26 May 2006 | mk4
Best footage of long lost Ocean Park "High Boy" coaster.
Growing up in L.A. always meant a fun trip to Pacific Ocean Park near Venice and riding the "Sea Serpent" roller coaster--and taking a whirl on the "Laff In The Dark" dark ride (while getting creeped-out by the caged "Laffing Sal" in her polka dotted dress who cackled at you from behind bars). "Man In The Dark" takes us back to 1953, and a pre-POP era, when amusement parks were generally seedy and frightening, especially Ocean Park as it was known then (POP came about after Disneyland was built in 1955, and gussied-up by CBS who had purchased it and turned it into a family-oriented theme park-by-the-sea). The "Sea Serpent"--which was "modified for family riding" by CBS in 1957-58 for the new POP, was originally known as the "High Boy"... a John Miller out-and-back masterpiece built circa 1927. This ride was a true thriller...and can be seen to full advantage in this rarely screened noir drama. Laffing Sal was there too, perched above a fun house back then, and she steals the show in many scenes shot to take full advantage of the 3-D process. Since I had experienced both parks back in the '50's through its last season in 1968 before it was torn down, I really wanted to see this movie. I wasn't disappointed. Although not up to the standards of "D.O.A." by a longshot, the movie holds one's interest from the get-go, further capturing the sleeziness old L.A. of the '50's as a place you didn't want to go to if you were trying to stay out of trouble...or if you were on the lam. Edmond O'Brien holds is own, but the other characters do seem a trifle cartoonish to be truly believable. Audrey Totter comes off a little too harsh (even for her) to be considered an attractive prize. The interior shots come off as being filmed a little too flat, but once the film goes on location to the run-down areas around Ocean Park (a real slum at the time), and the park itself, the noir experience kicks-in...Big Time! You can't really call this film a "B-Noir Classic" because its almost impossible to find today...not in the league of "Gun Crazy" (shot at Ocean Park too!) or "D.O.A" or a host of others... but Google it...and you'll find it! Then judge it for yourself.