Category Archives: 1950

Blu-Ray News #328: Columbia Noir #3 (1947-59).

Indicator’s got a third Columbia Noir Blu-Ray box on the way, and it’s gonna be another good one.

Johnny O’Clock (1947)
Written and directed by Robert Rossen
Starring Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb, Jeff Chandler
Dick Powell is cool in his second noir picture, Burnett Guffey’s cinematography is often stunning. Robert Rossen does a good job guiding us through the rather complex plot.

The Dark Past (1948)
Directed by Rudolph Maté
Starring William Holden, Nina Foch, Lee J. Cobb
William Holden is an escaped convict in this remake of 1939’s Blind Alley. Lee J. Cobb is a psychologist who’s held hostage and analyzes his captor along the way.

Convicted (1950)
Directed by Henry Levin
Starring Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Dorothy Malone, Carl Benton Reid, Frank Faylen
Another remake of The Criminal Code, with Glenn Ford an inmate and Broderick Crawford the warden. Burnett Guffey shot this one, too, which is always a good thing.

Between Midnight And Dawn (1950)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Mark Stevens, Edmond O’Brien, Gale Storm, Madge Blake
A prototype for the buddy cop movies, with Edmond O’Brien and Mark Stevens  childhood friends who end up cops. Gale Storm is the dispatcher they talk to throughout their shift.


The Sniper (1952)
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Starring Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor, Frank Faylen
Arthur Franz plays a freak with a rifle before the freak-with-a-rifle sub-genre even existed. Dmytryk does a terrific job, as does DP Burnett Guffey. Essential.

City Of Fear (1959)
Directed by Irving Lerner
Starring Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer
Vince Edwards escapes from San Quentin and has what he thinks is a vial of heroin. Turns out it’s the ultra-dangerous Cobalt-60, which could wipe out LA. Edwards gets sicker as the movie plays out — and time runs out. A very cool little movie.

The set comes with the kind of extras — commentaries, video essays, shorts (including six from The Three Stooges!), trailers, galleries and more. You don’t wanna miss this one.

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Filed under 1950, 1959, Broderick Crawford, Columbia, Dick Powell, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward Dmytryk, Frank Faylen, Glenn Ford, Indicator/Powerhouse, Marie Windsor, Mark Stevens, The Three Stooges, William Holden

Double Deal (1950) — The Marie Windsor Blogathon.

Directed by Abby Berlin
Produced by James T. Vaughn
Screen play by Lee Berman & Charles S. Belden
Story by Don McGuire
Director Of Photography: Frank Redman
Film Editor: Robert Swink
Music by Michel Michelet

Cast: Marie Windsor (Terry Miller), Richard Denning (Buzz Doyle), Taylor Holmes (Corpus Mills), Fay Baker (Lilli Sebastian), James Griffith (Walter Karns), Carleton Young (Reno Sebastian), Tom Browne Henry (Sheriff L.G. Morelli), Paul E. Burns, Walter Burke, Frank Felton

This is an entry in The Marie Windsor Blogathon, a celebration of the actress’s life and work.

Bel-Air Productions cranked out some terrific little movies in the 1950s, such as the B crime pictures Big House U.S.A. (1955) and Hot Cars (1956). The very first Bel-Air film was Double Deal (1950), released by RKO Radio Pictures. It was the first time Marie Windsor received top billing.

Double Deal concerns oil wells, the extremely dysfunctional Sebastian family, gambling, a monkey and murder.

Richard Denning is Buzz Doyle, an engineer who steps off the bus just as the Sebastian family squabble turns deadly. (Have you noticed how many noir pictures open with a guy getting off a bus in some strange town?) Marie Windsor is Terry Miller, a nice girl who takes a shine to Buzz, inherits an oil well and ends up a murder suspect. Fay Baker is a conniving hag who doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as she gets what she wants. Taylor Holmes is an attorney and “walking gin mill.” And James Griffith is a slimeball who runs a crooked dice table.

Double Deal is a cheap little mini-noir that gets almost everything right. It was shot in nine days on the RKO lot, and the completed picture runs just 65 minutes. There’s a whole lot of story packed into that 65 minutes, from a couple murders, lots of wildcatting for oil and a truckload of double crosses. 

Throughout the picture, Fay Baker and James Griffith are perfectly despicable, while Richard Denning is completely likable (at one point, Kevin McCarthy was up for the part, which would’ve been his movie debut).

Marie Windsor is charming, cool and beautiful — whether she’s all dolled up for a night on the town or wearing jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap and a smudge of oil on her cheek. 1950 was a busy year for Windsor: Dakota Lil, The Showdown, Frenchie and Double Deal. Each was for a different studio — Fox, Republic, Universal International and RKO, respectively.

Director Abby Berlin was on Broadway and vaudeville as half of a comedy team with Ken Brown. He headed to Hollywood and worked as an assistant director, until he got the chance to direct with Leave It To Blondie (1945). He directed a number of the Blondie movies and quite a bit of TV before passing away in 1954.

The story for Double Deal came from Don McQuire. He had an interesting career, from acting in Armored Car Robbery (1950, the same year as Double Deal) to directing The Delicate Delinquent (1957) to supplying the story for Tootsie (1982). Screenwriter Charles S. Belden has a story credit on both Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933) and House Of Wax (1953). He also wrote some Charlie Chan and Hopalong Cassidy pictures.

Director Of Photography Frank Redman spent the 40s and early 50s at RKO. He shot a lot of Falcon, Saint and Dick Tracy pictures. Leaving RKO, he went to TV, where he stayed plenty busy. He shot over a hundred episodes of Perry Mason, among other things. His work on Double Deal is nothing flashy, looking like so many other RKO pictures from the period.

Double Deal is not classic film noir. It’s no Narrow Margin (1952). And it was certainly done on the cheap — the crew on the oil well is limited to Denning, Windsor and Paul Burns. But I wish there were a hundred movies around just like it — cheap, short and cool.

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Filed under 1950, Bel-Air, James H. Griffith, Kevin McCarthy, Marie Windsor, Richard Denning, RKO

DVD News #314: The Jungle Jim Movie Collection (1950-55).

The Jungle Jim Movie Collection from Critics’ Choice Collection gives us six of Sam Kaztman’s Jungle Jim pictures starring Johnny Weissmuller.

Mark Of The Gorilla (1950)
Directed by William Berke
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Trudy Marshall, Onslow Stevens

Pygmy Island (1950)
Directed by William Berke
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Ann Savage, David Bruce, Steven Geray, William Tannen, Tristram Coffin, Billy Curtis, Billy Barty

Fury Of The Congo (1951)
Directed by William Berke
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Sherry Moreland, William Henry, Lyle Talbot, John Hart

Jungle Manhunt (1951)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Bob Waterfield, Sheila Ryan, Rick Vallin, Lyle Talbot

Jungle Man-Eaters (1954)
Directed by Lee Sholem
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Karin Booth, Richard Stapley, Richard Wyler, Bernie Hamilton

Jungle Moon Men (1955)
Directed by Charles S. Gould
Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Jean Byron, Helene Stanton, Bill Henry, Myron Healey

The transfers on these films are usually terrific. Let’s hope Jungle Man-Eaters (1954) and Jungle Moon Men (1955) are widescreen. They were 1.85 in theaters.

A few years ago, Umbrella Entertainment in Australia put out a six-movie/three-DVD set, The Jungle Jim Movie Collection. Get both sets and you’ll have 11 of the 16 Jungle Jim pictures.

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Filed under 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, Johnny Weissmuller, Jungle Jim, Lyle Talbot, Myron Healey, Sam Katzman

Blu-Ray News #263: House By The River (1950).

Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt

Another great filmmaker heads to Republic Pictures after getting the shaft by the majors — and knocks one out of the park.

Like Orson Welles and John Ford, Fritz Lang found Republic a friendlier place to make movies than the major studios had been. His House By The River (1950) is a terrific period noir/melodrama with incredible cinematography by Edward J. Cronjager. It should be stunning on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber (we’ve seen Kino’s beautiful transfers of Republic pictures). Coming in January 2020.

I’m a huge fan of Lang’s Hollywood movies and it’s great to see some of his more obscure pictures, like this one and Moonfleet (1955), make their way to Blu-Ray. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1950, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fritz Lang, Kino Lorber, Republic Pictures

Happy Birthday, Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson
(January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972)

The great Jackie Robinson was born 100 years ago today. He broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, served in the military, played himself in the movie about his life, The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) — and played baseball better than about anybody else, ever.

And of course, he went through stuff we can’t imagine ever going through.

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Filed under 1950, Eagle Lion

Blu-Ray News #208: Noir Archive 1944-1954, Volume 1.

I am so stoked to report on this one. Kit Parker has put together the nine-film, three-disc Blu-Ray set Noir Archive 1944-1954, Volume 1. These are pictures from Columbia and Eagle Lion, and they’ll hit the streets in April.

Address Unknown (1944)
Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Starring Paul Lukas, Carl Esmond, Peter Van Eyck

Escape In The Fog (1945)
Directed by Oscar (Budd) Boetticher
Starring Otto Kruger, Nina Foch, William Wright

The Guilt Of Janet James (1947)
Directed by Henry Levin
Starring Rosalind Russell, Melvyn Douglas, Sid Caesar

The Black Book (aka The Reign Of Terror) (1949)
Directed by Anthony Mann
Starring Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, Arlene Dahl

Johnny Allegro (1949)
Directed by Ted Tetzlaff
Starring George Raft, Nina Foch, George Macready

711 Ocean Drive (1950)
Directed by Joseph M. Newman
Starring Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger

The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)
Directed by Earl McEvoy
Starring Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, William Bishop

Assignment Paris (1952)
Directed by Earl McEvoy
Starring Dana Andrews, Marta Toren, George Sanders

The Miami Story (1954)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Barry Sullivan, Luther Adler, John Baer

Look at those casts! And those directors — Mann, Boetticher, Sears! This is going to be a great set, with the promise of more. I urge you to pick one of these up — the success of this one will lead to more!

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Filed under 1950, 1952, 1954, Anthony Mann, Barry Sullivan, Budd Boetticher, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eagle Lion, Edmond O'Brien, Fred F. Sears, George Sanders, Joseph M. Newman, Kit Parker, Richard Basehart, Sam Katzman

DVD News #116: Man On A String (1960).

Directed by Andre de Toth
Starring Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Matthews, Colleen Dewhurst

Ernest Borgnine stars in this 1960 spy picture based on the life (and autobiography, Ten Years A Counterspy) of Boris Morros, a Russian-born musical director in Hollywood (John Ford’s Stagecoach, 1939) who was first a Russian spy, then a counterspy for the FBI.

Man On A String is given a gritty, documentary-style treatment by director Andre de Toth, who focuses on the double-crosses that stack up like cordwood. It’s coming to DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment in a four-picture “Soviet Spies” set that also includes Anthony Mann’s last film, A Dandy In Aspic (1968). These two films are well worth the $14.98 price tag. It’s great to see de Toth’s work show up on DVD or Blu-Ray. Recommended.

 

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Filed under 1950, Andre de Toth, Anthony Mann, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, Mill Creek

DVD News #44: Tales From The Prison Yard 6-Film Collection.

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Mill Creek Entertainment and Columbia have done us another big favor, this time assembling a big collection from the big house (for a February 2016 release): Tales From The Prison Yard. It gives us six prison movies, ranging from a Sam Katzman quickie to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973). For me, the attraction is two more Fred F. Sears pictures to add to my collection.

Convicted (1950)
Directed by Henry Levin
Starring Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Dorothy Malone, Will Geer

Cell 2455 Death Row (1955)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring William Campbell, Marian Carr, Kathryn Grant, Harvey Stephens, Vince Edwards

Cell_2455_Death_Row LC

Escape From San Quentin (1957)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Johnny Desmond, Merry Anders, Richard Devon, Roy Engel

City Of Fear (1959)
Directed by Irving Lerner
Starring Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Patricia Blair, Steven Ritch

The Valachi Papers (1972)
Directed by Terence Young
Starring Charles Bronson, Lino Ventura, Jill Ireland, Joseph Wiseman

The Last Detail (1973)
Directed by Hal Ashby
Starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James, Carol Kane

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Filed under 1950, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1972, 1973, Charles Bronson, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fred F. Sears, Mill Creek, Sam Katzman

Blu-ray News #38: Flying Disc Man From Mars (1950).

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Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Starring Walter Reed, Lois Collier, Gregory Gay, James Craven

This 12-chapter Republic serial somehow was made for around $155,ooo — and that was going over budget! Flying Disc Man From Mars (1950) will make it to Blu-ray in October from Olive Films, following their September release of The Invisible Monster (1950). You know things aren’t so bad in the world when you can get a Republic serial in high definition.

We’ve seen some exciting new release announcements over the last couple months. So much good stuff.

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Filed under 1950, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Republic Pictures

Blu-ray News #33: The Invisible Monster (1950).

$_57

Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Starring Richard Webb, Aline Towne, Lane Bradford, John Crawford, Stanley Price, George Meeker

A Republic serial comes to Blu-ray. Wow, that’s cool. Especially since The Invisible Monster (1950) boasts plenty of incredible model work from Howard and Theodore Lydecker.

The Phantom Ruler has developed an invisibility formula and plans to use it to rule the world. To fund that effort, he hooks up with a bunch of crooks and uses his invention to commit crimes. It takes 12 action-packed chapters for investigator Richard Webb to bring the evil genius and his henchmen to justice.

These Republic serials are wonderful. And this one’s coming from Olive Films in September.

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Filed under 1950, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Republic Pictures