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Labor of love
Florence Vidor gets a couple of proposals pf marriage in Doomsday. One is from honest farmer Gary Cooper veteran of the late world war. The other is from Lawrence Grant owner of a wealthy estate, a rich older man who wants a trophy wife Whom do you think she finally ends up with?

Apparently the marriage with Grant doesn't include sex as part of the arrangement. Of course she doesn't realize that when she turns Coop down for a life of material luxury.

Wrapped in puritanism that it is Doomsday does have a strong moral at the end about marrying for love.

The players all perform well in roles they are typecast for.

Though why anyone would name their property Doomsday is beyond me.

South of Algiers

Risking revolution for a turkey
When a film location has to change from Egypt because a fresh revolution going on there to Algeria and Tunisia where revolutionary activities were just getting into high gear against the French you know this has to be one hard luck film.

American novelist Van Heflin looking for material for a new book teams up with archeologist Eric Portman on a desert dig near the ruins of Carthage. The hunt is for a legendary Golden Mask belonging to a Roman conqueror back in the day.

Along for the ride is Portman's daughter Wanda Hendrix, Portman's daughter who Heflin falls for. There are also a couple of crooks along to try and steal this archeological treasure.

This film was Van Heflin's first foray into European film making and it looks like his paycheck cleared. I saw this film over 50 years ago on television and remember being colossally bored with it. It's not come out on DVD or any other media so I can only write this review from distant memory.

Van Heflin risked revolution for this. He's a reliable and competent aqctor, but even he's entitled to a Thanksgiving feast.

In the Heat of the Night: Moseley's Lot
Episode 19, Season 5

Prodigal Son
A version of the Prodigal Son parable is the basis for this episode. Graham Jarvis is an electrical contractor who has two sons and a daughter and is incidentally doing a major rewiring job on the police station.

Carroll O'Connor is attending a dinner where Jarvis is announcing the engagement of his daughter Robin Massey. Brother Ken Page, the good son is there also. Coming late is Justin Lazard who's the bad boy and in some deep debt to some New Orleans bookies.

Jarvis and Page have a major disagreement over whether to help the incorrigible Lazard out. It's a sad tale and it doesn't quite work out the way the biblical parable does.

David Hart has some good moments here and he's usually the good natured deputy who is a bit slow, but always eager to please. He proves not to be so dumb in this episode and that's bad for one of Jarvis's kids.

In the Heat of the Night: Trundel's Will Be Done
Episode 18, Season 5

This episode is a continuation of a story done in a two parter from the previous season. Harriet DeLong pushed hard and got the Sparta police department to investigate a most wealthy and white local citizen for the murder of her sister who was a singer in a New Orleans nightclub owned by this man. He also fathered their son who is now around 10.

The perpetrator died rather spectacularly and now Denise Nicholas is now engaged in a custody battle with Adair Simon the widow for the boy. Despite their millions I would think this a no-brainer for any Family Court Judge.

And I'm not sure why Simon would want a permanent reminder of some really bad vents in her life around her.

Not one of the better episodes of the series.

The Last Command

Memories of old Mother Russia
In that first year of the Oscar which also coincided with the last year of silent films, the acting Oscars were given to one for a body of work in that period. So Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor won for multiple films.

The Last Command was half of Jannings's Oscar. In this he plays a former Russian General of the Romanov blood royal now in Hollywood eking out a living as an extra. When looking for work on a Russian themed picture he's spotted by director William Powell, also a Russian who was a revolutionary at the time.

Flashback to the events of 1917 and Jannings is leading his cousin the Czar's troops on the Eastern front. But revolution is in the air and a troupe of actors that include Evelyn Brent and William Powell are there for entertaining/

This Russian USO type show is a hotbed of Leninism and Powell and Brent are committed to fomenting a little treason in the army. Brent foments a little something else in Jannings and he interests her as well.

Brent gives one of her best screen performances in The Last Command. Her revolutionary passion and other passions come out in equal measure. She's sadly overlooked in the acclaim Jannings got.

One thing left out in the story is Powell's reason for being in Hollywood. His side won but he obviously did not like the worker's paradise created by the Bolsheviks.

The battle scenes both real and on the Hollywood set are well staged by director Josef Von Sternberg. The story is probably way too melodramatic for today's taste yet it holds up for the most part.

And as Jannings American work seems to be mostly lost, it's a good thing The Last Command wasn't.

Wagon Train: The Tiburcio Mendez Story
Episode 26, Season 4

Riding with Murietta
With both stars John McIntire and Robert Horton not in the episode Terry Wilson carries this episode without even the comic relief of Frank McGrath.

Bill Hawks is leading a section of wagons to a destination in southern California, but they have to pass through an area controlled by Nehemiah Persoff who used to ride with the legendary Joaquin Murietta. As history tells us Murietta was a Robin Hood type hero who fought in vain to keep the immigrant pioneers who spilled into California looking for gold, etc.

But Persoff's band is now 20 years in the desert and he's weary. He also wants a better life for daughter Lisa Gaye. However he's got a hotheaded subordinate played by Leonard Nimoy who wants to continue. the fight. Looking over Nimoy's career it's fascinating the number of hotheaded types he played before being the unflappable Mr. Spock.

Persoff strikes the right balance of fierce lion of the desert and a weary man who just wants to live his last years out in peace and some comfort.

Persoff in the end makes a sacrifice for his followers that both Terry Wilson and traveling judge Russell Collins give for a valiant man.

Who Am I?

A whole confluence of issues are dealt with in Who Am I. Josiah David Warren directs and stars in this film about a pastor of a fundamentalist Christian church in San Antonio. Drugs, human trafficking abortion all dealt with and the answers are the fundamentalist ones.

One thing that was curious. One of the characters is a black woman who says she is a 'hermaphrodite' born with the sex organs of both male and female. The correct term for that is intersex, but I wouldn't expect fundamentalist Christians to know that.

As she confesses she mentioned that growing up the only ones who didn't give her a hard time were gay people, A most revealing line.

But she's had surgery in Mexico and now she's ready to join the congregation at Warren's church. t's all a most halfhearted attempt to deal with transgender issues within the parameters of the doctrine.

Good thing for Warren this film hasn't gotten any attention from transgender rights groups.

Nightmare in the Sun

He ran for his life
Nightmare In The Sun is the first of many vanity projects for his wives. This one was for Ursula Andress and why she gets killed a third if the wat into doesn't make for a good spotlight.

But it was also ursula needed. She's the nymphomaniac wife of Arthur O'Connell and she's constantly itching and the older O'Connell can't scratch enough. One of those scratching the most is Sheriff Aldo Ray in this small Arizona community.

Andress picks up Derek who is hitchhiking his way to the Pacific coast. She makes him one irresistible offer and as he's leaving Arthur O'Connell is arriving. He shoots his cheating wife and calls the sheriff. Both Ray and O'Connell who is overwhelmed with guilt decide to throw the blame on the stranger they saw leave.

After that Derek is running for his life and meets all kinds of folks who let him down, each and every adult.

Compared to some of his later projects Nightmare In The Sun was like Citizen Kane. A whole lot of familiar faces make appearances, long enough to collect a paycheck.

In the Heat of the Night: The Landlord
Episode 12, Season 5

The most hated man in the bottoms
Hunter Van Leer plays a most hated man. He's the landlord owning several properties in Sparta's bottoms. We meet him doing a job of eviction and making the usual friends and influencing people. Van Leer has a a more lucrative sideline as a narcotics dealer.

One of his evictions is Chris Lobban's mother who is in a nursing home in a nearby town as Lobban now lives Chief Gillespie.

When the much hated Van Leer is murdered, the more affluent citizens of Sparta figure on a race riot. The blue line of the Sparta police find the real culprits with the cooperation of at least one 'public minded' citizen of the bottoms.

Slums. Everyone agrees it's a problem, but no one knows what to do.

In the Heat of the Night: The Littlest Victim
Episode 11, Season 5

Suffer the babes
An old friend of Hugh O'Connr's has taken up with some bad company. Instead of an upstanding Sparta policeman, Denise Miller is nw hanging out with a pair of bikers who are rightly suspected of a convenience store robbery.

The one who is suffering is the infant that Miller bore and as a single parent and who is not being taken care of. One of AnneMarie Johnson's students Jason Presson is Miller's younger brother and he's the only one stepping up to the plate.

A sad episode about how the ones who truly suffer are the most innocent.

In the Heat of the Night: An Eye for an Eye
Episode 10, Season 5

Not your ordinary motive
Claude Akins guest stars on this episode as a man who wants some vengeance on District Attorney Darnelle. Akins breaks in the Darnelle home and kidnaps Wilbur Fitzgerald and Katherine Cannon's teenage daughter.

Akins's motives are not the usual ones for a kidnapping. But when the Sparta police discover who they discover why.

This episode also features a jurisdictional dispute with the FBI who Fitzgerald wants running the show. Of course Carroll O'Connor has different ideas and they are the right ones. As they would be on his show.

A very good climax between Fitzgerald, Akins, Alan Autry and Hugh O'Connor is featured. Akins is unforgettable as a man with what he thinks is a righteous grudge..

In the Heat of the Night: Sparta Gold
Episode 9, Season 5

You can't escape the job
While Bubba and a woman he's dating are enjoying a picnic in the country and outside of Sparta city limits someone fires a shot at him. This very nervous individual was trying to keep him away from a lovely field of poppies that can be used for manufacturing all kinds of narcotics.

Strictly speaking this ain't Sparta jurisdiction. But you're not going to shoot at Alan Autry and get away with it.

There's a good reason the bad guys have been getting away with it and for that you watch the episode. But law enforcement ends up quite embarrassed.

Passion and Paradise

Not with my daughter
The Murder Of Sir Harry Oakes is still a subject of speculation even today, especially in the Bahamas . This American born, Canadian citizen and knight of the British Empire is well played by Rod Steiger.

The natural beauty of the Bahamas is what attracted Oakes to settle here and make this a home away from the world's travails. In 1943 the world certainly had a lot of travails and the World War raging on affects all on the Bahamas. But in the upper crust where Oakes hangs out, they carry on like the war was a million miles away. Funny no mention of German U-Boat activity is made at any point in the film.

The Bahamas is where Winston Churchill's government put the former king and now Duke of Windsor as Governor-General. There was always a fear the Germans would grab him and if they invaded the British Isles they would restore him as king. Putting him in the Bahamas a short hop from Florida would releve the British and give the Americans the worry for his safety and person. The Duke is played by Andrew Ray and the woman he loved Wallis Warfield Simpson is played by Linda Griffiths. They're played just about like the society twits they were.

Into this island paradise comes Armand Assante, a man with an old title, but little old money to go with it. He makes a living in New York as an escort for hire among the the creme de la creme of society. A titled gigolo. Assante has bought a plantation next to the Oakes estate and Steiger befriends him

Until he starts courting Catherine Mary Stewart, Steiger's daughter. Both Steiger and wife Mariette Hartley oppose him, but Assante marries Stewart anyway.

Two other elements of this story are the burgeoning independence movement among the natives who are the descendants of runaway slaves from the USA. The second is the mob who want to turn the Bahamas into another gambling paradise like Cuba. hey send Michael Sarrazin to work things out but peacefully.

All these elements are part of the story which comes to a head when Steiger is murdered and Assante arrested. It would be convenient for the powers that be to have Assante convicted.

Passion And Paradise is exceptionally well cast and photographed beautifully. My favorite however was the American detective hired by Stewart Wayne Rogers. Right out of Raymond Chandler.

The Duke Of Windsor was rightly pilloried for botching the investigation when he took advantage of the closeness and called in the Miami police. They did more than botch and it all eflected bad on the Windsors.

See if you can come up with your own solution to this case.

The Virginian: A Time of Terror
Episode 19, Season 8

A common story in the real west.
This episode has John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan hosting Judge Joseph Cotten and wife Virginia Gregg at Shiloh. Cotten's on the campaign trail looking to be Wyoming Territory's non-voting congressional representative.

But after Cotten leaves the Thurman siblings consisting of Pamela Murphy and her brothers Shelley Novack and Philip Alford take McIntire and Nolan hostage. The hands are away on a cattle drive and only Tim Matheson is around.

The one to watch here is Philip Alford who back when is best known for being one of the Finch children in To Kill A Mockingbird. As the younger Thurman brother he's taken the loss of both parents very hard and is likely to go off any moment.

The mission these kids have is to get Cotten to confess he was bribed to render a decision involving the Thurman ranch and a railroad coming through. A common story in the west in real life, settlers of all kinds, farmers and ranchers against the railroad.

Good episode and Alford is something to see.


Noir on ice
Just the title alone should tell you that you won't see anything like a Sonja Henie movie. Great Britain's answer to Henie, Belita stars in this noir thriller about the star skater caught between two men.

Peanut vendor Barry Sullivan has some ideas that catch the attention of ice show owner Albert Dekker and he promotes him to the show management. Sullivan also gets ideas about Belita as he rises the ladder of success.

For a Monogram Picture this one looks like a few bucks were spent on it. The ice sequences match anything in a Sonja Henie movie.

Bonita Granville has a real adult role and acts real adult. The juvenile tattletale in These Three and the screen's Nancy Drew, Granville plays the scorned other woman in Sullivan's life and does well.

Suspense was Eugene Pallette's farewell performance. Mr. Pallette retired after this film and went to live in the wild country in Oregon's more rural area. He was a man of strong rightwing convictions and was sure that we could expect atomic war from the Russians. I wonder if when he died in 1954 he was disappointed.

For a Monogram film this noir is not a bad one with an unusual setting.

The Young Riders: Unfinished Business
Episode 16, Season 1

Some unexpected company
Melissa Leo gets some unexpected company in the person of Cliff DeYoung who is the husband that everyone thought was dead. Especially Brett Cullen the marshal whom Leo has been keeping company with.

This guy did something really bad to Leo when he deserted her and no one thinks him capable of changing his stripes, least of all me. Still where this woman is concerned the heart has its reasons.

Especially since from the beginning we see him hanging out with lowlifes and participating in their law breaking.

Because of that, no real suspense here. Still Leo and Deyoung share some good scenes.

The Young Riders: Lady for a Night
Episode 15, Season 1

More is revealed about Lou
On one of her Pony Express rides Yvonne Suhor buys a dress to see how she might look in feminine attire. She captures the interest of insurance salesman Roger Rees who has no idea that on the job she passes for male.

Another person Melissa Leo finds the dress and Suhor's secret is revealed. Finally someone to have girl talk with.

Rees is looking for her and Suhor thinks he's captivated by her. Maybe somewhat, But Rees has a not so nice agenda in mind.

This episode of the Young Riders is for the women.

Rawhide: Incident of the Wild Deuces
Episode 12, Season 6

Seven card stud, deuces wikd
James Murdock takes center stage in this Rawhide episode as Mushy the cook's louse who everyone dismisses and doesn't take seriously has an incredible lucky streak at poker. He wins $1500.00 from saloon owner Barbara Stuart. Murdock feels like the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

Of course folks who become instantly wealthy earn all kinds of friends who want to help him spend the money. And Barbara Stuart ants some working capital back in her gambling palace.

Murdock as Mushy is always a bit sad and forlorn, never more so than in this story.

Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost

Spirits in the house
In this Mexican Spitfire movie we have Buddy Rogers taking the place of Donald Woods as the husband of Lupe Velez. Repeating are Leon Errol as he indulgent uncle and Elizabeth Risdon as the exasperated harriden aunt.

Other than a change in setting all the Mexican Spitfire films are alike. Lupe with her malaprops helping Errol pull off playing Uncle Matt, Uncle Matt disguised as Lord Epping and Lord Epping the rich but daft titled Englishman. They do move at a furious pace.

The action here takes place at Lord Epping's American estate all closed and boarded up and unoccupied they think. Some crooks are using it as a hideout Rogers is trying to get businessman Donald MacBride's account. Errol frantically with Lupe's help makes several changes from Epping to Matt and back.

The new element here is MacBride possessor off one of the two best slow burn comedy routines around, the other belonging to Edgar Kennedy. He's the funniest one in this comedy.

Otherwise it's Mexican Spitfire business as usual.

Frontier Circus: The Race
Episode 24, Season 1

A spirited race
This Frontier Circus episode has the T&T circus having a conflicting date with Edward Andrews who fancies himself a 'Duke' with show of both speedy and trained horses. he's got some good riders too, led by Skip Homeier.

Homeier is one arrogant Cossack whom you want to punch out on general principle. John Derek and Richard Jaeckel want to do that very badly, but when the circus riders are challenged to a race, it's first things first.

If you think you know how this episode will come out, I guarantee you will be wrong.

In the Heat of the Night: Sweet, Sweet Blues
Episode 8, Season 5

Learnin' The Blues
Legendary piano bar singer Bobby Short guest stars in this episode and his favorite number is a story about a real crime which Geoffrey Thorne pays close attention to. He ought to pay it mind because it's the story of how the grandfather of Wilson Sweet was the victim of a bias killing. Some of the local rednecks in 1948 Mississippi did not think it right that a black man ought to be driving a brand new off the lot Packard. The song and story go was that grandfather Sweet made several good passes in a crap game and won the money to pay for it.

A couple of those good old boys are still around and justice may be late, but it does arrive sort of.

This episode was Geoffrey Thorne's big moment in this series and there's a nice guest star turn from James Best as a long retired sheriff's deputy.

In the Heat of the Night: The More Things Change
Episode 7, Season 5

Murder capital of the dee[ south
The more I see of In The Heat Of The Night, the ,ore I' convinced that like Cabot Cove, Maine in New England, sleepy Sparta, Mississippi is the murder capital of the Deep South. At least Sparta has a bigger police force than Cabot Cove does.

In this case Merl Hatfield who fathered a mixed racial daughter in Kim Hawthorne has a confrontation with her he's murdered.

The story gives us only 3 possible suspects, Hawthorne, wife Marj Dusay and business partner Ben Murphy. It becomes real obvious who did the deed early on.

Still some nice guest performances especially from Dusay who is the cream of Sparta society and makes sure all know it.

Frontier Circus: The Clan MacDuff
Episode 23, Season 1

A not so bonnie episode
The T&T Circus gets a visit from James Barton and his clan. As the head of the Clan MacDuff, American branch he's kept up all the fine traditions of Scotland including a feud with people named McNeil and picking out husbands for his beautiful daughters/

Barton has earmaked John Derek and Richard Jaeckel as likely candidates for two of his six daughters and he will not be swayed.

This was James Barton's farewell performance and he's giving one lovable scene stealing performance. But the episode tends to the silly side.

Penrod and Sam

Penrod gets his man
The first of a series of films from Warner Brothers B picture unit based on Booth Tarkington's Penrod stories is this item with Billy Mauch, Penrod and Sam. Playing Penrod's parents are Frank Craven and Spring Byington.

Mauch's gang are all tried and true members of the junior G-men club and they put aside all their usual kid rivalries when publc enemy Craig Reynolds comes to town, robs the bank and in the process kills young Philip Hurlic's mom.

Sadly young Hurlic's performance conforms to all the racial stereotyping. But it's still a poignant especially after his mother is killed.

As for the climax Reynolds better hope he gets the chair. All the ribbing he'll take about those junior G-men.

Penrod's Double Trouble

2 Penrods for one
The Mauch twins after making their debut in The Prince And The Pauper had a brief run of popularity. But there's only so much you can do with a twin brother act other than save money on special effects.

They got into a few B films at Warner Brothers based on Booth Tarkington's Penrod books. Billy Mauch plays Penrod Schofield who goes up in a hot air balloon and drifts off to parts unknown. When he's reported missing parents Gene and Kathleen Lockhart offer a big reward.

Which a couple of conmen Hugh O'Connell and Dick Purcell decide to cash in passing off Bobby Mauch an orphan who looks just like Penrod,

I'm sure you see more than a small resemblance to the plot of Mark Twain's The Prince And The Pauper in this film. There's no Errol Flynn to aid and assist so the Mauch twins are left to their own devices. Fortunately Penrod has a gang and a dog that are most helpful.

Nice film from Warner Brothers B picture unit.

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