys he spots Betty and Farraday. He doesn’t know that Betty was trying to protect him and before she can see him he leaves and goes back to the bank where he robs the box. He just bought himself a lot of trouble.

The movie just isn’t believable and the gangsters come off as pale imitations of movie gangsters and makes this one to skip.

William Campbell-Karen Sharpe

William Campbell-Karen Sharpe


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Fighting Stock (1935)

fighting stock 1935

Comedy where the jokes come fast and it’s easy to miss some of them. The lines are delivered as parts of normal conversation as opposed to being exaggerated and that makes them funny. All they wanted was a quiet time at a country cottage and do some fishing. That peace doesn’t last long as out heroes get involved with the neighbors.

Brigadier General Sir Donald Rowley (Tom Walls) and his nephew Sydney (Ralph Lynn) stay at a quiet cottage. While Sir Donald fishes Sydney makes some moves on Mrs.Barbara Rivers. He soon changes targets when he meets her stepdaughter Eileen (Lesley Wareing).

Meanwhile at the creek Mr.Rivers tells Sir Donald that he’s fishing on his property and to get to his side. Sir Donald’s not putting up with that and tells him if he bothers him again he’ll toss him in the water.

Barbara and Eileen are talking about Sydney coming on to them and Mr.Rivers overhears. He heads over to the cottage. Sir Donald tells him Sydney is from fighting stock so he better watch himself. Then he literally uses his foot to kick him out.

Mr.Rivers niece Diane has been touch. Rivers thinks she wants money and he’s going to London to tell her directly that she’s not getting any. River’s brother died in jail and an accountant named Murlow was involved and spent a year in prison. Diane’s brother is hiding out somewhere and Murlow wants to find him. He’s been following Diane around and she takes off for the cottage. Mr.Rivers doesn’t know she’s on her way and leaves to go see her.

The next arrival is Sir Donald’s secretary Duck. He has a bunch of papers for him to sign. Now things aren’t so quiet any more. Murlow is sneaking around and Sydney is told to take care of him. Confusion reigns as Sydney accidentally makes a heavy vase fall onto Murlow. Sir Donald and Duck are going to take the body and dump it. But when they get back inside Sydney had hit Rivers on the head and he’s knocked out. No one knew he was back. Sir Donald and Duck grab his body without looking to see who it is.

That’s how this movie goes and the one liners continue throughout. Some of them may not have been able to get through the American code to anyone listening carefully. That of course makes it fun. It’s old fashioned comedy that will appeal to anyone looking for some early movie laughs.

Lesley Wareing-Ralph Lynn-Herbert Lomas

Lesley Wareing-Ralph Lynn-Herbert Lomas

Posted in British Movies, Comedy, vintage movies | Tagged | 1 Comment

Turn The Key Softly (1953)

turn the key slowly 1953

Good drama that follows what happens to three women as they’re released from prison. They have to start over in London. There’s Monica Marsden. Her boyfriend David tricked her into coming along on a burglary. When the cops closed in he took off leaving her to take the fall. Stella Jarvis is a hooker with an innocent boyfriend. Lastly there’s Granny Quilliam who has fifteen shoplifting convictions.

All three give excellent performances including the twenty year old Joan Collins. Special mention has to be made about Kathleen Harrison. She is terrific. Stage actress Yvonne Mitchell is also in top form.

Monica (Yvonne Mitchell) wants them all to meet that night for a champagne dinner. Granny can’t wait to bring Johnny to an exclusive restaurant. Monica and Granny (Kathleen Harrison) hop on the subway. A man named Mr.Gregory tries to pick up Monica. He insists she meet him that night for dinner. She has no plans on taking him up on it and says her name is Stella. Monica goes to a girlfriend’s place. She says she hopes Monica doesn’t plan on seeing David again for more trouble.

She goes job hunting afraid her prison record will be held against her. One firm takes a chance on her. Things look good until she goes back to her place and there’s David at the door. He throws on the charm and she falls for it again. He proposes a night at the theatre after her dinner with the ladies.

Granny is on her way back to her former residence. Along the way she tries to resist shoplifting. Her former landlady lets her back in and now she can’t wait to see Johnny. Here he comes. Johnny is a dog. Her next stop is to see her daughter Lila who is not happy to see her. Her granddaughter has a different reaction. Lila lies about where they have to go but the granddaughter lets the cat out of the bag. They take off and Granny heads back to keep the dinner date.

While all of the above is going on Stella (Joan Collins) is with her boyfriend Bob. He’s a bus conductor and waited for her outside the prison. She asks to stay with him but he’s prim and proper. Besides his landlady wouldn’t let it happen. He gives her money to get a room in a nice part of town. They’ll get married next week. Meanwhile she looks up her former associates.

They all meet at the restaurant…..the three women and Johnny. After a nice time Monica is off to the theatre with David. Mr.Gregory spots her and yells after her calling “Stella.” Stella straightens all that out and the two take off for a night of fun. She needs it because she spent the money Bob gave her for a room on a pair of earrings.

Granny goes to a pub with Johnny. When she goes to the Ladies the entrance door opens and Johnny goes outside. Earlier his name tag fell off and he doesn’t have any ID. Granny searches all over town.

Stella is doing the town with Mr.Gregory while Bob waits. Gregory is stoned and has a fat wallet. Stella doesn’t miss that. She’s happy Bob is patient and was still waiting for her.

Monica and David arrive at the theatre. Turns out the show she’s going to see is not on stage.

A sequence in the last fifteen minutes is loaded with suspense. This is a good one to look for.

Kathleen Harrison played Alice Thursday is one of Britain’s better sitcoms, “Mrs. Thursday” (1966-67).

Kathleen Harrison-Yvonne Mitchell-Joan Collins

Kathleen Harrison-Yvonne Mitchell-Joan Collins

Posted in British Movies, Crime-Mystery-Spy, Drama, vintage movies | Tagged | 1 Comment

Boy Of The Streets (1937)

boy of the streets 1937

Drama that takes place in the mostly Irish slums of New York City. Jackie Cooper stars as the sixteen year old leader of a street gang. Marjorie Main plays Jackie’s long suffering mother.

It’s Halloween. Chuck Brennan (Jackie Cooper) and his gang pull tricks on the police and fire department. Chuck always sends the black member of the gang,Spike (Paul White), to make phony phone calls. He’s finally caught by beat cop Rourke (Robert Emmett O’Connor),

The gang gets to sit out detention at the police station before finally being released.  Chuck’s mother Mary (Marjorie Main) is sick of her husband Fog Horn Brennan doing nothing with his life. Chuck thinks he’s a big deal with the city administration. Brennan’s friend Tim Farley isn’t a favorite of Marys’ or Chucks’.

The neighborhood stops what it’s doing when Young Nora (Maureen O’Connor) sings “Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?” Coming into the neighborhood is the wealthy Julie Stone. She just inherited the building where Chuck and Nora live.

Nora’s mother has TB and Dr.Allan (Bill Elliot) arranges to have her taken to a sanitarium. He resents Julie and thinks she’s just looking at how the other half lives and not caring. They’ll soon straighten that out.

Outside as the ambulance arrives for Nora’s mother a rival gang shows up. They all wait for the ambulance to leave and then Chuck’s gang gets into a brawl with them. Chuck is crowned with a bottle and has to see Dr.Allan.

Chuck thinks he’s a big deal and gets Nora a job singing at Pete’s Grotto. He lies and says she’s eighteen. Pete gets her a tight dress and she sings a couple torch songs. Then in walks Rourke with a couple old lady reformers. That ends that gig. Looks like Nora is headed for an orphanage. Julie saves the day by sending her to a private school.

At their clubhouse Chuck is planning to rob Julie of the cash she carries to pay for things like rugs, lamps and other items for the apartment building. He tells Spike to pull off the robbery. He refuses and Chuck agrees he’s too young for something like that and tells him to leave.

The rival gang shows up and the fight is on again. Chuck and the other leader are out in the street. A truck is bearing down on them. Spike tries to warn him but is run down and killed. Mary tells Chuck he’s a loser and nothing like Spike. Chuck goes to see the local ward leader for a job and gets a dose of truth when he discovers is father is just a gopher.

The movie goes on to see if Chuck will walk the straight and narrow or hook up with gangster Blackie Davis (Matty Fain). This is a good drama and never gets preachy or sappy.

Marjorie Main was famous for her comedy roles especially as Ma Kettle.

This was Maureen O’Connor’s only movie.

Bill Elliot became famous as a movie cowboy.

Jackie Cooper-Marjorie Main

Jackie Cooper-Marjorie Main

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City Streets (1931)

city streets 1931

One for the must see list for fans of the early talkies. It’s based on a story by Dashiell Hammett. Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney are mixed up in the beer racket. Look for good performances from Guy Kibbee as Pop McCoy and Paul Lukas as a sleazy gangster known as The Big Fella. Watch out when someone offers to shake your hand and say, “No hard feelings.”

The Kid (Gary Cooper) works behind a shooting gallery in a carnival. He’s a crack shot. His girlfriend Nan (Sylvia Sidney) urges him to quit the dead end job and work with her stepfather Pop Cooley (Guy Kibbee) in the beer racket. He wants nothing to do with it.

The gang is run by Maskal aka/The Big Fella (Paul Lukas). He is having it on with Agnes. She’s the gun moll of Blackie, Maskal’s lieutenant. Blackie objects and Maskal orders Pop to take care of him. Pop calls Nan and tells her where to meet him even if it means a broken arm. That’s code for her to wear a sling. Pop shoots Blackie and puts the gun in Nan’s sling and tells her to dump it in the river.

A witness saw the exchange. Nan keeps her mouth shut and ends up in prison. One of the prisoners tells her she can’t wait until her boyfriend Johnny comes to get her. Nan says she’s glad her boyfriend isn’t in the rackets. Time for the prisoners’ release. Two cars pull up and before she leaves one car takes off. She opens the door to the other one. There’s Johnny. Dead.

Pop manages to get Kid to join up. When he visits Nan she’s not happy he’s finally involved. When she’s released she finds that Pop is married to a mental midget named Pansy.

Maskal thinks he’s a chick magnet and tells Nan he’s throwing a party to celebrate her release. He monopolizes her time and won’t let Kid dance with her. Kid has had enough but Maskal warns him off. Then he puts out a contract on him.

Kid takes Nan home. A bit later the doorbell rings. A man to see Kid. Outside two guys are in a car with guns pointed at the doorway. Kid sneaks up on them, takes their guns and sends them on their way.

Kid is steamed and tells Nan he’s going after Maskal and settle this once and for all. Nan is afraid for him. She puts a gun in her purse and calls Maskal and says she’s coming over. He tells Agnes to pack up and hit the road. Now things get nasty.

This is definitely one to check out.

Along with her many movie and TV roles sitcom fans know Sylvia Sidney as the first Mama Carlson on “WKRP In Cincinnati” in 1978.

Gary Cooper-Sylvia Sidney

Gary Cooper-Sylvia Sidney


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Crooner (1932)

crooner 1932

Story of a singer who finally hit it big thanks to a gimmick. It all goes to his head. The music is bland but there are parts where it’s supposed to be.

Ted Taylor (David Manners) leads a college band that now tries for professional gigs. Not much luck. They’re told they’re just average and novelty bands are the in thing. They finally get a job at a nightclub. Before going on the singer gets a sore throat. Club owner Nick Meyer (J.Carol Naish) demands someone sing. Ted sings real low hoping no one really hears him. A drunk hands him a megaphone and everything changes.

The men can’t stand his crooning but the dames all swoon. Ted’s girlfriend Judy (Ann Dvorak) brings in agent Peter Sturgis (Ken Murray). He stops Ted from signing a cheap contract with Nick. He finally signs for some good bucks.

It’s all starting to go to Ted’s head. He tells the band to play slower so the attention will be on his voice. The dancers aren’t happy. Sturgis gets him a shot on the radio. Letters pour in. Sturgis finally tells him most of them were faked by his staff.

Ted is getting worse. He hires a valet and then tells Judy he’s moving to the Waldorf. Then he hires a top vocal coach who wants to make him an opera singer. Ted demonstrates his stuff for Judy. She can’t believe how horrible he sounds. The coach tells him he’s wonderful and Ted believes him.

The blue bloods of Society want him to appear at their Deb parties and Ted keeps breaking dates with Judy to oblige. The papers are told he’s taking a week off to rest his voice at a mountain retreat. He’s really on a yacht with a dame. After a week she gets bored with him because all he talks about is himself.

When he gets back Judy shows him the paper. It’s all about the mountain sanatorium rest cure being a fake. She reads him the riot act and tells him she’s had it.

Let the downfall begin.

This is a pretty good comedy-drama even if the music is lame. It’s worth checking out for something a bit different.

Ted Taylor (David Manners) hits it big with his megaphone

Ted Taylor (David Manners) hits it big with his megaphone

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The Best Of The Cleftones

[2:44] 1. You Baby You
[3:12] 2. Little Girl Of Mine
[3:05] 3. You’re Driving Me Mad
[2:56] 4. Can’t We Be Sweethearts
[2:25] 5. Neki-Hokey
[2:54] 6. Happy Memories
[2:47] 7. String Around My Heart
[2:03] 8. Why You Do Me Like You Do
[2:36] 9. I Like Your Style Of Making Love
[2:32] 10. See You Next Year
[2:51] 11. Lover Boy
[2:13] 12. Beginners At Love
[2:20] 13. She’s So Fine
[1:53] 14. Heart And Soul
[2:00] 15. How Do You Feel
[2:29] 16. Please Say You Want Me
[2:36] 17. For Sentimental Reasons
[2:07] 18. Lover Come Back To Me

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