Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Yes, for old and bad movies Amazon Prime Video is the go-to place. I’m trying to get ahead of the game so I can take a few days off, so I’m doing a burst of bad movies this week. And this one is bad. It’s Unashamed: A Romance, from 1938. There’s no Wikipedia entry, so I’m getting details from IMDb.

Sorry, it’s not a really great print. That’s about what’s available from that era. The opening shows a nice looking woman in her underwear, preparing for a day at work and contemplating her love life. She is Rae Lane (Rae Kidd). We are going to be seeing a lot more of her.

Rae has the hots for Robert Lawton (Robert Stanley), her hunk of a boss. Except that her boss doesn’t find her all that appealing. Besides, he’s a hypochondriac, always wasting doctors’ time and taking bottles of pills. Rae convinces the doctor, Dr. Malvin (Joseph W. Girard), to recommend that Robert take some time of and relax. The doctor recommends a nudist camp. This is going to get interesting.

Robert arrives, sees all the naked people, and gets ready to strut his stuff.

Without an explanation why, Rae is there. Now Robert finds her interesting.

A romance develops, hence the title. But along comes Barbara Pound (Lucille Shearer), a pharmaceutical heiress, on the run from unwanted publicity. She and her sidekick, another charming lass, stumble onto the nudist camp while eluding search parties. Not realizing they are on the camp property, they make themselves at home.

Besides checking out each other’s wares, the nudists are entertained by a ventriloquist and his dummy.

For a movie showing all this flesh, it is terribly dull. There is next to zero drama, and we spend most of the 64 minutes worth of celluloid watching naked people play volley ball, splashing in the pool, and (here) doing a sing-along.

Robert takes an immediate shine to Barbara. Rae is suddenly abandoned.

Her loss sinks in and Rae climes to the tip of the stony peak and surveys the surroundings and the remains of her love life. It’s not made explicit whether she jumps.

And that’s the end of the movie.

Yeah, given a gaggle of good-looking, naked women (and men), I could have come up with an interesting plot, and maybe even some intelligent dialog. Watching through it on my big screen I got the idea that somebody had a few thousand dollars and wandered through a studio lot and asked, “Who wants to be in a nude flick?”

The title sequence does not reveal the production company, and neither does IMDb. Amazon on-screen notes relate this film was banned in Boston (surprise, surprise). A theater showing was scheduled without first clearing it with City Censor John J. Casey. The police showed up, and everybody had to leave the theater. Those were the days.

No mention of Academy Awards nominations.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Most-reliable Amazon Prime Video came through for me again this week. Getting desperate for a Bad Movie of the Week, I skimmed titles from Amazon. This one came through. It’s Inhuman Resources, 2012, and I have to warn you, it’s a slasher movie to end all. Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry, so I’m getting details from IMDb. Here are the highlights:

You have heard of human resources. That’s what they used to  call personnel in companies. Anyhow, this is inhuman resources, so you begin to get the picture. It’s corporate politics from hell, and it starts out provocatively enough. There’s a blonde corporate type making waves as she struts her stuff between the cubes and gets on an elevator.

The next time we see Ms. Hot Stuff she is decapitated on the floor of the elevator car. Annabelle Hale waits for the doors to open and comes face to face with the gruesome scene.

Regional manager Nicholas Reddmann is standing there with the bloody ax and a fiendish countenance. It’s the most recent of a series of such atrocities.

Of course, Reddmann is tried and convicted but is deemed insane. He appears to die in a fire during an escape attempt. Annabelle, daily looking for work, picks up living expenses doing Internet strip shows. Here is the slasher movie obligatory bare breast scene. Show me a slasher movie without bare tits, and I will show you Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

But Annabelle is abducted from  her apartment, and comes to, chained to a conference table along with five other people. Each is in some manner connected with the ax murder.

Reddmann is miraculously alive, and he directs his captives to work mightily at proving his innocence of the ax murders.

When somebody’s work slacks off, Reddmann employs his hook of a hand to inscribe a mark on the forehead of the miscreant. Five such marks, and Reddmann dispatches the offender in the most gruesome manner imaginable. Here William Tucker (Sam Reid) already has three.

Cutting to the chase, Annabelle works diligently and finds a way to escape through an A/C vent in the women’s rest room. She puts the kibosh on Reddmann and unchains William and one more. They are the  remaining survivors.

As the three battle to escape, one of the three is killed, leaving only William and Annabelle. It becomes apparent to Annabelle that William is not as innocent as he claims, and he reveals what really happened on that fatal day months before.

William was a parcel delivery man, and he had a habit of waylaying officer workers and decapitating them. He reveals his method and describes how he wielded the ax and handed it, covered with blood, to a shocked Reddmann, who took the fall when the elevator doors opened at the ground floor.

Reddmann and William disappear, leaving only Annabelle for the rescue squad to haul away from the gruesome scene. Annabelle recovers to write a book about the episode and is scheduled for a book signing. But William, in hiding, has taken offense, and he murders Annabelle’s publicist and forces his way into her apartment, bloody knife in hand.

Annabelle fights William off and flees onto the street, with William in deadly pursuit. She encounters Reddmann on the darkened sidewalk, and Reddmann kills William, leaving Annabelle with William’s severed head to take to the book signing. She presents the head and asks if there are any questions.

Do I need to explain why this is the Bad Movie of the Week?

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

There may be some readers who think they quit making bad movies 60 years ago. It could be because I tend to dig way back in the archives to find a BMotW candidate. This one puts the lie to that idea. It’s from three years ago, and it’s bad. It’s Deeper: The Retribution of Beth, from Fat Lemonade and Atomic Imagery, currently streaming on Hulu. Wikipedia does not have an entry for this one, so I’m getting details from  IMDb.

There’s not much to explain about the plot, but I will have a go at it. It’s in Seattle, and there are these two jerks, John (Greyston Holt) and Steve (Andrew Francis), who make a living producing porn videos. To sweeten their profits they work a scam that goes like this. They cruise the streets in  a white van, and when they spot a likely mark, a sexy babe walking alone, they stop and present their proposition. They are making a video, and they would like to interview her. Will she get in the van? They offer money. We see multiple marks taking the bait.

Steve converses while John shoots the footage. A little money offered. Will you do this? Yes. More money offered. Will you do more? Viewers get a chance to see a bunch of women’s tits.

Anyhow, when the marks are not looking, Steve steals back the money, and the victim is turned loose feeling sorely burned, while the jerks go off laughing at their grand joke.

Mark (Matthew Kevin Anderson) and Susan (Olivia Cheng) set out to do a story on the two porn kings, and they meet the pair on a street corner. Mark thought the plan was to meet in their office, but Steve insists that Mark ride along for a live interview. He insists that Susan cannot come along. It turns out to  be good news for Susan. For Mark, not so much.

In a twist from their usual prank, the two pick up a pair of babes. Sam (Elise Gatien) is sweet and prime. Beth (Jessica Harmon) has a few more miles but still passes for for hot.

While Mark looks on the scammers start their spiel. Sam warms to the scheme and suggests migrating to a more remote spot before getting down to  serious business. The van heads into a secluded section of boreal forest.

That’s when things turn deadly. As Sam commences to display her feminine wares, Beth whips out a piece of her own and blows John dead away.

The remainder of the plot is a mash of mayhem, as Mark and Steve are cuffed with tie-wraps, and Steve gets pistol whipped while being reminded of his past sins. People happen onto the scene and get murdered, there are repeated escapes into the woods accompanied by determined hunts and recapture. At gunpoint Mark is forced to hump Steve from behind, at which point a hunter in camo puts a wing shot into Beth to break the matter up. Eventually everybody dies.

Except, Sam and Steve. With everybody else dead, Sam retrieves slip-joint pliers and grips Steve’s tongue, pulling on it and slicing it off at the base. A black car drives up and Sam gets in and departs. And that’s the end of the movie.

Yes, there is a back story, but it shows up only in retelling. There’s a load of plot churn that leads nowhere. Somebody wants to depict a gruesome extreme of the human condition and almost succeeds.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amazon Prime Video. When desperate for a really bad movie to review, I can always count on Amazon to come through. Sometime in recent months a person at Amazon must have approached the keeper of the Motion Picture Historical Society (assuming there is such a society) celluloid vaults and said, “How would you like to unload a few tons of ancient stock?” Due to that, if you want it, Amazon’s got it. This one was originally incubated by E.I. Chadwick Productions, and the Amazon stream has an extra few seconds up front of the titles tipping to Weiss Global Enterprises as the distributor.

It’s Wayne Murder Case, without use of the definite article. Interestingly, Wikipedia, where I’m getting details, lists it as A Strange Adventure, with the alternative title The Wayne Murder Case, with the definite article. I’m going with what shows up when you play the movie, which you can for free on YouTube. This came out in 1932, about five years after they first added sound to movies.

And it shows. It shows an industry trying to find its footing and still trying to figure out how actors should speak their parts. Apparently sound pictures required more dialog than was fed to silent viewers, and industry writers were not up to the task of making the characters emote using their voices. The film comes off as a pantomime with words dubbed in.

Here’s a rundown of the plot.

The opening scene shows blatantly dishonest private secretary Claude Wayne (Eddie Phillips) opening a safe in somebody’s private study. He removes a copy of the owner’s will, peruses it in dismay, then places it back into the safe. Before closing the safe he substitutes a fake diamond for the very large real one that was there. Then his boss (and uncle), Silas Wayne (William V. Mong) comes in.

All right, this gets tricky. After Claude leaves Silas opens the safe and at one point notices a dried flower that had fallen from within the folds of the will onto the floor. Suspicious, Silas examines the diamond and figures it is fake. He summons Claude and accuses him of treachery. But Claude puts the real diamond back, and on a second examination Silas figures he was mistaken about his initial assessment. Then Claude makes the switch again and departs.

Silas, who is roundly disliked, has no children, but does have numerous heirs. All have been waiting in the large house to be summoned for the signing of the will. Silas, who “owns half the town,” summons two police to come to his house to witness what may be a crime (?). Here we see Harry Meyers as Officer Ryan and Eddie Chandler as Officer Kelly (I can’t tell which is which) getting out of their police car in front of the Wayne mansion. Watching this for the first time I wondered at the ability of the studio to incorporate this vintage piece of road iron. But then I realized this was likely a vehicle borrowed off the dealer’s lot back in 1932.

Anyhow, everybody, including the two police officers, attends the reading and signing of the will. They also witness Silas Wayne getting murdered right in front of their eyes, and nobody can figure out who did it.

First come’s police Detective-Sergeant Mitchell (Regis Toomey). Then arrives a gaggle of reporters, among which is one named “Nosey” Toodles (June Clyde). She sneaks into the house to scoop the other reporters, and Mitchell cannot find it in himself to get rid of her.

Amazingly, a credited actor is Snowflake playing the part of Jeff, the butler. Don’t you just love those movies from 80 years ago when a bowing and scraping subservient character needed to be played by a black man who comes off as illiterate, stupid, and superstitious?  I’m impressed he received credit right up front in the titles sequence. His real name was Fred Toones.

Because of the sheer number of movies in which he appeared, Toones is one of the most prolific character faces in B-Westerns and cliffhangers. He appeared in over 200 films between 1928 and 1951; and between 1936 and 1947, Toones worked under contract for Republic Pictures, appearing in about 40 of its films.

He died in 1962. I hope he enjoyed the money in the meantime.

To heighten suspense, it is found necessary to  introduce a nefarious character who lurks about the house terrorizing people.

Anyhow, Detective-Sergeant Mitchell solves the case, but not before one additional person is murdered. Watch it on YouTube or Amazon if you want to find out who done it.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Good thing I missed this when it came out in  1937. It’s Headline Crasher, from Conn Pictures Corporation. This was during the period 1936 – 1939 when a handful of production companies came and went, turning out, in the course, some of the worst ever. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry. I’m getting details from IMDb. This is brought to us through the largess of Amazon Prime Video, seemingly prepared to ensure we never forget our past transgressions, even after 80 years.

I’m not going to detail the plot. It’s inconsequential. I will just give a sketch and show some screen shots. It goes like this.

An attractive young piece named Helen (Eleanor Stewart) has suitcase in  hand and is attempting to  hitch a ride. Nobody stops until along comes a speedy sports car, driven by Jimmy Tallant (Frankie Darro) the son of Senator James Tallant (Richard Tucker), who is running for re-election. Helen tells Jimmy she needs to get to the airport in 20 minutes. It’s a matter of life and death. Since the airport is 26 miles away (do the math) that means some laws are going to be broken, and there is going to be trouble.

There is. Climbing aboard what appears to be an American Airline flight, the gracious Helen thanks Jimmy for being such a sucker. Then the plane takes off as the police arrive in pursuit.

Booked at the police station, Jimmy learns he’s going for forfeit his driver’s license. He’s also going to get some unwanted publicity. Standing by is ace reporter Larry Deering (Kane Richmond). His paper gleefully reports the Senator’s son is a criminal. Larry’s employer is working 24/7 to see the senator is not re-elected.

Larry stages further incidents, for instance having it appear Jimmy is driving without a license. As scandal piles on top of engineered scandal, Jimmy takes a powder and hitches a ride to the family vacation home by the lake. Larry drops by the senator’s office to get a line on Jimmy’s whereabouts, meeting the delightful Edith Arlen (Muriel Evans). She lets slip where Jimmy went, and Larry heads that way to look for more dirt.

Edith and the senator figure out what Larry is up to, and Edith takes it on herself to go to the resort and work the situation. In the meantime there is a bank robber on the loose, and Jimmy is accused of helping Helen, who is working with the gang.

Larry arrives at the resort. The caretaker, Martin (Ray Martin) tells Larry the place is closed for the fall (also winter and spring). Martin is typical of Hollywood’s portrayals of black people in those days. He speaks like an illiterate, and is completely subservient, saying “sho ‘nuf ” and “yassuh” sufficiently often to cement his position in society. Ray Martin played the part uncredited, as was often the case.

Surprise, surprise! The bank robbers’ hideout is walking distance from the senator’s resort home. One of the wounded robbers is driving there and encounters Jimmy on the road. Jimmy, ever the fall guy, gives him a lift to the hideout and gets taken hostage.

The robbers raid the resort home and take everybody prisoner. The sheriff arrives. The sheriff departs. The senator arrives. There are multiple turnings over of power as first one faction has the guns, then the other faction has the guns. Finally, thanks to Jimmy and Larry, the bank robbers are defeated, and Larry and Edith make wedding plans.

The cops arrive to put the arm on Jimmy.

Jimmy gets booked as Larry looks on.

A series of embarrassing headlines

Larry makes time with Edith.

Ray Martin welcomes Larry to the resort house, acting  the required part.

Larry has the gun. But not for long.

Now the crooks have the guns, and the senator.

First thing you’re going to notice watching this right after reading this review is the drawn out police chase early on. Jimmy is driving Helen to the airport, doubling the speed limit, laughing at stop signs. First one, then two, then three motorcycle cops fall in behind. And on and on. Yes, we know the cops are trying to catch the elusive Jimmy, but does it take two minutes worth of celluloid to get the notion across?

The gang leader is Tony Scarlotti (John Merton). Yes, he’s Italian because… because, you know, gangsters are Italian. His gang robs a bank. The senator has previously prosecuted bad-as-bad Tony, and Tony has vowed vengeance. And his hideout is just blocks away from the senator’s summer resort. How much coincidence can a plot hold still for?

When evil Helen gets stranded heading for the airport with the stolen bonds in her suitcase, who gives her a ride but the senator’s son?

Yes, it’s a nice story, but the plot is overly contrived, if that’s not being redundant.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

No good reason I never saw this one before. It came out in 1956, during the time I would have seen it at the Palace theater in Granbury, Texas. Anyhow, it’s The Boss, now playing on Amazon Prime Video, a wondrous source of ancient works. The titles list Seltzer Films, Inc. and Window Productions, Inc. as the production companies. Details are from Wikipedia.

We are guaranteed up front this is going to be about crime and corruption in politics, and the plot leads us through the entire process, from beginning to  end. The beginning is 1919, when thousands of soldiers are coming home from the war. In a not very big town there is a parade for returning home boys. Leader of the pack is Captain Matthew Brady (John Payne), seen here manhandling sweet Elsie Reynolds (Doe Avedon), the girl he left behind. Looking on is his school chum, Sergeant Bob Herrick (William Bishop), always a bit envious, and with his own eye out for Elsie. Matt has a huge chip on his shoulder, and that’s going to  drive the entire plot.

Matt’s brother, Tim (Roy Roberts) is a local political kingpin, a big shot, a wheeler-dealer, overseer of local graft. Tim wants Matt to come in with him. Matt is having none of it. Chicago is the big time. He resents having his brother call  the shots. The chip rides high. Immediately after this congenial snapshot Matt and Bob are going at it with fists and elbows.

As a result of the melee in the bar and a raucous evening of drinking, Matt is over an hour late for a date with Elsie. He had planned to propose marriage. The chip on his shoulder rules the encounter, as Elsie says no, and  Matt shoves her. A sure way to terminate a relationship.

Continuing into the evening, Matt encounters a woman, Lorry Reed (Gloria McGhee), in an all-night eatery. He mistakes her for a hooker, and when she explains she is not that kind of girl he will not be denied. He drags her off into the night and forces her to marry him. All this on Matt’s first day back from the war.

The next morning finds Matt married to Lorry for life, when Tim comes barging up to their room. For some reason they are shown sleeping is separate beds. Again Matt rebuffs Tim’s insistence he join him in his local political schemes. Tim leaves and promptly drops dead before he can get out of the building.

Matt takes over where Tim left off. Money comes flowing in. He perceives Lorry is not good enough for him, not pretty enough. Low class. It is a cold marriage at Matt’s insistence. Bob goes away to college and becomes an attorney. He marries Elsie and signs on to Matt’s evil empire. The two school chums are shown enjoying a first and last convivial get-together with their wives in Matt’s palatial home.

Ten Years pass, and the stock market crash of 1929 puts Matt and Bob into financial straits. Matt seeks financial  assistance from a local  mobster named Johnny, and some ruthless criminals become part of their political empire.

It all comes crashing down. One of the mob gets turned by the feds, and the mobsters ambush the agents taking him to a federal lockup. One of the mobsters whips out a tommy gun, turning the local train station into a killing zone. The shit hits the fan.

The mobsters abduct Bob to coerce Matt, but Matt fights back. When the police arrive at the cement plant where the mobsters are meeting, Matt and Johnny have it  out in the upper reaches of the building, and Johnny falls into the gloppitta-gloppitta machine. I just had to put this screen shot in, because it is so required in the standard movie plot.

Bob testifies against his buddy Matt, who gets convicted, and Lorry puts up money for Matt’s bail. But she is leaving him. He’s going to prison anyway, so what’s the use hanging around?

Matt is seen walking himself into  prison. Obviously crime does not pay.

My impression is writer Ben L. Perry decided to redo Citizen Kane, and that was even before I noticed this came out 15 years after. It could have been titled something like The Rise and Fall of Matthew Brady, but this was apparently the day for cryptic titles.

I saw a bunch of John Payne movies, and I always wondered at a he-man movie star who would be John Wayne except for one letter. But, no, that appears to be Payne’s real name. This was toward the end of Payne’s long career, his  last appearance of note being in an episode of Colombo in 1975.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

This was hot when it came out in 1993. Pat Reeder, writing for The North Texas Skeptic, first referenced it in March of that year:

That said, I’m now going to break my own rule and discuss the February 25 edition of Hard Copy…but only because it offered the first ripple of a new, oncoming wave of garbage from Hollywood. On March 12, Paramount Pictures will release a film…nah, make that “a movie”…called Fire In The Sky, based on the “true story” (as the ads trumpet) of…brace yourself…Travis Walton’s UFO abduction!

Hard Copy recounted the timeworn yarn, using lots of special effects-laded footage from the movie to make the story seem all the more “irrefutable.” As usual, Travis appeared on camera to mumble that the whole story was really so painful to relive that he hates to tell it. Well, he must have an amazingly high threshold of pain, because he has told it, for a price, to the National Enquirer, a book publisher, and a number of tabloid TV shows (as I recall, this was the third time I’ve seen him recount it on TV in the past year). And now he’s sold his whopper to Hollywood. To borrow a phrase from Robert Benchley, he has inflicted this story on the public in every conceivable way except dropping it from airplanes. Instead of Fire In The Sky, perhaps the movie should’ve been called Money In The Bank.

Hard Copy’s presentation of Walton’s story was completely one-sided, making no effort whatsoever to recount any of the many gaping holes in it, nor to examine Walton’s many and varied motivations for making it all up. The only effort toward balance was one sentence: “Many people have tried to poke holes in Travis Walton’s story, pointing out, for example, that less than a month after the incident, he sold his story to the national media.” But even that was slanted in his favor. Why not tell the whole truth: that he sold it to the National ENQUIRER?

If you want to read a real investigation of Walton, complete with tons of damning evidence against him, check out Phil Klass’ excellent book, UFOs: The Public Deceived. You certainly won’t get any tough investigations from Hard Copy, and judging from the clips of the upcoming movie, the best that can be expected from it is that the special effects and makeup will be almost as hilarious as the ones in the Communion movie.

I did not watch the movie at that time, but I did look into the background story, and I  penned a letter to the Dallas Times Herald, saying something to the effect that if this movie is supposed to be based on a true story, then we wonder what true story it is based on. I had a VHS at one time, and I recall attempting to watch it. I fell asleep and did not finish it.

But now it’s available on Amazon Prime Video, and I am again in desperate need of a BMotW. You can thank me later for my sacrifice. This was distributed by Paramount Pictures. Details are from Wikipedia. Here’s the story.

Opening scenes show a pickup truck careening wildly down a logging road in  the White Mountains area of Arizona. It’s after sundown, and the truck is dodging trees in the dark, finally bursting forth on a highway and running a box truck off the road. In town the five learn at the local eatery and bar that the kitchen is closed and also that everybody wants to know about the sixth member of their party, which person did not return from the trip. Police Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner) is called in  from out of town to investigate.

The survivors tell their story. It starts with Travis Walton (D. B. Sweeney), who is a wild and carefree soul. He is sweet on the sister of Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), which sister lives with the Rogers family, itself in dire financial and marital  straits.

Mike has a contract to clear undergrowth in a nearby forest, and he is late on completion and in default. On that last and fateful day he pushes his crew to clear an assigned slope. Then they all head back after sundown. Seeing a strange light in the sky they drive to investigate. Travis gets out, against the admonitions of the other five. He wanders toward and beneath the strange object in the sky. Then comes the iconic scene from the movie (and the movie poster). The five flee, and when Mike returns to look for Travis, he is nowhere to be found. The five arrive back in town minus Travis. That’s when the trouble starts.

Big search, days on end, hundreds stomping the woods. No Travis. People in the town are fearful and angry. They take out their frustrations on the five.

Polygraph examinations are ordered. The results are considered inconclusive. Surprise surprise!

Then, after being missing for five days, Travis phones in. He is retrieved from a service station miles away in the dead of night, where he has used a pay phone (remember them?) to  call Mike, collect. He is hospitalized, scrutinized, collectivized, stigmatized. Then there is a big party to celebrate his home coming. He ends up shivering in a corner beneath a table. His tale comes out in a dream-flashback.

Inside an alien craft he recalls experiences right out of 2001, a Space Odyssey.

Alien creatures do unspeakable things to him. Things of which he later speaks.

And that concludes the movie. Years later Mike is divorced and living  in a cabin in the woods. Travis is married to Mike’s cute sister and has babies coming like clockwork. The two  revisit the site of the signature event.

And this movie has no plot.

  • The five return to town.
  • They report what happened to Travis.
  • There’s disbelief.
  • Lieutenant Watters is called in.
  • There’s a big manhunt.
  • The five take polygraph examinations—results inconclusive.
  • Townspeople are suspicious, even contemptuous.
  • There is trouble at the Rogers home.
  • Travis phones home.
  • Travis is returned to the world of the living.
  • Travis recalls his experience in a dream.
  • Mike and Travis wind down the story.

Regarding the true story, the facts comprise very little:

  • Rogers was defaulting on his clearing contract.
  • The contract contained a clause for exemption due to unusual circumstances.
  • Some, myself included, believe the alien abduction story was concocted to supply the unusual circumstance.

As with all movies based on somebody’s story, this movie was greatly jiggered for audience appeal. Travis published his account in a 1976 book:

Chapter One Snowflake, Arizona

November 1975

A group of loggers were hard at work cutting down trees with the aid of their rotary saws, but one such man had been sleeping under one of the trees and didn’t know it was about to be cut down.

“Hey where’s Travis?” Mike Rogers called out and with that the other loggers turned to look around for any signs of him.

“Well he was here earlier on.”  Ken Peterson responded and seemed stunned that he’d somehow disappeared from view, but this worried them.

Tully, Justin. Travis Walton Abduction: 1975 (Kindle Locations 13-21). Imagination1976. Kindle Edition.

The account Travis gave was not very interesting:

Travis woke up inside the UFO and found that he was now without clothing and his surroundings were completely different to how they were the last time he remembered them as being. Panicking he got to his feet and seemed stunned at the place he seemed to be inside, but as he rushed around the corridors inside the craft a strange looking being appeared in front of him. Travis knew enough to hide from view and ducked down as the being went floating past him. Travis then got back to his feet and rushed into another room inside the craft, but after having reached the area he found that he was being watched.

Tully, Justin. Travis Walton Abduction: 1975 (Kindle Locations 208-212). Imagination1976. Kindle Edition.

In addition to Pat Reeder’s initial comment, this movie has come up three additional times in the newsletter of the North Texas skeptics. Follow the links for additional reading:

Other than that, the acting is about on par, the directing  is superb, cinematography is excellent, and the special effects regarding Travis’s experience, by Industrial Light & Magic, are over the top. None of that saves this vapid story.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Has to be Glenn Ford‘s worst movie. It’s The Disappearance of Flight 412 from 1974, made for TV release. Ford is Colonel Pete Moore, in charge of an Air Force detachment dispatched on  a radar test flight. The crew are going to be in for a rough ride. This appeared on NBC, now available for view on Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia.

Here we see Colonel Moore prepping  his men for the mission. He stays behind.

Things shortly go bizarre. The radar operator spots three UFOs in triangle formation, and the Marines scramble two F-4 fighters. Only, the movie shows what is definitely not an F-4. Looks more like an A-4. Subsequent shots of the fighters show F-4s.

Anyhow, the radar test crew observe the F-4s entering a cloud layer and never coming out. They disappear from  radar.

Viewers are treated to an array of interesting equipment to convince them some really high-tech stuff is going on.

After the radar crew reports the incident, something strange happens. Another communication overrides their operational instructions and orders them to land at an abandoned airfield.

There they are taken into custody and interrogated relentlessly. More than interrogated, they are strongly coaxed. They did not observe what they thought they saw. We now know this is the classic U.S. government cover-up of a UFO incident, one that involved the disappearance of two F-4 fighters and the four crew members.

Colonel Moore intervenes and seeks out the abandoned base. He demands the return of his men.

For his intransigence Moore is denied subsequent promotion and retires from  the service. Crew members who go along with the coaxing are promoted. Others get dead end assignments.

It’s a lesson to all of us that the United States government is covering up UFO incidents, and the truth is still out there.

Yeah, pretty bad. This is a sure candidate for BMotW.

Glenn Ford appeared in a number of prime roles, tops of which may have been The Sheepman, which I do not have a copy to review. I have reviewed Experiment in Terror, with Lee Remick and Ross Martin, both putting in first class performances, especially Martin. Also see the review of Trial.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

This is another from The Shadow collection. It’s International Crime, from 1938 and starring Rod La Rocque as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow. This was before I was born, and I’m not sorry I missed it. Significant aspects of the story are way lame. This appears to be a Grand National Picture, although the titles do not mention Grand National. You have to get the production company off the movie poster on Amazon or Wikipedia, where I am getting other technical  details. Screen shots are from Amazon Prime Video.

Here La Rocque reprises his Shadow role from The Shadow Strikes. and Behind the Mask. It’s difficult to take any of the Shadow plots seriously, this one especially.

Here the Shadow is a radio crime commentator. He has a nightly broadcast, during which he recounts numerous incidences of crime while giving out sound advice to citizens in general. Here he speaks while his able assistant works the controls.

In barges cute Phoebe Lane (Astrid Allwyn) with a story about an impending crime. She’s a royal pain, but Cranston  can’t get rid of her, because her uncle owns the newspaper/radio station. She says a complete stranger (had an honest face) told her a specific movie theater will be robbed at 9 p.m.

Cranston alerts the police and rushes over there. Commissioner Weston (Thomas E. Jackson) is not pleased with Cranston’s butting in.

Sure enough. the advice about a robbery was a ruse to siphon police away from the scene of an actual crime. A safe has been blown up as its owner opened it, killing  the wealthy taxpayer. Cranston is there ahead of the police and gets stuck in the slammer as a material witness.

Bonded out, Cranston quizzes Phoebe, who now recalls the person with the holdup tale spoke with an accent. Cranston tries several accents until Phoebe recognizes his phony Austrian accent. They need to look for an Austrian.

But where to look? Why, where Austrians dine. Any Austrian criminal villain is bound to be dining out right now at a fancy Austrian restaurant, so the two put on  their glad rags and make the tour. Until Phoebe spots the man. He is international financier Flotow (Wilhelm von Brincken),  and when Cranston saunters over to Flotow’s table and pretends to be a fellow Austrian, Phoebe chimes in and gives away the scam. Flotow recognizes her from her picture in the newspaper atop her home body column.

More ensues, but the critical mass is that Flotow and associate put the squeeze on Roger Morton (John St. Polis), brother of the murdered man. They force him to write a suicide note and then hand him a gun.

But just then Cranston and the police enter and put an end to the crime spree. We see Cranston and Phoebe doing a follow-up broadcast.

Hokey to the highest degree, of course. Particularly that part about shopping around at Austrian restaurants looking for the stranger who gave Phoebe the bogus crime story.

La Roque began appearing in films about age 15, and had a long and successful career. But this was one of his final roles. Three years later he was Ted Sheldon in Meet John Doe, which starred Gary Cooper. He died in 1969.

Time was about up for Grand National Pictures. That company lasted from 1936 to  1939. We have seen them before.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

A quick testimonial for Amazon Prime Video. This source is a prime trove of those movies you never heard of, and, which if have heard of, you would never want on your personal shelf. This is Sky Racket from 1937, which I feel sure predates anybody reading this. It’s from Victory Pictures Corporation, which went the way of many such studios of that era:

Victory Pictures Corporation was a film production and distribution company that operated from 1935-39. It was owned by Sam Katzman and specialised in making low-budget movies, predominantly Westerns. It made two serials and 30 films, including some of the Western series’ of Bob Steele and Tim McCoy. It also made eight films based on the works of Peter B. Kyne.

The studio plant caught fire in 1937, causing $50,000 worth of damage.

And that about says it all.

The story and screen play are by Basil Dickey, responsible for 147 screen plays. We are all hoping this was not one of his better works. Details from Wikipedia consist of the cast of characters, and the plot gets summarized in two sentences. Here is more. Sketchy, but still more.

High-spirited heiress Marion Bronson (Joan Barclay) is getting married to Count Barksi (Duncan Renaldo). Only she isn’t. It’s one of those marriages. Money is being traded for social standing, and sweet Marion is the pawn being exchanged.  While the groom and wedding guests wait down stairs, Marion decides this not her future, and she shucks off her wedding dress and presses her handmaid, Jenny (Hattie McDaniel), into helping her make a getaway out the upstairs window using the old knotted bed sheet device. If you are watching this right now on Amazon, then you are wondering how the hefty McDaniel is going to  shinny down that rope of bed sheets. Hollywood magic, and possibly a stunt actor, make it possible.

Marion’s rich uncle has the keys to the getaway car, so Marion, over Jenny’s protests, boosts a gardener’s truck, which soon runs out of gas. Marion leaves the hapless Jenny to fend for herself and waits for her uncle and the count to show up in pursuit. Once they arrive, Marion emerges from concealment and hops onto  the back bumper as the car steers toward the local airport to head off the runaway bride.

At the airport Marion hops aboard a mail plane sitting idle on the apron and conceals herself in the front seat.

Oops! Worst airplane to stow away on. The mail plane is part of an operation by the feds to track down gangsters who have been sabotaging mail planes and stealing the loot after they cause the planes to crash. This flight is under the command of Eric Lane – Agent 17, played by “Herman Brix” (actually Bruce Bennett). Well into the flight and well into the scheme to track down the gangsters, Eric discovers the spunky Marion in the front seat. He thinks she’s part of the plot and pulls a gun on her. Then the plane suddenly loses power, caused by a remote device operated by the gang leader.

Anticipating having to bale out, Eric has brought along a parachute—only one parachute. He leaves the wounded plane with Marion clinging closer to him than unmarried couples are supposed to cling. They end up in a tree.

But the crooks have been following all this, and [much drama omitted] they capture the two and take them to a room in the back of a Los Angeles club. Here we are treated to two separate bouts of plot churn, as first one of the gang members recapitulates his medicine show spiel of days past, all for the entertainment of the club audience and for the movie viewer. On another occasion a club entertainer chews up more celluloid with a song and dance number.

Early in their predicament, Eric and Marion develop an unspoken understanding, and the two play a charade that puts Eric as a kidnapper, snagging the heiress for a $50,000 ransom. The crooks don’t know whether to take this for real, and there is much back and forth as they try to decide whether to play along or to just knock the two off and cut their losses. There were no mail bags in the plane. That’s ring leader Benjamin Arnold (Monte Blue) giving Marion the third degree while Eric sits tied up in a chair.

Much more drama is omitted, and final scenes find Marion locked in a closet in the ring leader’s headquarters and Eric coming to the rescue. Marion continues to show her spunk as Eric and ring leader Benjamin Arnold fight it out. Eric wins the fight, and all the crooks get arrested.

There has to be a Hollywood ending. The heiress and the G-man fly off together on a honeymoon.

It’s an interesting story, and I firmly believe that had I been given the script I could have turned this into a reasonable crime thriller. Neither Wikipedia nor IMDb provide any information about production costs and gross receipts, but I’m guessing both were low, even by standards of the 1930s. IMDb does mention this is, “Virtually an exact remake of Tim McCoy’s 1936 western, Ghost Patrol.”

This was not Bennett’s only dip in the pool. His film credits are impressive, with 91 being displayed on Wikipedia, some of which you may have seen:

He lived to be 100.

Barclay found steady work in Hollywood until 1945, when her career faded completely. You have seen this one:

She was in at least one other Falcon movie that I have seen but not reviewed.

This film is interesting in that it gave Hattie McDaniel top billing, along with Bennett and Barclay. Not typical for Hollywood in those days, but keep in mind she plays a handmaid and appears in only three scenes. She went on to earn an Academy Award in Gone with the Wind . Sky Racket was 18 years before Sidney Poitier broke the barrier and played a starring role in a major production.