Category Archives: 1955

Blu-Ray News #112: The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection.

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Universal’s next Complete Legacy Collection — each Blu-Ray set covers everything featuring a particular Universal monster — concerns The Mummy. Providing Universal can come up with the proper number of tana leaves, this edition will be available in May. It spreads six movies over four discs.

The Mummy (1932) is one of the most visually-splendid movies I can think of. Karl Freund packs one incredible shot after another in this thing — and Karloff is at his brilliant best.

The first sequel (or maybe it’s more of a remake), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), has Tom Tyler doing a great job filling in for Boris Karloff — and Wallace Ford is a welcome addition to anything.

Jack Pierce turns Lon Chaney Jr. into Kharis.

The next three Mummy movies — The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), and The Mummy’s Curse (1944) — with Lon Chaney, Jr. as a rather portly mummy making his way through Massachusetts and Louisiana, are a real hoot in that 1940s Universal Monsters kinda way. I love these things.

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Then there’s Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955), which throws in Marie Windsor, my all-time favorite actress, for good measure. It was A&C’s last picture for Universal, a studio they pretty much saved in the 40s. Eddie Parker, Chaney’s double on the three previous Mummy movies, plays Klaris throughout this one.

All six Mummy movies are black and white, with Meet The Mummy in 1.85 widescreen — and they’re all sure to look marvelous on Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1955, Abbott & Costello, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Pierce, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Marie Windsor, Universal (-International)

DVD/Blu-Ray News #101: Panther Girl Of The Kongo (1955).

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Directed by Franklin Adreon
Starring Phyllis Coates, Myron Healey, Arthur Space, John Day

The next-to-last Republic serial, Panther Girl Of The Kongo (1955), is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray from Olive Films.

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Stock footage was the order of the day in the final years of Republic serials, and this one lifts liberally from Jungle Girl (1941) starring Frances Gifford. What really sets Panther Girl Of The Kongo apart are the always-terrific Phyllis Coates and the really cool giant crayfish (here in North Carolina, we call them crawdads). I guess Hollywood’s big bug trend (Them!, Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis, The Black Scorpion) infested the Republic lot — and it’s all brought to life by the genius of Howard and Theodore Lydecker. They built scale jungle “sets” and turned real crayfish loose on them.

It all makes for a really fun serial that comes highly recommended.

UPDATE 2/10/17: Amazon has this available for pre-order at just $12.99!

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Filed under 1955, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Phyllis Coates, Republic Pictures

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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Filed under 1955, Monogram/Allied Artists, Warner Archive

RIP, Rex Reason.

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Rex Reason
(November 30, 1928 – November 19, 2015)

Rex Reason has passed away at 86. He’s best known for the great sci-fi picture This Island Earth (1955, above with Faith Domergue), but he’s also in The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), the third Creature From The Black Lagoon picture. He left the movie business in the 60s and got into real estate.

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Filed under 1955, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason

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

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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

DVD Review: Creature With The Atom Brain (1955).

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Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story and Screen Play by Curt Siodmak
Cinematography: Fred Jackman Jr.

Cast: Richard Denning (Dr. Chet Walker), Angela Stevens (Joyce Walker), Lane Chandler (Gen. Saunders), Charles Horvath (Creature), Michael Granger (Frank Buchanan), Gregory Gaye (Dr. Wilhelm Steigg), Pierre Watkin (Mayor Bremer), Tristram Coffin (District Attorney McGraw)

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Creature With The Atom Brain (1955) is a sci-fi/horror picture from Sam Katzman. For some of you, that’s all you need to know. I’ve always found it a lot of cheesy fun, with some genuinely creepy moments.

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An ex-Nazi scientist, Dr. Wilhelm Steigg (Gregory Gaye), has created a gang of radio-controlled zombies — with electrodes in their brains and atomic juice in their veins. Unfortunately, Steigg’s experiments were funded by Frank Buchanan (Michael Granger), a gangster who decides he wants to use the zombies for his own revenge.

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Richard Denning is one of the authorities trying to get to the bottom of the strange killings and kill off the lumbering atomic monsters. (Isn’t he always?) It all climaxes with the atom-brain creatures battling it out with the cops.

Governor (on television): “As Governor, I am declaring a state of emergency. All police facilities have been alerted to prevent any further crimes by so-called atomic creatures.”

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With Creature With The Atom Brain, we get another example of Edward L. Cahn’s solid B-movie work. I don’t think he ever made what would be called a really good movie, but he knew his way around this sort of thing — keeping things moving fast enough to keep you from realizing just how silly it all is. This one goes a step further, thanks to DP Fred Jackman Jr., to include some dark, creepy scenes of the zombies making their way toward their next victim. Cahn worked for Katzman’s unit a lot, and while he didn’t have the touch of Fred F. Sears, another of Katzman’s favorite directors, he made sure fans got plenty of what they came to see.

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The new DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment, billed as a 60th Anniversary Edition, isn’t the picture’s first release. It was part of Columbia’s terrific four-movie Katzman set. This is the same transfer. Sharp as a tack, with superb contrast and clear audio. These movies, dumb as they may be, were made by real pros. Unfortunately, the transfer is full-frame instead of its original 1.85 framing. But it looks so good, and the price is right — so who’s complaining? If you like this kinda thing, I certainly recommend it.

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Filed under 1955, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Edward L. Cahn, Mill Creek, Sam Katzman

DVD News #37: Creature With The Atom Brain.

Creature With Atom Brain LC

Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story and Screen Play by Curt Siodmak
Starring Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, S. John Launer, Michael Granger, Gregory Gaye, Linda Bennett

Cahn, Katzman and Siodmak are a B-movie Dream Team and this one’s a lot of cheeseball fun — with Nazi scientists, gangsters and zombies. Mill Creek Entertainment will release a 60th Anniversary edition DVD in a couple weeks. I would imagine this will be the same transfer Columbia used for their Katzman set, which was nice but full-frame.

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Filed under 1955, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Mill Creek, Sam Katzman