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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. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    I really like Sleepers West. You get both Fox cuties (Lynn Bari and Mary Beth Hughes), the underrated Louis Jean Heydt, and the comic talents of Ben Carter and Mantan Moreland.
     
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  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    And Mantan didn't even rate billing! I was so surprised when he turned up.
     
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  3. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    Mantan was quite the draw on many of the Charlie Chans. He actually got top billing on marques in African American neighborhoods.

    I just thought I'd add picture to make it pretty.:cool:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Message #104 of 881 May 12, 2018
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

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    Three reasons you've made me want to see SLEEPERS WEST: train movie, Mary Beth Hughes (hubba, hubba!) and Ben Carter and Mantan Moreland. In DRESSED TO KILL, Moreland was missing from the opening credits, while Carter was listed prominently, but he was in the end cast list but at the very bottom.

    Do Carter and Moreland do any of their act in SLEEPERS?

    My theory about the billing issue is that Moreland was under contract to Monogram Pictures at the time and even starred in several pictures there (e.g. KING OF THE ZOMBIES), so maybe the contract forbade him from getting major billing in another studio's work, even though he was free to work at other studios (see these Shayne movies + TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE and CABIN IN THE SKY at MGM). Of course I'd have to check the credits of these other films to see if my theory holds water. But that's the only reason I can think of for why Mantan is missing from the opening credits for these films.

    Interestingly, Ben Carter is billed as Ben "Shadrack" Carter in that poster for SLEEPERS WEST. That's a reference to Carter's role in the Fox Technicolor drama, MARYLAND (1940), about raising horses. He has quite a large role and the film, despite its stereotypes, gives us quite a long and unique glimpse at black society in the south, giving Carter many scenes with other blacks and no whites around, including a black church service where Carter's adultery with a hot young congregant is referenced and becomes an issue in a courtroom hearing. (His wife is played by Hattie McDaniel!) I daresay that scene would probably have been censored if it involved white characters.
     
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  5. Message #105 of 881 May 13, 2018
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    ILAM – I Love a Mystery
    [​IMG]
    I Love a Mystery
    The Devils Mask
    The Unknown

    Yet another radio mystery success transferred to the big screen. These are mysteries with a flavor of the bizarre, or supernatural. This short three film series is long on atmosphere but a bit short on acting. Jim Bannon as Jim Packard and Barton Yarborough as Doc Long with the third character from the radio series, Reggie, nowhere to be seen. I really think he would have helped the series. If you like spooky noir type settings you’ll probably enjoy this series. I like them but, as you already know, I’m a sucker for B mysteries. The complete series is available on DVD from Amazon.

    I added this section for completeness in our postings, but here is a great review from HTF member Jeff Flugel. http://thestalkingmoon.weebly.com/the-stalking-moon/adventures-by-morse-the-i-love-a-mystery-movies. This link was a few posts ago, but if you haven’t already read it, I suggest you check it out.

    The radio programs are a lot of fun and you can find several episodes on Archive.org and Youtube. Really worth a listen.

    A 1973 TV pilot was made for the series but not shown for 6 years. You can watch that on Youtube.


     
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  6. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the kind words and link, Marv! Thanks also for letting me know about the DVD-R copy on Amazon, which I wasn't aware of.

    I agree the I Love a Mystery movies aren't top tier, and would have benefited from a greater presence from the lead detectives (or perhaps, featuring more familiar names as Jack, Doc and, yes, where's Reggie?!?!)), but I found all three flicks pretty entertaining all the same.
     
  7. Message #107 of 881 May 14, 2018
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    I was reading a blog where they claimed an interview with Bannon. Supposedly Bannon complained that the movies would have been better if they had been allowed to work out some of the clues instead of being driven by discoveries. He felt the best mysteries series centered around the detectives and that ILAM movies didn't. Still - I'm like you - I enjoy the films and the OTR programs.

    We watched the TV pilot last night - Obviously done during the TV batman craze - I didn't care for the campy comedic style at all. Not surprised it didn't become a series.
     
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  8. Message #108 of 881 May 14, 2018
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    TCM Alert
    Just noticed they are running a lot of these films at the end of May
    May 22-24
    Nancy Drew
    Miss Marple
    Torchy Blane
    Thin Man
    Perry Mason

    May 29-30
    Boston Blackie
    Bulldog Drummond
    Saint
     
  9. Garysb

    Garysb Producer

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    Yes this month the spotlight is on movie series, not to be confused with movie serials. They have already done Maisie, Jungle Jim, Tarzan, and Blondie.
     
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  10. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I finished up the Michael Shayne box today with Blue, White and Perfect (not the best title in the world). The best thing about the movie was the startling series of surprise revelations near film's end. Several people are not who they appear to be, and that gave the whole film a nice lift as it raced to its series of climaxes. Loved seeing the young George Reeves looking so dapper.
     
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  11. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Screenwriter

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    Yes, I remember being struck by how young and suave Reeves appeared in this film. He was a definite highlight of the film.

    I envy you guys (and gals) who get TCM and can watch those movie series films...no TCM over here! Thankfully, most of these films are out on DVD.
     
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  12. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Mike - thank you for your efforts to get these out. It’s very disheartening that your cohorts at Sony wouldn’t listen. The nice thing about the Columbia series is that they all have something to recommend. Warren William is an underrated and very charismatic actor plus you get Eric Blore. Chester Morris plays well opposite Roller Derby Lane and so on.

    To answer your question: YES! I’ve absolutely preordered the Biffle & Shooster set and am very much looking forward to it. Hopefully some more “lost” treasures from this duo will be found in the future :)
     
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  13. Richard Gallagher

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    The only entry in the series to be adapted from a Shayne novel!
     
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  14. Message #114 of 881 May 16, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    Hildegard Withers
    [​IMG]
    Penguin Pool Murder
    Murder on the Blackboard
    Murder on a Honeymoon
    Murder on a Bridle Path
    The Plot Thickens
    Forty Naughty Girls


    There are six films in this series, but the ones most people remember are the first three with Edna May Oliver as Miss Hildegarde Withers. Imagine her as a Miss Marple with a delightful acid demeanor and a bit more pushy. Paired against James Gleason as Police Inspector Oscar Piper the insults fly as they take cheap shots at the other (but you know they really like each other). Miss Withers is a school teacher, very exacting and precise, and loves to follow a murder. But although she has a sharp tongue, underneath is a heart of gold. She tags along with Inspector Piper and spends most of her time correcting him. These cheerful brisk films and the ample comedy never seems to get in the way of getting to the finish of the story. Solving the mystery is fun but so is the journey. It’s really a joy to watch these two veteran character actors having a great time on the screen working the Stuart Palmer novels.

    After the first three films, Edna May left RKO to sign with MGM and appeared in David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities among others.

    They tried to keep the series going first with Helen Broderick and finally the last two with ZaSu Pitts. James Gleason stayed as the anchor but even with his presence the films, though quite watchable, had lost their sizzle.

    I really enjoy these, even the second group and my wife is a fan as well.

    There was an attempt to take Hildegard to TV in 1972 with a pilot, A Very Missing Person, starring Eve Arden - but it never took off.

    The Hildegarde Withers Mystery Collection is available on Warner Archive.
    The pilot A Very Missing Person is on You Tube.
     
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  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I didn't buy the Withers collection because I had DVD-R homemade copies of the three Edna Mae Oliver entries which are among my most prized mystery movies. I'm not sure I've ever even seen the others, but maybe one day.
     
  16. Message #116 of 881 May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    The Penguin Pool Murder

    Miss Withers (Edna May Oliver) is giving her school class a tour of the Aquarium. She loses a hat pin and has the students perform a search. While looking at the penguin exhibit a body falls into the water from the cat walk. It’s the husband of the errant wife who just happens to be at the aquarium with her (friend) – the one who had knocked him out and stuffed him on the catwalk only moments before. Did he do it? Did she do it? Did Miss Withers do it? (She had the weapon) Or as they say in Ellery Queen - was it somebody else? Will she drive Chief Inspector Piper (James Gleason) crazy? A pretty good story that moves quickly with plenty of clues and enough red herrings to keep it going.

    At the conclusion Miss Withers and Inspector Piper go off to get married but they must have changed their mind because in the next movie they are still single. Looking forward to viewing that one next on the big screen.

    I finally broke down and got the Warner Archive Hildegarde Withers Collection. The copies I already had (as I remember they came from VHS tape) just didn’t make it on the projector. The Penguin Pool Murder is the first outing for the series. The quality on the DVD of this first movie is adequate. Obviously, the source material was down a generation or two. The sound on Penguin Pool has so much noise reduction that I had to turn off my sub-woofer. Every time people started to talk or stopped, it would cause a “thunk” it was clamped so hard. The movie is listed at 70 minutes but this copy is 65. IMDB lists that time for the TCM cut. Overall this copy is better than I had but less than I had hoped for.
     
  17. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    It's been a while since I've watched the second three Matt. That may be telling in itself because it hasn't been that long since I watched Edna May. I'll be getting to them eventually and I'll put up a review. In tracking your posts - it's not like you're needing more things to watch.:rolling-smiley:
     
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  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Yeah, there is no shortage of choices here.
     
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  19. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Cracked off the plastic on my Philo Vance Collection set today and watched The Bishop Murder Case. This early talkie has Basil Rathbone as a very suave Philo in a baffling mystery where bodies keep falling one after another until there are literally only two suspects left.

    The last time I watched this movie was on a cable movie channel many years ago (I don't think it was TCM, but it may have been), and it looked terrible: lots of dirt, scratches, and damage, contrast turned down to make for an almost white picture, and sound so hissy, crackly, and blaring that it was almost unlistenable. This Warner Archive DVD is a revelation. Sure it's one of MGM's early talkies, so the sound is its weakest element, but despite fairly constant hiss, it's OK, and the picture is marvelous with just traces of time-worn damage and an occasional missing frame or two, but the contrast has been made quite respectable and the picture doesn't look anything like its age. Great job, Warners!
     
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  20. Message #120 of 881 May 19, 2018
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Finally opened the last three new Charlie Chans. Today I watched The Red Dragon. Well the guy with a new formula for the Atomic Bomb and a new element that makes it many times more powerful (I know, I know but remember this is 1945 - this whole A-bomb thing is very new), well he gets murdered. The problem - no gun. I mean really no gun - the slug has no rifling marks. One shot is heard but two slugs are found. The only clue a typed scrambled message and - the Red Dragon, a bottle of Chinese ink. OK - this one has some plot holes but it's a fun ride. Benson Fong as Tommy Chan number 3 son helps Sidney Toler on this case. Mantan isn't in this one - instead it's Willie Best as Chattanooga Brown. 7.5 on IMDB.

    This was on the final Carlie Chan set (2 dragons and a serpent) from Warner Archive. The copy is not too bad but not up to the standards of some of the other CC sets they have released. But seeing as existing copies of Red Dragon that were out there (including my old one) were pretty pathetic - worth the low price.
     
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