Category Archives: 1951

Reno, Nevada, November 1973.

In the fall of 1973, there was evidently a wave of UFO sightings all across the US. There were a couple in the Reno, Nevada, area. The Granada Theatre acted quickly, booking a couple of sci-fi pictures for a midnight show — The Day Mars Invaded The Earth (1962) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).

Fun local bookings are something I really miss, whether they’re Halloween marathons at the drive-in or something more topical like this one. Going to the movies used to be so much fun.

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Filed under 1951, 1963, 1973, Lippert/Regal/API, Marie Windsor, Maury Dexter, Robert Wise

Blu-Ray News #213: The Strange Door (1951).


Directed by Joseph Pevney
Starring Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest, Richard Stapley, Alan Napier, Michael Pate

It’s from Universal and it’s got Boris Karloff in it. That’s enough to put The Strange Door, coming in April from Kino Lorber, on my Blu-Ray want list.

The Strange Door is a weird duck. There are castles and graveyards and many of the other Universal horror staples, but it’s more of an action/adventure/romance thing. Karloff is cool, Charles Laughton overplays it perfectly and Irving Glassberg in gorgeous black and white.

 

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Filed under 1951

Happy Birthday, George Reeves.

George Reeves
(January 5, 1914 – June 16, 1959)

George Reeves was born 105 years ago today. And I’d much rather celebrate his life and work than commemorate his mysterious death.

So, here’s a color behind the scenes look at Adventures Of Superman. Reeves played the Man Of Steel on the TV show — and the little Lippert picture that served as its pilot, Superman And The Mole Men (1951). He was also in Gone With The Wind (1939), Jungle Jim (1948), Rancho Notorious (1952) and From Here To Eternity (1953). A Superman feature, Superman And The Secret Planet, was in development at the time of Reeves’ death.

I love Reeves as Superman.

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Filed under 1951, George Reeves, Lippert/Regal/API

2018 In Review – Part 2.

When I started doing DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries, it no longer felt appropriate to survey the best DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the year. So, as a substitute (maybe a poor one), here’s a reminder of a few things we were treated to this year. We’ll let all the praise, complaints or ranking come from you in the comments. Part 1 can be found over at 50 Westerns From The 50s.

This was a banner year for old sci-fi and horror movies making their way to Blu-Ray. From what we’re hearing so far, next year might be the same for noir and crime pictures. Anyway, here’s some of 2018’s bounty — a few of which I’m still working on proper reviews of.

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)
This is one of the all-time favorite movies. I find something new in it every time I see it — a line, a look, a particular setup, the music, a new appreciation for the guy who did the fire stunt. It’s always something — and that, to me, is one of the requirements for a Great Movie. Warner Archive worked long and hard on this one, and I’m in their debt for sure.

The Hammer Draculas
It’s like there was some sorta Monster Movie Summit, and it was decreed that the Hammer Dracula series would be given its due on Blu-Ray. Warner Archive did a lot of the heavy lifting with Horror Of Dracula (1958), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1974). In the meantime, Scream Factory came through with Dracula – Prince Of Darkness (1966). Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970) hit Blu-Ray a few years ago. That leaves Scars Of Dracula (197) as the only Hammer Dracula picture not available on Blu-Ray. Who’s gonna step up to the plate for that one?

The Hammer goodness wasn’t limited to the Dracula pictures. Mill Creek included some Hammer pictures in their twin-bill sets, some of the best values in all of home video. Hammer Films, William Castle, Ray Harryhausen — there’s some good stuff in those sets.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Complete Legacy Collection
That’s quite a name for a set that only includes three movies. But what movies they are — the first two, anyway. And they’re in both widescreen 2-D and 3-D.

Gun Crazy (1949)
Joseph H. Lewis hit it out of the park with Gun Crazy (1949). So did his cast — and this year, with a stunning Blu-Ray, so did Warner Archive.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
Don Siegel making it to Blu-Ray is always a reason to celebrate, and this is one of his many milestones. Over the years, we’ve all put up with some pretty shoddy-looking stuff when it comes to this incredible movie. Olive Films’ Blu-Ray is a huge improvement.

The Tingler (1959)
It’s hard to pick between this one and House On Haunted Hill (1958) for my favorite William Castle movie. Scream Factory did a wonderful job with this one, and they’ve given us other Castle pictures as well.

Dark Of The Sun (1968)
Warner Archive has been hinting around about this one on Blu-Ray for a while. It’s beautiful — and still one of the damnedest movies I’ve ever seen.

There’s a few that stood out for me. What DVD and Blu-Ray releases knocked you out this year?

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Filed under 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1970, 1972, 1973, 3-D, Barbara Shelley, Caroline Munro, Christopher Lee, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Howard Hawks, Jack Arnold, James Arness, John Agar, Joseph H. Lewis, Julie Adams, Kenneth Tobey, Kevin McCarthy, Mill Creek, Nestor Paiva, Olive Films, Peggy Cummins, Peter Cushing, Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Richarld Carlson, RKO, Rod Taylor, Shout/Scream Factory, Terence Fisher, Vincent Price, Warner Archive, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #199: The Thing From Another World (1951).

The Thing LC2

Directed by Christian Nyby
Produced by Howard Hawks
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, Eduard Franz, Robert Nichols, James Arness, John Dierkes, Paul Frees

The Thing (1951) scared me to death as a kid. It’s one of my Top 10 favorite films. It’s been sitting at the top of my Blu-Ray Want List since the format was introduced. And it’s finally coming to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

It’s basically about some cool military guys and a really cool woman saying and doing cool things as they take on a monster from outer space — and a scientist who’s determined to protect it. Howard Hawks’ stamp is all over it (cool people lumped together to deal with a crisis), whether he directed it or not.

This is essential. And I cannot wait for this Thing!

Keep watching the skies!

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Filed under 1951, DVD/Blu-ray News, Howard Hawks, Kenneth Tobey, Paul Frees, RKO, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #109: The Man From Planet X (1951).

the-man-from-planet-x_1951

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Starring Robert Clarke, Margaret Field, Raymond Bond, William Schallert

Another no-budget miracle from the incredible Edgar G. Ulmer. The Man From Planet X (1951) movie creeped me out so bad as a kid — and it still has an odd, unsettling quality to it unlike any other film I can think of.

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Filmed in just six days at Hal Roach Studios, on sets left over from Joan Of Arc (1948), it looks like most of the shoestring budget went to juice for the fog machine. It ended up being one of the first ( some say the first) alien-comes-to-earth movies. And I’d put it near the top of my Edgar Ulmer list.

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Shout Factory has this one touching down on Blu-Ray this summer. Highly, highly recommended. Let’s hope more Ulmer makes its way to Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1951, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edgar G. Ulmer, Shout/Scream Factory, William Schallert

Superman And The Mole Men (1951).

superman-mole-men

Directed by Lee Sholem
Original Screenplay by Richard Fielding
Cameraman: Clark Ramsey

Cast: George Reeves (Clark Kent/Superman), Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane), Jeff Corey (Luke Benson), Walter Reed (Bill Corrigan), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pop Sheridan), Stanley Andrews (The Sheriff)

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Judging from what little I’ve seen of them, the comic book movies they churn out these days aren’t my cup of tea. Far from it. Superman And The Mole Men (1951) is more to my taste. (For what it’s worth, my other favorite comic book/strip movies are the first Blondie feature, Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome,  The Lone Ranger with Clayton Moore, the 1966 Batman feature, Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik and The Rocketeer.)

superman-george-reeves-31

Clark Kent and Lois Lane travel from Metropolis to Silsby to do a story on the world’s deepest oil well. Out of that hole come the mole men, a group of maybe-radioactive midgets in furry suits and bald wigs who live in the center of the earth. The frightened townspeople, led by Jeff Corey (who’d soon be blacklisted), try to get rid of them, but Superman saves the day (along with the mole men).

Superman: “You’re not going to shoot those little creatures. In the first place, they haven’t done you any harm. In the second place, they may be radioactive.”

superman-and-the-mole-men-phyllis-coates

Superman And The Mole Men kinda served as a pilot for the Superman TV series — and it would be split in half to create a two-part episode to wrap up the show’s first season. The movie’s the first time we see George Reeves as Clark Kent and Superman, and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. Shot (in a hurry) on the RKO-Pathé lot, it made use of some oil derricks down the street. Lippert Pictures released the feature, and the TV show would go into production not long after. Director Lee Sholem did a number of the episodes, too.

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It’s a cheap affair, to be sure. The mole men’s weapon appears to be a vacuum cleaner (Electrolux, perhaps?) with a funnel attached to one end. Superman doesn’t have all that much screen time, with much of the picture’s 58 minutes devoted to a couple of mole men trying to outrun the citizens of Silsby. But, Superman And The Mole Men has the distinction of being the first feature film based on a DC comic book. (I’m not counting the Batman and Superman serials.) And there’s a ragged charm to it you’ll never see in the big-budget, computer-effects-laden movies of today.

molemenad

On DVD, Warner Bros. added Superman And The Mole Men to the first season of the Adventures Of Superman TV show, which also includes the two-episode version. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1951, George Reeves, Lippert/Regal/API, Phyllis Coates, Television