Southern Gothic Noir about the persistence of hate and—this is Borzage—the redemptive power of love
imogensara_smith 17 July 2006
Of all the directors who made both silent and sound films, Frank Borzage may have been the most successful at carrying over the silent style: he never abandoned his sublime romanticism, and he continued to tell stories visually. Moonrise is not just beautifully filmed, not just atmospheric, it actually uses imagery with the expressive and communicative power I associate with late silent movies. A hand pursues a fly across a tablecloth as a sheriff questions a suspect; a knife whittles a stick almost to the breaking point; goldfish swim in a bowl behind the head of a man who feels trapped in a conversation. Such obvious symbolism may sound hokey, but Borzage knows how to use it to create a heightened, evocative film that makes us feel we are inside the characters' heads. Other Borzage talkies that I've seen have been flawed, and I thought his style didn't translate very well from the silent era, but despite several over-the-top moments, everything in Moonrise works. The love story is as touching and convincing as those in his great silents, and even the comedy relief from a jive-talking soda jerk and an ancient Civil War vet succeeds.
The movie opens with an expressionistic sequence, using only shadows and striking visual details, that lays out the story's premise: a man is hanged for murder, and his son is tormented and bullied throughout his childhood because of his "shameful" parentage. Danny Hawkins (Dane Clark) grows into a tortured adult, lonely and gentle, but also prey to uncontrollable rage and the fear that his "bad blood" destines him to repeat his father's crime. The first scene, set at an outdoor dance held near the swamps, introduces a nasty Southern small town community in which young people laughingly taunt a retarded deaf-mute. Danny gets in a fight in the woods with his lifelong nemesis, and in an ambiguous combination of self-defense and revenge, crushes his skull with a rock. The remainder of the film follows the gradual unraveling of this crime, and Danny's growing relationship with Gilly Johnson (Gail Russell), a beautiful and civilized schoolteacher who is initially put off by, then irresistibly drawn to, this rough and troubled man.
Dane Clark never quite made it out of the B-list, but in Moonrise he got the role of a lifetime, and no one could have played it better. He has a fist-clenched fighter's stance and dark wounded-animal eyes, a rugged face softened by long, thick eyelashes, and a deep, husky, sorrowful voice. Though we identify with him completely, Danny often behaves irrationally and badly; in one wrenching scene, he nearly strangles the deaf man he has always protected, and is horrified at himself. Gail Russell, an actress famously crippled by stage-fright and dependent on alcohol, makes the loveliest of noir's "good angels," her dark beauty lit by an intense, melancholy stillness. In the latter part of the film she looks like a heavenly messenger of mercy in her white trench coat, but she is also a believable and fully-rounded character, especially charming in the exquisite scene where the lovers meet in a derelict plantation mansion. Gilly pretends they are attending an old Southern soiree, and they waltz without music in the dark, cobwebbed parlor.
Danny's only friend is Mose, one of those saintly African-American characters who often turn up in films of the forties. Rex Ingram's strong performance transcends stereotype; though all-wise, he is also a lonely, somewhat embittered character, who says he has "resigned from the human race," and who addresses his hunting dogs as "Mister," because, "There's not enough dignity in the world." Harry Morgan is flawless in the mute role of another outcast, the retarded man who looks up to Danny. And Lloyd Bridges, though he is only on screen for about five minutes, makes an indelible addition to his collection of loathsome, cowardly bullies.
Did Borzage ever make a film that wasn't about the redemptive power of love? If so, I haven't seen it. But Moonrise is also about the persistence of hate and the way people can be robbed of their humanity by degrading treatment. It demonstrates as well as any film Borzage's two great gifts: his expressive and dynamic visual sense, and his ability to draw intensely heartfelt performances from his actors. In a love scene shot in silhouette against lace-curtained windows, Borzage proves that the transcendent romanticism of the silent screen isn't incompatible with sound. And with help from Dane Clark, he creates a portrait of a mind haunted by the past and at war with itself, the essential Noir predicament.
Homicide for Three, 1948, George Blair,, 60, 4, 5.4
Fluffy crime escapade, an hour of breezy escapism with a good Audrey Long
secondtake 22 May 2011
There is a seeming waste of talent here in a Republic (small studio) B-movie that isn't quite dramatic or funny enough to take off. So it sinks under the weight of its frivolous plot, which I think it more or less intended to do. What I mean is, it was a lighthearted movie that would have played with a heavier A-movie feature. By itself it's not enough.
But it's worth noticing the very real, honest presence of the main actress, a lively and natural Audrey Long (seen in Born to Kill in a similar but secondary role). You can almost watch the movie just for her ease and "American" cheerfulness. Her counterpart is stiff by comparison, and the supporting cast gets worse from there (including a supposed detective that is so wooden he's concrete, though he has a passing resemblance to Lon Chaney Jr.). There are attempts to spice it up, even including some perplexing overview shots of a circus (they couldn't afford to really set up a circus for a shoot).
Mostly we have a series of rooms of various kinds and some lightly entertaining twists as two hapless lovers get dragged further and further into a plot with some absurd coincidences. All in fun, but try Born to Kill first, or Long's other RKO film,
King of the Gamblers, 1948, George Blair,, 60, 0, NA
[no IMDB review]
At the Pair-O-Dice Club, owner Bernie Dupal correctly "guesses" the outcome of a football game he knows to be fixed. Shortly thereafter, Bernie goes to the offices of the Sportsman's Gazette , where editor James F. "Pop" Morgan shows Bernie an editorial which he has written denouncing the sports gambling syndicate. Pop and his secretary, Elise Pringle, who are secretly working for the syndicate, express their concern about Pop's adopted son, Dave Fowler, a deputy district attorney crusading against the syndicate. Meanwhile, on board a train, Dave is listening to a radio broadcast of the football game, when one of the players, Speed Lacey, whom Bernie paid to throw the game, begins fighting on the field with teammate Jerry Muller. After their team loses, Jean Lacey, Speed's sister, and Jean's friend, Lorraine, offer Speed their sympathy, but he rushes off to ask Bernie for more money. When Bernie refuses, Speed asks Pop for $10,000 in exchange for evidence against the syndicate, and...
Madonna of the Desert, 1948, George Blair,, 60, 5, 6.5
boblipton 26 September 2019
Sheldon Leonard reads of an ivory Renaissance Madonna, decorated with gems in a farmhouse out in the middle of farm country. It's an opportunity in the making, so he has a pal in the fake antiques business make a copy. Then, deciding it needs to be done with a bit of class, he dispatches Lynne Roberts to pull the switch. She charms the Madonna's owner, Don Castle, and his grumpy hand, Paul Hurst.... and gradually comes to believe the statuette has actual powers, and her resolve wavers, even as fellow crook, Don Barry shows up, intending to steal it himself.
It's a beautiful script, co-written by Frank Wisbar and Albert Demond. At a whisker less than an hour in length, it can't really pull off the mysticism that I would like to think was in the script. It's a sweet, watchable, but not overwhelming moving.
Castle had been hired by MGM as a young Clark Gable type, but they never did anything worthwhile with him. He did a little better at Paramount, although usually on loan-out. His acting career had largely ended in 1951, but old co-star, Bonita Granville, got him a job producing job on TV's LASSIE. He died in 1962 of a drug overdose, aged 48.
I, Jane Doe†, 1948, John H. Auer,, 85, 2, 7.2
More weeper than thriller, improbable courtroom drama's strongest point is Ruth Hussey
bmacv 15 August 2003
Though its title contains a suggestion of film noir, I, Jane Doe is more of a post-war women's weeper hung along a suspense plot. That plot can be swiftly summarized: War bride kills American husband and is then defended by bigamous husband's widow. It's neither a terrible nor an incompetent movie, but it's rather a dull and improbable one, redeemed mainly by Ruth Hussey's fresh and unmannered portrayal of the two-timed defense attorney.
She had it all, at one time: A thriving Manhattan law practice, a modern high-rise apartment boasting a fireplace as big as Charles Foster Kane's at Xanadu, and a husband whom one of the characters, obviously deranged by the wartime shortage of men, calls a `dreamboat' (John Carroll). When Carroll goes to France as a fighter pilot, a chain of circumstances heavy on stock footage lead him to wed a French war widow (Vera Ralston). When she doesn't hear from him after his return Stateside, she sells her country farmhouse and pursues him to New York, using a forged passport. Carroll's so glad to see her he turns her in to the immigration authorities. Bad move, for hell hath no fury....
The bulk of the story is told in a courtroom during Ralston's second murder trial (following the first, when she was sentenced to death, she was found to be pregnant). Frequent glissandos on the harp accompany `washes' forward and backward that come with the monotony of pounding surf. (They're the only things approximating `style' in the movie.) But Gene Lockhart as the prosecuting attorney and Benay Venuta as Hussey's assistant liven matters up tolerably, lending able support to Hussey's strong central performance.
Macbeth, 1948, Orson Welles,, 107, 54, 7.5
A dark, brooding, atmospheric Macbeth
bandw18 March 2007
Welles has created a unique interpretation of Macbeth with this film. It is very dark--literally so, since almost the entire film takes place at night and the fog machines were cranked up pretty high for a lot of the scenes. Perhaps this darkness befits the mood of the story, but I began to feel oppressed by it. All the running about in ill-lighted cavernous hallways produced a claustrophobic effect.
Welles emphasizes Macbeth's ambivalence in acting on his ambitions and his anguish in having done so. The influence of Lady Macbeth is particularly accentuated; in the scene where Macbeth is wavering about killing the King, Lady Macbeth effectively challenges his manhood over any thoughts of failure to do the job. Wells is effective in delivering the voiced-over soliloquies and in developing Macbeth as a tortured brooder. Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth is less successful than Welles--her "Out damned spot" scene was way over the top. It was fun to see a twenty-year-old Roddy McDowall playing Malcolm.
While there are some cinematic elements, like the escape of Fleance on horseback and the approach of Macduff and the English armies at the end, this is essentially the filming of a play. There are some interesting sets and lighting details, but there are also some cheesy sets and effects. The costumes look like they came out of some Viking movie and Macbeth's crown has all the appearance of having been fashioned for a junior high school play.
The musical score (by Jacques Ibert no less) is generic and frequently overbearing.
Going into this cold without having read the play or seen another production could be tough sledding.
Kurosawa took a lot from this Macbeth for his 1957 interpretation in Throne of Blood. His Birnam wood scenes are almost identical to Welles'. For a more complete and accessible Macbeth, see Polanski's 1971 version. It would be interesting to see what Welles would have come up with if he had been turned loose on this with a big budget and no time constraints.
Train to Alcatraz, 1948, Philip Ford,, 60, 3, 6.6
When a "B" Picture Gets Everything Right
Michael_Elliott25 July 2016
Highly entertaining "B" picture about a train full of criminals headed to Alcatraz. One of the men, Tommy (William Phipps) was a former criminal gone good but he was wrongly convicted. Everyone else on the train knows that if they reach Alcatraz that their lives will be over, so they hatch a plan to escape.
TRAIN TO ALCATRAZ is one of many movies that have been forgotten over the years and that's really a shame because this one here deserves to be better known. Just because you're a "B" movie doesn't mean you're going to be poorly made, campy or just pure trash. It basically just means a lot of money wasn't spend but that doesn't mean with a great idea you can't do wonders with it.
Director Philip Ford does a very good job at building up the tension. At just sixty minutes there's really not a single frame to where you're not glued into what's going on. Several of the characters are fully developed or at least enough to where you feel as if you know them and draw an interest in them. This includes not only the Tommy character but also the supporting criminals as well as the cops guarding them.
The film doesn't feature any former "A" star but it does have nice work by Donald Barry, Janet Martin, Phipps, Roy Barcoft and Ralph Dunn as the Marshall. The film also works perfectly as a crime picture as well as a noir with its seductive female luring our hero into the crime. TRAIN TO ALCATRAZ is a nice little picture where the story, the cast and the direction really come together to make a gem.
*Angel in Exile, 1948, Philip Ford/Allen Dwan,, 90, 4, 6.4
Exciting Caper With a Mystic Tinge
boblipton3 December 2018
John Carroll has served his sentence for manslaughter, so sidekick Art Smith picks him up so they can collect the million dollars in gold dust they stole. However, Barton Maclane wants it all, so he follows them to Arizona, where Smith has hidden it in an abandoned mine. Land Office clerk Howland Chamberlain cuts himself in, Meanwhile, Carroll heads up to a direly poor Mexican village in the mountains for manpower. There they think he is a miracle man, blessed by their "Blue Lady".
It's a close-run affair. Even though you watch this knowing that Carroll will come out all right and get the girl, Adele Mara, it's never clear how. Co-director Allan Dwan and Phil Ford cast a lot of Mexican actors, including Thomas Gomez and Alfondo Bedoya in large and sympathetic roles, and get some fine actors to fill in the minor ones, including Grant Withers and the ever-ancient Ian Wolfe. They certainly had the know-how and the connections. Dwan had been directing since 1911 and had helmed some of Douglas Fairbanks best swashbucklers, while Ford had entered the movies as a child actor, but had gone behind the camera at the dawn of the sound era as an assistant director for a couple of his uncle, John Ford's films. He never rose out of the B category as a director, but he and Dwan produced a fine movie here.
Out of the Storm, 1948, R. G. Springsteen,, 61, 2, 6.0
Interesting Republic crime programmer with James Lydon as "average guy" who falls victim to temptation
django-131 October 2004
Although Republic is best known for its westerns and serials, the studio churned out many crime dramas and mysteries over a two-decade period, films that are mostly little-known today. I've tried to see as many of them as possible over the years--some are not good, some are passable, some are much better than they needed to be, and some are gems. This one is certainly above average.
James Lydon (best known in his day for the series of Henry Aldrich films, probably best known today for his starring role in the wonderful 1945 PRC rewrite of Hamlet, STRANGE ILLUSION) plays Donald Lewis, a young man working at a low-paying job in the payroll division of a large plant. When a large amount of cash comes through his department for Christmas bonuses, crooks led by Marc Lawrence learn about it and stage a robbery, but they do not get ALL the cash. In the beginning scenes of the film, we see Lydon and his girlfriend lamenting about how they cannot get married because of not having enough money. That "extra" money the criminals did not get could put Lydon on easy street and let him marry his fiancée. Should he or shouldn't he? I think you can guess what he does, and what happens afterwards provides the excitement and plot development of this interesting little film, directed by the prolific R. G. Springsteen.
In his "adult" roles in the post-Henry Aldrich period, Lydon always did a convincing job when playing an "average guy" who is hit with unexpected problems. He has many of the same qualities that made James Stewart so good in similar roles.
As usual for a Republic film, there is a strong supporting cast, including Rex Lease as a security guard, Iris Adrian as a gangster's moll, and of course the inimitable Marc Lawrence, the archetypal movie gangster (along with Jack La Rue).
In some ways, this film reminds me of QUICKSAND, starring Mickey Rooney as a similar poor young workingman who falls victim to temptation, which was made the next year. Overall, OUT OF THE STORM is an above average b-crime entry from Republic. Not an amazing film, and certainly not a noir film in any way, but worth watching for the fan of b-crime films or of Republic Pictures.
Secret Service Investigator, 1948, R. G. Springsteen,, 60, 1, 6.2
Above-average noir programmer
arode 26 May 2006
Lloyd Bridges plays a flying ace war hero who gets sucked into a counterfeiting scheme by opposing gangs of crooks. Bridges is used as a decoy by the Feds to play both gangs off against one another over a hunt for counterfeiting plates.
Fast-paced programmer moves swiftly featuring pithy dialogue and about five different interior sets. Secret Service Investigator is at its best when flash-bulb eyed George Zucco is purring threats while Jack Overman and Jack Kellogg lay the muscle on Bridges. In fact, Bridges spends a majority of time getting pistol whipped, sapped or slapped until the crooks are wrapped up as they are in the midst of double-crossing one another and the real Feds tie them up
Weakest moment is an insipid sequence with Bridges trying to court Lynne Roberts by telling her son, Tommy Ivo, a thoroughly inane war story: the kid doesn't buy it and neither do we. Production values are equivalent to a luncheon car ride through the McDonald's drive-thru window, but who cares.
Alias the Champ, 1949, George Blair,, 60, 4, 6.2
After all these years wrestling has not changed much.
reptilicus 12 July 2005
Can I say one rather obvious fact and get it out of the way so I can go on with my review? Wrestling was NEVER "legit", it was always entertainment-disguised-as-sport. Okay now as I was saying.
ALIAS THE CHAMP is a fun film, you can tell by the lighthearted music during the opening credits that this one is not going to take itself too seriously. In the spotlight, literally and figuratively, is Gorgeous George the wrestler who paved the way for the over the top, larger than life characters we see to-day. George has a problem, some gangsters from New York are trying to bulldoze their way into the California wrestling scene. Using threats and intimidation they have won over some smalltime grapplers but the superstars like George and his rival "Slammin'" Sammy Mennaker are defying them. It's up to George's gorgeous manager (Audrey Long) and a tough police lieutenant (Robert Rockwell) to pin these bad guys down for a 3-count before they get the "real" wrestlers on the ropes. (Hey isn't that almost the exact same plot as PIN DOWN GIRLS? Well, yes but who cares these movies are always fun.) It is not revealing too much to say that the gangsters try to get George out of the way by framing him for a crime but amazingly the cop uses a new device, television, to clear GG's name.
George Blair is a good director and he handles the plot very well. He allows Gorgeous George to basically be himself. You have to wonder if he and Sammy really were rivals outside the ring as well as inside. The movie is short, 1 hour 47 seconds by my stopwatch, but Mr. Blair sets the mood by giving us an 8 minute grappling match at the very beginning. Television was a relatively new device in 1948. It was also an expensive toy that few homes could afford. I recall my uncle telling me that in those old days there were only 3 channels and they all competed with each other. Telecasting live wrestling and boxing matches was a sure way to get viewers.
Later on there is a free-for-all in a training gym that pits real wrestlers against each other. Watch this scene closely for cult film star to be Tor Johnson. The 45 year old Johnson really was a wrestler at this time and was known as The Super Swedish Angel. He'd played small roles in movies since 1933 but in this film he plays himself. During the fight scene he takes on 2 guys at a time and has no trouble polishing them off. We also get to see him wrestle in THE LEMON DROP KID (1947) and it's interesting to see how many of his ring mannerisms he incorporated into his later roles in Ed Wood movies.
Watch also for familiar character actors like John Hamilton (Perry White in the "Superman" TV show) and John Harmon (best remembered as the lighthouse keeper in THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS) in supporting roles.
ALIAS THE CHAMP is a good, entertaining movie. Personally though I wish they had used Tor Johnson in more scenes.
*Flaming Fury, 1949, George Blair,, 60, 1, 7.3
A very effective little programmer
searchanddestroy-1 20 May 2012
I did not expect less from a Republic Pictures product. Short, tense, with no time wasted, as were Warner flicks, we have here a sort of Expose, with an off voice, as we watched in some Fred Sears or Phil Karlson films, telling us the fight between arson squad and arsonists, of course...
I like it thst there is no romance at all. The only woman we have is the head of the arson ring. Interesting, isn't it? And a young rookie is the lead, a cop impersonating a guy interested in arson business, in order to infiltrate the gang.
No surprises, although, but worth for Republic Studios lovers as I am.
I already saw some films with the same topic, as ARSON FOR HIRE. It's somewhere in my film library; and I have not seen it since a while now.
Post Office Investigator, 1949, George Blair, x, 60, 2, 5.8
Great Republic Noir
gordonl56 12 April 2011
The setting is an auction of rare stamps being held in a downtown office building. A trio of less than savory types are among those attending. Audrey Long plays the new secretary of the auctioneer. She is the inside contact. Marcel Journet and Richard Benedict are also crooks and are pretending to be buyers.
The buyers examine the goods as Long slips a $100,000 stamp to Journet. Journet passes back a fake to Long and returns to his seat. The fake is placed into the collection. Journet slips the real stamp to Richard Benedict. Benedict asks the security guard if he could step out for a smoke. Outside, Benedict seals the stolen stamp inside a self-addressed envelope and drops it down the mail chute. Benedict then returns to his seat. The fake is soon discovered and the Police called. They search the patrons. Not finding anything, they release everyone.
Afterwards, Long and her beau Danny Morton meet for a few drinks. They talk about the $5,000 they will get for the job. Morton has an idea on how to cut out Journet and Benedict and keep all the cash.
Next morning Long is waiting beside the pickup box for the mailmen. Enter Warren Douglas and Jimmie Dodd. Long tells them she is in a jam. Long explains that she works in a Law office upstairs. Last night she says, "I put the wrong letter in the wrong envelope and dropped it in the mail." She is sure that her boss will fire her if he finds out. Would it be possible for her to retrieve said letter? She could then fix her mistake and resend it. Dodd is reluctant but Douglas is a sucker for a dolly in distress. Douglas will do it if Long will join Dodd, his girl and himself on a date that evening. She agrees and gives him the address on the letter she wants back. Douglas hands it over and heads back on his run with Dodd.
The Police Lt. in charge of the robbery case, Thomas Browne Henry, decides he has the theft figured. And right he his, a stamp switch and a drop of the swag down the mail chute. He calls on Post Office Inspector Cliff Clark with his theory. Clark calls in Dodd and Douglas and asks for the mailbags from the route. Dodd figures it has something to do with Long, Douglas however says it is just management doing a routine check.
Evening comes and Dodd, his girl Vera Marshe and Douglas swing by the office to pick up Long. Needless to say there is no sign of Long. Douglas does a quick check of the Lawyer's office where Long said she worked. No Long, but there is pretty secretary Jeff Donnell, who is locking up for the night. Douglas talks Donnell into joining the group for a beer. As they drive past Central Park, Douglas remembers the address off the letter. It is just a block away. Douglas suggests they stop and see if Long is there.
Long is indeed at said address. She is asking Journet for her end of the stamp money. Journet says the envelope with the stolen stamp has not arrived yet. When it does, Journet will sell the stamp to a fence and Long will get her cut. There is a knock at the door, which is of course Douglas. Long tells Journet that Douglas is her escort for the night and says goodnight. Douglas figures the date is back on and smiles. Said smile quickly evaporates when Long sticks a large pistol in his ribs and says come with her. Long walks Douglas out of the building, past Dodd, Marshe and Donnell. She points to a waiting car with Morton sitting inside. She shoves Douglas into the car and piles in after him.
Long pokes him with the piece and asks how he found her. "I recalled the address off the letter from when I gave it to you," replies Douglas. Morton and Long have several quick words after which Morton starts the car. A trip to the bottom of the East River seems to be in Douglas's future. Long and Morton do not need someone blabbing about the double cross they pulled on Journet. As he is led to the dockside, Dodd, who has been following Long's car, leans on the horn. Douglas gets in a right cross to Morton and high-tails it to Dodd's car. Once Douglas is inside, off they roar.
They head straight to Investigator Clark's office and come clean about the letter deal. Clark and Police Detective Henry ask Douglas to go undercover. They want him to go see Journet and Benedict and inform on Long. Douglas is to tell Journet and Benedict that Long promised him cash to help with the double cross. Douglas is telling Journet about the deal because Long tried to kill him instead of paying. The details of the double cross must be worth something to Journet. Journet and Benedict are "annoyed" with the info from Douglas.
Phone calls are made, a meeting with all parties at the fence's apartment is arranged. At the fence's, Journet and company quietly wait with drawn revolvers. Long enters the apartment, sees Douglas, as well as Benedict's gun and hands over the stamp. She says it was all a mistake. She then whips her gun out and blasts Journet and Benedict. She grabs up the stamp, the fence's cash and bolts for the door. She leaves lover-boy Morton to duke it out with Douglas over Benedict's pistol. As she exits she is gobbled up by P. O. Investigator Clark and Police Detective Henry. Inside, Douglas has disposed of the swine Morton after a well-staged bout of fist-i-cuffs. Douglas is thanked for his help and goes off to meet Miss Donnell.
Streets of San Francisco, 1949, George Blair,, 60, 2, 5.9
A man like that to kill your father...
mark.waltz 25 November 2020
That's the gist of this sparky and sentimental crime drama that in spite of many implausibilities turns out to be quite good. Cop Robert Armstrong, having witnessed the death of his copf father when he was a child, has declined having a child of his own with wife Mae Clarke, but when he is forced to shoot securities thief Ian MacDonald, he packs MacDonald's son Gary Gray up and brings him home.
Gray and Armstrong don't quite hear it off, but he does find a connection with Clarke and her father, J. Farrell MacDonald, and eventually, Armstrong comes around when the do-gooder ladies of the city step into find Gray a legitimate home. Armstrong is sure that the kid knows who aided his father, and needs to hide him for his protection as well as expose the other criminals.
You don't get much here as far as location footage, but certain well known places are mentioned, and there is a scene on the bay where Armstrong, Clarke and Gray have a picnic. Part of the film is sentimental but it is also violent and gritty. The acting at times isn't convincing, especially when gramps is shot and Gray barely reacts. But in spite of the sentiment, this is a fast moving and thrilling little programmer, better than many of the genre, and quite a different view of the naked city.
Hideout, 1949, Philip Ford, x, 61, 6, 6.2
Pretty entertaining...and a nice change of pace for Ray Collins.
MartinHafer 3 March 2011
I really liked the casting of Ray Collins in this little B-movie. While he usually played affable sorts of fellows in movies and as a regular on Perry Mason, here he plays against type--a real scum-bag. It turns out he's the brains of a ring of jewel thieves--and he has no loyalty to anyone but himself. After pulling a big heist, he and his 'associates' relocate to a small town in Iowa to wait until the heat subsides. Once there, one of the gang, is a pretty lady (Lorna Gray) and she soon begins kissing up to the town prosecutor--an idealistic young man (Lloyd Bridges). Bridges, at least at first, seems a bit naive--and you can't help but feel sorry for the guy. But through the course of investigating a murder (that turns out to be linked to Collins' gang), he shows he's pretty bright for a small town guy--and he's assisted with a strange but highly entertaining and sassy new secretary (Sheila Ryan). But, not realizing that Gray is part of the gang, she follows along--misdirecting Bridges and even stealing evidence to help her cohorts.
All in all, this is a pretty good B-movie--entertaining and engaging. It's nice to see Bridges in a very good early starring role and as I said above, Collins is excellent as a real creep. Will it change your life or is it a must-see? Nah...but considering it has modest pretenses and keeps your interest, it's worth seeing--particularly if you love Bs or film noir.
The Red Menace, 1949, R. G. Springsteen,, 81, 9, 5.0
bkoganbing 8 November 2017
For the most part it seems that it was the small studios that made the worst of the anti-Communist films from post World War II. In this case it was Republic Pictures of Herbert J. Yates home of the B western cowboy heroes who inflicted this one on the American public.
The Red Menace has the future object Our Miss Brooks' affection Robert Rockwell as a disillusioned GI who just got rooked by some sharpie real estate crooks over a plot of land to build a house. The lack of housing for returning veterans was a major domestic issue in the Truman years--no less a conservative than Robert A. Taft sponsored a government program to aid in housing construction.
An equally sharp talent scout for the US Communist Party spots Rockwell making a complaint and recruits him into the party. He's enthusiastic at first but then sees that this crowd really intrudes on every aspect and thought one might have. Getting also disillusioned is Hannah Axman as they see one by one people who deviate get dealt with severely.
It's not even that some of what is put forth here is completely untrue. It was that in 1949 some reactionary politicians usually belonging to the GOP saw the Russian spy scandals as a chance to stamp out liberal thought to the left of Walter Winchell. So we had the HUAC hearings and a year later Joe McCarthy looking for an issue to hang his re-election to the Senate on discovered "the red menace."
Two of the supporting players in the cast really stand out. First Lester Luther as the top commissar in the USA comes off like a poor man's Edward Arnold. Secondly Betty Lou Gerson when her alias is exposed by Immigration goes full blown mad in a scene that Bette Davis might have done in a better picture.
For a good anti-Communist film I recommend Trial which starred Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy. The Red Menace is about as menacing as Dennis.
Equality and justice is communism - jaussa!
karlericsson 6 September 2015
When I grew up, the Iron Curtain existed. The Soviet Union was a Place that did not allow its Citizen to travel freely. And so it was easy to renounce the Place and look for no further explanations.
At the same time, communism stood for equality and class warfare, allowing for only one class, the working class, since allowing for different classes of people was just Another Word for inequality and injustice.
Now, if you could therefore renounce equality and justice by renouncing the Soviet Union, which, through communism, stood for these qualities, why, then you could defend the injustices and inequalities you wanted to keep by Calling every wish for equality and justice to be the same as a wish for communism and that is just what has been done in the USA for the last 70 years, which this film bears witness to.
The Soviet Union was a failed system but that has Little to do with communism because, although the SU called itself "communist" it was not a system of equality and justice and instead just a dictatorship ensuring that a Little Group of people had all the wealth and all the Power just like in the USA, where the same was ensured by somewhat different means.
How to achieve equality and justice is still a problem to be solved but it will never be solved by simply Writing these qualities off by Calling them "communism".
This film illustrates the propaganda being used against the American Citizen and is helpful to understand the brainwash that a portion of Americans seem to suffer from. I therefore give it 5 stars out of 10.