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This Wagon Train episode concerns a pair of murders, a father and daughter. Justice was done and John Larch hung for the first. But was he really guilty. Later on the daughter is found hung and scalped. Susan Oliver plays the daughter and she certainly is one flirtatious minx.
The suspect list narrows to four, Vivi Janiss who is Larch's widow, Gregory Walcott a man that Ward Bond takes on as temporary scout, Ron Hayes who has eyes for Oliver and a preacher played by Martin Landau. One of these is a murderer and possibly a renegade living with whites to give the Indians valuable intelligence, maybe they are the same person.
Ward Bond with the skill if not the style of Hercule Poirot gathers his suspects and interrogates them vigorously to get the truth. The truth might surprise you.
Show Them No Mercy! (1935)
The aftermath of a kidnapping
Seeing that Show Them No Mercy was produced by 20th Century Pictures and then released by the newly formed 20th Century Fox one has to conclude it was one of the first films released by the newly merged studio. For some reason this film has fallen into neglect and that's a pity.
The story is the aftermath of a kidnapping of a child. The victim has been released and the ransom paid. Now the gang of four is holed up in a deserted farm house and deciding how to make a getaway.
Into their hideout stumbles young couple Edward Norris and Rochelle Hudson with their dog and baby. They go to a house that looks deserted to get out of the rain after their car breaks down. The gang consists of Cesar Romero, Bruce Cabot, Edward Brophy, and Warren Hymer.
For those of you used to seeing Cesar Romero as a dashing cavalier this film will be quite the revelation. He's one mean and lean gangster leader of this crew under whom Bruce Cabot chafes as Cabot thinks he ought to be top dog. As for Brophy and Hymer you know right away they're just comic relief.
Show Them No Mercy was later remade as a western, Rawhide which starred Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward. That was also a good film.
But for a different Cesar Romero check out Show Them No Mercy.
Perry postpones a trip
Wealthy Carl Benton Reid has two daughters, sexpot Tina Carver, and plain Virginia Vincent. Their father is being blackmailed by a private detective over an embezzlement charge that the statute of limitations has long passed, but Vincent is worried about the scandal as she's landed a prospective husband in Robin Hughes.
The private detective is Dan Riss and he's got a sordid reputation in the profession according to William Hopper. That gets Raymond Burr to postpone a trip to the United Kingdom to take the case which is blackmail, but graduates to murder when James Bell, Reid's former partner is murdered.
No it's not who you think it is, but the perpetrator is a most satisfactory individual to get comeuppance.
The El Paso Kid (1946)
Previous Outlaw Ways
The love of pretty Marie Harmon keeps Sunset Carson from reverting to his previous outlaw ways in The El Paso Kid. Sunset starts out on the wrong side of the law, but no cowboy hero is going to stay outlaw.
Carson was raised by old outlaw Hank Patterson and when Patterson is wounded and treated badly by the rest of the gang, Sunset and he split from the crew. As a little payback they throw a monkey wrench into a planned stagecoach holdup. But Harmon sees them and makes them to be heroes, especially to her father Edmund Cobb who is the sheriff.
The El Paso Kid has seen a pair of previous screen incarnations. I can't believe they're any better or worse than The El Paso Kid. I'm not thinking we'll ever see a fourth remake of the same story.
Tumbledown is named for Tumbledown Mountain where this film was shot and there's some mighty pretty scenery there. Too bad we did not get a film to match the scenery.
Supposedly Tumbledown is based on a true incident where Todd Verow who also wrote and directed the film invites a hunky 30 something bartender in a gay bar to spend some time in the woods where Verow has a cabin. The bartender Todd Hallowell eagerly agrees and is even more eager when he sees Brett Faulkner, Verow's young twink of a boyfriend.
But Verow does something quite irreversible to both of them and in the end they feel they have to take measures.
None of these performances were anywhere close to Oscar caliber. They're not even spectacularly bad for Razzies. The sex scenes to cover a lot of bad acting. Practice guys, practice, the acting not the sex, you're already good there.
Blackmail Boys (2010)
Noting that this is a film that was shot in Chicago I was wondering if the folks who created Blackmail Boys had Peter LaBarbera in mind as the Christian writer who has a secret gay life that a pair of young men are about to expose?
It certainly is the wish dream of a lot of gay activists to expose a lot of these hucksters who are closet queers. As Porno Pete operates out of Chicago it would make a certain amount of sense.
Two gay young men get an opportunity to do just that in this film. Nathan Adloff has been doing some prostitution to help pay for school and now he's got a for real involvement with boyfriend Taylor Reed who has come up from Tennessee to be with him.
Reed recognizes one of Adloff's clients as Joe Swanberg noted Christian author and vigorous homophobe in the Porno Pete mold. While one of their sessions is going on Reed snaps some candid shots of Swanberg and Adloff going at it with some anal sodomy. Then they attempt to blackmail him.
For how it ends you have to see the film. But frankly I wouldn't bother. The production values of this cheapie are nil and the acting is non-existent. Pity because this is an interesting subject.
Sheriff of Cimarron (1945)
Carson Family Values
Sheriff Of Cimarron finds Sunset Carson recently released from prison for cattle rustling. He's done three years and little does he suspect that it was his own brother who framed him for a crime he didn't commit. For a G rated cowboy film this is pretty unusual as they stressed family values to the Nth degree. It's also pretty cold.
When Sunset as a private citizen prevents a pair of holdups the citizens of Cimarron make him the sheriff. But brother Ted played by Riley Hill wants his good brother the sheriff out of the way as he's cramping his operation even though Sunset doesn't know his brother's behind it.
Hill is one coldblooded character. We wouldn't see feuding brothers like this in a western until Winchester 73 with James Stewart and Stephen McNally.
For comic relief we get Olin Howlin the butt of juvenile humor by some town juveniles. That we could have done without.
Sheriff At Cimarron is pretty good with potential to be something better. Herbert J. Yates should have spent some more money on it.
Oregon Trail (1945)
The power of the press
Oregon Trail has Sunset Carson arriving on the scene as a wanted outlaw barely escaping capture by Union Pacific Railroad detective Lee Shumway. In the tradition of B westerns the title has nothing to do with the story. I'm not sure the action took place in Oregon.
But after his horse throws him, Sunset like John Wayne in Stagecoach gets a ride and proves invaluable in holding off other bandits look to rob the coach. Carson also makes friends with Peggy Stewart and her father Frank Jaquet who were passengers on the coach and later Stewart's grandmother Mary Carr who proves handy with firearms.
When they get to Jaquet's town of Gunsight they find that an outlaw band has taken over the town and Steve Winston as a crusading editor seems to be the only one standing up against them. Winston for his pains gets a couple of bullets fired into his office, so much for the power of the press. Actually Winston has a great deal of power as we learn.
This was a pretty good Sunset Carson western with a good amount of paced action and a clever plot, better than you usually get from B westerns.
The trial of Benjamin Franklin
In this concluding episode of a two part story, Marion Lorne has to summon Benjamin Franklin once again from the 18th century so he can appear in court for stealing a fire engine. Also Dick York put up Ben's bail and stands to lose a thousand dollars if Ben doesn't show.
The fortunes of McMahon&Tate are also at stake here as the District Attorney, a very ambitious Mike Road has it in his head that this is all a publicity stunt. Since David White thought so too, Road is on solid grounds.
Once again Fredd Wayne is marvelous as Benjamin Franklin. It's also good to have a co-counsel as bright as Elizabeth Montgomery who has certain assets at her disposal to help the case.
After 40 years, still a marvelous episode.
Bewitched: My Friend Ben (1966)
"Benjamin Franklin at your service"
A truly charming episode from Bewitched is this first of a two part story where dotty old Aunt Clara drops in for a visit. She sees Elizabeth Montgomery trying to deal with a broken lamp and decides to call an electrician. But not just any electrician, Marion Lorne summons from the past the original electrician Bemjamin Franklin.
Of course Dick York's boss David White drops in and immediately thinks is an advertising gimmick for the Franklin Electronics account. After all he looks so real.
But things really come to a head when he leaves the Stevens' residence and starts wandering about town.
Fredd Wayne does a marvelous job as Benjamin Franklin whose wisdom and common sense we could sure use in the body politic today. In fact Franklin is my favorite of the Founding Fathers.
Part two is when Ben Franklin goes to trial for a moving violation. Stay tuned.