Sunday, 30 September 2018

Crimes of the Black Cat

Directed by Sergio Pastore, 1972

A blind composer tries to figure out who is responsible for a string of murders using a black cat with its claws dipped in curare. Starring...

Anthony Steffen as Peter Oliver, Sylva Koscina as Françoise Balais, Giovanna Lenzi as Susan Leclerc and Romano Malaspina as Harry.

 Death Walks On High Heels 1971

Directed by Luciano Ercoli, 1972

After a heist, the notorious jewel thief Rochard is murdered in a train. In Paris, his daughter Nicole Rochard, who is a stripper, is summoned by the police that wants to know the whereabouts of valuable diamonds that her father had stolen. She goes with her boyfriend Michel Aumont and tells that does not know anything about the missing diamonds. During the night, a blue eye masked man breaks in her apartment and threatens her, asking where the diamonds are. Nicole seeks protection with Michel but in the morning she finds contact lens in his bathroom and she suspects Michel may be the masked man. She seeks out her costumer Dr. Robert Matthews, who had hit on her, and she asks him if she could go with in to London. Matthews, who is married, brings Nicole to a house by the sea in a village and she poses of his wife. But soon the masked man comes to England and begins a crime spree. The Scotland Yard Inspector Baxter and his assistant are assigned to investigate the case." (Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. IMDb).

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Smooth as Silk

Directed by Charles Barton, 1946

"Though running a scant 65 minutes, Smooth as Silk packs a bigger wallop than some of Universal's more ambitious 'A' melodramas of the same period." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie).

(Tip: the video does play with adblock on)


Fascinating American Noir film about a couple who are attractive, confident, bold, ambitious and used to getting their own way. The original story was written by both a man and a woman (Florence Ryerson and Colin Clements) before being turned into a screenplay (by three men) for the film Notorious Gentleman in 1935. This later version did not do too well at the box office. But then it is often the way that masterpieces that attract little attention often end up inspiring many later works.

Mark Fenton (Kent Taylor) is a successful attorney who prides himself on getting acquittals for his clients no matter whether they are guilty or innocent. His fiancée, Paula Marlowe (Virginia Grey), is a glamorous diva starring in a musical titled Escape at the Courtney Theatre. And she is lining up her next one. Mark endeavours to assist her by taking on a case for the producer Stephen Elliott (John Litel) in exchange for considering her for the part of the leading lady in his next play (or musical), Miracle At Midnight. However, Elliott does not feel that she is right for the part and Mark is disappointed because he believed that they had a sure deal. When he offers to buy her any play she wants she agrees to marry him if she does not succeed in getting what she wants and tells him it's not over just yet. She has another card up her sleeve: seducing Elliott's drunk of a nephew who's just been cleared of all charges even though he probably did run someone over in his car, tanked up as he usually is.

And it works a treat! When her fiancée confronts her she simply tells him where to go. She's interested in her career and will do whatever it takes to get ahead. And she has set her sights on starring in one of the renowned producer's plays. Enraged, Fenton then hatches a plot to take revenge on both Paula and Dick Elliott (Danny Morton). He shoots Stephen Elliott and frames Dick for the murder while involving Paula at the same time. He then shoots Dick as well and makes it look like suicide. Unfortunately for him, the District Attorney, John Kimball (Milburn Stone) doesn't buy the notion that Dick was suicidal and learns that Fenton told him that he witnessed him shooting his uncle. Meanwhile, Kimball has also enlisted the help of the keenest mind in the business, Fletcher Holliday (Charles Trowbridge) who taught both himself and Fenton much of what they know and has fallen on hard times. The result is that the cops then frame Fenton and catch him shooting Dick Elliott - with a revolver filled with blanks.

In contrast to the dazzling star, Paula's sister Susan (Jane Adams) has just moved to New York to look for a job as a secretary, having just finished a college course. Paula disapproves but feels confident she can help her to get whatever she wants. She then pretty much forces Kimball to go on a date with her. This family tie provides us with a deeper insight into this glamorous and no doubt talented actress's psyche. Beneath her bewitching beauty and gay charm, she is powerful and driven. One look or word from her and a man feels helpless to resist.

We are left with a clear-cut case of premeditated murder at the end. It would have been good to return to a shot of the charming, wily, deceptively disarming femme fatale at the end to remind us of the threat she still poses. Does she learn a big lesson from this experience? Or does she continue on course like a steamroller using and discarding men with no concern for their hearts? But then this kind of psychological advantage that some females have over men is still understated in our society to this day. Most often, at least in modern society, it is the case that the man will be trapped and then driven to acts of violence after constant pressure until he finally cracks. And, either way, the woman wins.



Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Chaser

 The Twilight Zone
Season 1, Episode 31

A young man obsessed with winning over an uninterested beauty gets more than he bargained for when he buys a love potion in the hope of winning her heart out of sheer desperation. However, he is at a loss to know what to do when he discovers that it does what it says on the 'tin' and works TOO well...

                    Directed by Douglas Heyes, 1960
                    Teleplay written by Robert Presnell Jr.
                    Based on the short story by John Collier

                    John McIntire - Prof. A. Daemon
                    Patricia Barry - Leila
                    George Grizzard - Roger Shackleforth

Opening Narration

"Mr. Roger Shackleforth. Age: youthful twenties. Occupation: being in love. Not just in love, but madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love with a young woman named Leila who has a vague recollection of his face and even less than a passing interest. In a moment you will see a switch; because Mr. Shackleforth, a young gentleman so much in love, will take a short but very meaningful journey into the Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

Roger calls a girl named Leila from a phone box. He is madly in love with and yet she tells him "Why don't you take one big jump to the moon?" There is now a queue of people waiting to use the phone. One man enters the phone booth and tells him he needs to use the phone urgently. He also hands him a business card and tells hi to ring the number on it because the man has the answer to his problem. Roger then visits this guy who makes potion which he conceals behind books in his library and which he accesses with the use of ladders.

Roger ends up purchasing a love potion to make Leila fall for him - for one dollar. The gentleman informs him that it's not even worth that. While the 'chaser,' the 'glove cleaner,' having the opposite effect, costs $1000, which amounts to all of his savings (which is usually the case). When he visits his beloved again, she shuts the door in his face but eventually agrees to give him five minutes since he's brought flowers and champagne. He adds the love potion to her drink but it doesn't appear to have any effect at first. "I don't love you," she says. "I don't want you here. I don't even like you!" However, he potion then hits her and she finds herself suddenly falling under his spell, much to her confusion. She quickly falls head over heels for him and is lost, obsessed with him and eager to worship and please him.

It was married bliss for the first six months. However,  Leila's love is out of control and so smothering that he ends up feeling desperate to escape from her. He can't stand it any longer. He therefore returns to the man who sold him the potion and tells him he wants everything back the way it was. He's already written out a cheque for $1000. And he is warned that he must not hesitate. For, if he fails to give Leila the potion at the first opportunity, he will be doomed. Armed with the potion and another bottle of champagne, he is seated on the sofa next to Leila pretending to be in love with her. She announces: "I've got news for you, sweet little rabbit." She holds up her knitting needles with a baby's sock hanging from them, meaning that she is pregnant. Then Roger drops the glasses on the floor, breaking them and losing the expensive potion in the process. Now he'll never be free!

"It always happens the same way. First the stimulant...and then the chaser."

Closing Narration

"Mr. Rodger Shackleforth, who has discovered at this late date that love can be as sticky as a vat of molasses, as unpalatable as a hunk of spoiled yeast, and as all-consuming as a 6th-alarm fire in a bamboo-and-canvas tent. Case history of a lover boy, who should never have entered... The Twilight Zone."

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Virginia Grey

Virginia Grey's main Hollywood career spanned the Thirties and Forties in B films and supporting roles in A films. Her appearances exceeded 100 and included television roles until she retired in 1970.

Virginia Grey in Tarzan's New York Adventure, 1941
"Virginia was always recognisable by those big sparkling eyes and always exuded a spirited abundance of energy to every performance. Even in her later films. She was obviously multi-talented as were so many actresses of high calibre beauty and brains in that wonderful golden era."

"4th, 5th, 6th billing and she was often better than the lead. Not only a looker but certainly a good actress.. Any movie she was in was all the better for being in it!"

(YouTube Comments)

Baby Blue Eyes (shame the preceding sequence isn't included)

Have A Heart

So This Is New York, Virginia Grey, 1948, by Everett

Song & Tap Dance with George Murphy, 1936

After being jilted after seeing Clark Gable for seven years, Virginia Grey carried a torch for the star for rest of her life, never marrying (hence returning to Mormonism later in her life perhaps!). Or so the story goes.


Virginia Grey

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

My Cousin Rachel

An American mystery-romance film directed by Henry Koster in 1952

A young man plots revenge against the woman he believes murdered his cousin, but his plans are shaken when he comes face to face with the enigmatic beauty. 

Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton star in this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel.