Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday’s checklist

Over at the Radio Spirits blog this week, I did write-ups of the two Whistler films that for some reason or another don’t get shown on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ when TCM gets a hankerin’ to run the movie series.  The Mark of the Whistler (1944), the second in the franchise, is in my opinion neck-and-neck with the initial entry The Whistler (1944) as the best of them; a suspenseful tale that features series star Richard Dix as a down-on-his-luck derelict whose scheme to cash in on a neglected bank account brings him more than a few problems.  William Castle directed this one, and directed it bloody well—he’s able to wring every drop of suspense out of George Bricker‘s screenplay (based on a Cornell Woolrich short story) and elicit masterful performances from thesps Janis Carter, Porter Hall and Paul Guilfoyle…not to mention Dix, in what I personally think is his best performance in all the films of the series.

Arthur Space turns up in this one as a stool pigeon bellman…

…and Willie Best has two brief scenes as a men’s room attendant…

…and I started chuckling when I saw this actor playing the bank president—he’s Howard Freeman, who’s perhaps best-known as “Beast” Burkholtz in one of my favorite Car 54, Where are You? episodes (“The Beast Who Walked the Bronx”).

But this one is the kickiest of all…you may not recognize him with the extra right arm, but this is Bill Raisch—aka Fred Johnson, “the one-armed man” of TV’s The Fugitive.  (Raisch later suffered an injury fighting a shipboard fire during WW2 that necessitated amputation two inches from the elbow.)

The Mark of the Whistler has been aired on cable before—I taped it one time off of Encore Mystery in the 1990s—but the penultimate Whistler film, The Thirteenth Hour (1947) is MIA for reasons I cannot explain.  The copy I have is watchable but makes for some ghastly screen caps so I’ll spare you the agony; the movie is actually a fairly conventional B-noir that features Dix as a trucking company owner who has to clear himself from a murder rap.  Regis “I am invincible!” Toomey plays the murder victim, and the always welcome Karen Morley is Dix’s sweetheart…and there are a goodly number of serial baddies in this one, too: Stanley Blystone, Anthony Warde, Ernie Adams, etc.  The presence of Cliff Clark as a police detective might be explained by the fact that William Clemens directed this 65-minute time killer; Clemens helmed a number of the Falcon movies (in which Clark often turned up as “Inspector Donovan”) but he’s perhaps best-known as the auteur of Warner Bros’ Nancy Drew series starring Bonita Granville.

The winners of this year’s Classic Movie Blog Association Awards were announced this weekend, and you can find the list here; Thrilling Days of Yesteryear congratulates each and everyone who snagged a trophy…and would also like to know if there’s any chance of getting back that cufflink that I lost in the punch bowl.  (Oh, you look at me like I did it on purpose.)

Rick, one of the founders of the CMBA and the head counterman at the Classic Film and TV Café, has announced a Classic TV Horror Host Blogathon for the merry month of October…October 24-31, to be exact, and sponsored by the Classic TV Blog Association.  Still trying to decide at press time what I’ll write about but I hope to participate in what sounds like a fun event.

In TV-on-DVD news, the Warner Archive released the second season of The Courtship of Eddie’s Father to MOD DVD yesterday (October 9) in a 3-disc collection containing all twenty-four episodes and priced at $49.95 SRP.  (Yipes.)  I watched a few of these when the series was being rerun on GoodLife TV or whatever name it goes by now and while I had fond memories of the show when I was a tad, it didn’t hold up too well today (I found it a bit cloying, to be honest).  But for those fans that are a-collecting…there you are.

Timeless Media Group released Alias Smith and Jones: The Complete Series to DVD back in 2010, but because that company merged with Shout! Factory (which is why we jokingly call it Timeless Factory Video now) Shout! is going to re-release the collection on January 22.  This set will be priced at $29.93 SRP, and contain all 50 episodes from the 1971-73 western series favorite.

And in light of the warm reception my recent review of The Court Jester got on the blog, Inception Media Group will dip into the vault of The Danny Kaye Show—Mr. Kaminsky’s 1963-67 Emmy Award-winning CBS-TV variety hour—and pull out a couple of Yuletide-themed telecasts for a single-disc collection entitled Christmas with Danny Kaye, to be released on November 6th.  One show is a December 23, 1963 telecast with guest stars Nat King Cole and Mary Tyler Moore and the other features Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton (and is dated December 21, 1966).  It’s priced at $14.95 SRP, and since the series is quite a rarity (I imagine bringing season collections of the Kaye Show to DVD would be a problem, given the thorny music rights issues and all) this might make a swell companion with your copy of White Christmas (1954).  (There’s also a bonus on the disc; an excerpt of Danny reading A Christmas Carol from a December 22, 1965 telecast.)


Chris Vosburg said...

Looking forward to the Horror Host Blogathon, as I'm sure every city in the country had a Vampira of their very own at some point, and I would love to meet them all.

San Diego, for example, where I lived briefly in the late sixties, had "Moona Lisa", an amply-endowed catsuited babe who did the usual shtick with the schlock horror and SF flicks, and as a personal touch, which I found especially fun because of the times, ended each broadcast by wishing us "Happy Hallucinations, Honeys," in as seductive a voice as you can imagine. Yes, Ma'am, I'll do my best, I promised each week, as various parts of my anatomy saluted.

What can I say, she was a total babe, and I was, what, thirteen or fourteen.

Kevin Deany said...

Very interesting about those missing Whistler movies, the only ones I have yet to see. It seems like some rights are missing for those titles, same with several in the Lone Wolf and Jungle Jim series as well.

ClassicBecky said...

I love The Whistler -- I listen to the radio plays a lot, and since I am also in love with Richard Dix, I watch all the movies I can. Wish I could see them all. (BTW, I gave you a little credit for a pic I used on my latest post ... thanks!)