OK here’s a weird one for you fans of Film Forno. Charlie Chan At Treasure Island, actually a pretty cool movie, directed by the super genius of genre filmmaking Norman Foster. Foster directed the amazing Mr. Moto films with Peter Lorre, also Zorro Tv show for Disney, episodes of Batman, and was greatly admired by boy genius Orson Welles , who brought him to RKO to work on some projects. Anyway it turns out that this film was a favorite of the infamous Zodiac killer of San Francisco. According to a book on Zodiac by Robert Graysmith, Leigh Allen (Graysmith has pegged him as Zodiac) loved this film as a boy. It takes place in San Francisco, it features a villan named Dr. Zodiac, who answers the phone ” This is Zodiac speaking.”
And Chan says of him” is not ordinary criminal. He is a man of great ego. Criminal egoist find pleasure in laughing at police.” Words that fit the later Zodiac exactly! The Treasure Island in the title was a man made island north of Yerba Buena Island, constructed for the 1939 S.F. World’s Fair.
A lot of the action takes place there. Later it was converted into a naval barracks and base. Leigh Aleen spent time there as a youth as his father was an officer.
But even without the strange Zodiac connection the film is worth checking out. Very atmospheric and featuring Ceasar Romero who would later play the Joker on TV’s Batman, maybe re-uniting with Norman Foster as well.
Watch it for yourself and see courtesy of YouTube.
I just heard from someone that knew Lowell Grant that he sculpted the original Bob’s Big Boy character that stands in front of their restaurants. Crazy! Lowell really got around! Thanks to Hutton Wilkinson for the information.
In these paranoid times of U.S./Soviet conflict take a monment to reflect on this remnant of Cold War fantasy. See what can be done with manipulated stock footage and way out storytelling. I remember a friend of mine telling me he saw this on late nite TV many years ago. I was flabbergasted I had never heard of this insane film and I prided myself on being up on the weirdest, outcasts of Cinema. Well now thatnks to the marvels of YouTube and some intrepid film poster you can see the rare, much sought after INVASION U.S.A.
BTW a strange fact, IUSA features both actresses that played Lois Lane on the George Reeves Superman TV show, Noel Neil and Phyllis Coates!
Thanks to K the mysterious person who sent this to me, we can see a Lowell Grant sculpture in the home of Ozzie and Harriet stalwart, actor Don DeFore. You can jump ahead to 4 minutes 15 seconds in and see the sculpture. DeFore mentions Lowell and his stand at the Farmers Market.
Finally Jean Pierre Melville’s 1958 film Two Men In Manhattan is coming to the USA. It was never released here, I’ve never seen it and I think I’ve seen all of his other films, except an early short 24 Hours in The Life Of A Clown, so I’m looking forward to this one. Melville stars in this film, the only time he put himself in a leading role, another reason to check this out.
He acted in a few other films , most notably he played the novelist interviewed by Jean Seberg at the airport, a great character. I recently watched La Silence de la mer, an interesting early film that I enjoyed, a story of German occupation of a French village. The fatherand daughter refuse to speak to the German officer bivouacked with them even though he is obviously a refined, sensitive person. Not a compelling story for the screen you might say? Maybe in today’s marketplace but it is a very engaging film. All of Melville’s work has a lot of deep thought behind it, nothing is as simple as it may seem on the surface, the interior lives of his characters comes bursting through their polished exteriors at unexpected times. For example when the police marksman in Le Circle Rouge (Yves Montand) suddenly takes his rifle off the tripod and shoots the target freehand or when he insults his former colleague as he lays dying, or when Gian Maria Volonte shoots the two thugs that have the drop on Alain Delon. Melville’s Cinema is dark and deep and worthy of a major retrospective and exhaustive study. Like an abandoned mine, still full of treasures for the curious explorer.
P.S. I just ordered the Blu Ray so I’ll review it soon.
As a lot of you have heard Deanna Durbin has left this plane of existence. I’ve been reading several of her obits and they all put down Christmas Holiday. A great film she made with the brilliant director Robert Siodmak. In the film she plays a prostitute and Gene Kelly a dissolute killer that she falls in love with. I think this was too much for the audiences and the critics of that era. But why do contemporary journalists repeat this wrong headed opinion? Because the movie didn’t make a lot of money when it first came out? The same could be said of Charles Laughton’s Night Of The Hunter, which is now recognized as one of the greatest films of all time. Maybe critics should re-evaluate Christmas Holiday and give Deanna and Siodmak their due. Here is a link to my piece on Christmas Holiday.
Here’s a quick follow up to my posting about The Chase, I just remembered another connection to an infamous serial killer! Peter Lorre’s daughter Catherine was driving along one night back in 1977 when she was pulled over by who she thought were the police, it turns out it was Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi better known as The Hillside Stranglers. When the killers discovered who they had pulled over and who her famous father was, they let her go, afraid a famous victim would put too much heat on the case. Supposedly Angelo and Kenneth saw this picture in Catherine’s purse and recognized her father.
Hey fans of Film Forno I’m back after some technical difficulties. Thanks for standing by. I have since subscribed to Hulu Plus. They have a big selection of films and TV shows, including a lot of the Criterion collection.
Murder by Angel’s Flight!
But the film I’m writing about is not one of those.The Indestructible Man was a staple of WPIX’s Chiller Theater back in the 60’s. It is probably the film that made me fall in love with Los Angeles and want to move there. It features some of the coolest LA locations, Angel’s Flight, streets of downtown LA, the Bradbury building, where a murder is committed. Just a plethora of wonderful settings for this low budget Horrorfest. Lon Chaney, Jr. plays the Butcher, a career criminal who is executed then revived by a Mad Scientist and wants revenge. I mean you couldn’t ask for a better plot to please a 10 year old. Check this one out, it’s delicious even if it’s bad for you like hot dogs and cotton candy.
Here it is, on Youtube no less, the doc I saw at the Rock and Roll Film Festival a couple years back,Nancy And Lee. A glimpse into the life of Nancy Sinatra and her musical guru, Lee Hazelwood, as they put on a show in Vegas with Billy Strange as their conductor. Strange supplied the guitar for Bang, Bang, You Shot Me Down and Theses Boots Are Made For Walkling. He also played on the duet between Nancy and her old man, Francis Something Stupid. Hazelwood wrote Boots and a bunch of other hits, many with guitar man Duane Eddy. He was a Producer’s Producer. But here he’s just part of the act. This is a great peek into American culture and backstage at a big Vegas show circa 1972. A follow up to their album of the same name from 1968. Check it out, it’s pretty cool. Thanks to Ken Adamson for turning me onto this Youtube find. We were at the Rock Film Fest together and saw this film projected at the CineFamily. Tres Groovy!
Here is a real blast from the past, some enterprising soul has uploaded a broadcast of Chiller Theater from the 70’s, I grew up watching this show on WPIX Channel 11 in NYC. This is complete with commercials ! Talk about Time Tripping, And the movie is none other than The Crawling Eye! Starring that fugitive from F Troop, Forrest Tucker, The animated title sequence, featuring long arrows entering the frame brought to mind rumors of Forrest’s physical attributes. Anyway in honor of BLOBFEST, check out The Crawling Eye (originally titled The Trollenberg Terror).
There was a great article in the New York Times this weekend about restoring Penn Staion Manhattan to it’s former glory. The original was razed in 1963, a horrible crime against the people of NYC, driven by greedy real estate interests.
I used to commute through that station and one evening while waiting for a train to arrive, I sat in the depressing waiting room and someone stole my hat from right next to me as I dozed off. I used to watch hookers steal slices of pizza from the little pizzeria in that same subterranean waiting area. Anyway it was an incredible work of Art, all girders and glass with a delicate filigree feel and I’m sure the people of the greater metropolitan NY area would benefit from it being restored. So I started thinking what films feature the station in it’s original state. Off the top of my head I came up with a couple. First Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss, the film opens in Penn Station. And you can watch it in HD on Netflix streaming. Another great movie that used the location, The 10th Victim, the opening of this film is shot outside the recently demolished station, Ursula Andress runs by the rubble.
Ursula in front of another magnificent structure, an interesting contrast, in Rome they preserve the great edifices of the past, in the USA nothing is safe from the wrecking ball of Greed.
I will try to find some more examples of this magnificent structure captured in the celluloid time machine.