Monday, June 25, 2018

Seven Obscure Movies That I Curiously Remember (Volume 5)

The guy at the top doesn't look like Caine.
1.  The Destructors (1974) - As a teenager, I watched this French-British crime thriller at the tiny Club Haven Cinema in Winston-Salem, NC. (How small was it? One person could sell tickets and then swivel around to serve popcorn.) I assume the film's attraction was its cast of Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, and James Mason. Made in the wake of The French Connection, Quinn plays an intelligence agent who hires an assassin (Caine) to kill a drug kingpin (Mason). It was originally titled The Marseille Contract--which is much less exciting than The Destructors. I don't recall it being anywhere as good as Burt Lancaster's international thriller Scorpio (1973).

Alan Bates as the "hero."
2.  Nothing But the Best (1964) - This black comedy stars Alan Bates as a young man willing to do anything to climb the corporate ladder--and that includes murder. It's a darker, funnier version of Room at the Top. Despite playing on network television in the 1970s, I don't think it has ever been released on video in the U.S. I keep waiting for someone to post the complete movie on YouTube.

3. Trader Horn (1973) - I'm not sure what inspired MGM to remake W.S. Van Dyke's 1931 African adventure as a low-budget programmer. All I can say is that I felt sorry for poor Rod Taylor, who deserved so much better than to be engulfed in cliches and mismatched stock footage. In the opening scene, we see Rod guiding some amateur hunters in what looks like a park in California. He points at a tribe of elephants--which turns out to be much lighter (stock?) footage of some pachyderms. It only gets worse from there!

Sultry Cleo Moore.
4. Bait (1954) - We've written about "B" movie auteur Hugo Haas in this blog before. Bait is one of his better efforts, featuring director Haas as a conniving prospector who tries to force his beautiful younger wife (Haas regular Cleo Moore) into the arms of his partner (John Agar). He figures that adultery will be sufficient justification for a little homicide! You would think this movie would be in the public domain on YouTube, but, no, it'll cost you $2.99 to watch it.

5. Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969) - When a young woman (Carol Lynley) realizes her lover is a psycho, she dumps him and aborts their unborn child. Years later, she marries a nice guy and has a baby--naturally, that's when the ex-boyfriend shows up again. I haven't seen this one since its theatrical release and was surprised to learn it was written by old pros Larry Cohen (It's Alive) and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (the Batman TV series).

Peter Lorre as the title character.
6. Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) - This film noir isn't as obscure as it used to be. In fact, it probably doesn't belong on this list anymore after being "rediscovered" by noir fans a few years back. John McGuire stars as a reporter whose testimony helps convict a potentially innocent man. When he tries to find the real killer, the reporter is arrested for a second murder and his girlfriend must track down the real culprit.

7. Killdozer (1974) - So there's this evil spirit or something that takes over a bulldozer on a island and starts killing the construction crew. Hey, what's not to like about this wacky made-for-TV movie co-written by acclaimed sci fi author Theodore Sturgeon and starring Clint Walker, Carl Betz, Neville Brand, and Robert Urich? Plus, don't you just love that title?


  1. Stranger on the Third Floor and Daddy's Gone A-Hunting are terrific little films. I have been wanting to see Nothing But the Best for many years. Tough film to find.

  2. Killdozer is a lot of fun. I've never seen Trader Horn, but I remember the local 'adult' theatre playing Trader Hornee when I was in high school.

    1. You made me laugh! I remember "Trader Hornee" too.

  3. Well, only 2 out of 7 have entered my orbit. So many darn movies out there. The way your mind works amazes me!

  4. I’m 0 for 7 but I think “Stranger” played on TCM today!

  5. I'm 0 for 7 too, but I am really keen to see "Stranger on the Third Floor".