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One motley posse, 24 July 2014

Posse From Hell is my second favorite Audie Murphy western, his best being No Name On The Bullet. It's Audie who is leading the men who make up the Posse From Hell, he's a deputy tracking down the killer of the marshal and another citizen from his town of Paradise.

Four prize specimens scheduled to hang escape from territorial prison and come upon the town and terrorize it, taking with them as hostage and sex toy Zohra Lampert. The leader of the four is Vic Morrow who packs a deadly shotgun. Morrow is absolutely riveting in his evil, this may very well be his career role.

In fact Posse From Hell has many good supporting parts, Robert Keith plays a vain Civil War soldier looking to recapture some of his former prestige or acquire some he never had. John Saxon also stands out as a bank clerk who's from the east who joins the posse to see if he has the right stuff. Rudolfo Acosta who usually plays bad guys plays an Indian who joins the posse as a tracker and takes a lot of guff from the more self righteous whites.

Seeing how deadly Morrow is with a shotgun this is an image that will disturb you and stay with you a long time.

A nice cast of familiar players help Audie Murphy make this one of his best westerns. An absolute must for his fans.

Hefty Bounty, 24 July 2014

The Wagon Train meets up with Edward Binns a former sheriff who several years back saved Flint McCullough's life. Now Binns is asking for Horton's help. He's wounded and he has to make his destination in ten days to go east. But people are after him, in particular a nasty bounty hunter Ernest Borgnine. After Horton and Binns leave Borgnine's around soon enough asking about Binns.

Borgnine is one evil nasty man, but Binns isn't exactly forthcoming with the truth either. This former sheriff is indeed a wanted man with a hefty bounty on him. Stuck in a mountain cabin with snow and a winter wind, a lot of truth gets told between all three of them.

Although Borgnine is the bigger star and has the title role I think the episode really belongs to Edward Binns who has a much showier role as a lawman who's lost his moral compass. In any event it's a good episode.

Going over the edge, 24 July 2014

Private Hell 36 is a tale of two Los Angeles PD cops who get an assignment to track down money from a big bank robbery which is being laundered at the pari-mutual window at Hollywood Park. Howard Duff is a responsible family man with wife Dorothy Malone and an infant daughter. He's got the financial responsibilities that any middle class individual from the Eisenhower 50s has.

His partner is Steve Cochran a brooding loner who feels he's not gotten his just due from the job. Their boss is Captain Dean Jagger who gives them that assignment.

That assignment also comes with trailing singer Ida Lupino who is the only one who can finger the right bettor. She does and when they give chase the perpetrator dies and they're left with a whole lot of money and maybe, just maybe they ought to keep it themselves.

I'm not sure how any of us would have handled the issue. The police however have some strict guidelines because they get tempted in these situations a lot more often than you or I would be. Cochran goes over the edge and he's taking Duff with him.

Some of these situations were handled a dozen years later in the Glenn Ford film The Money Trap where he and Ricardo Montalban found themselves tempted the same way. If you're familiar with that film you know how it comes out and probably a bit better for one of the detectives than in The Money Trap.

Don Siegel got good performances out of his ensemble cast. See this one back to back with The Money Trap if possible.

Another line of work, 23 July 2014

This is not the first or the last freebie Perry Mason gave out because of his passion for justice. But his client basically is a down and out drifter who is being blamed for first a robbery and then a murder when one of the two robbery victims is found dead.

The late victim was a model who both worked for June Vincent's dance hall and did modeling for Ned Wever's agency. The girls also had another line of work and it's what got the victim killed.

She was also the mistress of millionaire Les Tremayne whom she was blackmailing. He didn't like being squeezed.

The drifter is Fred Sherman who just was a man who drifted into the wrong place and time.

Wait till you see what happens in court as Raymond Burr exposes a racket and finds a murderer.

Horses and women and guns, 23 July 2014

Even though there is no record that Calamity Jane and Sam Bass even met and furthermore that by Calamity's own record the only man she ever loved was Wild Bill Hickok, Universal nevertheless made this film Calamity Jane And Sam Bass. Billing should have been in reverse this was really Sam Bass's story.

Sam Bass as played by Howard Duff arrives in Denton, Texas completely busted, but he's got a way with the ladies and he attracts the attention of the famous Calamity Jane and the sheriff Willard Parker's sister. The sheriff's sister is Dorothy Hart. He also has a great love and good eye for horses. That and the two women are both the key his success and his downfall.

It's fascinating how some of Hollywood's most beautiful actresses, Jean Arthur, Doris Day, and in this film Yvonne DeCarlo are cast as Calamity Jane. In real life, Mary Jane Canary as Calamity Jane was born had a face that could stop a grandfather clock for a couple of generations. She must have had something going to get all the men she did including Wild Bill Hickok.

Duff and DeCarlo aren't the most romantic pair going still the western is an interesting one with some well executed action scenes. I think western fans will like it still.

To Prague And Back, 23 July 2014

The murder of a motorist and then the subsequent murder of her husband in their home leads in a trip to Prague for Christopher Meloni and other places in the Czech Republic in search of a missing 14 year old girl. It also leads to a rough and uneasy partnership with William McNamara as the lead detective on the husband's homicide.

The motorist was a volunteer informant for the FBI and US Attorney's office on pedophiles so a lot of people want to see harm done to her. The trail takes the investigation to Prague and back.

Lothaire Bluteau is outstanding in this episode as the Czech whoremaster for kid sex. By the way see Meloni use interrogation techniques that are banned in the USA.

Too much to swallow, 23 July 2014

Cattle Empire opens with Joel McCrea being dragged through the streets of a small western town. He's a former trail boss who went to prison because he was held legally responsible for his crew shooting up a town and a lot of people getting permanently injured. That's a first in all the westerns I've ever watched and there've been a lot. But now the big cattle baron in the area, Don Haggerty who incidentally married McCrea's girl Phyllis Coates has need of his services. Haggerty has to get his herd to market and beat another baron's herd there or they win an army beef contract and Haggerty goes broke. Haggerty was also blinded in the fracas that put McCrea in prison.

So much nobility in one western I could hardly believe it. McCrea always on film epitomized the strong silent western hero maybe more than any other player. But it was just too much for me to swallow.

Steve Raines, Rocky Shahan, and Paul Brinegar wound up on the Rawhide series the following and all three have parts in Cattle Empire. Possibly they were cast after being seen here. In fact Eric Fleming was very much in the Joel McCrea mold as Gil Favor the trail boss, but he was not a candidate for sainthood as McCrea is here.

Parole fixing racket, 22 July 2014

Some shoddy editing prevents me from giving this noir film from that across the pond studio Eagle-Lion a better rating. Parole Inc. tells the story of the federal government's effort to smash a parole fixing racket and how FBI man Michael O'Shea working undercover as a recently paroled criminal himself makes a connection to get his partner free.

Heading this whole racket is a very smooth attorney played by Turhan Bey and his moll Evelyn Ankers. Bey is nobody's fool and he suspects O'Shea from the beginning.

What's best about Parole Inc. is O'Shea is out there without much of a lifeline and has to rely on his wits to survive. A lot like Marlon Brando in one of my favorite Brando films Morituri. We know he does survive because he narrates the film from his hospital bed using a Dictaphone. Does spoil the suspense somewhat.

Who else survives and how O'Shea breaks the racket. Watch Parole Inc.

Blonde Ice (1948)
Serial killing Suzy Knickerbocker., 22 July 2014

Other than Jennifer Jones in Ruby Gentry have I ever seen a film which had more members of the male species in heat than in Blonde Ice where Leslie Brooks has every member of the cast with testosterone panting after her with the possible exception of police captain Emory Parnell. The cops are very interested in Brooks, she's killing men all over the place who threaten her position on the social scale and her efforts to improve same.

There's a body count of three, a rich society guy, a wealthy attorney who gets elected to Congress but doesn't live long enough to even claim victory and a blackmailing pilot played by John Holland, Michael Whalen and Russ Vincent. Brooks started as a Suzy Knickerbocker type society columnist who wants to do more than write about the rich and privileged.

David Leonard a criminal psychologist has her pegged from the beginning and does she hate him. Another reporter James Griffith has the hots for her, but she's rejected him and fashioned on to Robert Paige. He's the one that rings her chimes, but he's not rich and privileged.

Blonde Ice was an interesting film though it got way too melodramatic toward the end. Noir fans should give it a look.

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From behind the Iron Curtain, 21 July 2014

Gigi Peareau is the Perry Mason client in this episode and a most uncooperative client she is. She's arrested for the murder of Werner Klemperer who was a distant cousin of her stepmother Osa Massen. Klemperer recently arrived from Germany starts insinuating himself in the family of Robert F. Simon who is Perreau's father and Massen's husband.

Perreau fakes an amnesia act that fools no one. Later she becomes more candid about her role in the events but now insist on her guilt. Very obvious someone is being protected.

I wasn't crazy about this story for precisely that reason. Seems that the perpetrator would not have wanted Perreau to be guilty of any kind of homicide charge. But she nearly was convicted more by her own stupidity than anything else.

Not one of the better stories.

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