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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. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I couldn't have been more surprised last night. When putting away the Chan movie I had watched, I noticed on the shelf the Michael Shayne box set of Lloyd Nolan-Shayne films! I did not even remember that I had them. I think I know what I'll be watching this afternoon: the first in the series.
     
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  2. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    You put it on that shelf - didn't you!
     
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  3. rcmeserve

    rcmeserve Extra

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    Tom Conway, who played The Falcon, also came to a sad end. According to The Secret History of Hollywood podcast about Val Lewton (which I highly recommend), he spent his last days broke, sick, and nearly blind, in a $2-a-night flophouse.
     
  4. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I remember reading something about that. Sad indeed.
     
  5. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    Alcoholism played a role in the demise of so many fine stars. I don't know if it was the business that drove the drinking or the drinking that ended the movie making but many are on that list.

    I fully enjoyed Tom's stuff and remember, as a kid, Mark Sabre on TV.
     
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  6. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Watched Another Thin Man last night which is both the title and the action.;) Each one of these is a treat to watch. This outing is the introduction of Nick Jr. They must go see Col. MacFay. He is the administrator of Nora's fortune and his life is in danger. Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard) claims he has dreamed MacFay will die twice and the third time it will come true. There are guards with guns all over the place but the old guy is still dispatched. Who dunnit, was it Church? And how? The estate was well guarded. Lot's of other choices as well and if you haven't seen this before, I bet you choose wrong. For the Stooges fans, even Shemp Howard is in the film.

    One bonus in many of these older movies is the inclusion of variety acts as an interlude. In this case it was the Afro-Cuban dance team Rene and Estela. This dance looks for all the world like he is on ice... but he's not.

    7.5 on IMDB 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. How can you go wrong?
     
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  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    A very clever murderer in Another Thin Man. Always a favorite outing.
     
  8. Message #68 of 884 May 3, 2018
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    Last night - The Crime Doctor. This week end I'll try to do a synopsis on this series. A lessor known series, this has a lot to offer. Warner Baxter plays Robert Ordway. At the start of the first film, he is thrown out of a car - loses his memory - becomes a criminal psychiatrist and solves the case of his own missing identity. Just a normal day at the office. Different from many of the other series we have discussed. Later..
     
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  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I'm not sure I've ever seen any of them. Look forward to your write-ups.
     
  10. Richard Gallagher

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    The Michael Shayne films are fun, and I wish that Fox would finally get around to releasing Time to Kill, or at least showing it on the Fox Movie Channel.

    The books by Brett Halliday (Davis Dresser) are quite different. The Shayne of the novels is smarter and tougher than the way Lloyd Nolan played him, and for the most part the books are serious mysteries.

    There also were several Shayne radio series (the best have Jeff Chandler playing Shayne) and a TV series starring Richard Denning. Unfortunately the TV series has never seen a legitimate release on home video. Many of the episodes are based upon Shayne novels.
     
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  11. Message #71 of 884 May 3, 2018
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    Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter
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    So glad to see this thread, some good reading! I too love these fast-paced, breezy B mysteries and have caught up with many of them over the past 5 years or so, not having seen many of them growing up, other than The Thin Man series, which I watched often.

    In fact, I had never seen a Charlie Chan mystery until about 5 or 6 years ago, but have since watched all the extant Warner Olands (my favorite Chan actor) and nearly all of the Fox Sidney Tolers (have been saving a few for a rainy day). Have yet to jump into the Monogram Chans...what I have seen, hasn't inspired a lot of confidence, but there is Mantan Moreland as compensation.

    They may be more espionage or action-adventure based than traditional mysteries, but I find the Mr. Moto films pretty much the equal of the Chans in entertainment value. I especially love just how deadly and efficient Peter Lorre's Moto is, casually dispatching bad guys with aplomb.

    I used to be snobbish about the Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, other than the first two set in proper period, but I've grown to really enjoy them in recent years. I kind of view them as "alternate reality" Holmes and Watson adventures, and on the scale of lighthearted and atmospheric B mysteries, they work well. I do prefer the ones with a more Gothic approach, like House of Fear, The Scarlet Claw and The Pearl of Death. I still need to get my hands on some of these on DVD, though I have more than half of them already.

    I have the Warner Archive sets of Perry Mason, Nick Carter, Philo Vance, The Saint and The Falcon mysteries, plus their 3-film "Fast" series: Fast Company, Fast and Loose and Fast and Furious, all great fun. I particularly enjoy the Tom Conway Falcons. On my wishlist are the Hildegarde Withers set and a handful of other one-offs.

    The three I Love a Mystery films are good fun, too, if not a patch on the radio series. I'm not sure if they fit the purview of this thread, but I'm also a big fan of the "old dark house" genre, and have enjoyed catching up with those as well, from the more famous examples like The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost Breakers to lesser-known fare like Horror Island and Night Monster.

    Overall, I really respond to the often surprisingly clever plots, quick pace, snappy dialogue and great character acting work that feature in so many of these B mysteries. They often fit more sheer entertainment value into their brief running times than many longer and bigger-budgeted A pictures.
     
  12. Message #72 of 884 May 4, 2018
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    Mysto

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    When the "hardboiled" detectives went to the screen they all got sanitized. Shayne was tough - but the Saint was pretty much a crook. All of them changed even from book to radio to movie to TV. The biggest change was the Shadow - what a difference between the books and the movies.

    Having said all that - I still enjoy the Nolan version of the Shaynes. And yes, we all want Time To Kill. I assume you caught the post where I mentioned you can at least watch it on youtube - a long way from blu ray.:D

    Nice to have some new posters. Pretty much it's been just 3 or 4 of us. I hope you'll add to the conversations.
     
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  13. Message #73 of 884 May 4, 2018
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    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    First - Welcome to the thread. I am envious - Charlie Chan's you haven't watched.:banana:
    I enjoy the Rathbone "current times" movies the same way I enjoy Sherlock or Elementary. Rathbone is a favorite but I am glad that we have the Brett Sherlocks to visit the real stories.

    ILAM is on the list of series at the start of the thread. They don't get a lot of love but I still enjoy them. I do think the radio series worked better though.

    I still have a couple of the Warner series to get. I started putting together my collection back in the days of BetaMax and slowly have been upgrading as each new media is introduced (sometimes 4 or 5 times)

    Thanks for joining the conversation. Please continue - even if we have watched it - we enjoy hearing other ideas and like knowing how other react to the movies or the releases.
     
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  14. Richard Gallagher

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    Thanks.

    Someone once suggested that there might be a rights problem to the Raymond Chandler novel which Time to Kill is based upon, but that makes no sense because the same story is the basis of the The Brasher Doubloon, which Fox has released as part of its Cinema Archives series.

    Fox Movie Channel is showing Sleepers West and Just Off Broadway this month, but still no Time to Kill.
     
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  15. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Rich - thanks for heads up on Just Off Broadway. I didn't buy the MOD disc because of the terrible reputation Fox had with that program and I was upset they didn't just add another disc to the Shayne set to include it and Time to Kill.

    Mysto - I was thinking about Warner Baxter and Crime Doctor earlier today and was pleased to see your post. For a lesser known series, the films are pretty enjoyable. They are a bit different from other in that there is no comic sidekick and no stereotypical dumb cop. Most of my copies were sourced from Encore Mystery showings back in the day although there are one or two I don't have because they don't circulate among collectors. I think I'll pull a couple out to watch soon.

    Columbia's finest series in my opinion were the Whistler films which really aren't a series except for the titles and a lead actor who plays a different role in each film. Very, very well done and quite atmospheric. Maybe @cadavra (the incomparable Mike Schlesinger) might have some insight into why Sony didn't release box sets of their series the way Fox did with theirs. Most of the films appear to be in very good condition.
     
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  16. Message #76 of 884 May 5, 2018
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    Vic Pardo

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    I watched my second Michael Shayne movie, JUST OFF BROADWAY (1942), thanks to Fox Movie Channel On Demand. It’s not as good as DRESSED TO KILL (1941)—the plot is ridiculous and the laughs aren’t there, despite Phil Silvers doing his obnoxious photographer routine (the seeds of Bilko). Shayne is a member of a jury on a murder trial (as if a private eye wouldn’t automatically be excused) and undertakes to investigate the case himself by sneaking out of his locked, sequestered hotel room at night to run around the city following up on leads. He and spunky girl reporter Marjorie Weaver travel up and down Manhattan visiting night clubs, warehouses, hotel rooms, newspaper offices, etc.—and everything is open and everyone awake as if it were the middle of the day, not the middle of the night! He tampers with evidence, contaminates crime scenes and behaves in such a way that a mistrial should have been declared and Shayne jailed for contempt of court. What’s worse is that during the trial, he interrupts first the prosecutor and then the judge to ask if he can question the witnesses and they let him! And then he proceeds to grill them as if he’s Perry Mason. Absurd. Thankfully, a surprise ending responds to one of my complaints.

    Still, it moves fast and there’s a lot of colorful NYC nighttime urban flavor, including a scene in Chinatown where Shayne and Weaver join the crowd on a tour bus (in the middle of the night!) to hide from the cops. There’s a warehouse scene and a chase around the warehouses that are actually the exteriors of the Fox soundstages at night. There’s a scene where Silvers chases Nolan through a series of loading docks, a garage and elevators. It’s well-directed even if the script is ludicrous. There aren’t as many great character actors on hand as there were in DRESSED TO KILL, though. Janis Carter and Richard Derr (who would both go on to better things) are young actors in key roles (as the defendant and her lawyer) and don’t quite have the seasoning needed to make their characters more memorable. Weaver is very good, though. I've seen her in other movies, but she's never registered with me before, except maybe as Mary Todd in YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, which I haven't seen in decades. Joan Valerie is very good as a nightclub singer who testifies against the defendant (and is later seen performing her act) and I'd never heard of her before.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    I wonder if we'll ever find out why no Time To Kill. It really doesn't make sense. Perhaps the elements are very poor (I've never seen it on TCM or Fox) and they don't want to pay for a restore? Maybe it's something to do with rights as Richard speculated. It is probably the biggest mystery of the entire Mike Shayne series.

    The Whistler doesn't have a central character but they still qualify as 30's - 40's mystery series and pretty good ones at that. They are on the initial list.

    I have all of the Crime Doctors but one is a very poor copy.
     
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  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Vic, your criticisms of Just Off Broadway mirror my own in the review I wrote for the DVD-R. Fine surprise ending after a ludicrous plot. I haven't gotten around to the Shayne box set yet, but time will eventually clear for me to rewatch some of them.
     
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  19. Message #79 of 884 May 5, 2018
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    Mysto

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    The Crime Doctor

    [​IMG]

    The Crime Doctor
    The Crime Doctor’s Strangest Case
    Shadows in the Night
    The Crime Doctor’s Warning
    The Crime Doctor’s Courage
    Just Before Dawn
    The Crime Doctor’s Man Hunt
    The Millerson Case
    The Crime Doctor’s Gamble
    The Crime Doctor’s Diary



    From 1943 to 1949, Warner Baxter was Robert Ordway the Crime Doctor, a Psychiatrist that uses his skills to solve crimes, primarily to help those wrongly accused of murder. The Crime Doctor movies have a different feel from the others we’ve talked about so far. No sidekicks, no snappy banter, for the most part no fighting, just crime solving. Warner Baxter plays the part quietly. He is the thoughtful detective and always the doctor trying to be kind and help people. That doesn’t mean the stories don’t move along – they do, but usually not frantically. The films give us at least some of the clues and the plots have several suspects and many twists and turns to keep us engaged. The first film in the series is unique as it introduces the character (a sort of making of) and is as much a drama as a mystery but the rest of the outings are “who dunnits” for sure. For me, these don’t have the “re-watchability” of say, the Charlie Chans, but I like this series. I hadn’t watched any in a while and found that both myself and my wife enjoyed the first two (so far). I’m looking forward to re-visiting the rest. These are good solid B mysteries that make for an entertaining hour or so of viewing.

    Baxter had suffered a nervous breakdown shortly before starting this series and apparently took the role because of a light shooting schedule. He died two years after the final Crime Doctor movie.

    To my knowledge there are no “commercial” dvds available. They may be PD. Both Amazon and ebay have Crime Doctor collections available but these appear to be “homemade” versions with quality somewhat dubious. The first Crime Doctor movie is on youtube and TCM shows some of them from time to time. If you like B mysteries, I'd give this one a chance.
     
  20. Message #80 of 884 May 5, 2018
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    Mysto

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    [​IMG]
    Crime Doctor's Strangest Case
    This is the second in the Crime Doctor series but the first where he is solving crimes for other people. Jimmy Trotter (Lloyd Bridges) comes to the Dr. to ask for advice in getting married. It seems that Jimmy was accused of poisoning his employer but the Dr. proved he didn't do it (at least in the eyes of the court). It appears everyone else still thinks maybe he did it. So the only job he could get was almost a duplicate of the last one. Ordway, the Crime Doctor decides to see why this guy wanted to hire Jimmy when no one else would. Well when he gets there the guy is dead - wait for it - from poison. Can the Crime Doctor prove Jimmy didn't do it again? Or did he really do both? Was it the cook with the expensive manicure? Was it the young attractive wife? Was it the dingy housekeeper with the strange nightmares? There are enough motives to keep this one going strong until the end. I enjoyed the hour and change. Like most B movies - fun as long as you don't take the plot too seriously.
     
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