The Allied Artists Blogathon: Dial Red “O” (1955) By Guest Blogger Jerry Entract.

Dial Red O HSWritten and Directed by Daniel B. Ullman
Produced by Vincent M. Fennelly
Director of Photography: Ellsworth Fredricks, ASC
Music by Marlin Skiles
Jazz Sequences by Shorty Rogers And His Giants
Supervising Film Editor: Lester A. Sansom
Film Editor: William Austin, ACE
Dialogue Supervisor: Sam Peckinpah

CAST: Bill Elliott (Lt. Andy Flynn), Keith Larsen (Ralph Wyatt), Helene Stanley (Connie Wyatt), Paul Picerni (Norman Roper), Jack Kruschen (Lloyd Lavalle), Elaine Riley (Gloria), Robert Bice (Sgt. Colombo), Rick Vallin (Deputy Clark), George Eldredge (Major), Regina Gleason (Mrs. Roper), Rankin Mansfield (Doctor), Mort Mills (Photographer).

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I am delighted to be able to take part in The Allied Artists Pictures Blogathon and would like to thank our host, Toby, for making it possible.

Formed by Monogram Pictures in 1946, Allied Artists Pictures Corp. set about building a catalogue of entertaining films, perhaps mostly westerns and crime melos. They tend to stand up today very well for those of us who read these blogs and some of my favourite or even just ‘comfort’ pictures were produced by AA. They even tried their hand at some pretty big-scale films in the mid-50s like Friendly Persuasion.

s-l1600-3Their No.1 cowboy star in the 50s had been Wild Bill Elliott and when he rode his last trail for them in 1954, due to changing tastes, or more likely changing fortunes in series western film-making, they put him in a series of five detective pics through 1957. Now Bill Elliott has been a big favourite of mine for decades as a Western star and I know I have to make no apology for this on these blogs (Wild Bill Rules!!!). He actually made the leap to being a detective surprisingly well really and, whilst these five films are not works of art they are good, well-made and solid entertainment.

f6-01-0121The film was directed by Daniel B. Ullman who also wrote the screenplay. This is the story of a WW2 and Korean War veteran who has been suffering (maybe) from what we might today term PTSD. He escapes from veterans’ hospital in Los Angeles because that day he has been served with final divorce papers and wants to confront his wife and perhaps persuade her to change her mind. She is what might be described as a bit of a ‘tramp’ (is it permitted to say that today? – well, there we are – I’ve said it) and has been having an affair with a married real estate agent and wants to marry him. But he (naughty boy) has been merely using her for sex and has no intention of any commitment to her. Furious row ensues in which she is killed by judo chops. Meanwhile hubbie is having no luck tracking her down and only finds out she is dead when he is arrested by the sheriff’s dept. (led by Bill Elliott). He works out that his ‘friend’ from WW2 (who also had been trained in judo) has been lying to him and sets out after him. It is a race against time as to who gets to him first – hubbie or the police.

It is very noticeable how styles have changed in these ‘B’ ‘tec dramas from a decade and more earlier where the tone would be light, the cops a bit dumb and love would prevail in the last reel. Here the tone is quite dark and to-the-point. I enjoy both styles in their different ways but it is all part of a new reality after the horrors of WW2.

Dial-Red-0-02Nice lensing of L.A. locations by Ellsworth Fredericks, some tasty jazz by Shorty Rogers And The Giants in the score and a host of familiar faces, apart from Elliott, in the cast. Many of these would have been seen regularly in the studio’s westerns, such as Mort Mills, Keith Larsen, Bill Tannen, John Hart, Mike Ragan etc. Even Elaine Riley has a good role as an undercover cop. She was married to Richard ‘Chito’ Martin and only died recently, aged 98.

For folks who like a good 50s police procedural with a good cast, this film and the other four would get my recommendation. It is readily available on DVD thanks to Warner Archive putting them all together in one great set.

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12 Comments

Filed under 1955, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive

12 responses to “The Allied Artists Blogathon: Dial Red “O” (1955) By Guest Blogger Jerry Entract.

  1. I really enjoyed this series too. Worth noting that it became the Andy Doyle series after this first offering because it turned out there actually was an Andy Flynn in the LAPD. With a bigger budget the studio could have afforded the phonecall to check . . .

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  2. Jerry Entract

    Many thanks for commenting.
    Yes, it is a nice little series, isn’t it? Does seem crazy that no check was made first (and quite a coincidence anyway!)

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  3. Jerry, I was unaware of Elaine Riley’s passing last month and just found the Daily Telegraph obituary. I was very sorry to hear it, though she had what seems to be a long, happy life. I appreciate you letting me know that news.

    I very much enjoyed this movie and revisiting it thanks to your post. I’ve only got a couple of films left to watch in this set and will be sad when I’m done!

    BTW When I watched it I was fascinated to learn future director Sam Peckinpah is the cook serving burgers at the burger stand pictured in your post!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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  4. Jerry Entract

    Thanks for commenting, Laura. Much appreciated.
    Yes, amazing, isn’t it, to see Sam Peckinpah serving hamburgers in that scene! He had quite a career in the background (“THE RIFLEMAN” especially) before making such a splash later as a director.

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  5. john k

    Nice one Jerry!……….
    and isn’t that poster artwork wonderful.
    That Warner Archive set is great and don’t these little gems
    look beautiful re-mastered in widescreen.

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  6. Jerry Entract

    Yes, a really solid and enjoyable set of films, John. Much to be grateful for to Warner Archive, bless ’em!

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  7. Blake Lucas

    I haven’t seen any of this group of Bill Elliott detective films yet and mean to remedy that. They sound like something I’d really enjoy and your piece just makes me feel that all the more.. A very interesting way for Elliott to finish his career.

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    • Jerry Entract

      Many thanks for commenting, Blake. I think you would enjoy the series and WA presents them in excellent shape. Good casts too, especially Don Haggerty as Elliott’s “sidekick”!

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  8. This series knocks me out. I’m surprised how well Elliott’s “Peaceable Man” persona carries over to a mid-50s LA cop.

    As a bit of contrast, or just because you can’t get too much of these things, here’s my post on Dial Red “O” when the set first came out: http://wp.me/pEScW-2vn

    Great job, Jerry.

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  9. Jerry Entract

    Thanks for the kind words, Toby.

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  10. Would love to see these and more of his westerns, I have a small handful I’m saving for a binge watch. Great post!

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    • Jerry Entract

      Thanks, Kristina! The three Warner Archive sets of Elliott’s Monogram/Allied Artists films have been a real treat. I hope you will want to seek out all three eventually. They don’t disappoint.
      I would also really recommend the 8 he made for Republic 1943-44 with George Hayes and Anne Jeffreys. He was truly at his peak in those.

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