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Mystery & Crime Series 30's & 40's

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mysto, Apr 10, 2018.

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  1. Rustifer

    Rustifer Screenwriter
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    Rob--thanks to a reference by Jeff, I popped over to this thread:
    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/what-did-you-watch-this-week-in-classic-tv-on-dvd-or-blu.342750/page-59
    I've done a few posts so far--not sure if weekly classic TV is one of your interests, but you might want to check it out.
     
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  2. Message #622 of 819 Jan 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    Mysto

    Mysto Supporting Actor

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    I follow that thread Russ as well as a few more. Just not as active on them. If you check - I gave you a like on Peter Gunn - I enjoyed the series when it came out but a re-watch recently didn't hold up well. Glad Jeff expanded your opportunities to post your fun reviews.
     
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  3. Rustifer

    Rustifer Screenwriter
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    Yep, I saw you lurking around. I wouldn't be on this thread or that one if it weren't for you and Jeff pointing me in the right direction.
    My wife thanks both of you for keeping me busy.
     
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  4. Message #624 of 819 Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    Rustifer

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    Episode Commentary
    "Blondes At Work" (1938)

    This is the fourth in the Torchy Blane series by Warner Bros. The stars, Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane, decided to give it a rest after this one, thus causing WB to hire Lola Lane and Paul Kelly to assume their roles---with miserable results. Farrell and MacLane eventually returned to do three more films at the pleading of the studio. And higher salaries, I would suppose.

    Department store owner Marvin Spencer is kidnapped and eventually killed. Thus begins this whodunnit case to be closely followed by reporter Torchy Blane. However, Torchy's long-suffering boyfriend, Lt. Steve McBride, has just had his hide thoroughly tanned by the Captain for leaking too much police information to Torchy. McBride decides to pop the marriage question to Torchy, hoping to keep her at home like a dutiful housewife and away from her prying ways. After proposing over dinner, Torchy cranes to look behind McBride:
    "Just checking to see if someone is holding a shotgun on you". She doesn't buy into the proposal.

    As I've pointed out in my other commentaries, the relationship between Torchy and McBride is hard to swallow--she being vivacious and feisty is a stark counterpoint to his sour barking self. The two of them being more palsy-walsy, it's hard to picture any steamy couplings ever taking place.

    Regardless of all efforts by McBride, Torchy continues to get the scoop on the Spencer case mainly surreptitiously through a daily diary being kept by McBride's poetic driver Kahagan (Tom Kennedy). Kahagan has never been exactly in the fast lane of the IQ highway, is smitten with Torchy and has an annoying tendency to compose truly awful odes to her.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] upload_2019-1-12_8-31-33.
    Glenda Farrell, Barton MacLane, Tom Kennedy

    Lipstick on Marvin Spencer's hanky leads the police to Louisa Revelle (Rosella Towne) and Maitland Greer (Donald Briggs). Of course, Torchy exposes all this juicy info to her newspaper before the cops even have time to disseminate the clues. The Captain is apoplectic.
    McBride explodes "You keep getting me into jams like this, you'll cook my goose!"
    "Well, we'll fatten it up and cook it for dinner then," giggles Torchy. She refers to the Lieutenant as 'Sussy Wussy' or 'Squidgy Widgey'--real man-builder handles.

    McBride 's questioning of the suspects is about as sharp as a nerfball. His usual technique is to jump to any conclusion as the ultimate solution. Nonetheless, Revelle and Greer are convicted of the crime and Torchy is tossed into jail for contempt of court. MacBride has finally found the solution to keeping Torchy under wraps.

    As for all Torchy Blane films, they're fun to watch as long as you don't take them too seriously. Even more fun if you take them with martinis.

    RANDOMS:
    The "Star", Torchy's newspaper, blares headlines on the murder. The sidebars are of even more interest:
    Chinese Currency dips in Canton (not Ohio, I presume)
    Chicago Fire Burns Half the Town (a little late with some news)
    Herbert Hoover Convicted of Bigamy (okay, I made that one up...)

    It took Warner Bros. exactly one month to film "Blondes At Work" and turned out 9 Torchy Blane movies over a 2-year period. Glenda Farrell made over 50 movies for the studio between 1931-1939, after which she dumped WB to foster a career in the theater.

    Carole Landis has a small role in the film, wearing a fascinator headpiece with a veil that appears as a large spider crawling on her cheek. Disconcerting. (More on Carole below).
     
  5. Rustifer

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    TIDBIT
    Carole Landis

    [​IMG] upload_2019-1-12_9-14-26. [​IMG]

    Known around town as "The Chest" (for somewhat obvious reasons), Carole's lurid career consisted mainly of bit parts. Using makeup to hide her true age, nine-year old Landis won a beauty contest and walked off with prizes of nylon stockings and an electric heater.
    Dropping out of school at 15, she bundled together $100 and headed to Hollywood and initially could only get pin-up girl photo gigs.

    “Leg art did the trick — naughty leg art, if you happen to look at it in that light. When the boys needed someone to pose in a skin-tight white bathing suit, go sleigh riding in shorts, or climb a ladder in a skirt, they’d yell, ‘Get Landis!’ That made everybody happy except, maybe, the goody-goods and the bluenoses, and I suspect they took a second peek now and then.” Carole reported.

    After her breakout role in One Million B.C. (1940), she was very popular on USO tours during the war and had a high 'hoot' ratio with the troops. Having been married four times, she became heartbroken over her failed romance with Rex Harrison. "Sexy Rexy", known for his philandering ways, was once quoted as saying "Women are like stocks, the more you have, the more dividends you get."

    In 1948, Carole was found dead of suicide by Rex in her apartment bathroom, next to empty bottles of sleeping pills. She was 29.
     
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  6. Message #626 of 819 Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
    Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter

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    What a beautiful woman (and they weren't kidding with that nickname!) And what a sad, premature end...

    I see that she was the female lead in the serial Daredevils of the Red Circle - the Blu-Ray of which is wending its way to me as I type. Will be even more eager to check out that chapterplay (reportedly one of the best ever) knowing she's in it. She also apparently returns (in an uncredited bit) in Torchy Blane in Panama later in 1938.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the continuing Torchy Blane reviews, Russ! You're getting me motivated to dust off that Warner Archive set and continue working my way through the rest of the series (though not sure I'll be that keen on checking out the non-Farrell entries).
     
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  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I finished off the Hildegarde Withers mysteries tonight with Zasu Pitts' last effort Forty Naughty Girls. It was a better mystery/comedy than her previous effort (though I had no trouble sniffing out the killer before the duo unmasked him), but she still completely irritates in the role, so dithery and fluttery and klutzy to wear out her welcome long before the 63-minute movie ended. Edna Mae Oliver simply can't be matched in the role.

    Looks like TCM is starting up with the Perry Mason films next week. I already have that box set so I need to start watching them and getting a jump on the channel. I've only seen one of them prior to watching this set.
     
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  8. Message #628 of 819 Jan 13, 2019
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    Mysto

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    Dennis O’Brien
    [​IMG]
    Hugh Beaumont

    Danger Zone
    Roaring City
    Pier 23


    We’ve been enjoying all the great crime and mystery series during the golden days of the the 30’s and 40’s. Now things are starting to change. We’re barely into the 1950’s. Movies and TV are wrestling with this new uneasy relationship. Will TV kill movie theaters? Should some movie content be screened on TV or denied? How about this – should some of the made for TV content go to the movies? Well, that’s exactly what we have here. The Dennis O’Brien series is obviously a TV pilot series gone to the other side. Each of the three movies is nothing more than two episodes sandwiched together and sold as a B movie programmer. Apparently these are based on the radio shows Pat Novak for Hire and Johnny Madero Pier 23 starring Jack Web. These came out about the same time that TV was showing Man Against Crime, Martin Kane P.I. and one of my favorites, Boston Blackie.

    Dennis O’Brien owns a boat rental (never saw him rent a boat) and is a private detective in San Francisco. We get to see Hugh Beaumont (You know the Beaver’s dad) as a hard boiled detective. We’ve seen that before when he played Michael Shayne after the exit of Lloyd Nolan. (I think the Michael Shayne’s are better than these) Edward Brophy plays sidekick Prof. Fredrick Simpson Schicker an ex-professor now professional drunkard that is the research and information source for O’Brien. He runs around sounding like he swallowed a Shakespearian Dictionary? OK, that we’ve never seen. Usually he has a Brooklyn accent like when he was Goldie Locke in the Falcon series. Richard Travis plays Bruger the required Police Lieutenant - sometimes helper - mostly adversary. Each episode is, of course, graced with it’s bevy of beauties. (Here’s just a couple)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Pamela Blake and then Virginia Dale dancing in Holiday Inn.

    I was prepared to dislike this series because I knew what it was before I started. But perhaps that’s why it worked for me. I wasn’t expecting a movie or even great performances and I wasn’t disappointed. These are amusing and sometimes entertaining examples of early TV noir detective stories. With great lines like Lt. Bruger’s “You got more inside dope than an X-Ray” and Prof Schicker “A refill Henry, prepared in your own incomparable mastery which transmutes the vilest of rotgut into nectar fit for the gods” and of course O’Brien himself, “When I started coming to, my head felt the size of a social workers heart”. Don’t look for complicated story lines, just snappy repartee and full speed ahead. With only thirty minutes per plot they have to get to it. They look and feel like early TV because they are early TV, but if you like that kind of thing (I do on occasion) they might be worth a look.

    Danger Zone on archive.org

    Roaring City on Dailymotion

    These are all available on the Forgotten Noir DVDs but the current prices are stupid.
     
  9. Message #629 of 819 Jan 13, 2019
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    Mysto

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    Mystery Sidekicks
    [​IMG]
    Edward Brophy - February 27, 1895 – May 27, 1960

    Starting as a property master in the silent films, Brophy did a bit with Buster Keaton and the rest, as they say, was history.
    [​IMG]

    Short of stature, this balding, chubby, wide eyed character actor looked like he could be the third stooge.


    His high pitched voice was unmistakable. Remember that great line in the Thin Man, “I come to you on the level, Studsie says you’re on the level, why don’t you be on the level?”

    He could play bad guys but he was at his best as a humorous sidekick or comic relief. Edward was a regular in our vintage mystery series.

    Thin Man – Morelli
    Calling Philo Vance – Ryan
    The Gay Falcon – Detective Bates
    The Thin Man Goes Home – Brogan
    The Falcon in San Francisco – Goldie Locke
    The Falcon’s Adventure – Goldie Locke
    Danger Zone – Prof. Schicker
    Roaring City - Prof. Schicker
    Pier 23 – Prof. Shicker

    Brophy is another actor that had a famous, yet unaccredited roll - the voice of Timothy Q. Mouse. He gave Disney’s Dumbo the confidence to fly.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Rustifer

    Rustifer Screenwriter
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    Good "Tidbit", Marv!
     
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  11. Mysto

    Mysto Supporting Actor

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    That's quite a compliment coming from the master of Tidbits. Thanks Russ.
    Current count says I have three summaries (maybe four) to go and we've finished the mystery series. Of course I will continue with individual movie reviews and actor tidbits.
     
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  12. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I watched the first Perry Mason in the box set: The Case of the Howling Dog. Yes, I guessed the killer, but it was still a nifty mystery, and this one actually had Mason in the courtroom. Good first effort.
     
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  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I watched the second of the Mason set tonight: The Case of the Curious Bride. This is the only one of the Masons that I had seen previously (a few months ago), but as I watched, I found I didn't remember much about it including the identity of the murderer, so even though they didn't get near a courtroom, I still enjoyed it.
     
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  14. Message #634 of 819 Jan 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
    Mysto

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    How would you grade the quality of the set Matt?

    ADDED: Enjoying your take on the series. Thanks.
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Warners hasn't touched the masters for these films, and they really show their age: loaded with scratches, dirt, and damage, and the sound is hissy as would be expected if audio tracks hadn't been touched. They're all watchable, of course, but The Thin Man set on DVD looks and sounds infinitely better.
     
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  16. Mysto

    Mysto Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the update. I guess I keep my homemades. I guess Warner got greedy and is trying to live off previous re-masters. I hope that is not a trend.
     
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  17. Message #637 of 819 Jan 16, 2019
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    Mysto

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    Andy Doyle (Bill Elliott) Detective
    [​IMG]
    Bill Elliott

    Dial Red O
    Sudden Danger
    Calling Homicide
    Chain of Evidence
    Footsteps in the Night


    This series is actually late to the party with the first film released in 1955. But, even though it started in the 50’s it has a style that is similar to many in our collection so I think it fits. HTF poster rcmeserve suggested this at the beginning of this thread and it is one of three series in these summaries that I had never seen. These have not been seen or talked about much because they were very difficult to get and poor quality but have been given a new lease on life with the release of quite watchable copies from Warner Archive at a reasonable price.

    Bill Elliott is best known for westerns both Red Ryder in that series of 16 films and also as the star “Wild Bill” Elliott with Gabby Hayes.

    [​IMG]

    When Monogram studios became Allied Artists they phased out their Westerns so in order to finish out Elliott’s contract they had him do a series of five detective stories as Detective Andy Doyle. It seems that when you put a star out to pasture you make him a detective - Barnaby Jones, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, McMillan & Wife, McCloud. (Don’t throw stones – some of those are personal favorites – just the facts ma’am) These were to be Elliott’s last films although he did work as a spokesman for Viceroy cigarettes for a time before his death at 61 in 1965 from lung cancer.

    These are police procedurals. No humor and limited human interest except as how it directly links to the crime. Think more Dragnet than Boston Blackie. More talk and less action and the scenario unfolds, more or less, in a straight forward step by step. They are more about the story than character and sometimes pacing can be a problem.

    I found the films to be a little different from each other. In Sudden Danger, for example, we follow Detective Doyle almost singularly as he follows the case like a bulldog. In Calling Homicide, it is more of a team effort, although Bill Elliott is still clearly the lead. I have learned that I am required to add a little cheesecake in these writitngs. Here is one of my favorites, from Sudden Danger, the lovely Beverly Garland a regular in the early mystery and detective TV. She appeared in Perry Mason, Hawaiian Eye, Michael Shayne, Magnum P.I., Mannix, Remington Steele, Matt Houston, and many more and although she left us in 2008 she’s still on our sets today as they just released Forsaken Westerns in 2018 where in Russell she plays Bonnie.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    These films are really a mixed bag – a little like late 1940 movie police drama yet the influence of early detective TV is unmistakably starting to show through. By the time this series ended in 1957, TV was showing Mike Hammer, The Thin Man, Richard Diamond, and Perry Mason, all a bit different than their movie counterparts. Film styles and detectives were changing. The following year, 77 Sunset Strip would premier giving a whole new meaning to detective cool.

    [​IMG]
    This series might be worth the watch just for the cool police cars.

    I haven’t watched all of these yet but with three under my belt I can say these were worth the watch but will never be favorites. The stories were not bad but I never felt much for the characters. Bill Elliott plays it very straight like Dragnet but he’s no Jack Web. A couple of times I caught myself checking my watch as there was a lot of dialog. This may not be fair – I generally prefer (as I’ve stated before) character driven stories/series. I’ve also been watching a lot (probably too many) of these for the reviews and may be a little saturated. The old Harrison’s Reports (Review recommendations for independent theaters at the time) gave these a glowing rating. They also get pretty high marks on IMDB and if procedurals are your bag, you need to check them out. As for myself, I’m glad I watched them but I prefer Wild Bill on a horse.



    The complete set is available from WB Archive.
     
  18. Rustifer

    Rustifer Screenwriter
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    Super interesting, Marv! Never heard of the series before, but it certainly piques my interest.
    Beverly Garland has always been a favorite of mine. I mean, how many Hollywood women have a hotel named after them?

    [​IMG]

    Through Expedia, you can get a room there for $162.
    Small correction: Beverly is not still going strong today. She crossed over the rainbow in 2008.
     
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  19. Message #639 of 819 Jan 16, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
    Mysto

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    Thanks Russ - I missed a major piece - I really screwed this up. That's what happens when you rush it. I not only left out Beverly's passing - I left out an entire paragraph talking about where I heard about this series. I think everything is KO now.:huh:
    I thank the OP at the start of this thread. I haven't heard any more from him - hope he's still around.
     
  20. criblecoblis

    criblecoblis Supporting Actor
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    Please forgive me. I was simply trying to answer your question.
     

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