Will this be remembered in film immortality as a western with melodramatic themes or a melodrama with Western themes?
mark.waltz 18 July 2019
Maybe it will be remembered as Vera Ralston attempt to be a Scarlet O'Hara. Or will it not be remembered at all?
I think honestly, it will fall into the last category because it is a mediocre melodrama, Western, bad girl epic and all-around disappointment. It even lacks in camp. It is the story of two sisters, bad girl Vera Ralston (dressed all in black when first seen) and good girl Maria Palmer, dressed all in white in the same scene. When they are first seen, Ralston is ignoring the plite of a young lover who apparently stole jewelry which he gave to her. Palmer admonishes her sister for not coming to the young man's age, and it is soon revealed that Ralston could care less if he rots in prison. we then find out that the two women are both in competition for the same man, with Palmer in love with the fragile William Ching and Ralston marrying him just because. He comes from old money with Jane Darwell as his widowed mother and Esther Dale as his hard of hearing, wheel bound chair aunt who doesn't have a censorship capacity in her brain, basically saying whatever she feels.
Unfortunately, Darwell and Dale's screen time is fleeting as this focuses on the fact that after she marries Ching, Ralston is revealed to be a bigamist, murdering first husband Francis Lederer and setting up lover John Carroll for the fall. But she ends up on the run with Carol anyway, chased by the Javert like Walter Brennan. We know he's Javert like because Carroll mentions "Les Miserables". There's not enough footage of good sister Palmer, but it's a shield what will be happening with her when the film ends.
What we get a lot of is Vera Hruba Ralston, the former skater from Czechoslovakia who married Republic studio head Herbert Yates and was their leading lady for 17 years, even though she never had a box office hit. I've gotten to see a good majority of Ralston's films, and it's a pleasure to witness how convincing she is at being bland. Whether a Sonja Henie like innocent foreigner or vixen or romantic heroine or mystical female, she's at least consistent at being bland. It's also amazing that close-ups of her are sadly never flattering, and that does paint a poignant picture of Yates' genuine feelings for her. this could have had some potential outside her blandness, but the script and the story really never take off.
House by the River, 1950, Fritz Lang,, 83, 45, 7.1
A dank and brooding Gothic from Fritz Lang
bmacv 5 November 2001
House by the River is something of an anomaly; it's more of an old-dark-house Gothic than the grittier dramas, from Fury to Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, which Fritz Lang made in his American period. (The location of this house is a worrisome and amateurism anomaly, too; the conventions, milieu and some of the accents suggests that it's an English country estate, but much else argues that the film takes place in the U.S.) Would-be writer Louis Hayward, getting flirtatious with the maid in the absence of his wife (Jane Wyatt), accidently strangles her when she resists his advances. His brother (Lee Bowman) reluctantly agrees to cover up for him and help sink the body in the sinister, ever-present river that runs by the edge of the property; the resulting scandal of the disappeared servant bolsters the writer's flagging career. When suspicion begans to gather around his innocent brother, Hayward, by now seriously demented, couldn't be more pleased. But then Wyatt comes across a hidden manuscript; Hayward (you see), flushed by his phoney success, resolves to write "what he knows...."
Edward Cronjager's heavily shaded cinematography and Georges Anthiel's brooding score help fill out Lang's dark, clammy vision, making the river--forever disgorging its flotsam and jetsam--a principal character in the action. House by the River is a good old-fashioned thriller, particularly in its Gothic closing scenes, but it's not in a class with Lang's films at the top of his American form, like Scarlet Street, The Big Heat or Human Desire.
See Emily Stray
kalbimassey 3 December 2020
The unsightly spectre of a dead cow floating along the river is not quite the view you would choose to have from your home, especially when, with frequently turning tides, the decaying beast seems intent on making more comebacks than Frank Sinatra.
In the absence of wife Jane Wyatt, author with the roving eye, Louis Hayward makes unwelcome advances towards recently appointed and very beautiful maid Emily (Dorothy Patrick). Phased by her hysterical response and distracted by the probability of being overheard, upon finally releasing his grip from around her neck, he discovers...that she is dead.
Engaging the reluctant assistance of partially disabled brother (Lee Bowman), Emily's body is bundled into a wood sack and under cover of night, dumped into the river. Despite being firmly anchored down, one suspects that we have not seen the last of Emily. Indeed, it's not the red red robin that's likely to come bob bob bobbing along the water any time soon and a further case of Floating Carcass Syndrome seems imminent. When Hayward shows discomfort at the sight of a jumping silver fish caught fleetingly in the moonlight, one senses the presence of a bad omen.
A low budget entry from Republic Pictures, House by the River is a generally enthralling period (c1900) gothic noir, which bears a certain comparison with Gaslight. Only during the talky courtroom scene does interest wane slightly. With glasses consisting of one plain and one tinted lens, is the judge attempting to make a fashion statement? If so, any fragment of street cred is extinguished by his comb over hair do!
Featuring a cast comprising largely of tier two Hollywood performers, including Bowman, who incurs the wrath of housekeeper, Jody Gilbert by refusing to consume a substantial meal with his drink.
An often overlooked minor gem in Fritz Lang's output, with some atmospheric twilight and night shots of the river contributing effectively to the generally haunting nature of the film.
Federal Agent at Large, 1950, George Blair, x, 60, 3, 5.9
A better than expected Republic B picture
gordonl56 15 November 2006
A man, Frank Puglia, enters the Customs office in Los Angeles. There he asks to speak to a certain agent in charge. He has a wire recording to deliver that was given to him by an undercover Customs Agent. Jonathan Hale is the agent in charge and quickly puts the recording in his machine.
The recording is the case notes of undercover Agent, Kent Taylor. He had been sent to Mexico to get the goods on a gold smuggling ring. They are smuggling the gold into L.A. and then shipping it to the far-east. There they get twice its value on the black market. Uncle Sam is not amused and wants his cut.
Taylor is given a cover as a minor mob guy from Detroit and heads south. Taylor stakes out the local nightclub and waits for someone suitably thuggish to appear. Enter noir vet Roy Barcroft, a thug if ever there was one. Taylor starts a dust up with Barcroft but comes out on the wrong end of it.
Taylor is then hauled off to a room. Barcroft and Taylor are soon joined by Denver Pyle and Dorothy Patrick for a "friendly" chat. Patrick owns the club and would like to know exactly what Taylor wants in town. Barcroft and Pyle work him over while Patrick gives him the third degree. Taylor comes out with his cover story which Patrick checks with a phone call. Satisfied that Taylor is not a cop, they offer him a job. Barcroft and Patrick are of course members of the gold smuggling gang. Taylor has hit pay dirt.
Taylor soon discovers how the mob gets the gold over the border. They are blackmailing a UCLA professor who is in Mexico on an archaeology dig. The professor, Robert Rockwell, has some rather large gambling debts he needs to work off. He has a instant entry permit which allows him through border checkpoints. The mob hides the gold in the relics and it shoots right through. They then unload it and transfer it to an Orient bound ship. They plan to do a trip north that weekend.
Barcroft does not trust Taylor and has his knife happy henchman, Pyle, keep tabs on him. Pyle, who goes by the moniker, "Jumpy", catches Taylor spying on Patrick. He tells Barcroft who makes some calls of his own and learns that Taylor is a Fed.
Soon the big boss, Thurston Hall, puts in an appearance. He has Taylor locked in his rooms. There, Taylor uses a wire recorder he has hidden in his radio to do up a report on what he has learned. He talks minor gang member, Frank Puglia, into delivering it. He shows Puglia where the recorder is and asks him to take the recording to LA when he has a chance. Puglia has been wanting out of the gang for a while and sees this as a good time to switch teams. Barcroft, Pyle and Hall soon enter the room and Hall orders the killing of Taylor.
Once they leave, Puglia retrieves the recording and speeds off to L.A.to deliver said recording. Agent Hale finishes listening to the recording, calls in several more agents and heads for the car park. The date given on the recording for the ship to leave for the Far East, was today.
With perfect timing the C-men arrive with guns drawn. Barcroft, Pyle and the boys do not come quietly and a blazing gun-battle is needed to help persuade them. Since Taylor's murder was on the recording it will be the chair for the bunch of them.
This is a quick and to the point programmer that works very well.
Destination Big House, 1950, George Blair,, 60, 1, 6.9
A sleep-over, scandal, gossip, gangsters, fund raising and ostracizing in just 60 minutes
horn-5 23 November 2005
School teacher Janet Brooks (Dorothy Patrick) innocently involves herself in a scandal while spending the week-end alone in the mountain cabin of her fiancée, Dr. Walter Phillips (Robert Rockwell). She gives first aid to a wounded racketeer, Joe Bruno (Richard Benedict), who is running out on his mob with eighty thousand dollars in cash.
Unknown to Janet, Bruno hides the money in the cabin. She goes on an errand and two mobsters, Ed Somers (Robert Armstrong) and "Stubby" Moore (John Harmon), make a call on Bruno and then depart after delivering a couple of soon-to-be-fatal gunshot wounds. Bruno manages to get to the highway and hitches a ride from a passing motorist who drives him to the Coniston hospital. In front of a number of doctors as witnesses, Bruno draws up a will leaving the eighty-thousand bucks to Janet, but dies before he can reveal where the money is located.
The story hits the local headlines the next day and Janet's denials of any previous acquaintance with Bruno or knowledge of the money are disbelieved. Janet, her mother, Celia (Claire DuBrey), and her brother, Fred (James Lydon), are ostracized by the town. Only Walter, who is having trouble of his own trying to raise money to complete a polio wing for the hospital, stands by Janet.
Janet publicly announces that if the money ever comes into her possession, she will turn it over to the hospital fund. Somers and Moore intensify their search. But Fred, under pressure from Pete Weiss (Larry J. Blake), local racketeer to whom he owes a large gambling debt, finally succeeds in finding the money, but his conscience forces him to hide it again rather than turning it over to Weiss.
Then the rival gangster groups come face-to-face in a winner-take-all gun battle over the money, and the prospects of the hospital getting a new wing appear to be dim.
Lonely Heart Bandits, 1950, George Blair, x, 60, 3, 6.6
Solid Low Rent Effort
gordonl56 12 May 2013
Republic Pictures strikes again with this slick little programmer from under-rated director, George Blair.
Two con artists, Dorothy Patrick and John Eldredge partner up to play the Lonely Hearts racket. They place ads with various Lonely Heart clubs looking for well off possible companions. Patrick plays the men and Eldredge the distaff marks.
Their first mark they end up killing for the $7,000 in cash he has stashed. They move around the country burning various people for their savings.
Sometimes they pose as brother and sister to put possible marks at ease. A new mark, widow Ann Doran is soon on Eldredge's hook. He promises her world travel etc after they get married. She falls for the smooth talking heel and dumps would be suitor, Richard Travis.
Eldredge soon has Doran talked into selling her house and then traveling with him to Italy for a quick marriage, He then sends Doran off with his "sister" Patrick on a shopping trip to Chicago. Half way to Chicago, Patrick calmly shoves Doran off the back of the moving train they are on. She smiles as she watches Doran face plant onto the rail bed.
While all this has been going on, a concerned Travis has contacted Doran's son, Eric Sinclair about what is going on with his mother. Sinclair is working in the Middle-East on an oil rig. Sinclair sends home a cablegram saying he is returning in a week's time. The cable is of course intercepted by Patrick and Eldredge. They send back a cable telling Sinclair that all is well and to stay at his job. Sinclair does not like the way the cable is signed and makes arrangements for his return.
Doran in the meantime has been found alive beside the rails. She has been bounced around a bit and is in a coma at the local hospital. Since she had no id on her the Police have no way of finding where she might be from.
Patrick heads off to the small out of town cabin the two keep as a base of operations. Eldredge stays to sell off the house and liquidate the rest of Doran's goods. He is interrupted in this by a visit from Travis. Travis confronts him and says that he knows something fishy is going on. He intends to call in the cops. Eldredge gives Travis a taste of pistol butt across the side of his head and splits.
Travis comes to and does contact the Police. The Police put out an all points and set up a few roadblocks. Eldredge crashes his way through the roadblock and wounds a Policeman in an exchange of gunfire. He then hightails it to his and Patrick's cabin. The two decide to separate with Patrick staying at the cabin and Eldredge laying low in the seedy part of a nearby city.
Doran's son, Sinclair as now returned from the Middle East and is filled in by the Police and Travis. The Police have Travis go through the mug books. They find Eldredge in one of the files and get his real name. They soon find that Eldredge is hiding out at a pool hall in a town across the state. Travis and Sinclair quickly drive there and pay a visit to the local Law. Police Lt, Robert Rockwell arranges for a raid to be launched on the pool hall.
The raid is bungled and Eldredge manages to shoot his way out and car-jack a passing cab. He fires the cab driver out and speeds off to join Patrick at the out of town cabin. Back at the Police precinct, Travis is now going through the local mug books looking for the "sister". Turns out she is well known to the local bunco squad.
Following all the leads soon has the Police at the front door of the hide-out. Eldredge and Patrick refuse to come quietly and start blasting at the boys in blue. Not at all amused, the Police return a barrage of lead in return. Patrick in wounded and Eldredge is shot dead as he tries to escape out the back door.
Doran comes out of her coma and she now decides that Travis is really the man for her.
A brisk and to the point programmer, that wraps everything up nicely in a 60 minute runtime.
Also in the cast are, Barbara Fuller, Kathleen Freeman, Edward Dunn and William Schallert in his first billed role.
Best crack: Police Lt. Rockwell says to his cops as he sends them out after Eldredge, "Bring the rat in or put him in a drawer at the morgue!"
Unmasked, 1950, George Blair,, 60, 3, 6.5
Routine noir programmer redeemed by Raymond Burr's accomplished malice
bmacv 31 July 2003
In his many appearances in the noir cycle, Raymond Burr usually supplied the bitter icing for the devil's-food cake. But his few starring roles (Unmasked, Please Murder Me) landed him in vehicles that, in look and length, resembled the Perry Mason show for which he would soon become rich and famous. Were it a bit longer and more stylish, Unmasked might have been a competitive entry in the cycle; as it stands, it's standard-issue Republic fare, memorable chiefly owing to Burr.
He plays a slimy scandal-sheet editor (thus taking his place in a line of sinister media luminaries portrayed in, among others, Laura, The Big Clock, Scandal Sheet, The Glass Web and Slander). He can't be very good at selling his rag, because it depends on subventions from showgirl Hillary Brooke, who made it big on Broadway. Burr woos her with empty promises, knowing she can't get a divorce from husband Paul Harvey, an older impresario now reduced to living in a bed-sitter with a hotplate. To avoid signing yet more promissory notes, Burr strangles Brooke and frames Harvey for the murder.
The rest of the movie devolves into routine cops-and-robbers stuff. Coming to her father's aid, Harvey's schoolteacher daughter journeys down to Manhattan from one of those many upstate New York towns that resemble sunny California; police detective Robert Rockwell helps her (he got gypped; he takes star billing but a dull secondary role). Added to the mix are an informant (Norman Budd, who tells Burr `You kinda like to hate in bunches, don't you?'); a gangster (John Eldredge) whose brother is killed during a prison break; and several excursions to a foggy place on Long Island Sound called Swenson's Landing. Still, Burr brings to it his suave black magic, never more effective than when the huge orbs of his eyes flash with gleeful malice.
OK Republic blackmail-murder mystery, with stunning Raymond Burr performance
django-17 September 2003
I must concur with the other review of this Republic crime programmer. It's an above average b-crime film with an interesting blackmail/murder plot, but what makes it a classic is the stunning performance by Raymond Burr as the blackmailing, murdering, malicious, sleazy scandal-sheet publisher/editor. Burr had a long string of fine performances as villains in his pre-Perry Mason days, but this is one of the three or four best, perhaps because in standard Republic fashion the leads are quite bland.
Paul Harvey is superb as the weak-willed theatrical producer whose wife is killed; Hillary Brooke isn't in the film that much, but she's quite memorable as the unpleasant Doris King; and Norman Budd is charming as the comedic, bungling, cigar-stealing criminal underling. The two leads, Robert Rockwell as the police detective and Barbara Fuller as Harvey's daughter, are somewhat bland, although it's hard to tell if the script or the performers were to blame. This was not uncommon at Republic, where the stuntmen and the supporting players are often more interesting than the no-name leads. Still, Republic b-programmers are always slickly put together and fast moving, and this one is no exception.
Those who love Raymond Burr's early supporting work MUST see this film. Those who like Burr but are not too familiar with his pre-Perry Mason work must also see it--your respect for Burr, which may already be high, will grow much deeper. He was an amazing talent who is sorely missed. There were no small roles for him--if it was a bottom-of-the-bill b-movie that few if any critics would see, Burr still gave the film his full talents. In this film, Raymond Burr passes the ultimate test for a movie villain: you almost cheer him along, wanting to see how much evil he can get away with! Bravo, Mr. Burr!!!
Women from Headquarters, 1950, George Blair, x, 60, 2, 5.3
Republic's look at the 1950 Los Angeles Women from police headquarters
horn-5 26 November 2005
Joyce Harper (Virginia Huston) is an ex-Army nurse who enters police work with the L.A. Police Department, when her friend Ruby (Barbra Fuller) gets involved with a petty crook, Max Taylor (Norman Budd), is taken in with his smooth line, refuses to listen to Joyce's warnings, and eventually marries Smooth Max. Whether she was pregnant when she marries Max is not known, but she is when she next shows up a couple of months and reels later on her way to the Hospital delivery room.
It takes Joyce about a reel to get through the detailed trained required to become an L.A. policewoman---you PC freaks stick it, this is 1950---and she and her newly-assigned detective partner, Harvey Gates (Robert Rockwell) go out and cleanup up a skid-row Bar-girl scheme, and this gets rid of Joe Calla (Otto Waldis) and Bartender Sam (Jack Kruschen) in about a reel.
And she and Gates are told to get the goods on a narcotics gang ran by Richard Cott (Grandon Rhodes), and this is when Ruby and Max Taylor reappear.
The Blonde Bandit, 1950, Harry Keller,, 60, 3, 6.7
Crime & Romance
telegonus 14 August 2001
A nice little item from 1950, the movie tells the tale of a good girl who does some bad things who gets involved with a bad guy quite capable of doing good things. The plot is nicely developed for a Republic B, and the lead actors, Gerald Mohr and Dorothy Patrick, are surprisingly effective. Mohr is particularly good in the sort of Bogart role he could obviously handle quite well but was scarcely ever permitted to do. For once he is well cast.
The film has at times deeper emotional qualities than its makers perhaps realized at the time. For all the plot machinations one comes to care a good deal for the two major characters. As their story unfolds their romance is so credible that the movie seems to have gone from being a crime picture to a romance. Most crime films have some romantic interludes in them, but The Blonde Bandit is so carried away by them that it becomes, for a while, another kind of movie altogether. When it reverts, in the end, to its generic form, one is almost as heartbroken as the fictional characters over what has become of them.
Satisfying little crime drama that is completely mistitled...
AlsExGal 4 December 2014
because the only thing the "Blonde Bandit" steals is the heart of a gangster. Dorothy Patrick plays Gloria Dell, a girl who comes to the big city from Kansas to be married to a guy she's never met before, but has been corresponding with for quite some time. He never shows up at the train depot, so she heads off to his return address on his letters, armed with a photo. She gets there and discovers the guy is a con artist who has been marrying and bilking women for quite some time. Fortunately, he was picked up by the cops that morning. Not so fortunately, she doesn't have the money for a return ticket home. The owner of the bar, Joe Sapelli (Gerald Mohr), tells her about a jeweler who will buy her ring from her and thus she can get the return money home. What she doesn't know is that the jeweler owes a big gambling debt to Sapelli, and after the transaction he claims the jewelry store was robbed by Gloria, hoping for an insurance pay-off that will cover his gambling debt.
The police pick up Gloria and jail her, not buying her story. Who comes to her aid? The gambling mastermind Sapelli who gets her out on bail and gives her his own attorney, believing her story and feeling partially responsible for sending her to the jeweler in the first place. He also gives her a job as his assistant while she is awaiting trial and the two begin to fall for each other. It turns out Sapelli is not such a bad guy - he has old fashioned notions about marriage, loves his mother, and just seems to be providing a service - gambling - that people would do anyways.
The whole thing made me wonder--where was head censor Joe Breen when this script crossed the censors' desk? It pretty much busts the production code wide open: not in a sexual way, but in the way criminals and law enforcement were portrayed during the code. Here Sapelli is practically Sir Lancelot in his nobility in sacrificing for Gloria. It is law enforcement that you want to hiss at because they are determined to get Sapelli, even though he is kingpin of a victimless crime and seems to treat his employees--the bookies--quite well. The bookies even get bonuses if they get picked up by the police while in the service of Sapelli.
In contrast, D.A. James Deveron is completely unconcerned with Gloria's guilt or innocence. He just seems to be happy to have someone who is up against it (Gloria) and in Sapelli's good graces whom he can strong-arm into ratting Sapelli out so he can get a case against him. He doesn't seem to care about what might happen to Gloria if she was found out, and Deveron threatens her with the news of her arrest getting back home to Kansas where her sister is about to marry into a prominent family. Like Oz's Tin Man, Deveron really needs to wish for a heart.
I highly recommend this little B film with B players who all acquit themselves marvelously in a rather complex little crime drama that will keep you guessing up to the end. It's an interesting little code buster that hits all of the right notes.
Tarnished, 1950, Harry Keller,, 60, 2, 6.2
Another Republic Studios rare item...
searchanddestroy-1 8 January 2012
This film hesitates between noir and drama. A young man return home after the WW2, serving in the Marine Corp, and of course everything seems to collapse when he arrives; except perhaps with his long time girl friend. Jealousy make some other folks trying everything to put him down. Nothing really new here. It remains classical, predictable. From the start to the end.
But this rare and early Harry Keller films remains interesting to any one who is curious of the very gifted and maybe not enough known director of QUANTEZ, DAY OF THE BAD MAN and SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDOWN. His first films were westerns for the most, and for Republic pictures, such RG Springsteen or Thomas Carr's ones.
The late, great John Grant on TARNISHED at “Noirish”
The Showdown, 1950, McGowans,, 86, 11, 6.7
Republic Goes Noir
dougdoepke 14 May 2007
Too bad budget-cutting Republic pictures spent all their money on the script and cast of this surprising little sleeper. It left them none for badly needed location shots, or failing that, at least to improve on some of the poorly done process shots. Note the number of times the horsemen stand statically in front of a backscreen projection instead of riding across a natural scene These cost-cutters count here, because otherwise this is an unnoticed little gem not usually expected from the likes of Saturday-matinée Republic. The script is excellent with a number of surprises, and holds interest throughout. The main cast (Elliot, Brennan, Windsor), along with supporting players (Morgan, Williams, Ching) are as good as could be expected from the major studios. Only Nacho Galindo's buffoonish comic-relief suggests Republic's usual fare.
Actually, this is a noir Western produced at a time when film noir dominated many urban crime dramas. The atmosphere here, especially the stormy opening scene, reminds me of the fine Bob Mitchum Western, Blood on the Moon, which also made good use of brooding night-time sets. Then too, Elliot's revenge-obsessed "bad good-guy" strikingly anticipates Randolph Scott"s running character in Budd Boetticher's cult Westerns of the late 1950's. Anyway, this is a surprisingly good little drama, despite the shortcomings.
Vengeance or Retribution?
tmwest 9 June 2003
This film is a surprise: you would not expect Bill Elliott, who was a B-western hero, to show up in such an artistic western as this one. It is the same type of surprise we had with The Gunfighter or The Ox-Bow Incident but those films had great actors, they only had the structure of a B-western. Anyhow this film sure deserved more credit than it got. The photography, the actors, (Elliott included) and the story are excellent. As Walter Brennan tries to convince Elliott that vengeance is wrong, that all will be taken care by divine retribution, it makes one think a lot about it, long after the film is over.
Grim, excellent Republic oater
westerner357 20 August 2003
Once in awhile Republic Studios would release a little gem among all the mediocre B oaters that they put out, and this happens to be one of 'em.
William Elliott plays a Texas Ranger named Shadrack Jones who is trying to find out about the circumstances surrounding the brother's death. When he learns that his brother was shot in the back, he's so blinded by hate and revenge that he becomes ruthless and cruel. Even to the point of being rude to one of my favorite 50s scream queens, Marie Windsor. But Jones justifies his actions in order to get some answers about his brother who had stayed in Windsor's hotel, the night he was murdered.
The graveyard scene in the beginning where Jones is digging up his brother's freshly dug grave while Cap McKellar (Walter Brennan) and Rod Main (Henry Morgan) just happen to drop by, is excellent. Jones gives Rod a warning that he'll never forget. See, he believes someone in McKellar 's Circle-K outfit is responsible for what happened.
McKellar is about to take the Circle-K on a cattle drive to Montana and sell his beef to the army. He's so impressed with Jones that he hires him on as trail boss after Jones is forced to shoot his regular foreman, Big Mart (Leif Erickson) in an excellent gun duel in the saloon. Windsor goes along after selling her saloon for 1/3 of the cattle, which makes Jones even more hostile because he doesn't want a woman going along on the cattle drive.
Of course all the other trail hands would love to put a bullet in Jones' back because he misjudges everyone that's around him. We even get to a point where the viewer doesn't know whether Jones is the good guy or not. That's how distasteful he gets. He treats them all mean and sadistic, showing little compassion and mercy. Jones suspects everyone including Marie Windsor, but events will occur that'll prove him wrong.
First, Rod Main gets shot during an attempted gun duel with Jones by someone else. Then he suspects Bill has a derringer hidden in his boot and punches and humiliates him in front of everyone else until he finds out Bill's wearing a leg brace. Bill doesn't let anyone know about it because he's ashamed of being seen as a 'cripple'.
The ending is a real shocker. It's one that comes from out of nowhere, where the real culprit meets divine retribution without Jones having to do anything. You'll have to see the film to find out what I'm talking about because I ain't telling.
It's a film that makes you wonder what's gonna happen next and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Trial Without Jury, 1950, Philip Ford,, 60, 3, 6.0
A pretty good Republic mystery
searchanddestroy-1 18 October 2008
As I expected, I was not disappointed by this story. However, it was rather a surprise to see a Republic film looking like an old Monogram or PRC 30's movie, a mystery movie, where the characters have to solve an enigma, to find the real killer, author of a crime of which the lead is accused of. The lead who absolutely must prove his innocence.
In this feature, the director of a theatre play as a quarrel with our hero about the play in question. And some time later the director is found dead. So, the lead character must find the real murderer of his boss. And for that, he doesn't find better than making a new play, where the story will be to solve the director's murder !!! In LIVE.
You see, it's very inventive. Very Republic, even if there is not much fists fight,with "flying chairs and furniture", as in the serials...
But a very good B picture. I recommend it.
Harbor of Missing Men, 1950, R. G. Springsteen, x, 60, 4, 6.3
No Such Thing as No Such Thing
The_Dying_Flutchman 14 November 2012
"Harbor of Missing Men" is one of those small films that are no longer made, but many of us wish they were. Directed by R.G.Springsteen, no relation to the Boss as far as I know, it is tight, tidy and has no useless trim. It tells the tale of a hard knuckle guy, who's used to dealing with gun runners, but this time his load of illicit firearms is stolen so what's a sort of hero to do? He "takes it on the lam, Lefty" as they used to say way back in the day. That guy is "Brooklyn" Gannon ably played by B movie stalwart Richard Denning. Gannon ends up hiding with a family of Greek fishermen and sponge divers down the Floridian coast. The family is headed by Steven Geray who played every possible nationality even though he was from Hungary. This fisherman's daughter is played by Barbara Fuller who was once married to cowboy actor Lash LaRue and the main nasty is ably played by George Zucco who was one of the screen's meanest. The movie is filled with some of Republic's best "B" players and it gives the viewer what they want and does it as only many of the 60 minute companion features could. Nobody said "There's no such thing as no such thing", but this is the kind of flick that could and get away with it.
Bullfighter and the Lady, 1951, Budd Boetticher,, 87, 11, 6.7
Watch this, if only for Gilbert Roland
kenwest 5 July 2008
This is indeed a neglected great movie.
As someone whose familiarity with bullfighting consists of some vague Hemmingway, the yearly silly newscasts from Pamplona, and a disgusting half- afternoon in Tijuana, and whose opinion of amusement through the suffering of dumb beasts is decidedly negative, I had to talk myself into watching it. I am very glad I did. It (at least the full 125 minute version) is very compelling.
The photography is often mesmerizing, and there are scenes which I know I will remember a long time, such as the when the drunk taunts Estrada to have a go even though his right wrist is useless, following which his wife accosts the drunk with a sword and a speech which, even in Spanish, took my breath away. The many semi-documentary clips are simultaneously fascinating, compelling and repulsive.
My main point however, is the magnificent performance of Gilbert Roland as Estrada who has incredible screen presence here, handling the bulls, the drunks, the cocky Yankee, his wife, and his cheroot, often simultaneously, with grace and aplomb -- a truly beautiful character who defines the movie, even after he departs it.
Yes, the title is lame and has probably turned off many potential viewers who decided not to bother; but whether or not you are interested in bullfighting, and whether or not you approve of it, do not deny yourself the experience of seeing it.
Insurance Investigator, 1951, George Blair, x, 60, 5, 6.3
Solid noir from George Blair
dcole-2 7 November 2004
This is an effective, fun noir from George Blair, a director I never thought much of before. But this film is efficient, stylish, fast-paced and full of good performances and moments. Denning gives his part a light, breezy touch. Hillary Brooke is very good as the bad girl. John Eldredge is fine as the bad businessman who kills his partner to collect the insurance money -- but lives (for a while) to regret it. The film is well shot and well written. Fine work on everyone's part. Too bad this one isn't available on DVD for people to see. Someone should put the whole Republic library out there -- a lot of lost gems would be discovered. And perhaps a re-appraisal of the works of George Blair is in order.
Taut, effective Republic murder mystery with fine cast
django-121 January 2002
After two business partners take out double indemnity life insurance policies on each other, one of them dies in a questionable "accident." Ace insurance investigator Richard Denning, posing as a real estate agent, comes to town to find the truth. This 1951 programmer has all the good qualities of a Republic picture-- first rate supporting cast (Reed Hadley, Hillary Brooke, Roy Barcroft), exciting pacing and editing, an efficient and fast-moving script. Richard Denning (best known to younger audiences for his sci-fi films and for his appearances on HAWAII FIVE-0)has just the right combination of sauveness and toughness needed for this type of role. There are enough plot twists and mounting danger to keep everything moving at a fast pace, and overall the film is recommended to fans of 40s/50s B crime films.
Secrets of Monte Carlo, 1951, George Blair, x, 60, 1, 5.4
Decent Republic film noir
gordonl56 10 March 2008
1951's, SECRETS OF MONTE CARLO, comes to us from that seemingly endless supply of programmers that REPUBLIC STUDIOS churned out. This one has plenty of twists and turns packed into its 60 min run time.
This wild one starts with Warren Douglas as an American fireworks importer on his way to Hong Kong. He stops off at Monte Carlo for a day before continuing on his trip. While having a drink in the bar he meets a knockout of a dolly, June Vincent.
She chats him up and it turns out that they are both flying on to Asia. She asks if Douglas would mind taking a small suitcase on to the aircraft for her. It seems she is over the luggage weight allowed and would hate to leave anything behind. Douglas of course agrees. "Anything to help a lady."
Needless to say that something is perhaps rotten in Denmark! Vincent is really part of a group of high end jewel thieves. The gang has just pulled a major heist and need a patsy to run interference with the boys from customs.
Vincent meets Douglas at the airport and hands him a small case. She then excuses herself to the ladies room. Planted in the case are men's shirts, ties and one piece of the stolen jewels. Customs goes through the bag and quickly grabs up Douglas. The arrest of course allows one of the other thieves to pass through with the rest of the goods and board the plane.
Douglas is given the 3rd degree by the local constabulary and the detective from the jewel's insurance company. They decide that Douglas was used as a decoy and release him. He can continue on his way to Hong Kong on the next plane. Also on the plane go the insurance man, Robin Hughes, and his sister, Lois Hall.
The insurance company had gotten a cable saying a certain party in Hong Kong was willing to "return" the jewels for a third of the insured amount. That takes care of the first 30 mins of the film. They are not in Hong Kong a day, when insurance man Hughes is kidnapped by one faction of the jewel robbery gang.
It seems the gang's original plan of selling the jewels back to the insurance company does not sit well with some of them. Vincent and her cronies figure they will double-cross everyone and get a bigger split.
There are several rounds of flying fists and a couple of blazing gun-battles before Douglas rounds up the villains.
Ultra cheap fare that is better than i make it sound.
Missing Women, 1951, Philip Ford, x, 60, 3, 6.6
This is no way to start a honeymoon...
mark.waltz 3 April 2018
The great thing about the B studios is how they took what was essentially enough plot for an hour long TV crime drama and turned it into something artistic and mesmerizing. Poor Penny Edwards suffers greatly on the eve of her marriage when a road gang robs them and leaves her husband for dead on the street. Vowing to find the killers, she disguises herself and goes undercover within the mob itself to trap the guilty party and avenge her dead husband. This causes her parents to file a missing person's report, and after locating her, detectives John Gallaudet and James Brown warn her to leave the investigating to the police, a piece of advice she proudly ignores. But not knowing the in's and out's of the missing person's bureau, she is unaware that with her picture plastered all over, the gang of murderers and thieves is about to realize who she is, and this leads to a car garage confrontation that is intensely staged and vigorously paced.
Some great character performances aide this B film noir greatly, particularly Fritz Feld as the fey beauty shop owner who notifies the police of a package left behind of one of their missing persons, and Marlo Dwyer as a recently released ex-con whom Edwards encounters after having earlier claimed to have served time with in prison. James Millican and John Alvin play the two gang members who viciously attacked Edwards and her husband and are deliciously sinister. This is one of the better made low budget crime thrillers, filled with surprises around every corner and featuring some fabulous photography and editing. Edwards who was a leading B actress at Republic in the early 1950's, deserved a better screen career than the string of B westerns she appeared in, being suited for a variety of parts. Her heroine is a femme fatale with a twist, making her character quite interesting.
Million Dollar Pursuit, 1951, R. G. Springsteen,, 60, 3, 6.1
A successful robbery doesn't mean that the cash is easy to spend...
mark.waltz 21 September 2017
This is just an o.k. crime drama about the plot to rob a busy department store and the frustrations of the gang to be able to split the money and split from each other. This shows the before, the during, the after, and what makes this interesting is the rising tensions that occur as soon as the plans are in order. It's a typical gritty Republic caper film that insinuates once again that crime doesn't pay and often kills. That it's innocent bystanders in addition to the victims and perpetrators themselves makes for intrigue in these raw and extremely violent films. Don't expect deep characterizations or believable motivations, but do expect tough dialog and gritty photography and editing.
Coming at a time when the number of TV's in households was greatly expanding, the individual filmmakers were pushing the code to the limit to get more people into theater seats, and more violence was an assured way to sell tickets. This didn't make the films any better, but in certain cases, it exposed the angry post war society that was going on all over the restless world. Grant Withers and Norman Budd are the criminal organizers with Penny Edwards a soft spoken heroine, framed for a crime she didn't commit by a suspicious, volatile boyfriend. This is the type of independent low budget film that on its own is just average, but obviously influenced film students of the time to take further risks. For that, it could be considered a classic of the later day B film, a genre that was a bit wounded but was desperately trying to pick itself up and dust itself off, fighting the enemy of television to the bitter end.
Street Bandits, 1951, R. G. Springsteen, x, 54, 1, 6.4
Good Little crime Programmer
gordonl56 8 November 2014
This is another of those quick (54 minute) programmers that Republic Pictures cranked out by the barrel full.
This one has just out of Law School Lawyers, Robert Clarke and Ross Ford starting up their own practice. They rent a small office and wait for the clients to roll in. They end up sitting on their butts till a businessman down the hall, John Eldredge, hires them to defend one of his employees. The man, Roy Barcroft, is really a mobbed up guy who runs the local slot machine racket.
Barcroft, (a thug if ever there was one) is up on a murder beef. It seems he blew up a bar that had refused to use his slots. It was a message to all the local club and bar owners to not refuse his offer. Lawyer Clarke takes to the work like a shark to blood and soon springs Barcroft.
Clarke's girl, Penny Edwards, is not at all happy with Clarke defending "those criminal types." Clarke's partner, Ross Ford is not at all happy with the setup either. He quits and joins the District Attorney's office.
Clarke continues to work for Eldredge's company, even though he knows the outfit is just a front for the mob. He also knows that Eldredge is just the public face, while Barcroft is the real boss.
Barcroft decides it is time to expand his hold on the slots racket. He blows up the boss, Charles Wagenhiem, of the other slot machine supplier. This of course brings loads more Police pressure on the rackets. Barcroft though, is an old school type who believes violence fixes everything.
Lawyer Clarke has decided to stop working for Eldredge and Barcroft so he can marry his darling, Miss Edwards. He also wants time to spend with his ill mother, Helen Wallace. Clarke and Edwards get hitched and go off on their honeymoon. Half way through they get a call from Eldredge offering $10,000 to represent Barcroft again. It seems there had been a witness to Barcroft blowing up Wagenhiem and his warehouse. Clarke accepts because he can use the money to help his mother get the proper care for her illness. (bad heart)
By this time, mob front man, Eldredge, is getting sick of the life and the increasingly crazy Barcroft. He shows Clarke a secret safe where he has documents, ledgers etc on all the crooked dealing he and Barcroft have done. He has decided to turn States evidence on Barcroft and take a light sentence.
Needless to say Mister Barcroft is less than amused with his partner's idea when he finds out. He pulls a .38 and kills Eldredge right in front of Clarke. This is a more than subtle hint for Clarke to not step out of line and annoy Barcroft.
Clarke heads home thinking about what he should do. He calls his ex-partner, Ross Ford at the DA's office. He tells him about the killing and that he should grab up Barcroft and his crew. Clarke says he will supply enough evidence to send Barcroft to the chair.
Clarke drives back to Eldredge's office to grab the papers from the secret safe Eldredge had shown him. He is going to give it all to the Police. This idea goes south as Barcroft catches him with the stuff. Barcroft goes for his piece but Clarke flattens him with a solid punch. Clarke then races out and leaps in his car with the papers. He floors the beast and heads for the Police. Barcroft is quickly in hot pursuit with one of his henchmen.
There is a pretty good chase sequence with Clarke leading Barcroft through the streets. Clarke beats Barcroft to the Police Station by a whisker. He takes the evidence and runs to the Station. Barcroft pulls up, plugs Clarke with a nifty bit of marksmanship. He grabs the evidence from the wounded Clarke and jumps back into his car.
The Police are just as quick off the mark and the pursuit now has Barcroft as the rabbit in front. Barcroft and his driver soon fail to make a turn and crash into the side of a building. Barcroft beats the feet down the street but is soon cornered. He has no intention of coming quietly, and is soon suffering from a severe lead overdose.
This quick and to the point programmer has Republic regular, R.G. Springsteen handling the directing chores. His films include, REVOLT IN THE BIG HOUSE, DOUBLE JEOPARDY, WHEN GANGLAND STRIKES, SECRET VENTURE, I COVER THE UNDERWORLD and SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATOR.
Handling the director of photography chores is equally long serving Republic staple, John MacBurnie. MacBurnie started out on serials like, RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, CAPTAIN AMERICA, JESSE JAMES RIDES AGAIN and THE BLACK WIDOW. He then moved on to B-westerns and low rent crime and film noir. These include, SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATOR, HIDEOUT, THE RED MEANCE, FEDERAL AGENT AT LARGE, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR, MISSING WOMEN and INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR. Several of these like, HIDEOUT, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR and INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR are quite nifty low renters.
Roy Barcroft appeared in 375 plus different film and television productions. He was pretty well always the villain of the piece.