TITLE, Year, Director, GG, Time, IMDB, Rating
Strangers in the Night, 1944, Anthony Mann,, 56, 14, 6.4
That woman has some SERIOUS issues!
MartinHafer 25 February 2017
When the story begins, Dr. Ross (Virginia Grey) is introducing herself to the folks in the seaside community where she'll be taking over for the old doctor. However, when she meets Mrs. Blake (Helene Thiming), the old woman is overtly hostile towards her...inexplicably so.
Soon after this, Dr. Ross is on a train and meets Sgt. Meadows (William Terry). It seems he is headed to the same small town where Ross now works...and he's going to the Blake household to see Mrs. Blake's lovely daughter. It seems that when he was off fighting in the war, he corresponded with the lady and he's totally smitten with her. However, once he arrives at the Blake household, they inform Terry that she isn't there. And, they invite him to stay until she returns. However, days pass and it's obvious something is going on here...and the return of the girl seems to very, very vague.
In the meantime, Mrs. Blake's nervous housekeeper, Ivy (Edith Barrett) knows some sort of secret and seems to always be on the verge of telling the Doctor. What is the secret? And how does it relate to the missing daughter? And, what does a painting of the lady have to do with all this?
I really loved this film. While most folks think all B-movies are bad movies, they are not. A true B is a short film (about an hour in length) and is usually cheaply made. The purpose of the film is to be the second film in a double feature--with the A (or prestige picture) being accompanied by this B. But just because a film is short and often hastily made doesn't mean it's bad...and "Strangers in the Night" is simply terrific. In fact, it's one of the best Bs I have ever seen. The writing and acting and direction all work together perfectly and the solution to the mystery is sufficiently dark and sick to satisfy. Well worth seeing and Helene Thiming is simply terrific as this sick, disturbed and nasty old 'lady'!
Decent plot a la Hitchcock, with an Ed Wood Jr ending.
trastrick19 March 2013
This could have been a good movie. The main characters are well acted and believable in a melodramatic way.
In spite of some unlikely coincidences like the unnecessary train derailment, and our hero, a marine, recognizing the painter of the portrait of his fantasy girl as an old buddy from college, the plot concept is reasonably engrossing, moves along well, and tension is built up to almost the end. This part is written like a classic thriller.
Unfortunately,the last few minutes of the film seem as if the production crew had either run of of time or money and hastily contrived a hardly believable ending. That's the part that looks look it was written by a fifth grade class.
I'm sure if you didn't watch the ending, the film would actually haunt you. Of course, you want to know how it's all resolved, and instead of haunting you, you come away very unsatisfied.
Not a complete waste of time, but a certainly a waste of talent.
End of the Road, 1944, George Blair,, 51, 2, 5.7
Nifty undiscovered noir
dcole-221 November 2004
This is a great little film, even if it does kind of fall apart at the end. Director George Blair moves his camera constantly on this low-budget film noir, creating wonderful feelings of tension and atmosphere. He really tries to make every shot and every scene interesting.
The plot is unusual and rather fun: crime writer Edward Norris is certain that the man behind bars for the "Flower Shop Murder" didn't do it. He quickly figures out that it was Florist John Abbott and uses the murder victim's dog to make Abbott flee the city. Norris follows Abbott and befriends him, dropping hints all the while to see if Abbott will admit his guilt. Finally, Norris seems to get involved in his own case of murder--and then Abbott does admit he did it so the two supposed murderers will stay in cahoots together. But of course it was all a set-up to get the confession.
It concludes with an exciting fire escape/building ledge chase. Abbott is a superb character actor and actually makes you feel sorry for him and scared of him at the same time. The obligatory romance between Edward Norris and June Storey doesn't really work. But still: this is a fine, undiscovered gem and deserves to be seen!
Secrets of Scotland Yard, 1944, George Blair,, 68, 2, 6.1
Not quite the House of Usher that Poe made famous.
mark.waltz 12 December 2018
Twin brothers John and Robert Usher (Edgar Barrier as both) are different as night and day. Robert Usher is a free spirit and unpredictable, while his brother John is a by the books Scotland Yard agent who gets involved too much in the agency's fight against Nazi spies. that cost him his life, and it is up to his brother Robert to take over his life to continue his work, determined to keep his identity secret and thus having to act a certain way.
The only ones who know are agency division head C. Aubrey Smith and John's young son (Bobby Cooper) who barely seems to even acknowledge his father's death. Even John's fiance, Stephanie Bachelor, doesn't know and is simply confused by certain elements of changes in his personality.
The mystery is here who is the Scotland Yard agent secretly working with the Nazis? Others who work for the agency include Henry Stephenson (an interchangeable actor with C Aubrey Smith, making their presents together somewhat head-scratching), Lionel Atwill and John Abbott. It isn't until the actual bad guy realizes the deception that the film seems to show any purpose, and by that time, it becomes pretty predictable as to who is/are the villains.
A moderately enjoyable Republic War programmer, this film strives to move at a steady speed, intermixing romance in with political and social upheaval and giving insight to each of the major characters including the possible villains. All of the actors give respectable performances, with Barrier most detailed in making the two different characters seem different, even though the character of John is only on the screen for a short period of time.
Bachelor, a great femme fatale, plays a truly modern woman who must connect with the old boys club in order to succeed in her new position. Her character is very unique and displays a great deal of strength and determination, standing up to the chauvinism with humor and pride. Not bad for a second feature and unique in a variety of ways.
*Silent Partner, 1944, George Blair,, 56, 0, NA
[no IMDB reviews]
Reporters investigating the death of a friend begin to suspect that their newspaper's editor may have been responsible for it.
Storm Over Lisbon †, 1944, George Sherman,, 86, 2, 6.0
Republic Pictures' answer to CASABLANCA, with Arlen and Ralston, instead of Bogart and Bergman
django-125 February 2005
I'm not one of those people who has memorized CASABLANCA or who watch it once a year. It was a good b-movie, but there are thousands of other films I need to see, so I've moved on, and I'm not in the least bothered that STORM OVER LISBON is basically Republic Pictures' low-budget echo of CASABLANCA, with Richard Arlen and Vera Ralston echoing Bogart and Bergman (after all, I can hear Republic president,and husband of Vera Ralston, Herbert Yates saying, "Bergman is a mysterious European with a seductive accent, so is Vera! This is a great vehicle for her."). The plot here is somewhat different, but there's no question that this film would not even exist without CASABLANCA.
There's a lot of tension created in STORM OVER LISBON, and it's well-acted by Arlen, Robert Livingston, Erich Von Stroheim, Otto Kruger, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Republic regulars Kenne Duncan and Roy Barcroft reprising their heavy roles, but this time instead of working for an evil town boss in a western, they are working for shady club owner Von Stroheim.
There's a well-staged dance sequence featuring Ms. Ralston, and after hearing for decades how bad she is, I was surprised at how bad she WASN'T. This was only her second dramatic film (I'm not counting her first two films, vehicles for her ice-skating prowess), and the script wisely does not give her many lines even though she is IN a lot of the film. The lack of dialogue helps to create a mysterious, seductive quality about Ms. Ralston, so whatever she DOES say we listen to and we apply a layer of mystery to. I don't know if her English is phonetic or not, but after having seen films starring Madonna, Tara Reid, Roseanne, and Milla Jovovich, I have no complaints about Vera Ralston.
Richard Arlen is always a comforting presence in a film--his gruff, virile persona is one we want to empathize with, and he has a natural quality that makes him believable. A story of spies and intrigue and back-stabbing and desperation in the Lisbon of World War II, STORM OVER LISBON is a successful b-espionage film that is a great way to kill 70 minutes on a rainy day.
The Girl Who Dared, 1944, Howard Bretherton, x, 56, 11, 6.0
Republic Pictures take on the "Old Dark House" mystery
gordonl56 5 May 2015
Quite watchable dark house mystery put out by Republic Pictures. A group of folks arrive at a country mansion for a party. The problem here is that the invitations were not sent by the home owner. The main leads are played by Lorna Gray, (Adrian Booth) Peter Cookson, Grant Withers, Veda Ann Borg, (playing twins) Kirk Alyn, John Hamilton and Willie Best.
Bodies start to pile up and the people are of course all blaming each other. Arriving on the scene is Investigator Cookson. He is pursuing a big city Doctor who absconded with $60,000 worth of radium. He suspects that one of the guests is in league with said Doctor.
The story is old hat and supplies nothing really new. But the pace is brisk and the actors seem to relish their parts. Somewhat wasted is Willie Best doing the frightened servant bit he had done in more than one film.
Anyways, there is the mandatory scene where all are gathered in a room while the Detective, Cookson flushes out the killer. If you have an hour to kill, this quickie should fill the bill nicely.
Port of 40 Thieves, 1944, John English, x, 58, 6, 6.5
Excellent b noir
gordonl56 26 September 2008
Once more I dig into that seemingly endless supply of low rent programmers put out by Republic Pictures. These things are always a hit or miss deal with the miss column usually victorious. This one though is a hands down knockout. A great little femme-fatale quickie with plot enough for 3-4 of these features.
Stephanie Bachelor plays the lead in this black widow sleeper. Bachelor is the wife of a missing writer who just happens to be worth a million or two. Hubby has been missing now for seven years and it is time to have him declared legally dead so she can claims the cash. She hires big time lawyer Tom Keene to set the paperwork in motion. She wants to "move on with my life" she tells Keene.
Keene takes the case and starts with a little background work on the missing husband. The husband it seems had written an expose (Port of 40 Thieves) on New York banker types and how they had amassed their fortunes. Needless to say this did not go over very well and he disappeared shortly afterwards. Most seem to believe that someone mentioned in the book had got some payback.
Now the flies in the ointment begin to appear. A cheque signed by the missing man shows up. Phone calls to Bachelor's apartment asking to speak to her husband start. One of his old jackets is found lying across the sofa. Someone is trying to put the scare into Bachelor but she refuses to get rattled. Her current squeeze, George Meeker, asks why she is so calm. She looks him in the eye, and tells him. "I know he is dead, because I killed him." She says that the cheque etc. must be someone trying to make a play for some cash.
Bachelor has been supporting herself during the last 7 years by doing a spot of blackmail. She has some papers of hubby's on a financier who had not made it into his expose. She has been bleeding him dry in order to keep herself in the style she is used to.
Stephanie soon discovers who might be after her. It seems there is a grown daughter from the dear departed husband's first marriage. The daughter, Lynne Roberts, is sure that Bachelor killed her father and intends to prove it. Bachelor decides it is time to hit the road before things get nasty. A trip to South America seems in order. She puts the bite on the financier for 50 large in traveling expenses. Now she just needs to tie up a loose end or two. First, paramour Meeker goes for a twelve floor ride without the benefit of an elevator. Then a less than friendly end to Roberts at the end of a revolver is planned. Roberts is only saved by the timely arrival of Keene who has finally tumbled to the truth about Bachelor. This is much better than I'm making this sound. There are plenty of twists and turns here and at only 58 minutes it just rockets along. Good little programmer.
The cast includes Russell Hicks, Ellen Lowe, Mary Field and even though he is not in the film, there is a large portrait of Roy Barcroft as the dead husband. Keene appeared in DANGEROUS INTRUDER, CROSSFIRE, BERLIN EXPRESS, RACE STREET and BLOOD ON THE MOON. Stephanie Bachelor's films include, CRIME OF THE CENTURY, HOMICIDE FOR THREE, BLACKMAIL and EXPERIMET PERILOUS.
The d of p was b movie stalwart Jack A. Marta. Marta made about 100 low budget features at Republic before hitting the big time with the likes CAT BALLOU, PLAZA SUITE, DUEL and several of those terrible Billy Jack movies. The director was veteran serial director John English.
The Great Flamarion†, 1945, Anthony Mann,, 78, 32, 6.6
In reality it was the beginning of the end.
hitchcockthelegend 26 April 2013
The Great Flamarion is directed by Anthony Mann and collectively written by Anne Wigton, Heinz Herald, Richard Weil and Vicki Baum. It stars Erich von Stroheim, Mary Beth Hughes, Dan Duryea, Stephen Barclay, Lester Allen and Esther Howard. Music is by Alexander Laszlo and cinematography by James S. Brown Jr.
Back stage of a vaudeville show and a woman is killed, the perpetrator of the crime escapes up into the rafters. Soon he falls to the ground, and cradled by one of the stage employees, he tells a story of lust, deceit, murder and broken hearts...
Though it falls into a familiar subset of film noir that encompasses the obsessive dupe, reference Criss Cross, The Killers, Scarlet Street et al, Anthony Mann's film has a most interesting structure. Story is essentially told from the mouth of a dying man, his guilt set in stone, we spin to flashbacks and narration as The Great Flamarion (Stroheim) himself clues us in to the dangers of not following your brain, but what's in your underwear.
Flamarion, wonderfully essayed by the acid faced Stroheim, is a sharp-shooter on the vaudeville circuit. Once burned in love years previously, he now lives only for his work and he's friendless, miserable and intolerable to work for. His two assistants are husband and wife team Connie (Hughes) and Al (Duryea) Wallace, he's a drunk and she's out for what she can get, and what she wants at this moment in time spells trouble for Flamarion and Al. So begins a treacherous tale as a once wise and closed off man falls hook, line and sinker for a pair of shapely legs young enough to be propping up his daughter.
Connie Wallace (Hughes, excellent) is one of the classic femme fatales, she's not just duping one man, not even two, her capacities for feathering her own nest are enormous. Watching her break down Flamarion's walls is pitch black stuff, as is Flamarion's pitiful descent into becoming a broken man, while Duryea's (another in his long line of great film noir losers) Al roams the edges of the frame as a pitiful drunk stumbling towards doom. The dialogue may not always catch the mood right, but as a story, performed and written, it's clinical noir.
Out of Republic Studios, there's obviously budget restrictions, but Mann was a shrewd director in noir circles and crafts a tight and crafty picture. It's never overtly expressionistic but the all round effect garnered by the lighting techniques pumps the haunting like tale with atmosphere. There's also a gentle pulse of sexual politics in the narrative, and saucy suggestion as well, with the director asking us to peek under the curtain to spy a world of horny sad-sacks and dangerous females.
It's not front-line Mann or as good as Scarlet Street (released after The Great Flamarion), but it is a little noir gem. With top performances, pitch-black plotting and a message that tells us to never take our eye off the ball, it's very much recommended to the film noir faithful.
*The Chicago Kid, 1945, Frank McDonald,, 68, 0, 6.5
[no IMDB reviews]
Joe Ferrill is trying to get enough money so that when his father gets out of prison, he can live comfortably, but before that happens his father dies in prison. Angry at the world, Joe falls in with a criminal gang, and plans on using them to take his revenge on John Mitchell, the auditor whose testimony send Joe's dad to prison. However, matters get complicated when he meets and falls in love with a pretty young girl named Chris--who it turns out is John Mitchell's daughter.
Girls of the Big House, 1945, George Archainbaud,, 68, 2, 5.5
Welcome to the Vassar of women's prisons.
mark.waltz 10 September 2019
This convoluted mess of a women's prison movie seems to really have no beginning, middle or end, just the shell of a story disguising itself as a plot. It focuses on Lynne Roberts, picked up in the first scene for allegedly stealing Dick Elliot's wallet. She ends up being incarcerated in the most civilized of women's prison, escapes overnight to visit a boyfriend, ends up in a knife struggle with fellow inmate Virginia Christine, and ends up in solidarity confinement (not quite in solitary because there's another fellow prisoner next to her) and everything ends up hunky dory because of extenuating circumstances.
This cheaply made Republic programmer features such familiar faces Marion Martin, Adele Mara and adorable Ida Moore as other inmates, Norma Garden as the warden, Geraldine Wall as the head matron and Marion Newton as an understanding prison doctor who pretty much begs the inmates to confide in her. It lacks the camp elements of later women's prison movies, with even the knife battle dull and the dialog without sparkle. Trying too hard to be complex, this just reeks of being rushed into production and falls miserably on its face.
*Gangs of the Waterfront, 1945, George Blair, x, 54, 2, 6.2
Quick and to the Point Crime Film
gordonl56 25 March 2015
Low rent Republic Pictures fare with a doppelganger theme. This one has Robert Armstrong as mobster "Dutch Malone" and his double, "Peter Winkly".
Mobster Armstrong runs a bunch of rackets based on the local waterfront. He runs numbers, and also a profitable protection racket preying on businesses in the area. Bodies tend to turn up with unneeded bullet holes if they fail to play nice with Mister Armstrong and his boys.
Armstrong is going off for a couple of weeks to get in a spot of deer hunting. (It helps with his blood lust) Armstrong puts his number two, Martin Kosleck in charge during his absence. Kosleck is a sneaky s.o.b. who really wants to take over the mob.
Anyways, Armstrong is driving out to his hunting lodge when he has a bad car wreck. He is severally hurt and slapped in the hospital. The city DA, William Forrest, and Police Commissioner, Wilton Graff, have a bright idea. They have a man who is a dead ringer for Armstrong. They want to send him in to get the goods on Armstrong's mob. The real Armstrong is kept in hospital under guard and away from any phones etc.
The "new" Armstrong gets a crash course in all the mobster's crew, rackets and enemies etc. He hits the mobster's lair and takes up the reins. Everything seems to be running smooth as the doppelganger gathers info on Armstrong and the other area mob's workings. There is of course needs to be a bump in the road. The bump is the rather curvaceous Marion Martin. Martin is the real Armstrong's main squeeze. Martin of course notices something different about "this" Armstrong. He tells her he is just upset over some mob business.
Also in the mix here is local company owner, Stephanie Bachelor. Miss Bachelor is not amused with gangster Armstrong. She is quite sure that the man had her father killed, when he refused to knuckle under to the protection shakedown.
Needless to say all these loose ends are going to come together with a large crash. The real Armstrong happens to see a carelessly left newspaper, on which he happens to be the front page story. He of course wonders how this can be if he is in the hospital. Armstrong, breaks out, and is soon back in play. Bodies will pile up because of this, and that underling Kosleck now decides to make his move for power. It is only the last minute arrival of the Police that saves the fake Armstrong from death.
Note great, but, at only 54 minutes it moves along quick enough to never get boring. Stephanie Bachelor managed to get work in a total of 24 films during a 5 year career. (She married money and quit show business.) She was quite good as a femme fatale in PORT OF 40 THIEVES. Armstrong of course was famous as film maker Carl Denham in the original KING KONG. An incredibly prolific actor, he appeared in over 200 film and television roles.
The director was long time Republic Pictures fixture, George Blair. The talented Blair scored with a series of solid low-rent film noir such as END OF THE ROAD, EXPOSED, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR, UNMASKED, FEDERAL AGENT AT LARGE, LONELY HEART BANDITS, SECRETS OF MONTE CARLO and INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR. I always wondered what the man could have done with a bigger budget.
The story was supplied by future, writer, producer and director, Sam Fuller.
Jealousy, 1945, Gustav Machaty,, 71, 6, 6.6
Offbeat Poverty Row programmer's a little bit better than it seems
bmacv28 June 2004
Even by the bottom-shelf standards of postwar Poverty Row crime programmers (it's a Republic release), Jealousy appears primitive. Its sets look ugly and thrown together, its meandering plot line needs plenty more back-story, and its acting is more often awkward than not. But slowly--maybe by dint of its very cheesiness--the movie starts to work on you. It's the work, both as writer and director, of Gustav Machaty, whose most notorious film was the 1933 Extase, where Hedy Lamarr notoriously swam in the nude. But that notoriety notwithstanding, Machaty didn't make much of a mark in America; before Jealousy, he hadn't directed a movie since 1939, and afterward would wait another decade before his last film, made in Europe.
To get a bead on where Jealousy is heading takes a while. We first encounter Jane Randolph wearing a visored cap and driving a hack in Los Angeles. One of her fares is debonair doctor John Loder, who takes a very English fancy to her. But she's supporting depressive Nils Asther, a displaced person from the shambles of Eastern Europe who was a noted novelist in his native tongue; in America, he's unemployable. He pawns his cigarette case to buy a gun and end it all. Randolph stops him, which proves to be a mistake.
When Asther grows more jealous and abusive, Randolph warms to Loder and becomes chummy with his devoted colleague Karen Morley. (They lunch together, go shopping together, confide in one another.) But out of false pride Asther, who nurses his unhappiness like a sore tooth, spurns a job as translator at a movie studio, an opportunity arranged by his best friend Hugo Haas (yes, that Hugo Haas, another Poverty Row auteur of vanity pictures). Asther gives the restless Randolph an ultimatum: If she leaves him, he'll use the gun, but not on himself. But that damn gun sure gets around....
Jealousy boils down to a romantic trapezoid. Even at an economical 71 minutes, it moves slowly. But move it does, with an occasional nice touch along the way (a Christmas ornament dropped back into its box after a grim marital spat, a wide-eyed Siamese cat taking in a climactic scene). And as it turns out, it's just a little bit better than it seems.
*Behind City Lights, 1945, John English,, 68, 1, NA
This one lost something in the translation.
horn-524 November 2005
Gretel goes to the big city. Hansel follows.
Jean Lowell (Lynne Roberts), an unsophisticated girl who has spent all of her life on a farm, is about to marry Ben Coleman (William Terry), a neighboring young farmer, but an automobile crash interrupts the wedding. Crash-victims Lance Marlowe (Peter Cookson) and Perry Borden (Jerome Cowan)are carried in the house and the wedding (of Hansel and Gretel) is postponed. At first sight of Lance, Jean falls in love with him. In a few days, fully recovered, the two men return to New York. Ben releases Jean from their engagement and Aunt Sarah (Esther Dale) gives the girl her life savings to make possible a trip to New York, New York. Arriving in the big city, Jean stays at a fine hotel, acquires a fine wardrobe and, with Lance, visits all the places she has read about. She is blissfully happy , completely unaware that Perry and Lance are notorious jewel thieves.
Trapped through an uncut diamond he has given Jean, to be set in an engagement ring, Lance and Perry, in attempting to elude the police, wreck their car and are killed.
Jean, too proud to go home, remains in New York and obtains work. Hansel, suspecting that something is wrong, seeks her out, and, together, they return to the farm.
Hmmm...two main characters enter stage left via an automobile wreck and, 45 minutes later, ironically exit stage right via another automobile wreck? Reads like Baum to me.
*Grissly’s Millions, 1945, John English, x, 71, 4, 6.8
The greed of a family dominated by the hand of a miserly old man.
mark.waltz18 March 2017
Those magnificent B movies from the poverty row studios such as Republic and Monogram were often more enjoyable than the all time classics of the A studios. Sometimes, their fast and furious dialog and non-stop action had you hooked even during the credits. They were more of an influence for the new crop of directors rising up in the 1950's and 60's, and today, they are considered an art form all of their own, regardless of the motivation of making a quick buck.
Grissley's Millions ranks among some of the best that I've seen, mixing dark humor in with the typical story of an elderly hated head of a family on death watch as greedy relatives stand by. For Virginia Grey, the only relative who seemed to care for the humorously cantankerous Robert Barratt, her timing is really bad as her secret estranged husband shows up and is allegedly quickly murdered by the dying old coot. Within minutes, Barratt is dead too, by poisoning, and after Grey is named beneficiary in his will, she becomes the main suspect in his murder...and the target of intent to kill as well.
Along comes detective Paul Kelly, at first antagonistic towards her in his search for Grey's criminal husband, and later her only protector. A superb supporting cast includes Elisabeth Risdon as Grey's seemingly sweet aunt, Adele Mara as Risdon's gold digging daughter, Donald Douglas as Grey's suitor determined to get his hands on her estate, and Eily Malyon as Barratt's stern housekeeper. Thus flies by deliciously fast, with the culprit having a wonderful melodramatic confession. I was lucky enough to find this in its full version, not in the much edited TV print that usually turns up for most of Republic's films.
The Fatal Witness, 1945, Lesley Selander,, 65, 7, 6.1
A mix of great moments and effects and some dull tricks...
secondtake 14 August 2011
A Republic Pictures low budget flick, and it shows, even with the opening music which is a strain. However (and this is always the case with a B-movie that has survived the years and made it to Netflix), there are some interesting aspects here, and like most of them it is blessedly short.
One of the nice things here is the standard hook--there's a murder afoot, and we are in on the guessing and analyzing as we go. The acting is decent, the filming straight forward if unexciting. It's a British affair unofficially (officially both the director is American and of course Republic is, too), and like many Brit films, it talks a lot (replacing action with chitcat). But it's not stupid, and you might enjoy poking along with it. It is set in London and Scotland Yard gets to work investigating the death of the old aunt with all her supposed wealth.
The leading suspect is the nephew of the deceased, and he is a sparkle in this musty cast--George Leigh, who only did a handful of films and is a bit affected, but he adds life to the whole thing. As does the maid, and the leading lady, Evelyn Ankers, a Chilean born British actress with the standard convincing credentials (but without anything remarkable about her). Ankers is famous for her roles in many horror films, including the original Wolf Man a few years before.
In all, the plot thickens and there is not only murder but blackmail, and London fog, and a decent policeman who is after the leading lady as much as the criminal. Unfortunately he seems to know things too easily. And there is an efficiency to the events that isn't quite dramatic or convincing enough. It is frankly a B-movie through and through. And it has a crazy twist of an ending, sort of worth it just for the trick of it.
*Three's a Crowd, 1945, Lesley Selander,, 58, 2, 5.5
Nearly everything you could want in a B mystery.
mark.waltz 13 August 2019
From the time of Pamela Blake's voice over narration as the large house she lives in sneaks up in the fog like Mandalay in Rebecca, I found myself hooked, especially when she described the big house as one too ugly to live in, and as I began to see it, one that even ghosts found too ugly to haunt. It's a genuine cast of wacko's here, starting with Blake's sleazy fiancee (Roland Varno) who basically tries to blackmail Blake into marrying her, and what occurs as soon as she marries Charles Gordon instead. There's Blake's bedridden mother (Virginia Brissac), a weird relative (Gertrude Michael), a barking housekeeper (Anne O'Neal), and associated creepy friends and family who pop in and out (notably Grady Sutton and Pierre Watkin) of the bizarre action. Everybody seems to have some sort of secret, and when Varno is quickly bumped off, the detectives on the case begin to point the finger at Blake. But Gordon seems to have a motive as well, so who is the real killer could be anybody's guess.
You can't expect much detail in a murder mystery that runs just under an hour, but this is a lot of fun for the type of movie it is. The weirder the characters, the more fun the performances, and Brissac and O'Neal deliver the goods, especially O'Neal who complains that the cook is complaining, not her, after she grumbles after asking to set extra plates for dinner. Varno is the type of slimeball whom murder mysteries were made for, and in his brief appearance, he outdoes the sliminess of such reprehensible characters that you can't wait to see him dispatched, unfortunately not as gruesomely as I would have liked it to have been. Republic made dozens of films like this each year, and this is up there with another one of my favorite murder mystery sleepers they made, along with Grissly's Millions, which is also overstuffed with fun weirdos and a macabre murder plot.
*Road to Alcatraz, 1945, Nick Grinde,, 60, 0, NA
[no IMDB reviews]
A young attorney cannot defend himself against accusations that he murdered his business partner, as he has no memory of the night it happened. A fraternity pin found at the scene of the crime becomes the key to solving the mystery.
The Tiger Woman, 1945, Philip Ford, x, 57, 7, 6.6
Great little thriller!
gordonl56 31 December 2008
I had a couple of hours to kill so I pulled this title out of the pile called The Tiger Woman-1944. It was marked as a Republic Studios serial so I thought I would watch a chapter or two. It was from Republic Pictures all right, but this one was from 1945. Same name, but boy, it was no serial! It turned out to be a brisk 57-minute programmer crammed with plenty of double-dealings, twists, turns, knives to the back, shots to the head etc.
Kane Richmond is a private detective who gets mixed up with the always luscious Adele Mara. Mara needs some help getting her dear husband out of a spot of trouble. The husband, a nightclub owner, is in for 100 grand with a mob bookie. The mob wants what is owed or else.
It turns out that our man Richmond happens to know said bookie. He pays him a visit that night to ask for a time extension for the man. The bookie laughs and tells Richmond that the man's debt had been paid off in cash just that afternoon. Richmond considers the matter closed and heads back to the club to tell Mara everything is fine.
While Richmond has been having his chat with the mobster, Mara's dear one has put a gun to his head and added an extra hole to same. He leaves a note admitting to looting the club funds in order to pay off the bookie. The body is discovered by Mara and the co-owner in the club, Richard Fraser. Now we find out that Mara and Fraser have been up to a little bit of horizontal cha-cha behind her husband's back.
Since the partners insurance does not cover suicide, the pair decide to burn the note and stage what looks like a robbery murder. The police swallow the story and everything seems covered.
There are plenty of red herrings in this one. First, the club's accountant is grabbed up for the murder. Then the accountant's daughter gets the same treatment. When it looks like the gas chamber for the daughter, Fraser decides to come clean with the cops. He tells Mara that while he has no problem with beating the insurance company, there is no way he will let an innocent person get gassed.
He calls the police and asks them to come over so he can make a confession. Mara says she understands and suggests a bit of fresh air while they wait for the police. She walks him over to an open window. Next thing we know, Fraser has made a rather unsuccessful attempt at imitating a bird. Four flights down on his head end any confession idea he might of had.
The police arrive and also believe this death to be a suicide. Mara of course was long gone by the time the cops show. Just before "helping" Fraser out the window, we find out that it was Mara who had bumped off her husband. Hanging around the whole time has been detective Richmond. He just can't throw that feeling that something is amiss with this picture.
Mara had only hired Richmond to give herself an alibi for the time of the first murder. Now Richmond is becoming an annoyance. She offers Richmond a taste, but when he refuses, a gun is pulled. It is only the timely arrival of the police that saves Richmond from joining the other two in the morgue.
This is a great little gem that just zips along. The whole cast shines here with Mara stealing the show as the deadly femme fatale. The cast includes Cy Kendall, Peggy Stewart, John Kelly and Addison Richards. We never do see the husbands face.
The director was John Ford's nephew, Philip Ford. His work included, The Inner Circle, The Last Crooked Mile, Missing Women and The Mysterious Mr. Valentine.
The d of p was Republic staple Ernest Miller, he was involved in the production of over 300 films. He worked with Sam Fuller twice, shooting I Shot Jesse James and The Steel Helmet.
The film editor was Fred Allen who worked on Hell's Half Acre, Make Haste to Live, The City that Never Sleeps, The Enforcer, The Black Book, The Scar, T-Men and The Madonna's Secret.
Best line: As Mara dumps boyfriend Fraser out the window she cracks, "I get no thrill from killing stupid people." (B/W)
Identity Unknown†, 1945, Walter Colmes,, 71, 10, 6.1
Always in the night.
ulicknormanowen10 December 2020
A man who gave all and lost everything :when you return from WW2 and you suffer from amnesia ,what does life lay in store for you?
There are four possible identities, thus the movie is roughly divided into four parts; the film does not pass over in silence the sufferings the amnesiac soldier leaves in his wake: the scene in the restaurant where friends seem to recognize Sally 's husband , the little boy (young Bobby Driscoll ,a child actor who was also featured in the excellent The Window) who needs a father so bad ....the fourth part restores balance:The soldier, who delivers a superb speech , comes to the rescue of the old couple about to sell their house because dad cannot stand the place where his dead son used to live (a deeply moving performance by Sarah Padden as the mother who would like to keep memories of this house so much).
In my book, the third part in Chicago is less gripping and there's a slight sag in the tension and emotion in Johnny March's search ; but by the segment in the Anderson 's house, it's back for good. And the denouement is not what one expects: besides ,considering Johnny's childhood, it's thoroughly plausible.
The following year, Joseph Mankiewicz would do Somewhere in the Night with an amnesiac in search of his past; the budget was bigger, but it was a film noir whereas Identity Unknown is a simple drama.
Woman Who Came Back, 1945, Walter Colmes,, 68, 16, 6.0
So many great ideas go into a potentially great horror drama that falls flat on its wolf bane.
mark.waltz 18 June 2015
Great spooky visuals open this story of a small Massachusetts town whose past comes back to haunt them in this supernatural thriller. Nancy Kelly is the descendant of the judge who sentenced a bunch of people to death on the suspicion of being witches. She is returning home after having run out on her fiancée (John Loder) and while on the bus, she is joined by a spooky looking old lady (the always wonderful Elspeth Dudgeon) who claims to be a witch from centuries before. The bus suddenly careens off a bridge into the river below and of the dozens killed, only Kelly survives.
The town doesn't exactly welcome her back with open arms as her ex-fiancée's sister (Ruth Ford) is mysteriously stalked, Ford's daughter's fish are accidentally poisoned by Kelly (accidently picking up poison instead of fish food), and a mysterious doberman stalks Kelly everywhere she goes. After her nervous housekeeper (the prickly Almira Sessions) quits, rumors of her being a witch start to spread, and Kelly's own behavior begins to make Loder question whether or not this is true. Only the town's reverend (Otto Kruger) has any doubts of what's going on, and even his faith will be tested as well.
There's so much potential in this Republic horror movie that is totally a let down with its Scooby-Doo like ending. Certainly, there's enough evidence presented in the various character's research of their own town's wretched history to have given the opportunity for this to take on some maudlin twists rather than the let down which happens at the end. In fact, you can see that coming, and what is at first entrancing you with its mystery becomes more obvious towards the end. Elspeth Dudgeon had several similar roles years before in some Warner Brothers mystery that gave the opportunity to create a character for which she would be long remembered, but other than her spooky appearance at the beginning, she is only mentioned afterwords. Certain plot elements give way to the fact that this is going to end in a more satisfying angle, and had somebody like Val Lewton or Tod Browning been behind its creation, it certainly could have gone down that path.
How would I have ended it? Certainly, the character that Nancy Kelly is playing seems to be under some sort of curse. Even if Dudgeon's character had not been a witch, her spirit could still have roamed the earth in search of revenge, and with the letter that claimed she would be around for a 300-year period until her death was avenged, it really seemed as if Kelly would be possessed by this bad seed that caused her to do witch-like things and arise the townspeople's suspicions. A "Frankenstein" chase at the end between the townspeople and Kelly under Lewton's camera eye would have ended with her falling over a cliff and when her corpse is discovered revealed to be Dudgeon's long-dead character instead. Like the same year's The Body Snatcher, that would have given the viewers a thrill in addition to the chill, but what does happen at the end is a chilly reaction to how these writers chose to end a missed opportunity rather than making it into the classic it could have become.
Good film hampered by a very weak ending.
capkronos 16 August 2014
Feeling uneasy with her surroundings and the community at large, Lorna Webster (Nancy Kelly) had fled her hometown of Eben Rock, Massachusetts years earlier with no explanation to anyone. On her trip back to town--presumably to be reunited with her former love Dr. Matt Adams (John Loder)--the bus she's riding on pulls over to pick up an old woman (Elspeth Dudgeon) dressed in black and walking a dog. The woman takes a seat next to Lorna and immediately begins acting strangely. She somehow knows her name and claims to have known Lorna's great great great grandfather who's been dead for hundreds of years. Suddenly the old lady cackles and the bus goes crashing over some railing into a lake. The driver and all of the passengers die; everyone except for Lorna, who makes her way to a local inn wet, confused and delirious. Seeing how no old woman's body is ever recovered from the accident site, no one believes her story. And then a series of strange and possibly supernatural events occur...
Lorna has a fondness for the dark, envisions the face of the witch in a mirror, causes fresh flowers to wilt, accidentally feeds a little girl's pet goldfish rat poison, drives away her maid (Almira Sessions) with her screaming and has no clue why the dead bus driver's neck appears to have been chewed away by an animal. She is however fully aware that she's a descendant of witch-hunting fanatic Elijah Webster, who was responsible for condemning eighteen innocent women to death for witchcraft back in 1645. Among his victims was an old woman named Jezebel Trister, who vowed to get revenge on Elijah's descendants. Rumor has it, Jezebel also made a deal with the devil which will allow her to possess the body of a young woman after three centuries of rest. The citizens of Eben Rock are well-versed on these legends and are quick to suspect that Lorna is evil and directly responsible for the misfortunes recently befalling their community.
This is a good movie that could have been a great movie with just a few alterations to the script. Kelly does a wonderful job in the central role; effectively portraying the ever-increasing paranoia and desperation of her character. There are also fine supporting performances from Otto Kruger as a reverend who tries to discourage the townspeople from ganging up on Lorna, Ruth Ford as Matt's distrustful sister who blames Lorna when her little daughter comes down with a mysterious illness, Harry Tyler as a town gossip and others. In addition, this is well-photographed and there are nice visual touches that recall the subtle expressionism of concurrent Val Lewton productions; utilizing tranquil shots of the sky and the lake, shadows and other simple touches for eerie effect.
Where the film falters a bit is with the screenplay. It presents an intelligent and thought-provoking central idea: contrasting the "narrow bigotry" of the olden days to our supposedly more civilized, enlightened times and showing how people are still easily prone to mob mentality and rushed judgment. That's a theme every bit as timely today as it was in 1945. Unfortunately, the explanation behind the events given during the last few minutes relies too heavily on sheer coincidence and is implausible at best, ridiculous at worst. Regardless, this still has enough positives to make it worth watching.
WOMAN is also notable in another way. There were several dozen other horror films bankrolled by the likes of MGM, Fox, Universal, RKO, Monogram and Republic in 1945, but WOMAN was made by Walter Colmes Productions, which would make it the only truly independent genre film made apart from the established studios during its year (though it was later picked up and distributed by Republic). As a result, the film utilizes more outdoor filming and feels a bit less stagy than other films made during this time.