Category Archives: Budd Boetticher

Blu-Ray Review: Escape In The Fog (1945).

Directed by Oscar (Budd) Boetticher, Jr.
Screenplay by Aubrey Wisberg
Cinematography: George Meehan
Film Editor: Jerome Thoms

Cast: Otto Kruger (Paul Devon), Nina Foch (Eileen Carr), William Wright (Barry Malcolm), Konstantin Shayne (Schiller), Ivan Triesault (Hausmer, Schiller’s Henchman), Ernie Adams (George Smith)

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Escape In The Fog (1945) is one of the pictures featured in Noir Archive, Volume 1 (1944-1954), a nine-movie, three-disc Blue-Ray set from Mill Creek, “curated” by Kit Parker. Now folks, we all owe Mr. Parker and the gang at Mill Creek a big fat thank you, because there are two more of these wonderful sets on the way, each one offering a wealth of deep, dark, cynical, noir-y riches. Some are A pictures, but most of Bs — a ratio I like a whole lot.

The B movie units at Columbia churned out some really cool movies in the 40s and 50s, some of my all-time favorites — from noir/mystery/crime stuff like The Whistler series to Westerns like The Law Vs. Billy The Kid (1954) to horror stuff like The Devil Commands (1941). A few of the guys who directed these things went on to bigger things, such as Mr. Budd Boetticher. In Escape In The Fog, you won’t see the stylistic and thematic stuff that makes Boetticher’s later Westerns the masterworks that they are. But you will see the economy, efficiency and pacing that all his pictures benefit from, along with a real skill at building tension, something he’d put to terrific use in The Killer Is Loose (1956).

Nina Foch is a Navy nurse who has a vivid dream of a man being attacked on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. That dream becomes a reality, she becomes involved with the guy getting pounded in her dream (William Wright) and they’re soon wrapped up in wartime espionage involving federal agents, Otto Kruger and Nazi spies. It all comes together pretty well, making for a solid 63 minutes.

Budd Boetticher’s movies remind me of Anthony Mann pictures in that the location often plays as big a role in the story as the people — Lone Pine is almost as important as Randolph Scott. There’s none of that here, but the frame totally filled with fog is quite effective — not only adding to the atmosphere, but concealing just how cheap this 12-day picture really is.

Columbia has always done a great job of keeping their material in tip-top shape, and this set, all nine movies, look fresh and crisp and sharp. Of course, some look a little better than others, but across the board they’re stunning. In spite of their often tiny budgets, the craftspeople who worked on these things made sure they looked good — and time hasn’t changed that one bit. If anything, high-definition might accentuate the incredible look of these films.

Escape In The Fog is a neat little movie. And this set is essential stuff — for fans of noir, of B moviemaking or of any of the casts and crews represented here. So, thank you Mr. Parker and the folks at Mill Creek. Looking forward to the next one!

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Filed under Budd Boetticher, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Kit Parker, Mill Creek

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

Blu-Ray Review: The Killer Is Loose (1956).


Directed by Budd Boetticher
Screenplay by Harold Medford
From a story by John Hawkins and Ward Hawkins
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Music by Lionel Newman
Film Editor: George Gittens

Cast: Joseph Cotten (Det. Sam Wagner), Rhonda Fleming (Lila Wagner), Wendell Corey (Leon Poole), Alan Hale (Denny), Michael Pate (Det. Chris Gillespie), John Larch (Otto Flanders), Dee J. Thompson (Grace Flanders)

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To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a little movie that pays off big. And Budd Boetticher’s The Killer Is Loose (1956) is that in spades.

Detective Joseph Cotton accidentally shoots Wendell Corey’s wife while arresting him for bank robbery. On his way to prison, Corey swears he’ll get his revenge. And when he escapes, his only thought is to put Cotton through the same pain he suffered: the loss of his wife.

Where do you begin with this thing? From Lucien Ballard’s cinematography to Budd Boetticher’s crisp direction to the editing by George Gittens to the terrific cast, this movie knocks everything out of the park. Wendell Corey was never better than he is here as the milquetoast banker turned robber and murderer. You somehow feel sorry for him, even as you wish they’d hurry up and blow him away. Rhonda Fleming is quite good as Cotton’s wife, Corey’s target. It’s a part that’s pretty unlikable — she hates her husband being a cop, forcing Cotton to not only search for Corey, but conceal the fact that Fleming is who he’s after. Then there’s the great use of LA locations and the decision to set some of the film’s tensest scenes in the most mundane of places (kitchens, suburban neighborhoods, lettuce fields, etc.).

1956 was a great year for movies, and many of the folks behind The Killer Is Loose were on a roll. Boetticher was about to begin his superb Ranown Cycle with Randolph Scott — Seven Men From Now would arrive in a few short months. Rhonda Fleming’s next picture was Allan Dwan’s Slightly Scarlet (1956). And Lucien Ballard would continue working with Boetticher on the Ranown pictures and shoot The Killing (1956) for Stanley Kubrick.

Ballard (beside camera with scarf) and Boetticher (in front of Ballard) shooting on an LA bus.

Ballard’s camerawork not only sets this movie apart, it allows the new Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix to really shine. This is exactly how a black and white film should look in high definition. Film grain is present throughout, in a good way. Contrast levels are near-perfect, the blacks are very true and the proper 1.85 aspect ratio is preserved (the full-frame DVD looks awful clunky in comparison). And the lossless audio is rock solid.

The Killer Is Loose is a picture I’ve been lifting up for years, and this Blu-Ray is just as easy to recommend. Trust me, you need this.

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Filed under 1956, Allan Dwan, Budd Boetticher, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Joseph Cotton, Rhonda Fleming, Stanley Kubrick, United Artists, Wendell Corey

Blu-Ray News #113: The Killer Is Loose (1955).

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Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey, Alan Hale, Jr., Michael Pate, John Larch

Now we’re talking! Budd Boetticher’s The Killer Is Loose (1956) is coming to Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix. The release date evidently hasn’t been nailed down.

Ballard (beside the camera) and Boetticher (in front of Ballard) shooting a scene on a bus.

This terrific noir shows that Boetticher’s mastery of the movies wasn’t limited to Westerns or Randolph Scott. It’s tight, tense and terrific — with Wendell Corey giving a very creepy, career-best performance. Joseph Cotton and Rhonda Fleming are good, too. Lucien Ballard’s cinematography is top-notch with some great location work. The Killer Is Loose is a really good one.

Budd Boetticher (from his book When In Disgrace): “The Killer Is Loose was a good film with Joseph Cotton, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey, who were wonderful to work with. But I don’t think they appreciated what Lucien and I did. We made that picture in 15 days on a 20-day schedule.”

This came out the same year as Budd’s Seven Men From Now (1956). Boy, was he on a roll! Way overlooked — and way overdue on Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1956, Budd Boetticher, DVD/Blu-ray News, United Artists