No Escape

Having watched two film-noir flicks recently I though one more would be a good idea, so I found this on YouTube.

The story tells of a woman who thinks she may have moidered someone (by accident), a down-and-out musician who at first tries to extort money out of her, and her boyfriend, who is a cop but obviously a dirty one. Things happen and by the end the woman and the musician fall in love with each other, and the bad cop turns out to be the actual murderer.

Pretty standard stuff, and neither good nor bad. Mostly I enjoy these kinds of film because it is a good look into how life was before computers, smartphones, people saying “awesome” (a word I flatly refuse to actually speak) at everything, and reality TV. Still, you can’t call yourself a film buff if you don’t watch a wide variety of flicks.

At the end of the film the down-and-out musician gets to sing his new song “No Escape”, and it is heard by a film executive who offers to buy the song, thus ending the film with smiles all round. Awesome!

I can’t really recommend it, watch a Humphrey film instead, but at the end after a chuckle at the silliness of it all I was satisfied.

Date watched: September 17th
Score: 5.5/10
Film count 2019: 27

Fourteen Hours

This is a 1951 film noir drama about a young chap who wants to jump from the 15th floor of a hotel because life sucks, and the cop who tries to talk him off the ledge.

I had not heard of most of the actors, although upon researching this film I found that they were all significant film and TV actors in the day and beyond, just not up there with The Kirkster or Elizabeth Taylor or whatnot. Grace Kelly made her film debut in this with a minor role.

The young chap was played by Richard Basehart who would go onto play Wilton Knight of Knight Rider fame, although he was killed off in the pilot episode. His voice lived on though in the intro…

The cop was played by a fellow named Paul Douglas who had a decent career in radio, TV, and film but nothing as significant as Knight Rider. He died aged 52.

Barbara Bel Geddes played the fiance of the young chap. She had a role in Vertigo, and was Miss Ellie Ewing in Dallas.

Debra Paget played a sympathetic onlooker on the street (everyone else was waiting for the young chap to jump, including a bunch of comedy relief taxi drivers who placed bets on when he would jump). She would go on to play Elvis’ love interest in his film debut in Love Me Tender. She is also the only main cast member who is still alive, she is 86 now. Elvis apparently took a liking to her…

From Wikipedia: During production of Love Me Tender (1956), Elvis Presley became smitten with Paget, who in 1997 claimed the singer even proposed marriage. At the time, however, the media reported that she was romantically linked with Howard Hughes and nothing came of this. A 1956 article quoted Paget’s comments about Hughes:

I was in love with Howard for two years, and I don’t care who knows it… I was never alone with him in the whole two years. Mother was always with us… I haven’t seen Howard for a long time now, because I’m a one-man woman, and I’ve got to have a one-woman man… But I’ll always remember Howard with fondness.

Agnes Moorehead played the young chap’s mother. She appeared in Citizen Kane (her first film) and had a very long and successful career. She played Samantha’s mother in the TV series Bewitched, she was fab in that.

The film itself was decent. It moved a long at a good pace and despite mostly taking place on a hotel ledge or in the hotel room it worked well. The acting was pretty good on the whole. It was nominated for an Academy Award, but did not win anything (An American in Paris won best picture).

Events for the film were closely based on an actual event in New York in 1938 which had a tragic ending. According to Wikipedia the film too was going to have a tragic ending, but due to the daughter of the Fox president killing herself by jumping from the roof of the Fox West Coast Building, the ending was changed (two endings were filmed). As in the film the cop tried for fourteen hours to talk the man down, and was almost successful until a photographer interfered (read the Wiki article).

This is not an essential film to watch, but I found it to be a decent watch.

Date watched: September 14th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 25

To Catch a Thief

This is the third film I have watched in 24 hours, I need to up my final count of the year.

Hitchcock films are always worth watching, especially when they have Cary Grant, and this one was pretty decent, but not the best.

The story is about Cary’s character being accused of stealing jewels from the rich and wealthy in a resort town on the Mediterranean. In the past he was a infamous cat burgler nicknamed “The Cat”, but someone was copying his modus operandi, so he had to figure out who it was to clear his name. There was of course a pretty woman involved, in the form of Grace Kelly who was excellent along with Cary. Alfred made his cameo near the beginning of the film, on a bus sitting next to Cary.

There was a lot of dialogue, a bit too much I thought, but of course with Cary delivering his witty lines in that Cary Grant way it was quite enjoyable. The locations were fantastic too, the French Riviera was a stunning place even back in 1955.

It was filmed in widescreen, and in Technicolor (very vivid colours), and of course the cinematography was perfecto, so it looked absolutely fabulous.

This is not the best Hitchcock film, it was lacking suspense, but I still found it to be an enjoyable and entertaining film.

Date watched: December 30th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2018: 90

Killers From Space

It was the title that got me on this one, it sounded thrilling, but it was anything but. Not even Peter Graves could help this one.

The story starts off with a nuclear test in the desert, complete with soldiers, scientists, and top brass observing it from a distance with dark goggles. Also observing is scientist Peter Graves who is flying in a jet fighter around the site to take measurements. He and the pilot spot a bright light coming from the ground near where the bomb went off, so they fly in to investigate. The plane controls though freeze and it crashes, killing the pilot, and Peter Graves is found to be missing. Later, Peter Graves turns up at base with not a scratch except for a scar over his heart…he had been operated on!

Peter Graves and the chief bug-eye.

He is taken in for testing and after he acts pretty weird for a while the doctor decides to give him a truth serum. Under the serum he blurts out the truth of what happened. He explains he was taken underground by alien men with buggy eyes after the crash. He was dead, but they revived him by working on his heart and he was then as good as new. After waking up he found out that the aliens were from a planet where the sun was dying. The aliens had to adapt to less sunlight by growing buggy eyes so they could see better. They decided to find other planets to colonise so a bunch of them went to Earth and set up base underground in the nuke test area. There, they started to breed giant lizards, bugs, and other nasties which they would use to wipe out humanity. Peter Graves, being a scientist, figured out that they were getting power from a local power station to run their operation, and that if they lost that power things would overload. The chief bug-eye cottoned onto him so had the big chief alien up in the orbiting space station mesmerise Peter Graves via a television screen, then he was sent on his way to get info about the next nuclear test, which would be the last test they needed before world domination.

The truth serum didn’t convince the military brass, they thought Peter Graves was looney, so Peter Graves busted out of hospital, went to the power station and after a tense stand-off while holding an engineer at gunpoint, had the power turned off for ten seconds, which caused an almighty explosion in the bug-eyes underground lair, a huge nuclear mushroom cloud of an explosion…they were all toast. The end dialogue was: “Just as he said!”, “He blew them to pieces!”. Smiles all round then end titles.

The film was made in 1953 which was a busy year for nuke testing, 11 tests in all, and all above ground in Nevada. One test was even performed by firing a nuke from an artillery gun…scary stuff. The filmmakers did not seem to be making an anti-nuke film, they were just using it as a plot device.

The alien abduction, operation scar on Peter Graves chest, and brainwashing was interesting. Stories of actual people claiming alien abduction did not start until a year later.

As entertainment it was not much, there was a lot of talking but very little action, and no killing at all on the alien side of things. They just looked silly with their ping-pong ball eyes which must have been very uncomfortable to wear. It was good to see a 28 year old Peter Graves though, a fave actor of mine because of his role in the Airplane films, as well as the Mission Impossible TV series. It was a B-grade film though, so not much can be expected from it.

I have decided Peter must go into the MBMS Page of Fame, a most worthy actor.

It is time to watch a more modern film. I feel like an eighties film next.

Date watched: November 23rd
Score: 4/10
Film count 2018: 76

Wicked Woman

This 1953 low-budget film is about a tall blonde bad girl that rides into town on a bus from somewhere, gets a job at a bar, falls in love with the married owner, plots to run away to Mexico with him but her plan which involves fraud goes awry, and at the end of the film she is on another bus for Kansas to carry on her wickedness elsewhere.

The actress playing said blonde pretty much makes the whole film. Her name was Beverly Michaels and she played bad girls in a few films, but this one is her most well-known film. She was good at it too.

Also in the film as the bar owner was Richard Egan who was a familiar face. He had roles in many film and television roles.

Egan and Michaels

And another familiar face with an even more familiar voice was Percy Helton.

The film itself was decent and didn’t get boring. The last 15 minutes was very well done with the tension building up, but the ending was a bit of a cop-out as I was expecting the two fraudsters to go to the joint, but it was instead all neatly and happily ended with just the bad blonde moping out of town to carry on her bad ways somewhere else. But really, that is how it should have ended.

A pretty decent watch overall.

Date watched: November 22nd
Score: 6.6/10
Film count 2018: 74

The Man From Planet X

This is a 1951 independent science fiction film, and overall rather mediocre.

The story is about a roaming planet which astronomers named “Planet X” that was on a course for Earth. A news reporter following the story went to Scotland where the planet was supposed to be nearest to when it arrives. He meets an astronomer there, and his pretty daughter, and soon meets “The Man from Planet X”. At first the alien is friendly, but when a greedy scientist attacks the alien for his secrets things turn sour and the alien starts turning villagers into mindless zombies using a zombiefier, and prepares for the invasion of Earth by his fellow aliens who need a new planet to live on.

Most of the film was done on a set in Hollywood, and parts of the set were used in Ingrid Bergman’s “Joan of Arc”. It was shot in six days. Most of the film was just a lot of talk and very little alien action. The alien had a kind of ray gun, but we didn’t get to see him blast anyone with it, I presume the low budget for this film (US$41,000 or US$387,000 in today’s money) couldn’t allow for that. For a budget film though the acting was not bad. The Scottish actors had very thick accents, some of them were hard to understand at times.

The alien was a very bizarre looking dude. His face never changed and he made a kind of musical humming noise as communication, but we never found out what he was trying to say. His voice was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for the alien spaceship sounds.

Planet X man gets bushwhacked

The guy in the alien suit was bit of a mystery himself. From Wikipedia:
Actor Pat Goldin and dwarf actor Billy Curtis have both been rumored to be the unknown actor who played the role of the alien space visitor in the film. However, Robert Clarke, who is frequently named as the source of the Pat Goldin rumor, never actually knew the name of the actor who played the role of the alien, nor did the other cast members, including Margaret Field and William Schallert. Furthermore, the unknown actor who played the alien role was noticeably taller than Billy Curtis. Cast member Robert Clarke recalls only that he was of Jewish origin, stood about five feet tall, and was once part of an acrobatic vaudeville act. Margaret Field and producer Jack Pollexfen later recalled only that he had complained about his uncomfortable costume and his low pay, while William Schallert remembered him only as a very small, interesting-looking middle-aged man who wasn’t much of an actor.

The pretty daughter was played by Margaret Field, mother of Sally Field who was five years old when this film was made. Margaret made only this and another film, but had many television roles.

William Schallert played the evil scientist.

Quite forgettable except for the weird-looking alien.

Date watched: November 17th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2018: 73

The Alligator People

I felt like watching a 1950’s horror flick last night, so after a quick search on YouTube I found this 74 minute, 1959 black and white film.

It is pretty standard horror fare, although horror is not really the word, but “nerve-shattering terror” is accurate, especially when you see some actors wrangling actual gators, and even the principal cast getting pretty close to them. The main actress got pretty close to some, but she bravely ignored them.

Beverly Garland was in the main role, you may remember her from films such as The Miami Story, It Conquered The World, Stark Fear, or Airport 1975. She also did a lot of television work in fine series such as Perry Mason, Rawhide, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, and Gunsmoke. She also had small parts in many other shows such as Magnum P.I., The Six Million Dollar Man, Remington Steele, Friends, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. She deservedly has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Even though this was a budget horror, it was pretty well made, better than some other films of the day. The direction was fine and the camera work was good enough. They did cheap out on the alligator-man make-up which looked a bit silly.


Paul the alligator man, and Joyce

At the end of the film an experiment by a doctor to transmogrify Paul back into a normal man of course goes wrong when he gets an overdose of Cobalt 60, which has the opposite effect…


“Well, how do I look?”.

It all ends disastrously with a villain getting electrocuted, the doctor’s house exploding and killing everyone inside, the alligator man wrestling a (real) gator then drowning in quicksand, and Joyce ending up as a psychiatric patient with a story that no-one believes.

This is not essential viewing, but I found it entertaining enough.

Date watched: September 16th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 59