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Come on, Cowboys (1937)
Mesquiteeers and Monkeyshines
"Come on, Cowboys" comes close to being the most enjoyable of the Mesquiteer series starring the Bob Livingstone / Ray Corrigan / Max Terhune version of the trio. It combines almost all the elements that fans of the series loved, but like many of these B-plus B movies, it is filled with gaffes that its loyal followers happily ignore.
Although Ray 'Crash' Corrigan was most closely identified with his Tucson Smith characterization in the "Three Mesquiteers" series, he made a even greater impression, albeit semi-anonymously, as various gorillas and large apes in a score of films including the title roles in "Zamba," "White Pongo," and the Orangopoid in the original "Flash Gordon" serial. Corrigan was very skilled in imitating simian mannerisms a la Rick Baker and made a very effective ape, often frightening the more juvenile members of the audience. but for career reasons played most of these roles without billing. "Come On, Cowboys" marks the only time he played both his ape character and Tucson in the same film. As the audience is fully aware that 'Crash' is in the suit, the scene is played for laughs as he tries to frighten one of the henchmen into betraying his boss and is one of the film's highlights as well as a great in-joke for film buffs.
Corrigan, who plays a body builder in "Come On, Cowboys," started his career as a fitness trainer to the stars of Hollywood, where he made contacts who got him small parts in movies beginning with a role as a gorilla in "Tarzan and His Mate." Why did Corrigan get so many ape parts? The simple answer is that he owned the suit. His main competition came from Charles Gemora and Emil Van Horn, both of whom owned their own gorilla suits, but neither was quite as fearsome as Corrigan's. Van Horn lost his when his landlady confiscated all his belongings for non-payment of rent.
Im 1947 Corrigan sold his suit to Steve Calvert, who continued to play gorillas until 1960 in Poverty Row productions like "The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters," "Panther Girl of the Kongo," and "Bride of the Gorilla." Corrigan made a brief comeback in "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklym Gorilla," in which both actors donned the costume.
The many gaffes in "Come On, Cowboy" are typical of Republic's general one-take policy, but one wonders why director Joe Kane didn't do a quick retake of these short scenes. Tuscon mistakenly refers to Alibi as "Stony" in a brief shot and Stony refers to the Treasury Men as G-Men, not T-Men. A two minute reshoot could have corrected either of these dialogue flubs which were the fault of the actors, but Kane either never noticed or didn't care.
Chinese-American actor Willie Fung's 1930s screen persona was somewhat akin to an offensive comedic Asian version of Stepin Fetchit. In a comic scene, the actor plays a 1930s country and western song, "Don't Ever Get Married, My Son" on his 78 rpm Victrola. He is not happy with it, but the next side he plays is Chopin's depressing funeral march dirge, and he smashes the record. Surely director Joe Kane should have realized that the logic of these two polar opposite, completely different musical pieces being flip sides of the sane record was totally incongruous, and Kane should have instructed Fung to choose a different 78, but shooting the scene quickly obviously was the director's greatest priority.
The sloppiness was not just Kane's or the actor's. An even more obvious continuity error occurred in the cutting room. The scene in which Max Terhune is tied up om a dangerously careening buckboard alternates between locations that have a precipitous cliff on his left and others that have obviously flat terrain.
The film opens with the Mesquiteers performing at a circus owned by the trio's stand-up friend and his corrupt partner. Alibi does his ventriloquist act and card tricks, Tucson does a weightlifting strongman act, and Stony shows off his marksmanship. One wonders who's running their ranch while they're on tour. When their friend is jailed, the Mesquiteers again become Polyannas and agree to make their friend's year-old daughter their ward, even agreeing in court that one of them will get married to the child's guardian as per the judge's order. Although neither Tuscon or Stony, a notorious skirt-chaser in earlier episodes, wants to get spliced, it doesn't seem to dawn on anyone to grant custody to the current guardian.
Although logic never seems to deter the Mesquiteer plots, they are filled with the type of action that kept the fans of 1930s Republic Westerns and serials coming through the turnstiles. This is the seventh appearance of the legendary Yakina Canutt in this seventh Mesquiteer entry as both stuntman and henchie. In "Come On, Cowboys" Canutt doubles for Corrigan and does his signature jump from a galloping stallion to a horse team on a runaway buckboard. Canutt would later expand on that 'gag' in the classic "Stagecoach" in 1939. The film also includes a rather uncharacteristically brutal scene in which the actor shoots two of his fellow gang members in the chest through the jailhouse window at close range to prevent their talking to the sheriff, a level of violence not common to the series.
The film ends with a reprise of the earlier wedding ceremony. How the trio get out of it is unexplained and becomes a real cliffhanger guaranteed to to bring the audience in when Mesquiteer feature #8 premiered in two months.
A brief caveat... most of the versions of "Come On, Cowboys" currently available on DVD are the 52 minute version edited for TV in the early 50s from its original 56 minute running time.
Conspiracy Theory Canadian-style
Murdoch and Crabtree, now demoted back to constable with Murdoch's return, investigate the murder of a Toronto alderman, who seems to have taken a bullet in the temple from an enigmatic sniper intent on assassinating the mayor. Both politicians are Irish Protestants riding in an open carriage during the city's annual Orange Parade, a spectacle designed to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne, fought in 1690 which established Protestant supremacy over the Catholics in Ireland.
According to the storyline, Toronto Protestants traditionally like to rub salt in the wounds of resentful Catholics by routing the parade to go through Catholic neighborhoods, a deliberate provocation. Apparently an irate Catholic tries to assassinate the mayor with a rifle shot when the procession passes a nearby building, but the errant shot misses the mayor, passes through his hat, and apparently by chance strikes the alderman in the temple, killing him instantly.
If the open carriage assassination scenario congers up memories of the assassination of America's only Irish Catholic President, John F. Kennedy, it is no accident. The entire episode is meant to echo the November 22, 1963 tragedy and maintains a subtext designed to satirize the various conspiracy theories attached to that event.
The episode title, "Back and to the Left" is meant to reference the movement of the President Kennedy's body after the fatal shot hit him, movement Warren Commission critics claim is consistent with a shot from the right front (i.e. "the grassy knoll"). Even though this murder occurs in 1899, Murdoch finds some movie film of the event, which he is able to supplement with a still photograph in a stereoscope to ascertain that the victim is forced "back and to the right" as the Zapruder Film apparently showed JFK's body to move.
The aldeman of the episode is named Alek Hidell, not coincidently an alias used by Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Nov. 22. When Dr. Ogden and her protégé Dr. Grace are able to prove that the bullet holes in the mayor's hat and the alderman's skull don't align and couldn't have followed such a torturous path, they refer to the slug as "the magic bullet," a clear reference to the stretcher bullet found at Parkland Hospital which allegedly created multiple wounds on Governor Connelly after passing through JFK's throat.
Initially the police believe the assassin to be an Irish Catholic firebrand who denies any accusation and refers to himself, as Oswald did, as a "patsy," who was tricked into transporting a rifle in a rug the same way Oswald transported his weapon into the Texas Schoolbook Depository in a long paper bag. Also like Oswald. he is assassinated himself before he can prove his innocence. Hidell's real killer is a second gunman who used boxes to hide in his "sniper's nest," which echoes the term used to describe the area of the depository utilized by Oswald.
Allusions to modern cultural references as self-parody and dramatic irony has always been part of "Murdoch Mysteries" great appeal. I understand that the JFK Assassination subtext was likely utilized to give some added interest to what would otherwise be at best a mediocre entry in this usually excellent series, but it also signifies that after 52 years, the America has sufficiently healed enough that it can tastefully satirize what was one of the most traumatic tragedies in our nation's history.
Anthony Quinn: An Original (1990)
From Anthony to Zorba
Tony Quinn was a magnetic, charismatic performer born in Mexico of an Irish grandfather. In this documentary he is well- remembered as Zampano the bestial strongman of Fellini's "La Strada" and as Zorba, Kazantakis's philosophical humanist in Michael Cacoyannis' "Zorba the Greek." Quinn's characters are the most Rabelaisian in film history: outrageous, raunchy, crude in every way, deliberately stubborn when he believed in the truth, relentless against hypocrisy, and against all forms of popular opinion; but, at the same time he was capable of profound insight into the human condition.
He won well-deserved Oscars for "Viva Zapata" in 1952 and "Lust for Life" in 1956 stealing every scene from the films' nominal stars, Marlon Brando and Kirk Douglas, a difficult task. Winning the lead actor award eluded him. I'm surprised he only won the two Oscars as he was deserving in the leads in "Zorba the Greek" and "La Strada." Quinn's private life was tempestuous: a long list of lovers, including Katharine DeMille, daughter of Cecil, whom he met on the set of his first film "The Plainsman" in 1936. The couple suffered tragic loss when their son drowned in the swimming pool of neighbor W. C. Fiels, a pool that Quinn had urged the comedian to fence in.
Quinn's last film was released posthumously in 2002. Besides his film legacy, he left the world ten children by three wives and scores of great screen moments to cherish. This biographical documentary reminds his fans of the loss of a great actor and screen personality.
King Rat (1965)
The Dark Side of Sergeant Bilko
This WWII prison camp drama set in the steaming Burmese jungle is a metaphor for the horrors of World War II and features what is easily George Segal's best dramatic performance, an even better one by James Fox, and lean, taut direction from Bryan Forbes. It also offers many insights on the British class system and takes a very grimly pessimistic view of the human condition. There is some humor but it is darkly sardonic and somewhat sadistic in nature. Segal's con artist extrodinaire Sergeant King is the dark side of Segeant Bilko and he employs bitter cynicism as opposed to the wisecracking humor of Phil Silvers. It is based on a novel by James Clavell, and is a better film, if not more entertaining, than the author's "The Great Escape," which was released a couple of years prior to "Rat." With the exception of Segal, the British cast members greatly outshine their American counterparts. Tom Courtenay, the always wonderful Denholm Elliott, John Mills, Gerald Sim, Leonard Rossiter, and Alan Webb all contribute memorable characterizations, but by far the best is James Donald as the compassionate, humane camp doctor, practically reprising his role of eight years earlier in "Bridge on the Rver Kwai' also set in a Burmese prison camp.
Gabriel Over the White House (1933)
A fascinating artifact from 1933
The American political film genre has a long and highly respected tradition. Classics like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Advise and Consent," and "The Best Man," generally reflect a liberal leaning. When a movie politician veers from his initially progressive agenda, such as in "All the King's Men" and "A Lion Is in the Streets," it is usually a sign that he has lost is moral compass and sown the seeds of his own self- destruction.
In "Gabriel over the White House," Walter Huston's newly-elected President Hammond is initially a cynical career politician reminiscent of Warren Harding, a political hack steeped in the corrupt culture of backroom deals, nepotism, crony patronage, and influence-peddling. However, after a surviving a near-death experience he is transformed by an undefined supernatural force into an idealistic crusader for a much different agenda that he zealously pursues: a divine mission that includes an imperial Presidency that suspends Constitutional checks and balances, ignores civil liberties, and creates martial law.
The use of the name Gabriel in the title posits that this change in American government is sanctioned and approved by some kind of divine authority. In addition, Director Gregory LaCava also associates Lincoln's image with Huston's transformation, which gives his subsequent metamorphosis a gravitas and moral authority it might not otherwise have. The casting of respected character actor Walter Huston may not have been an arbitrary choice. Just three years earlier, the actor had played the title role in D. W. Griffith's last major film, "Abraham Lincoln," a part that was very closely associated with his 1933 screen image. (This is well before Huston played more iconic roles such as "Dodsworth" and "Treasure of the Sierra Madre.")
Because of the tradition of American political films, viewers' preconceptions have often prompted the misreading of "Gabriel" as a Liberal diatribe. The film certainly does postulate that a totalitarian state of some stripe is the answer to America's problems. However, while there are certain aspects that may appear Leftist, there are more that are reminiscent of the Fascist policies of European National Socialism.
Huston authorizes Franchot Tone's character to create a private federal police force which operates totally at the whim of the now dictatorial President. This force receives no governmental oversight and enforces the President's will without due process. It is reminiscent of the then-powerful Ernst Rohm's SA in Germany. Rohm and the SA would not be eliminated until the infamous "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. Although it's difficult to judge color in a black and white film, the uniforms of Tone's "storm troopers" appear to be brown. Their military tribunal summarily dispatches the undesirable criminal foreign immigrants without aid of counsel in the manner of a totalitarian state.
President Hammond's demonizing of foreign elements as the cause of the country's social ills suggests the tactics used by European fascism in the early 30s. What is the nationality of C. Henry Gordon, who plays foreign immigrant hoodlum Nick Diamond? Early on it is shown that Diamond's real name is something ending with a "ski." Although he is careful not to use a clearly identifiable Italian or Eastern European accent, Gordon, a native New Yorker, specialized in swarthy villains throughout his career, most memorably as the Muslim fanatic Surat Khan, who massacred prisoners including women and children under a white flag in the Errol Flynn epic, "The Charge of the Light Brigade."
Especially impressive is the bravura, almost 360 degree camera dolly during the firing squad sequence in which Gordon and his immigrant criminal associates are summarily executed. The shot ironically shows the Statue of Liberty in the background, clearly implying with in-your- face pointed irony that these executions are taking place on Ellis Island.
The saber-rattling show of military force toward the end of the film in order to collect outstanding WWI debt is somewhat reminiscent of Billy Mitchell's famous demonstrations of air power from a decade earlier. (In fact, it has been reported that archival footage from the Mitchell demonstrations is used in this sequence.) Among the countries Hammond signs agreements with are France, and ironically Italy and Japan. Huston's bellicose, thinly-disguised threats of military action are not unlike Germany's bullying of Europe during the Thirties.
One of the last statements the dying Huston character says is that the power structure he has left in place will last a "millenium." Does the use of a thousand years as a political time frame sound like a familiar paraphrase (i.e. Hitler's Thousand Year Reich)?
The original book was written anonymously by someone named Tweed. (How's that for a nom-de-plume?), but the real power and economic force behind "Gabriel over the White House" as a novel and movie was William Randolph Hearst. Although Hearst was a progressive reformer when he first began delving into politics, by the early 30s he had moved to the right and was a great admirer of Mussolini. (In the opening newsreel montage of "Citizen Kane," Kane, a thinly-disguised roman-a-clef version of Hearst, can be seen schmoozing with Facists.)
Despite this, Hearst was an avid Roosevelt supporter in 1932 although at that time he couldn't have known the full extent of FDR's New Deal agenda. Hearst had established his own production company, Cosmopolitan Pictures, at MGM in order to insure the production of star vehicles for his mistress, Marion Davies. This clout undoubtedly aided him in securing Metro's support of the picture. Hearst reportedly submitted the script to Roosevelt who apparently approved of it but asked for some changes. No one has said definitively what Roosevelt contributed, but it was agreed that for a variety of reasons, distribution would be postponed until 1933, well after the election.
Today "Gabriel over the White House" is looked upon today as an aberrant curiosity and relic from Hollywood's pre-Code era. In 1932 America was in a dark place, and I think "Gabriel" clearly reflects that angst-ridden period on our history.
The Nine Tailors: Episode #1.2 (1974)
A Confusing Chronology Explained
This is a most fascinating episode from Dorothy Sayers' "Lord Peter Wimsey" series and the second one produced for television with the wonderful Ian Carmichael, but understanding it requires piecing together its sometimes difficult and ambiguous chronology. In fact, an IMDb contributor correctly points out that terming the flu outbreak in this episode Spanish Flu is an anachronism as he sets the time frame as the late 1920s.
The 1918-1919 outbreak was one of the most horrific plagues ever, killing 40 to 80 million people worldwide. Although the 1918 pandemic is correctly termed Spanish Flu in Episode 1, by the end of 1919 it had mutated into a different, less virulent outbreak of influenza. The events of this episode and the two subsequent ones clearly occur in 1934, so having the characters use the term "Spanish Flu" adds to the already vague and hazy chronology.
This is logical as Dorothy Sayers' novel was published in 1934. Although no mention of that year is made in this chapter. it can clearly be extrapolated from the date given by the vicar, who says that the decomposed corpse dressed in prison garb and presumed to be Deacon was found in 1920, the year he and his wife moved in and two years after the real Deacon had killed a warder and escaped. Therefore, the disloyal butler had made good his jailbreak in 1918 after serving four years of his prison term.
That would date his conviction and jail term, as well as the robbery of the emerald necklace, back to 1914, four years earlier. That dovetails with the mention of Kaiser Wilhelm's "sabre rattling" at the wedding reception in Episode 1, and clearly refers to the German monarch's actions prior to the outbreak of hostilities on July 28, 1914.
During this episode, which takes place on New Year's Eve and Day and the subsequent Easter, it is mentioned several times that the robbery occurred twenty years earlier. If 20 is added to 1914, it adds up to 1934, the new year Sir Peter agrees to help bring in by tolling one of the churchbells as well as the year Sayers' mystery was first published.
El cochecito (1960)
On Golden Wheelchair
Despite a long and prolific career, Marco Ferreri is not as well known outside his native Italy as contemporaries like Fellini and Antonioni. His anarchic, iconoclastic vision of the world and bizarre, often surreal humor may be the reason. Although on the surface this early film initially seems grounded in the Neo-Realist tradition of DeSica's "Umberto D," it carries a bittersweet subversive theme that would become increasingly apparent in Ferreri's later work.
Jose Isbert plays septuagenarian Don Anselmo Proharan, a retired government minister who has reluctantly ceded his home to son Carlos, an officious, condescending solicitor, his bourgeoisie wife, and Yolanda, their homely daughter. Carlos' law offices, which he shares with his daughter's ambitious fiancé, are also located on the premises, so Don Anselmo is limited to a single stifling and confining room in his own home. As he also has to share space with Yolanda, the old man has no sense of peace and quiet or privacy. In addition, Carlos has control of his father's pension, which he parsimoniously doles out as a parent would to a child, further restricting the old man's freedom. Ferreri emphasizes the situation with very effective traveling shots that follow the old man around the house's constrictive, almost claustrophobic, corridors.
Don Anselmo's only escape seems to be attending funerals, and when his paraplegic friend Don Lucas gets a motorized wheelchair, known as a "cochetito," Proharan accompanies him to his wife's grave to leave flowers. Don Anselmo soon becomes obsessed with getting his own "little coach" and joining the subculture of other "cochetito" owners that Don Lucas belongs to which congregates and interacts daily. These physically challenged people have achieved an exhilarating sense of independence and freedom, and the old man views joining them as an escape from his restricted life with his tyrannical family. However, to join them, he needs his own "little coach."
Like Toad in Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows," Don Anselmo becomes obsessed with owning one and regaining his lost dignity. When his tight-fisted son dismisses his requests for his own chair, the old man tries several gambits in which he feigns physical infirmity to get one. Frustrated, Don Anselmo sells his dead wife's jewelry in order to buy a cochetito outright, but the son, who has already earmarked the jewelry for his daughter, humiliates the old man by forcing him to return the "cochetito" and reclaimimg his mother's jewels.
After further humiliating him, the son threatens to institutionalize the old man, to the delight of granddaughter Yolande, who is only too eager to co-opt the bedroom for herself. His self-esteem shattered, a desperate Don Anselmo poisons his family's food and runs away from home like a disaffected teenager. The film ends ambiguously with many issues left unresolved.
Ferreri directed his early films in Spain, and Don Anselmo's repression by his bourgeoisie family could be interpreted as a quietly subversive allegorical criticism of Spanish dictator's Francisco Franco's repressive fascist state. The whimsical early scene when Don Anselmo sees a surreal line of men marching in military fashion armed with mop handles for guns and wearing toilet bowls for helmets is in stark contrast to the film's more sober conclusion when the fugitive old man is arrested by the iconic uniformed actual Guardia Civil.
In any case, Ferreri left Spain for his native Italy after the release of "El Cochecito" and although this minor masterpiece is relatively obscure, he soon received some international critical acclaim for trenchantly scathing social satires like "The Ape Woman," "The Conjugal Bed," "La Grand Bouffe," and Felliniesque burlesques like "Don't Touch the White Woman," a wild send-up of Custer's Last Stand set in Paris.
Ferreri would return to the theme of aging with dignity in the poignantly sobering realism of "The House of Smiles" nearly three decades later. The director has been quoted as saying that his job is to give the audience a "punch in the stomach." "El Cochecito" is a punch, albeit a gentle one.
Trade Winds (1938)
A Garnett, but Not a Diamond
"Trade Winds" has some enjoyable moments. This Tay Garnett-directed independent feature has the beautiful and talented Joan Bennett as a murderess on the run in the Orient pursued by a skirt-chasing former policeman played by a very miscast Fredric March. The film veers from whodunit, to travelogue, to screwball comedy, to romance, to courtroom drama without much consistency. Because the major emphasis is on comedy and romance, the film needs the versatility of a Fred MacMurray in the lead. Although a fine actor, March is out of his element in a role that requires a lighter touch.
The usually reliable Ralph Bellamy, who excelled as the proverbial light comic "other man" in classics like "His Girl Friday," "The Awful Truth," and "Brother Orchid," ends up as an oafish buffoon of a policeman of the type often played by Edgar or Tom Kennedy. His performance clashes with March's and at times he seems out of an alternative universe. Although Ann Sothern has a very enjoyable drunk scene, she's underutilized, and the usually reliable Thomas Mitchell is given little to do but growl as a police commissioner... wasted in a role than would have usually gone to a William Frawley.
The film's inconsistencies are likely the fault of writer/director Tay Garnett, who had a lengthy but inconsistent career resume' with at least one masterpiece ("The Postman Always Rings Twice") to his credit. He did helm some films with similar elements to "Trade Winds": "One Way Passage" with Powell and Francis, "Seven Sinners" with Dietrich and Wayne, and "China Seas" with Gable and Harlow, but unfortunately Garnett never developed a consistent style, and by the 1950s he was directing TV Western series episodes like "Death Valley Days" and "Bonanza". With a steadier hand like a Howard Hawks at the helm, and more appropriate cast choices "Trade Winds" may have been a minor classic, but now it's just a curiosity. By the way, two interesting sidebars: Dorothy Parker (of Algonquin Round Table fame) was a collaborator on the script and the enigmatic Dorothy Comingore appears briefly here (under the name Linda Winters) several years before her triumph in "Citizen Kane."
Penguin Pool Murder (1932)
A great recreation of a piece of New York history
As there are many reviews correctly praising the work of Edna Mae Oliver, James Gleason, and RKO studios set decorating department, suffice it to say that this is an outstanding opening entry into the Hildegarde Withers mystery series.
Most of the action of "The Penguin Pool Murders" takes place in a recreation of the beautiful New York Aquarium, which charmed and delighted resident and tourist alike for almost half a century beginning in 1896. The Aquarium was originally located on the southern tip of Manhattan as a leisure attraction for the new immigrant residents of Lower Manhattan for whom Central Park was too far to travel. It opened in the Castle Gardens section of the Park in what was Clinton Gardens, previously Fort Clinton, named after iconic New York State Governor DeWitt Clinton. Originally an island, the land connecting it to Manhattan was later filled in, and Battery Park served as the first stopping point for New Americans before Ellis Island was developed.
Although the Aquarium wasn't large by current standards (only 150 species), and its pools weren't large enough to ensure the well-being and survival of large aquatic mammals like manatees, porpoises, and dolphins, smaller ones like seals fared better.
There was great controversy when New York's "master builder," Robert Moses, who had little respect for preservation and tradition, proposed a bridge from the Battery to Brooklyn. When Moses was frustrated in his efforts for the Bridge, he began preparations for what would become the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in the 1930s. He began the demolition of the beautiful Clinton Gardens, and only its eleventh hour designation as a National, Landmark caused it to be rescued from oblivion and rebuilt as a treasured landmark..
The collection of animals had been relocated, some to the Bronx Zoo and others to other zoos in the Northeast when the Aquarium closed its doors for the last time in 1941. After the War a new aquarium was constructed and reopened in 1957 in Coney Island. The new facility had over 8000 specimens and 350 species. Although it afforded its permanent residents more space and helped to revitalize the Coney Island area, many felt that it was not an aesthetically pleasing place as the old Battery Park facility, and critics claimed that its unattractiveness was the egotistical Moses' ultimate revenge on the city that denied him his bridge.
Those who have seen Ric Burns' wonderful documentary miniseries "New York" realize that Moses' power made him the most influential individual official in.Big Apple history... and nobody elected him.
In recreating what is one of the few visual records of this beautiful piece of New York history in essentially what was only a B-film series, the RKO set set designers deserve tremendous credit. The mystery itself is first rate with Edna Mae Oliver and James Gleason exuding great humor and personal chemistry as two enjoyably mismatched detectives in this very intriguing whodunit.
A Unique Career Arc
Burt Lancaster started his storied career as an anti-hero in 40s Film Noir drama and an athletic action hero playing roles that would have gone to Errol Flynn a decade earlier. However, he was savvy enough to realize he couldn't be an action hero forever and wanted to grow as an actor.
He began to alternate his physically demanding, swashbuckling roles like "His Majesty O'Keefe,", "The Flame and the Arrow," "Ten Tall Men," and "The Crimson Pirate," which relied on his training as a circus acrobat, with serious dramas opposite more veteran co-stars like Joan Fontaine in "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands,", Shirley Booth in "Come Back, Little Sheba," Anna Magnani in "The Rose Tattoo," and Katharine Hepburn in "The Rainmaker." All the leading ladies were Oscar winners.
Lancaster usually came off second best to these more experienced performers, but he was learning the craft of screen acting from these seasoned players and expanding his dramatic range while maintaining his original fan base. Ultimately Lancaster evolved into a superb screen actor with an Oscar for "Elmer Gantry" and nominations for his two finest performances in "Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Atlantic City." He continued to keep his legion of fans happy with his more boisterous roles like "The Professionals" and "The Scalphunters." I can't think of another actor with that kind of career arc.