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At an isolated, seaside greasy-spoon cafe live George, the sarcastic owner; Slob, the potentially violent cook; and Kotty, the sexy waitress all the men lust after. Plus an occasional customer, including "Professor Sam", Kotty's boyfriend from a nearby research facility. And something's going on under the potentially explosive surface emotions...nuclear secrets being smuggled out of the country. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The movie starts out with a real cool jazzy score like something you would expect from a movie like "The Gene Krupa Story. The opening scene has Kotty, Terry Moore, lying on the beach getting sun and surf until Slob, Lee Marvin, who notices her from a distance starts getting fresh with her and ends up getting a couple of seashells thrown at him.
You don't really know what the movie is about until the professor, Frank Lovejoy,comes on the scene and from him talking to Knotty you realize that he's working at a top secret government facility just up the road from the diner where Knotty and Slob work.
The movie goes along it's somewhat comical pace with Slob acting like Ed Norton in "the Honeymooners" messing up everything that he does as a cook at the diner until we see the person delivering fish and Slob start whispering with him out of earshot of the diners owner George, Keenan Wynn, and then the fisherman slips Slob something . Later Slob all by himself in his room begins to take on a new look, not kooky and funny but dead serious, as we see him take what the fisherman gave him and put it into a viewfinder. Slob sees some kind of mathematical formula and it's then when you realize that this is a story about espionage.
Not really as corny and obnoxious as most movies about the Communist threat against America was back then in the 1950's with Lee Marvin stealing every scene that he's in as the greasy cook turned top Soviet spy and being very convincing at it.
Frank Lovejoy in a role very similar to his previous Communist fighting movie "I was a Communist for the FBI" is also very convincing as a man torn between the truth and a lie by trying to infiltrate the Communist spy ring led by Slob. Where at the same time not being able to tell his girlfriend, Knotty, who thinks that he's a spy for the Soviets, without blowing his cover. Terry Moore was very good as a naive girl who learned a lot during the movie about who to trust and who not to. Like in the espionage business all that you see is not what you think.
All and all a much better movie about espionage during the cold war then most movies about the subject were back them with a great performance by Lee Marvin, one of his best. "Shack out at 101" sadly showed that in those troubled times the paranoia that griped the USA was so extreme that you couldn't trust anyone when it came to being a Communist spy. Even the cook serving you coffee and apple pie at your neighborhood diner.
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