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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mysto, Apr 10, 2018.
Damn, dude—-you are getting good at this stuff!
Thanks Russ. I just emulate the master (or is that mutilate?)
Thanks, Marv, for the information on the Darro-Moreland series and on Mantan himself. I despised reading about what happened to Moreland. The man was trying to earn a living and should not have been punished for taking work as opposed to starving. His comic timing could have been put to good use in plenty of movies and TV of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Saint Takes Over (1940)
This will thankfully be the last of my tortured commentaries on the Saint series. I say this only because if you've seen one, you've basically seen 'em all. Simon Templar seemingly meanders into crimes without any forethought or effort on his part, so the viewer is left with only a vague indication of what the hell is the actual mission of this guy?
The film opens on Hollywood's version of a luxury ocean liner, with staterooms the size of high school gymnasiums--thus assuming the ship has the approximate dimensions of South Carolina. On board, the Saint rescues Ruth (Wendy Barrie) from a crooked bridge game--scary bespectacled card sharps dressed in tuxedos. After a few scotches in the bar and several unfiltered cigarettes, Simon pulls a Harvey Weinberg on Ruth, suddenly grabbing and kissing her without warning. This was considered perfectly acceptable gentlemanly behavior back in the day. Ruth skitters away like a scalded gerbil. This is essentially the last we see of her for a bit. Stay tuned.
George Sanders with Wendy Barrie, Paul Guilfoyle, Jonathan Hale
The NY morning paper features headlines indicating that series regular, police Lt. Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale), has been found with $50,000 worth of unaccounted moola in his possession. He is summarily relieved of his badge regardless of his innocence or guilt. Most interested in Fernack's dilemma is crook Rocky Weldon (Roland Drew) and his "muscle", 'Pearly' Gates (Paul Guilfoyle), who looks about as foreboding as a WalMart greeter. Both are involved in a race fixing syndicate headed by Ben Eagan (Pierre Watkin).
Pearly, who has the cerebral capacity of library paste, is sent by Rocky to rob Eagan of $90,000 that has been unscrupulously collected to help fix horse races. Upon opening Eagan's safe, his picture is taken from a hidden camera. Before he can use it against Pearly, Eagan is suddenly stricken with lead poisoning via the velocity of a projectile straight into his heart. This is the first of several murders of the syndicate members from an unknown source. As each murder occurs, Simon Templar finds Fernack inexplicably at each crime scene as if to indicate he is somehow involved--since his unexplained loot was planted by the syndicate. Over a civil breakfast with Simon, Fernack muses "If only we could figure out who's killing these guys" as if uncovering a heretofore unexplored thought. The Saint, as in each of the series' episodes, approaches these crimes with the energetic level of a Guatemalan lizard on a sun-scorched rock.
Throughout the entire spree of crimes and murders, there is never any presence of official law enforcement. Justice is apparently left in the hands of the Saint and the disgraced Fernack. If by now you've been wondering what value Wendy Barrie has in this whole thing by her lack of appearances throughout, well--you've practically solved the mystery. Needless to say, Simon sets up a trap and reveals the true identity of the culprit, thus mitigating Fernack's guilt.
The plot is rife with unexplained holes and absolutely ridiculous scenarios. But then, this was never a cinema project destined for an academy award. By the end of the film, the only sentiment with which I was left is a nagging desire to take up smoking again.
NOTE: Paul Guilfoyle, born in 1902, was no relation to the identically named actor who played police Cpt. Brass in the popular CSI TV series. Guilfoyle unfortunately dropped dead of a heart attack in 1961.
As Russ calls these - A TIDBIT
Frankie Darro Born 1917 – Died 1976 at the too young age of 59
Frankie started out with his family “The Flying Johnsons” a flying circus act. A divorce ended that career at the tender age of 5 but by six Frankie was in the movies – a kid that could do his own stunts. At five foot three he was able to play juvenile leads for a long time but as he got older there were fewer opportunities and he was a heavy drinker blamed on pain management for malaria. We just covered his series with Mantan Moreland but his diminished height got him in our thread a second time in two Charlie Chan movies: Charlie Chan at the Race Track and A Day at the Races as… a jockey.
Even if you have never heard of Frankie Darro I bet you have seen his most famous work – even though it was un-credited.
That's right - Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet
I think this is the first time I have ever heard of George Sanders being referred to as a Guatemalan lizard.
As always a fun review. Thanks for keeping the thread filled with laughter (or groans which ever comes first)
Well raise my rent! Who knew!?
OOOOOH, this series sounds right up my alley! Thanks again for expanding my viewing list.
Geez, Marv, I go offline for a few days to move house and you come up with about 76 posts! Seriously, that's some great stuff from you and Rustifer upthread.
Of the Darro / Moreland flicks, I've only seen Up in the Air. I enjoyed it very much, good interactions between the two lead guys, some good-looking dames and a decent mystery for a Monogram production. Only the aforementioned blackface bit took me out of the show for an uncomfortable few minutes. As Marv says, though, Darro and Mantan are treated pretty much as pals and equals, and that's the main attraction for this series.
Frankie Darro really turns the full-court press on cute Marjorie Reynolds; he's on the make throughout the whole movie, but I guess you can't blame him. She was quite the looker:
Will try and check some more of this series out on YouTube some day, if only to get some more of that great Mantan Moreland comic timing.
If you're a fan of Mantan Moreland, you MUST watch KING OF THE ZOMBIES. He owns the film with one of the best comedy performances of the '40s.
I'm a fervid approver of a little cheesecake in a post, Jeff. Bless you.
Let me go on record here to state that Marv approaches his posts in an organized and thoughtful manner. Whereas I, on the other hand, apply a scattershot methodology of jumping from episode to episode of entirely unrelated subjects. In my world, every rut has its puddles.
To prove this point, I have a Torchy Blane commentary or two coming up--even though I believe we passed the Torchy era many pages back. What can I say--I'm a Glenda Farrell nut.
As I near the end of the list of series - I plan to revisit with individual reviews and info on cast members (and cheesecake). Very much looking forward to your Torchy Blane Review.
Me too! We love Torchy!
So is the new digs better for your projector?
Oh yeah. Our new place is nearly twice the size of our last one, and in a much better location. Got a decent-sized man cave now (by Japanese standards, at least). The move was pretty expensive, so it'll be a few months before I can justify dropping more coin on my home theater, but hope to have a new 100-inch 16:9 electronically-controlled screen installed soon. Then I'll start the slow, piece-by-piece upgrade, beginning with some better seating. Thanks for asking!
Wow! A 100-inch screen. Call me envious.
My home theater (read: family room) sports a whopping 40-inch screen that seemed enormous 10 years ago. Wifey, who sincerely believes all TVs possess satanic attributes, sadly would never allow such a monstrosity in the house.
This is the best I can do. Note the number of books nearby, strategically placed in hopes that I might read more.
Nothing wrong with that set-up, Russ! A nice room...perfect for viewing 77 Sunset Strip, I'd wager. Lots of my vintage TV viewing is done on my 50 inch plasma downstairs. Yes, the "Spousal Approval Factor" is always something we have to contend with. There's no way my wife would let me put a giant screen down in the living room. But she's fine with me having one upstairs in its own room. Guess I got lucky there, in that she's more amenable in that regard. It helps that our new place has 5 rooms...something of a rarity in Osaka, which is why we opted for an older house.
I am fortunate in that my wife is the one who is more motivated to upgrade our TVs. My emphasis is on accessibility of programming. I have spent many, many hours ripping discs and downloading things from Internet Archive so that we can watch them on demand wherever we are in the house. We have been devoted Boxee users, but as the boxes fried themselves one by one, I had to move to Plex. The benefit is that I can now catch whatever we have in our system on literally any screen we have in the house.
Now my goal is to be able to do the same wherever we are in the world, a goal that continues to evade me. . . .
Torchy Gets Her Man (Warner Bros. 1938)
Doing a commentary of a Torchy Blane film is as if admitting that a plot actually exists. This, of course, is just funny thinking. The true net worth of the series is Glenda Farrell, a poor man's Jean Arthur--awfully pretty, fiercely feisty, and likely to kick you in the cojones with her size 5 pumps.
As a newspaper reporter always on the make for a story, Torchy hangs around the police department and goes through their chain of command like a buzzsaw through fruitcake. Her fiance, Lt. Steve McBride (Barton MacLane) is the beleaguered soul who barely tolerates Torchy's antics in wresting out stories from him and his colleagues. Their "romance" is about as believable as mine with Grace Kelly.
Glenda Farrell, Barton MacLane, Tom Kennedy
Counterfeiter "Hundred Dollar Bill" Bailey (Willard Robertson) penetrates the police department in the guise of a U.S. Secret Service agent--back in the days when the Secret Service was more interested in uncovering fake money than saving the hides of Presidents. MacBride's clumsy driver and resident poet, Gahagan (Tom Kennedy) has a larger role than normal in this episode--spouting poems, devising absurd race betting formulas and conveniently divulging classified information to Torchy. The whole premise of the story line has Bailey's gang passing counterfeit money at the races under the noses of the police. This is when "going to the race" did not mean attending a NASCAR event.
Torchy unmasks the scheme not through any superior snooping, but rather by accident getting caught by the gang. She and Gahagan are treated to a grandma-style dinner by the crooks. Bailey turns to Gahagan and asks how he found the soup. "I just looked down at the bowl, and there it was", he observes. Gahagan was not exactly valedictorian at PS114. He and Torchy are tied up and left near a time bomb that ominously ticks off the minutes, only to be saved in the nick of time by a suddenly lucid Lt. McBride.
With these episodes, a little goes a long way. The corny jokes and nonsensical plots eventually cease to be cute and just downright tiring. Sometimes the story moves slower than a bill through congress. But watching one every now and again--fortified with a proper mood improving cocktail--can be just the ticket to avoid having to do afternoon laundry.
NOTE: I was going to review 'Torchy Blane in Chinatown' when I saw that Brian (Vic Pardo) had already done an exemplary job on that episode earlier in this thread.
My brindle-colored Lab/Pit finds Torchy Blane episodes a fine inducement to nap
Always good to have a pal to watch with...even if he or she sleeps through the picture.