Category Archives: Kevin McCarthy

Double Deal (1950) — The Marie Windsor Blogathon.

Directed by Abby Berlin
Produced by James T. Vaughn
Screen play by Lee Berman & Charles S. Belden
Story by Don McGuire
Director Of Photography: Frank Redman
Film Editor: Robert Swink
Music by Michel Michelet

Cast: Marie Windsor (Terry Miller), Richard Denning (Buzz Doyle), Taylor Holmes (Corpus Mills), Fay Baker (Lilli Sebastian), James Griffith (Walter Karns), Carleton Young (Reno Sebastian), Tom Browne Henry (Sheriff L.G. Morelli), Paul E. Burns, Walter Burke, Frank Felton

This is an entry in The Marie Windsor Blogathon, a celebration of the actress’s life and work.

Bel-Air Productions cranked out some terrific little movies in the 1950s, such as the B crime pictures Big House U.S.A. (1955) and Hot Cars (1956). The very first Bel-Air film was Double Deal (1950), released by RKO Radio Pictures. It was the first time Marie Windsor received top billing.

Double Deal concerns oil wells, the extremely dysfunctional Sebastian family, gambling, a monkey and murder.

Richard Denning is Buzz Doyle, an engineer who steps off the bus just as the Sebastian family squabble turns deadly. (Have you noticed how many noir pictures open with a guy getting off a bus in some strange town?) Marie Windsor is Terry Miller, a nice girl who takes a shine to Buzz, inherits an oil well and ends up a murder suspect. Fay Baker is a conniving hag who doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as she gets what she wants. Taylor Holmes is an attorney and “walking gin mill.” And James Griffith is a slimeball who runs a crooked dice table.

Double Deal is a cheap little mini-noir that gets almost everything right. It was shot in nine days on the RKO lot, and the completed picture runs just 65 minutes. There’s a whole lot of story packed into that 65 minutes, from a couple murders, lots of wildcatting for oil and a truckload of double crosses. 

Throughout the picture, Fay Baker and James Griffith are perfectly despicable, while Richard Denning is completely likable (at one point, Kevin McCarthy was up for the part, which would’ve been his movie debut).

Marie Windsor is charming, cool and beautiful — whether she’s all dolled up for a night on the town or wearing jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap and a smudge of oil on her cheek. 1950 was a busy year for Windsor: Dakota Lil, The Showdown, Frenchie and Double Deal. Each was for a different studio — Fox, Republic, Universal International and RKO, respectively.

Director Abby Berlin was on Broadway and vaudeville as half of a comedy team with Ken Brown. He headed to Hollywood and worked as an assistant director, until he got the chance to direct with Leave It To Blondie (1945). He directed a number of the Blondie movies and quite a bit of TV before passing away in 1954.

The story for Double Deal came from Don McQuire. He had an interesting career, from acting in Armored Car Robbery (1950, the same year as Double Deal) to directing The Delicate Delinquent (1957) to supplying the story for Tootsie (1982). Screenwriter Charles S. Belden has a story credit on both Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933) and House Of Wax (1953). He also wrote some Charlie Chan and Hopalong Cassidy pictures.

Director Of Photography Frank Redman spent the 40s and early 50s at RKO. He shot a lot of Falcon, Saint and Dick Tracy pictures. Leaving RKO, he went to TV, where he stayed plenty busy. He shot over a hundred episodes of Perry Mason, among other things. His work on Double Deal is nothing flashy, looking like so many other RKO pictures from the period.

Double Deal is not classic film noir. It’s no Narrow Margin (1952). And it was certainly done on the cheap — the crew on the oil well is limited to Denning, Windsor and Paul Burns. But I wish there were a hundred movies around just like it — cheap, short and cool.

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Filed under 1950, Bel-Air, James H. Griffith, Kevin McCarthy, Marie Windsor, Richard Denning, RKO

Blu-Ray News #226: Piranha (1978).

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski, Paul Bartel, Richard Deacon, Bruce Gordon, Stephen The Swimming Swine

I’m so happy to be putting this post together. Because yet another movie that I love dearly, Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978), is getting a real Cadillac of a Blu-Ray release from Scream Factory this June.

One of the prop piranhas.

It’s often called “the best of the Jaws ripoffs.” But it’s more than that. It’s scary. It’s funny. It parades a terrific cast of veteran character actors across the screen. And it just plain entertains. Released the same summer as Jaws 2 (1978), it’s the better picture by far. After all, what could possibly beat a plot like this — scads of piranhas are released into a river, and at the end of the river lies a kids’ summer camp. Pure genius.

Year ago, I was outbid on a 16mm print of this movie that turned up on eBay. This extras-packed Blu-Ray will certainly help right that wrong. Here’s what you’ll get —
4K Remaster from the original camera negative
New Audio Commentary with Roger Corman
Audio Commentary with  Joe Dante & producer Jon Davison
“The Making Of Piranha” – Interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski & more
Behind-The-Scenes Footage, Bloopers & Outtakes, Additional Scenes from the TV version
Stills, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots

All that, and it comes in one of those fancy steelbook packages. I can’t wait sink my teeth into this. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World Pictures, Roger Corman, Shout/Scream Factory

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 #194: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956).

Don Siegel directs Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter.

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones

The more Don Siegel, the better. Olive Films has announced his Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) as part of their ongoing Signature series. For one reason or another, I’ve been disappointed in the previous DVDs and stuff of this great film. I have a feeling this one’s gonna knock it out of the park. All the Signature titles I’ve seen have been terrific.

Olive Films says this will hatch October 16. Happy Halloween indeed!

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Filed under 1956, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kevin McCarthy, Olive Films

Screening: Piranha (1978) On Shout TV.

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller

I love Piranha (1978), Joe Dante’s Jaws ripoff — produced by Roger Corman and written by John Sayles. I’ve seen it countless times.

Shout TV has a special event planned to celebrate the movie’s 40th anniversary — August 3 on Shout TV’s Twitch channel. To me, this is certainly a movie worth celebrating.

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World, Roger Corman, Screenings, Television, William Schallert

Screening: Piranha (1978).

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski, Paul Bartel, Richard Deacon, Stephan The Swimming Swine

A 35mm print of Joe Dante’s wonderful Jaws ripoff Piranha (1978) will be run as part of the festivities at the Hudson Horror Show on Saturday, May 20th at 7:55 and 10:40PM.

The Empire South Hills 8
1895 South Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

One of the prop piranhas by Phil Tippett. How cool is that?

Piranha‘s a real favorite, and I’d love to be there. This was one I never caught in the theater.

The Hudson Horror Show’s entire lineup is in 35mm. God bless ’em!

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World, Roger Corman, Screenings