Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seven (More) Obscure Movies That I Curiously Remember

Karkoff or Karkov?
1. Terror in the Wax Museum (1973) - Listen to this cast: Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Louis Hayward, Broderick Crawford, John Carradine, and Patric Knowles. I know that veteran stars sometimes get stuck in bad movies, but what a shame that this combination of Jack the Ripper and a wax museum setting is...well...lifeless. Did I mention it includes a hunchback billed as Karkov in the credits, but Karkoff on the poster?

2. Little Fugitive (1953) - A six-year-old boy, believing that he has shot and killed his older brother, runs away to Coney Island. This independent feature boasts no major stars, but features an incredibly natural performance from Richard Brewster as little Lennie. This sweet, wholesome film plays like a home movie from the 1950s--you can almost taste the boardwalk hotdogs. It pops up occasionally on television, so it's less obscure than others on this list. I highly recommend it.

3. Outlaw Blues (1977) - Peter Fonda plays a ex-con who writes a catchy country song that's stolen by a famous singer. When he confronts the singer, the latter is accidentally shot and Fonda becomes an outlaw. Outlaw Blues reminds me of one of those entertaining drive-in pics that eventually made Burt Reynolds a star (e.g., W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings). Fonda and Susan Saint James make an appealing pair. The title tune was written by John Oates of Hall & Oates.

Judy as the white Mewsette.
4.  Gay Purr-ee (1962) - Judy Garland and Robert Goulet provide the voice of the feline lovers in this colorful, non-Disney animated musical. The songs were composed by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, who worked with Judy on another musical you may know (that'd be The Wizard of Oz). The script was written by Dorothy Webster Jones and her husband, celebrated Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones. According to some sources, Warners terminated Chuck for his involvement since Gay Purr-ee was made by rival studio UPA. Rhino Records re-released the soundtrack in 2003 with several never-before-heard demos.

5. Love That Brute (1950) - Paul Douglas stars a lovable gangster that falls for a charming governess (Jean Peters). He tells her that he is a widower with a son--which means he has to find a son! I'm a fan of comedies in which a simple lie (is there such a thing?) cascades into an elaborate deception that's certain to come crumbling down. Given the popularity of Peters and Douglas, you'd think this would be shown much more often than it is. It's supposed to be a remake of Tall, Dark and Handsome (1940), which I have not seen.

That's Dr. Lauren Bacall!
6. Shock Treatment (1964) - A writer (Stuart Whitman) goes undercover in an insane asylum to discover the whereabouts of $1 million in stolen loot. If this sounds like a bad idea, you're right. Whitman heads a fine cast consisting of Lauren Bacall, Carol Lynley, and Roddy McDowell. It's a lurid tale at times, but better than Samuel Fuller's more celebrated Shock Corridor.

7. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). Director Fritz Lang's last U.S. film (and one of the last of his career) stars Dana Andrews as a novelist who frames himself in order to make a statement on capital punishment. Neither Lang nor Andrews are in top form here, but Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is an absorbing "B" picture with a twist that genuinely surprised me when I saw it as a teenager.

9 comments:

  1. I "made" my daughter watch "Little Fugitive" a few months back. She fell in love with the movie. Who wouldn't?

    "Gay Puree" bored me silly as a kid. Wonder if I'd like it better now.

    Hey! I've seen "Tall, Dark and Handsome", and liked it, but have yet to see "Love That Brute". Trade ya'!

    Karkoff?! Geesh.

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    1. So I can look forward to reading a review of TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME on your blog?

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  2. "Little Fugitive" is a wonderfully made portrait of life in the city. I have watched it a couple of times and wrote about it. I actually received a comment from the son of one of the filmmakers "correcting" me on the name. Apparently, his father use a different name on the film and he would like his father's real name to be known. Lang's film is certainly worth seeing. I was hoping "Shock Treatment" was the flick scheduled for TCM since I have not seen it and have been wanting to for a long time. Below is the link to my "Little Fugitive" review.

    https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/little-fugitive-1953-morris-engel-ruth-orkin-ray-ashbury/

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    1. Very nice review, John. I enjoyed reading it again!

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  3. I've seen all but the first two and thought that while none were classics they were all okay.

    Shock Treatment is one wacky mess but fun in that way that pictures that run off the rails are. I love Paul Douglas so Love That Brute was an especial pleasure.

    Judy Garland is Star of the Month on TCM this month which is why Gay Pur-ee is on the schedule. Mostly their scheduling of her films has been solid but they've slotted both this and Pepe, where she has only a song that plays over a scene, for this wrap-up of her work tonight and left her last film "I Could Go On Singing" off which is such an odd decision, she's so good in it and they've shown it many times before.

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  4. A couple of points (admittedly minor):

    - I saw Terror At The Wax Museum in its initial theatrical release, on a double bill with Doctor Death: Seeker Of Souls, both from Cinerama Releasing.
    If I recall correctly, this was the State-Lake theatre in downtown Chicago.
    The connection was ABC, which owned the theatre chain that showed the duo all over Chicagoland ... and also owned Cinerama Releasing ... and (the story goes) originally earmarked Wax Museum as a TV feature.
    The commercial breaks were kind of obvious ...
    As for Doctor Death, it was a bit nearer the knuckle than would have gone on TV at that time, but it was short enough to double up with Wax Museum, so there too.
    Doctor is mainly notable as the final screen appearance of Moe Howard (looking downright dapper in his brief scene).

    - Not that it matters all that much, given that the lady seems to have retired ...
    ... it's Susan Saint James.
    You're supposed to spell out Saint.
    At least the lady made a point of it throughout her career (although she could just as well have stayed Susan Miller as far as I was concerned).

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  5. Oh boy, you got me excited for two films! I'll have to get my hands on Love that Brute and Little Fugitive, those sound right up my alley. Last week my sister and I watched The Prize and we really enjoyed it. Love those Hitchcockian thrillers from the 1960s. Look for my review of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt for the Film Noir Blogathon...it's an underrated gem.

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  6. Oh boy, you got me excited for two films! I'll have to get my hands on Love that Brute and Little Fugitive, those sound right up my alley. Last week my sister and I watched The Prize and we really enjoyed it. Love those Hitchcockian thrillers from the 1960s. Look for my review of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt for the Film Noir Blogathon...it's an underrated gem.

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  7. "LIttle Fugitive" is indeed a little gem. I am always pleasantly surprised by child actors who have a natural ability. I haven't seen "Love That Brute" but do enjoy Paul Douglas. He was so much fun in "Solid Gold Cadillac."

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