Category Archives: 1954

Have A Happy Hannibal 8 New Year!

Here’s The Creature From The Black Lagoon showing you how to make the scene on New Year’s Eve. The artwork is by Shag.

Hope you all have a terrific 2023.

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Filed under 1954, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #319: The Long Wait (1954).

Directed by Victor Saville
Starring Anthony Quinn, Charles Coburn, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, James Millican

Looks like the New Year’s gonna be pretty good — at least when it comes to DVDs and Blu-Rays. ClassicFlix has just announced another Mickey Spillane picture, The Long Wait (1954), with Anthony Quinn and the great Peggie Castle.

It was shot by Franz Planer, who did all kinds of great stuff: The Face Behind The Mask (1941), Criss Cross (1949), The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953), 99 River Street (1953). 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954), The Big Country (1958), The Unforgiven (1960), King Of Kings (1961), Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) and many more. Seeing Planer’s work in high definition is always a treat.

ClassicFlix does great work, so this’ll look wonderful. They’re promising a commentary from Max Allan Collins and an image gallery.  This is one I’ve never seen, and I can’t wait. (The long wait, indeed!) Coming in March.

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Filed under 1954, Anthony Quinn, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mikey Spillane, Peggie Castle, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #317: The Long, Long Trailer (1954).

Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Bert Freed, Madge Blake, Howard McNear

The Warner Archive has announced The Long, Long Trailer (1954) as an upcoming Blu-Ray release (January). This is a family favorite — and good, good news indeed.

At the time, MGM was concerned that folks wouldn’t pay to see Lucy and Desi, since they came on TV each week for free. But the picture was a big hit — maybe it was the chance to see them in Ansco Color. The picture came long in 1954, as the movies were wrestling with wide screens, curved screens and the final days of 3-D. The “great panoramic screen” was perfect for  the 1953 36-foot Redman New Moon trailer used in the film, as Lucy and Desi set off to see the USA.

The Long, Long Trailer comes highly, highly recommended!

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Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Marjorie Main, MGM, Warner Archive

DVD Review: William Castle Adventures Collection (1953-54).

My copy of the eagerly-awaited Critics’ Choice Collection four-feature, two-DVD William Castle Adventures Collection arrived yesterday. Will have a proper, more in-depth review of one of the titles soon, but thought I’d go ahead and share some thoughts on the collection as a whole.

The four films here are Serpent Of The Nile (1953), The Iron Glove (1954), Charge Of The Lancers (1954) and The Saracen Blade (1954). They were all shot in Technicolor in that crazy transitional period when Hollywood went through all sorts of technical turmoil — Scope, 3D, Eastmancolor, stereophonic sound and a number of spherical aspect ratios. From all that comes the trouble with this set.

The color’s quite nice from one picture to the next. Putting two features on a single DVD may affect the overall picture quality a bit, but I don’t have any complaints there.

Then we get to the aspect ratios, and things get pretty whacked out. Charge Of The Lancers was released in 1.66, and that’s the way it’s presented here. A nice anamorphic transfer — the jewel of this package.

The Iron Glove and The Saracen Blade were both 1.85. That’s how they’re framed here (once you get past the Columbia logo), but they’re not anamorphic. So, as you’re probably aware, that means they appear as a rectangle centered in the middle of our 16×9 TVs. Not ideal, but certainly watchable. (If your TV has a zoom feature, that’ll help.)

The real trouble comes with Serpent Of The Nile. Released in 1953, it was shot full-frame (1.37). Here, it’s cropped for 1.85 (after the titles) and non-anamorphic. There are plenty of heads and titles cut off throughout. It’s a real mess, even though the color is excellent. (There’s currently a decent, properly-framed version on YouTube.)

These goofy little movies from Sam Katzman and William Castle, two my favorite filmmakers, are junk, perhaps, but they’re wonderful junk. Critics’ Choice (and Mill Creek) license these films from Columbia and work with the material the studio provides. Usually, stuff from Columbia is beautiful. In this case, what Critics’ Choice was sent for three of the four films should’ve been sent back. Happy to have this set, but have to admit I’m disappointed.

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Carolyn Jones, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Julie Newmar, Karin Booth, Mill Creek, Rhonda Fleming, Sam Katzman, William Castle

Happy Birthday, Godzilla.

Just saw that the first Godzilla movie, Godzilla, King Of The Monsters — as it was called when it hit the States, was released on November 3, 1954.

That makes Gojira/Godzilla 68 years old — and the longest-running film franchise of them all. For me, the series really ended in 1975 with Terror Of Mechagodzilla. I can’t stand the stuff that came later.

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Filed under 1954, Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Toho

DVD/Blu-Ray News #315: Secret Of The Incas (1954).


Directed by Jerry Hopper
Starring Charlton Heston, Robert Young, Nicole Maurey, Thomas Mitchell, Yma Sumac

Secret Of The Incas (1954) has been MIA on video forever, so it’s really cool that Kino Lorber has dug it up and is giving it a proper DVD and Blu-Ray release in early 2023.

In a lot of ways, the picture plays as a prototype for Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), the most obvious being the outfit Charlton Heston wears. Shot on location on location at Machu Picchu in Peru, it’s a gorgeous movie — and will look splendid on Blu-Ray. I did a commentary for it, and the file they sent me to work from was lovely. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1954, Charlton Heston, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Paramount

Blu-Ray News #309: The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 2 (1953-54).

The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 1 Blu-Ray set from The 3-D Film Archive and ClassicFlix was really something to see. It blew everybody away. Well, now they’re getting started with Season 2. The Kickstarter campaign has begun, and I encourage you to get in on it. The restorations/transfers (from the camera negatives) and extras will be incredible, as we’ve come to expect from these folks. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Television, The 3-D Film Archive

DVD News #403: The William Castle Adventures Collection (1953-54)

We can all use some good news these days, and this is good news indeed. Critics Choice has announced a DVD set featuring four adventure pictures from William Castle and Sam Katzman — The William Castle Adventures Collection — coming in September.

All four films were shot in Technicolor (none were in 3-D). The transfers should be terrific. The 1954 films should be widescreen, either 1.66 or 1.85.

Sam Katzman, Rhonda Fleming & William Castle. Fleming holds the Serpent Of The Nile.

Serpent Of The Nile (1953)
Starring Rhonda Fleming, William Lundigan, Raymond Burr, Michael Ansara, Julie Newmar

Castle’s first film for Katzman (he’d been at Columbia in the 40s), it’s an epic done on the cheap (as you might expect). Rhonda Fleming is Cleopatra, wandering around on sets left over from Columbia’s much bigger (but not nearly as much fun) Salome (1953). Another director from Katzman’s unit, Fred F. Sears, serves as narrator.

The Iron Glove (1954)
Starring Robert Stack, Ursula Thiess, Richard Stapley, Alan Hale Jr.

In this two-week swashbuckler, the Columbia backlot doubles as Scotland. Robert Stack would soon do The High And The Mighty (1954), which would give his career a boost. Katzman wanted Cornel Wilde in the lead, and at one point the title was to have been The Kiss And The Sword.

Charge Of The Lancers (1954)
Starring Paulette Goddard, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Karin Booth

Castle and Katzman raid the costume department again, this time going for the Crimean War of the 1850s (don’t expect any actual historic accuracy). One of Paulette Goddard’s last films. 

The Saracen Blade (1954)
Starring Ricardo Montalbán, Betta St. John, Rick Jason, Carolyn Jones

This was the last of Katzman and Castle’s pictures like this, and this one takes on the Crusades. There was talk of filming this in Italy, but it was probably just that, talk. In his wonderful book Step Right Up! I’m Gonna Scare The Pants Off America, Castle wrote that for “three years I had been up to my ass in queens, kings and jokers.” He’d also been making plenty of Westerns for Katzman, and in 1958, he’d go independent and make his own series of gimmicky horror pictures, most of which Columbia would release.

These cheap and tacky little movies are a lot of fun. I cannot recommend this set highly enough. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Thanks to John Hall for the tip!

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Carolyn Jones, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fred F. Sears, Julie Newmar, Karin Booth, Rhonda Fleming, Sam Katzman, William Castle

Making Movies: Don Siegel At Work.

Don Siegel’s films are scattered throughout my list of all-time favorites — if I was to ever sit down and make such a list. Here are some photos I’ve come across while researching him for various things (some of these images have appeared on this blog before, but are worth repeating).

Up top, there’s Siegel directing Clint Eastwood in Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970). The original screenplay was by Budd Boetticher, who was supposed to direct (he ended up with only a story credit). Budd not happy with the finished film, which co-starred Shirley MacLaine. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner called the picture “a solidly entertaining film that provides Clint Eastwood with his best, most substantial role to date; in it he is far better than he has ever been. In director Don Siegel, Eastwood has found what John Wayne found in John Ford and what Gary Cooper found in Frank Capra.” They’d make five movies together.

Here he is with Ronald Reagan and Vinveca Lindfors (Mrs. Siegel at the time) shooting Night Unto Night (1949).

Neville Brand and Dabbs Greer (?) get direction from Siegel on Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954).

Nick Adams and Siegel go over the script for Hell Is For Heroes (1962).

Siegel, Angie Dickinson, Claude Akins and John Cassavettes (back of his head) on the set of The Killers (1964).

With Eastwood on the set of Coogan’s Bluff (1968), their first picture together.

Andy Robinson goes over the script with Siegel on Dirty Harry (1971).

Siegel and Walter Matthau having a laugh on Charley Varrick (1973). I think Don’s wearing the same hat he has on in the photo from The Killers.

Eastwood and Siegel on location for Escape From Alcatraz (1979).

I was trying to find a picture of Siegel working on Baby Face Nelson (1957), one of his best, but had no luck. It’s highly underrated, probably because it’s almost impossible to see.

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Filed under 1954, 1957, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1979, Angie Dickinson, Budd Boetticher, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Nick Adams, Steve McQueen, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau

Blu-Ray News #379: Human Desire (1954).

Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Edgar Buchanan, Peggy Maley

Human Desire (1954) is small-town noir as only the great Fritz Lang could do it — and Kino Lorber is bringing it to Blu-Ray later this year.

Glenn Ford’s a train engineer who gets involved in murder, blackmail and about every kind of seediness you can think of — all thanks to Fate and Gloria Grahame.

Lang and DP Burnett Guffey come up with some stunning widescreen visuals, especially around the railroad yard. And while it’s not quite the seedy masterpiece The Big Heat (1953) is — which first brought Lang, Ford and Grahame together — it shows how Lang’s stylistics can elevate substandard material. (There were all kinds of problems with this thing as it came together.)

I’m a huge fan of Lang’s Hollywood pictures, film noir and trains, so this one’s a real favorite. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1954, Broderick Crawford, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fritz Lang, Glenn Ford, Kino Lorber