Category Archives: 1959

Blu-Ray News #313: Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films (1955-59).

Mill Creek Entertainment has two new Blu-ray sets coming in December: Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films and Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films. Here’s a look at the Sci-Fi Vault.

Creature With The Atom Brain (1955)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, S. John Launer, Michael Granger

A scientist has figured out how to reanimate dead people and make them obey his commands. A gangster finds out about the discovery and decides he’ll use the dead for his own purposes. Produced by Sam Katzman.

It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955)
Directed by Robert Gordon
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis

Kenneth Tobey commands a submarine that is attacked by a giant octopus, cooked up by Ray Harryheusen. Before long, Tobey and Faith Domergue are battling it along the Pacific Coast. Produced by Sam Katzman.

The Ymir and Ray Harryheusen. Ray’s the one on the right.

20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia

When a spaceship crashes on its way back from Venus, some eggs brought back as a souvenir get lost. Soon a really cool, quickly-growing monster from Ray Harryheusen is running loose.

The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock (1959)
Directed by Sidney Miller
Starring Lou Costello, Dorothy Provine, Gale Gordon

Lou Costello’s fiancé Dorothy Provine is exposed to radiation and grows really big. This was Costello’s only solo film after he and Bud Abbott parted ways. Lou died before it was released.

Columbia’s transfers are always top-notch, so expect these pictures to look fabulous. 

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Filed under 1955, 1957, 1959, Abbott & Costello, Angela Stevens, Columbia, Curt Siodmak, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Faith Domergue, Kenneth Tobey, Mill Creek, Nathan Juran, Ray Harryhausen, Richard Denning, Sam Katzman

A Night At The Movies, Halloween 1961.

Folks in the Kansas City area really had it going on around Halloween of 1961. Blood And Roses (1960), Circus Of Horrors (1960), Hammer’s The Mummy (1959) — and depending on which theater you chose, either Blood Of The Vampire (1958), Jack Arnold’s Monster On The Campus (1958) or The Thing That Couldn’t Die (1958).

Tough decision, but I think I would’ve chosen Blood Of The Vampire (for Barbara Shelley) at the Dickinson Theater. What would’ve been your pick?

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Filed under 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, A Night At The Movies, AIP, Barbara Shelley, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, Halloween Marathons, Hammer Films, Jack Arnold, Jack Asher, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray Review: The Bat (1959).


Directed by Crane Wilbur
Produced by C.J. Tevlin
Screen Story & Screenplay by Crane Wilbur
Based on the play by Mary Roberts Rinehart & Avery Hopwood
Director Of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc, ASC
Film Editor: William Austin, ACE
Musical Score by Louis Forbes

Cast: Vincent Price (Dr. Malcolm Wells), Agnes Moorehead (Cornelia van Gorder), Gavin Gordon (Lt. Andy Anderson), John Sutton (Warner), Lenita Lane (Lizzie Allen), Elaine Edwards (Dale Bailey), Darla Hood (Judy Hollander), John Bryant (Mark Fleming), Harvey Stephens (John Fleming)


As a monster movie-loving kid growing up in the 1970s, as Halloween approached, I’d go through the TV Guide and newspaper with a fine-tooth comb, looking for the treats that would be running on the local TV stations (and if lucky, an area theater). Then with my roster all planned out, and armed with a plastic pumpkin full of candy, I’d sit down to watch as much of it as I could take in. (Bet I wasn’t the only one doing this.) 

Of course, it works nothing like that now. Tons of old monster movies can be plucked out of thin air through streaming services and YouTube. But for us hardcore collector nerds, who want to own something physical, and for those of us who demand that these things look as good (or better) than they did when they came out, Halloween works a tiny bit like it did back in the day — who’s putting out what on DVD and Blu-Ray as October 31st rolls around?

One of this year’s treats is The Bat (1959), now on Blu-Ray from The Film Detective. This is actually a picture I first caught during one of those Halloween movie marathons. And if only for the simple reason that it stars Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead, it’s wonderful.

It’s not really a horror picture, but a murder mystery complete with all the necessary ingredients — a million bucks in stolen money, a murder or two, a shadowy figure called The Bat, Vincent Price in a laboratory (studying bats, ironically) and a mystery-writer-turned-sleuth (Agnes Moorehead) trying to get the bottom of it all. This was the fourth film adaptation of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s novel, which had also been turned into a play.


The Bat
comes from a real sweet spot in Vincent Price’s career, as he became a true horror icon. He’d already done The Fly and its sequel, House On Haunted Hill and The Tingler. He’d soon kick off the Corman/Poe “cycle” with House Of Usher (1960). Price is a hoot in films like this, rarely taking himself too seriously. Agnes Moorehead is always a joy to watch, and she’s terrific here.

Crane Wilbur’s screenplay and direction are pretty good, keeping things moving and letting the leads do their thing. As an actor, Wilbur is known for 1914 serial The Perils Of Pauline. As a writer, he gave us some really cool stuff, pictures like He Walked By Night (1949), House Of Wax (1953), Crime Wave (1954) and The Phenix City Story (1955). 

One of the film’s biggest assets is the camerawork of Joseph Biroc — whose black and white work is always incredible, in pictures ranging from Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) to William Castle’s 13 Ghosts (1960) to Robert Aldrich’s Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, he worked with Aldrich a lot). Biroc won an Oscar for The Towering Inferno (1974).

The Film Detective has done Biroc proud with this new DVD and Blu-Ray. Working from original 35mm elements, this thing looks gorgeous. I don’t know that the sharpness and contrast could be any better, and the 1.85:1 framing is perfect. Any lines and dirt have been cleaned up without any noticeable manipulation, and the audio is as clear as a bell.

Along with the spectacular transfer of the film itself, we’re treated to plenty of extras. The booklet contains an essay, “The Case Of The Forgotten Author,” about author Mary Roberts Rinehart and her source material for The Bat. There’s a featurette from Ballyhoo, “The Case For Crane Wilbur,” covering his long, varied career. Then there are nine radio shows featuring Price. They sound terrific and they’re very, very cool. Finally, there’s a feature-length commentary by Jason A. Ney.

Overall, this is a fabulous package. The movie’s a lot of fun, and it’s presented flawlessly. The extras are top-notch, with the radio shows being a real bonus. The Film Detective folks are on a real roll these days. Highly, highly recommended. 

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Filed under 1959, Agnes Moorehead, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Monogram/Allied Artists, The Film Detective, Vincent Price

A Night At The Movies, Halloween 1959.

You could see The Bat (1959) at The Uptown Theatre in Sedalia, Missouri, back in October of 1959. Today, we can see it looking splendid on DVD and Blu-Ray from The Film Detective. Watch for my review, coming real soon.

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Filed under 1959, A Night At The Movies, Agnes Moorehead, Halloween Marathons, Monogram/Allied Artists, The Film Detective, Vincent Price

A Night At The Movies, Halloween 1963.

Happy Halloween from Emporia, Kansas! I’m sorry, Howl-O-We’en.

This woulda been a good one. You’ve got Godzilla. You’ve got Christopher Lee in a Hammer pirate movie. And you’ve got an Italian monster movie shot (and partially directed) by Mario Bava!

Would’ve gone, but I wasn’t born yet.

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Filed under 1959, 1962, 1963, A Night At The Movies, Andrew Keir, Christopher Lee, Eiji Tsuburaya, Halloween Marathons, Hammer Films, Ishirō Honda, John Gilling, Mario Bava, Michael Ripper, Oliver Reed, Riccardo Freda, Toho, Universal (-International)

DVD News #408: Samuel Fuller Collection (1943 – 1960).

There’s so much written about Samuel Fuller (above, with John Ford). My suggestion is just watch his films — they’ll tell you about all you need to know — and maybe read his autobiography A Third Face. Watching his movies is a little easier thanks to a cool little set coming later this month from Critics’ Choice and Mill Creek. He didn’t direct all these films, but his fingerprints are on ’em for sure.

Power Of The Press (1943)
Directed by Lew Landers
Story by Samuel Fuller
Starring Guy Kibbee, Gloria Dickson, Lee Tracy, Otto Kruger, Victor Jory
A corrupt New York newspaperman murders his partner over his pro-war stance. A small town journalist gets to the bottom of things.

Scandal Sheet (1951)
Directed by Phil Karlson
Based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller
Starring Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, John Derek, Rosemary DeCamp, Henry Morgan, James Millican
A newspaperman tries to bury a murder story since, uh, he’s the murderer!

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw, Anna Lee
Two cops — Korean War veterans and friends — wind up in a love triangle with a witness to the murder of a stripper. Into this sordid tale, Fuller deftly weaves a message of racial tolerance. One of his best.

Underworld, USA (1960)
Produced, Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Cliff Robertson, Dolores Dorn, Beatrice Kay
A young man infiltrates the mob to get the mobsters who murdered his father.

I’m really looking forward to this. Highly recommended if you don’t have ’em elsewhere.

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Filed under 1951, 1959, 1960, Broderick Crawford, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Harry Morgan, John Ford, Mill Creek, Phil Karlson, Sam Fuller

Blu-Ray News #392: The Bat (1959).

Directed by Crane Wilbur
Starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, John Sutton

The Film Detective comes through with another one. Coming in September is The Bat (1959), a mystery thriller that Allied Artists promoted much like House On Haunted Hill (1959). People expected horror and didn’t get it, and that has hurt the picture’s reputation over the years. 

Price is as good as ever and Agnes Moorehead is terrific. This The Bat was the fourth film based on the stageplay by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, based on a novel by Rinehart.

The Film Detective has done incredible work over the last couple years, dragging cool movies like this from the depths of PD, dollar-bin DVD hell— and giving them new life on Blu-Ray. This one is easy to recommend.

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Filed under 1959, Agnes Moorehead, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, The Film Detective, Vincent Price

February 1975.

While researching something completely unrelated, I came across this ad for a double feature of Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959) playing a number of theaters in New York in February 1975, including the UA Rivoli, which was one of the only Dimension 150 houses around.

Seeing those great Steve Reeves peplum films, shot by Mario Bava in ‘Scope, on that deep curved Dimension 150 screen must’ve really been something.

By the way, the Rivoli ran Jaws that summer, which would’ve been cool on that curved screen.

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Filed under 1958, 1959, Avco Embassy, Mario Bava, Peplum, Steve Reeves

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

62 Years Ago Today.

These guys knew what they were doing, and were clearly using the William Castle playbook, when they promoted the hell out of his House On Haunted Hill (1959).

If I’d happened upon this display as a kid, my mom couldn’t have drug me away from that spot.

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Filed under 1959, Elisha Cook, Jr., Vincent Price, William Castle