A Bullet Is Waiting

I’ve spoken of the importance of titles before, and I do like to see a punchy and enticing one used. A Bullet Is Waiting (1954) has a lot going for it: it promises suspense, danger and action, it raises questions in one’s mind and attracts the attention. Is it perhaps more than a little misleading though? In a sense it’s not, as it does allude to a very real fear motivating one of the leads. On the other hand, I know that when I first heard of it I had mental images of a western or a noir-shaded thriller. Yet that’s not really what ends up presented on the screen as it’s essentially a rustic melodrama with action/thriller elements backing up a tale of romance and renewal.

Openings that fling the viewer unapologetically into the very heart of the story can be hugely effective, and that’s what occurs with A Bullet Is Waiting. The first image is of boiling, surging waters, waves driven relentlessly by their own turmoil onto hard and unyielding rocks; this, backed by a characteristically muscular and dominant Dimitri Tiomkin score, signals an affair of heightened passions. As the camera moves around the detached wheel of a plane is visible at the edge of the swirling tide, and the tracking shot back inland reveals more wreckage and debris littering the shore, seguing gradually into footprints gouged frantically in the sand. And then, at the crest of a hillock, two figures loom into view struggling against and pummeling each other in desperation. They are Ed Stone (Rory Calhoun) and Frank Munson (Stephen McNally), fugitive and pursuer respectively, quite literally locked in combat since they are shackled together at this point. Stone gains the upper hand, releases himself and sets off alone. It’s a temporary separation though and these two antagonists are soon to be reunited when they stumble  onto private property. Cally Canham (Jean Simmons) is a young woman who has been living an isolated existence with only her reclusive father (Brian Aherne), and her loyal sheepdog, for company. With her father away for a few days, neither Callie nor the two survivors of the plane wreck particularly want to be holed up together in her cabin. However, a prolonged and dramatic storm leads to flooding that cuts off all possible escape routes, and forces these disparate characters to contemplate those timeless adversaries: retribution or redemption. By the time Callie’s father returns a number of truths will have been laid bare and paths chosen.

Now this is by no means a perfect movie, there are weaknesses which I’ll address later, but it has quite a lot going for it. Director John Farrow starts out with that wonderfully cinematic opening sequence I’ve spoken about and manages to steer a fairly even course throughout, avoiding the trap of letting it get too talky, even when the plot drifts toward some philosophical musing. That philosophy – espoused on screen by Aherne and represented by his withdrawal from a modern world he sees as increasingly dominated by confusion and conflict – is actually dealt with more subtly within the framework of the plot.  Personally, I see it as a variation on the classic redemption theme by focusing on the restorative powers of nature. From the primal power of the storm to Franz Planer’s beautiful photography of the pastoral scenes, and on to the soothing effect of the sheepdog and the lamb on the frayed emotions of the characters, the influence of nature and its ability to effect renewal is never far below the surface.

As I noted though, there are weaknesses here, which ought to be mentioned. Firstly, I see the redemptive strand having  a dual focus, on the characters of both Calhoun and McNally, the need for its application to the latter emerging only gradually. By the end this is seen to have been achieved, but in one case it was never in serious doubt anyway whereas in the other something is lost, in my view at least, by the abruptness with which it occurs. Any picture that embraces the concept of redemption and/or renewal is always welcome with me but I have to say I prefer it when the road which leads there feels a little longer, or when the battle is harder fought; in A Bullet Is Waiting it, and indeed the ending itself, arrives with something approaching alacrity. I’ve talked a lot about both Calhoun and McNally on this site in the past so I’ll simply say that both men turn in typically strong work, with the former’s innate likeability and the latter’s knack for tapping into ambiguity to the fore. Brian Aherne’s presence is felt from early on through his influence on his daughter’s thinking and character but he only makes an appearance in the final third. He brings a lovely sense of quiet authority and civility to his role. I liked him in Hitchcock’s I Confess and I must try to feature some more of his work in due course.

However, the real star of A Bullet Is Waiting is Jean Simmons. She had a good deal of range, her deranged beauty in Angel Face remains a remarkable piece of screen acting and contrasts with the delicate innocence she displays here. Her slow awakening and realization of the possibilities existing outside her cloistered existence is well done; the image of her sitting in her modest bedroom, leafing through her book on ballet, the little toy ballerina turning pirouettes within its own  protective yet restrictive space, as she tries to find some common ground with Calhoun’s roughneck is just impossibly charming.

A Bullet Is Waiting was put out as a manufactured on demand DVD in the US by Sony and it’s also available in a number of European editions. Generally, the image is pleasing with Planer’s Technicolor cinematography looking particularly fine. I see that the movie is categorized as a film noir by both IMDb and Wikipedia but, even as one who tends toward an inclusive interpretation, I don’t feel that it should be applied in this case. All told, despite a somewhat rushed ending, I found this to be an enjoyable and rewarding watch. It’s one I’ll be returning to.

107 thoughts on “A Bullet Is Waiting

  1. Colin
    A noir? No, but it sure does lean that way without actually falling into the genre. Because the cast is so small, we get to see the actors really flex their acting chops. Simmons in particular, as you commented on, really shining. I caught this one back in 2006 and quite enjoyed it. The few weak points in the story are covered up nicely by director Farrow’s always reliable hand. A good pick and a nice write-up.
    Gord

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    • A Bullet is Waiting was a Howard Welsch production, and those include House By The River, with Louis Hayward top-billed and Fritz Lang directing, The Groom Wore Spurs with Ginger Rogers and jack Carson, Montana Belle, Jane Russell, George Brent Andy Devine (extremely effective), and Scott Brady, Rancho Notorious, back to Lang directing, Marlene Dietrich and Arthur Kennedy in the leads. What they all have in common, other than Howard, is that they seemed, in conversation, to be better than they were, and none made a buck, other than Montana Belle, and that only because Howard Hughes hated the film so much, he bought it, holding it off the market for years until he thought Russell’s career could withstand such a big bomb. He was right about that.

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      • To be honest, the box office doesn’t concern me much either way – I’ve seen countless good movies which did poor business initially and as many if not more poor ones which turned big profits. It’s not something which affects my personal enjoyment of film nor do I believe it tells us anything about the artistic merits of a given work.
        I haven’t seen all those mentioned, but I know I liked this picture and I’m also a fan both of the Lang films. I wrote on them in the past:
        Rancho Notorious
        House by the River

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        • Even in a communist country, the commissar in charge is/was responsible for the allocation of funds. No return, a new guy takes his place. Good is subjective, the product of taste and value, but paid admissions are not, they keep the business and the bureaucracy going. I agree about Rancho Notorious, but just my opinion. None of these films were by any definition, successful. that is not a knock Howard, who was a nice, bright guy, but he did not have the good fortune, although clearly, he had something. A modest vision, the gift of gab? Nevertheless, the weight of good intentions coupled with a less than substantial return on investment, create an upset stomach at best.

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  2. Cannot argue with anything you say in your excellent essay and totally agree that Simmons is the best thing about the movie. Interesting to see her work with second string leads,a couple of years later Rory’s pal Guy Madison was her leading man in HILDA CRANE. I found it odd that Madison having appeared in a glossy Fox melodrama would the same year follow it with THE BEAST FROM HOLLOW MOUNTAIN. I guess he went for the money but his days as a Hollywood leading man were numbered. Madison ended up in a whole host of Peplum and Spaghetti Western efforts in Europe most of which were pretty dire, especially the Westerns but he aged very well,he looked great in those films,too bad he never continued his Hollywood career but as I said he went for the money. Even an A.C.Lyles Western would have been a step up from his Spaghetti efforts. HILDA CRANE is not a bad movie and again it’s interesting to see Simmons working with a second string leading man, and as it happens Madison is very good in that film.

    A BULLET IS WAITING is interesting as we get an A List director making what is basically programmer fare-similar to say Raoul Walsh with GUN FURY and Michael Curtiz with THE SCARLET HOUR. A BULLET IS WAITING is certainly not Noir or indeed a Western, although I wish Simmons had made more Westerns she was fine in ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO. There was always a “Hawksian Woman” vibe about Simmons especially in the few Westerns that she made.

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    • I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but I’m rather fond of Hilda Crane, and Jean Simmons is probably one of the main reasons. I like Madison in it too and Jean-Pierre Aumont is OK in a very unsympathetic role. I don’t believe the movie has much of a reputation but I feel it does have its moments.

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  3. I echo comments made above that it is a good ‘pick’ and a very good essay from you, Colin. And I also echo the comments that the film is not a ‘noir’, a term (over) used these days to describe a straight crime drama, and more.
    Calhoun has long been a favourite with me, for his westerns especially, and the more I see of McNally the more respect I have for him. Fine actor. Jean Simmons though really is the stand-out, as she usually was in most of her films, beautiful and sexy. I agree with John about how fine she was in “ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO”. In her earlier (British) career, she again stood out in films like “SO LONG AT THE FAIR” & “CAGE OF GOLD”, both films I like anyway.

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    • I hope you get a chance to check out So Long at the Fair, Gord. The plot is built around a terrific, albeit now familiar, hook and it’s a pleasure from beginning to end.

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  4. From your opening of this review “boiling, surging waters……………backed by Dimitri Tiomkin’s score, I can vividly picture this in mind. Very beautifully composed. Have not seen this and the title and cast are enticing, without doubt. Best regards.

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    • Thanks. Based on the kind of movies you are fond of, I feel you would enjoy this one should you be able to track down a copy. Actually, it ought to be available to view online.

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        • I’m not sure I’d want to label it as such myself, but that’s just my own feeling. What I will say is that the movie does share some thematic links with the western – the renewal/redemption aspect, the importance of nature and landscape to plot and characters, the notion of a rural/wild environment offering a chance for freedom and peace of mind versus a sense of restrictiveness and intolerance, even danger, related to civilization. These are all points which frequently make appearances in classic westerns.

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  5. This weekend I took in…
    1 – CONVICTED WOMAN – 1940 – Glenn Ford – A first time watch – Rochelle Hudson is a young woman who gets sent up river for a crime she did not do. Glenn Ford is a reporter who believes her innocent and tries to help. A more or less standard women in prison film. One gang runs the place .and the usual plot devices are used throughout. A 16 year old Dorothy Malone has a small uncredited role.

    2 – EMMA – 2019 UK A first time watch – Seen 4-5 diff versions of this Jane Austen comedy. Though nice to look at there is nary a laugh or chuckle. Not something I would re-watch

    3 – THE WARPED ONES – 1960 Japan first time watch. Every country went through a era of juvenile delinquent films and this is one of Japan’s best. This one has a kid going after a man and his girl for turning him in to the Police over a theft. He gets out and pours on the violence etc on the couple, particularly the girlfriend. This one moves along at a rocket pace. Strange ending though. Worth seeing in my opinion.

    4 – CRUNCH AND DES – 1955 Episode of the Forrest Tucker and Sandy Kenyon tv series- First watch-Florida based big Marlin fisherman, Tucker and Kenyon get involved with a government test for gear to include on emergency rafts. Needless to say a storm hits and the pair are swept out to sea in a raft. Well they be rescued in time? The series ran for 39 episodes in 1955-56.

    5- A BULLET IS WAITING -1954 Re-watch- Stephen McNally, Rory Calhoun and Jean Simmons.- Nothing new to add as Colin’s current top flight review hits all the marks.

    6 – DANGEROUS ASSIGNMENT – 1952 Tv episode – Brian Donlevy First time watch- First episode of
    the Donlevy series where he plays a government agent out to stop criminal types. Here he is after a group of mobsters smuggling people from Europe into the States. Needless to say more than a few are deep sixed on the trip to the US. Fists and a little gunplay is needed to straighten the problem out.

    Gord

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  6. I have just watched a pretty rare (I believe) Universal-International thriller from 1958, “STEP DOWN TO TERROR”, directed by our old friend from westerns, Harry Keller, and starring Colleen Miller, Charles Drake and Rod Taylor. Anyone else know it/seen it?
    Colleen Miller we know from her key role in “FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER” – here she is very different which , I guess, shows a talented actress. Different maybe but still playing a key role and strong in that role.
    Shades of Hitch’s “SHADOW OF A DOUBT” but none the worse for that. I enjoyed it.

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    • Step Down to Terror is an inferior remake of Shadow of a Doubt. Some of the basic plot lines but the difference and filming is significant. It’s impossible to watch it without bias. Charles Drake does his best, but he isn’t Joseph Cotten.
      No one is called ‘Charlie’ – Colleen Miller is the widow of Drake’s brother. Josephine Hutchinson plays the mother.
      And not so subtle – when Drake arrives at his mother’s house, she asks him if he still gets headaches!
      Rod Taylor turns up pretending to be a journalist. Of course Drake won’t be photographed.
      When I reviewed in back in 2014, I said, “If Hitch had heard about the film at the time, I can imagine the colorful language he would have used,

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  7. Jerry
    I have a copy here somewhere in storage of “STEP DOWN TO TERROR”. I must admit though that I have yet to watch it. I recall Miss Miller from a couple of Tony Curtis films as well. THE PURPLE MASK and THE RAWHIDE YEARS.
    Gord

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  8. I tried and failed to post this above relating to Barry’s Howard Welsch comments but it wasn’t having it so I’ll try again here. So backtracking to Barry’s comments……. Howard Welsch also produced what was arguably Joel McCrea’s worst Western SAN FRANCISCO STORY.
    I’m rather fond of his two earlier Universal, Jon Hall Cinecolor Westerns MICHIGAN KID and THE VIGILANTES RETURN. B Westerns with A production values and Andy Devine was obviously a Welsch favorite.
    I will take MONTANA BELLE over THE OUTLAW any day of the week and would buy a restored Blu Ray in a heartbeat. In an interview with Jane Russell, Jane stated that Howard Hawks never directed a lick of THE OUTLAW it was all Hughes’ work. I never considered that Hawks could make such a ponderous movie. According to Jane, Hughes was doing 40 takes per scene,rather like many of today’s hot shot directors. When Jane and Jack Beutel appeared in other directors film they were in for a shock, working for Hughes they thought that was the industry norm.

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    • I like The Michigan Kid too. So much so, that I got hold of Rex Beach’s original story, and found no similarity other than in the title. In any case, John Ford came to McLaglen’s rescue that same year; Devine didn’t need any help. Hall declined and Rita Johnson, after a confluence of unfortunate events, disappeared for some time.

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    • I believe Jane Russell said that SHE was not directed by Hawks in the course of THE OUTLAW. By then, he was gone, but he had started the film and there are some scenes with the three male leads that he did–Hawks’ hand does initially seem to be on Beutel’s performance while Huston and Mitchell could take care of themselves and probably had to for the rest of shooting.

      I hope there is not much Hawks there because I agree it’s an appalling film, and of any Western Hawks was involved with it’s by far the worst (well, the others are mostly great and even RIO LOBO has something to like about it).
      THE OUTLAW was potentially good–interesting relationships as laid out by great scenarist Jules Furthman–but Hughes is beyond hope as a director. I’ve seen it twice and that’s enough.

      Jane Russell would have liked to be directed by Hawks and was later though I’m in a minority in taking a somewhat negative view of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, maybe the only Hawks classic I feel that way about.

      Where Russell really thrived was under Raoul Walsh’s direction in her career highs of THE TALL MEN and THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER. And in the same period, FOXFIRE (Pevney) and HOT BLOOD (Nick Ray) also showed there had always been a very capable actress of some depth in there waiting for the right opportunities and directors. She just needed to be appreciated.

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        • I had never read that piece you did on THE OUTLAW (before my time here), so read it just now. Yes, that’s the film as I experienced too. I think most agree that Huston and Mitchell did well despite the circumstances but it really didn’t help it and we’d rather see them both in the many terrific movies that both are in over the years.

          The music was really embarrassing. Was Tiomkin enlisted for that (my memory is it folded in some Wagner or something)? Come to think of it, my vague memory suggests for me Tiomkin was somewhat overbearing in his score for A BULLET IS WAITING, at least at the beginning. He has that tendency at times, though I like him overall, and sometimes love him, especially his scores for Hawks (I’m not talking about THE OUTLAW), especially for THE BIG SKY, one of the most beautiful scores ever.

          You didn’t mention Hawks in your piece on THE OUTLAW. The better part of valor given the way the film turned out. It’s certainly interesting that Hughes had earlier produced SCARFACE, one of Hawks’ greatest films, but plainly he left Hawks alone there and Hawks was justly proud of that one.

          Sorry I misspelled Buetel, but was following John Knight, who did the same. In any event, you and John and I all agree about that woeful film. And none of the three of us is that hard on a Western very often.

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          • I didn’t mention Hawks mainly because I was unsure how much he contributed and I’m still not entirely clear – there’s so much conflicting testimony on that point. i would like to think it was minimal as I’ve never seen him produce anything else as shambolic.

            Tiomkin does lay it on at the beginning of A Bullet Is Waiting, you remember that correctly. It points towards something grand and passionate. I’ll grant it’s more than the picture ultimately delivers and the dramatic swoops and strains are perhaps more suggestive of something epic as opposed to the more intimate piece that plays out on the screen. But I like Tiomkin and I’m prepared to cut him a little slack on that.

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          • Just had to let Tiomkin off the hook (not that I really meant to put him on it) for THE OUTLAW. It was the no less great Victor Young, and it was not Wagner that was interpolated but Tchaikovsky and that was pretty ludicrous. But I’m sure we have Hughes to blame for that.

            (just hadn’t taken a moment to check IMDb before).

            Just to be clear. I love Victor Young no end. And I also love Tiomkin, who can be a little too much sometimes, but even then in a fun way most of the time, and who was often inspired and contributed so much to my moviegoing hours.

            I’m pretty ardent about most any composer in classical Hollywood cinema.

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            • Yes, I too have the greatest respect for those composers who were writing scores in the classical era. Their contributions are a significant part of what makes many movies so attractive, yet it’s an aspect all too easily overlooked or at least not as appreciated as it ought to be.

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  9. As a kid I was a huge fan of Rory Calhoun Westerns. They were a notch above everything else of that era. Unhappy that he didn’t make more. Not sure that this movie would fall into that category, but he was good.

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  10. From about 1946 through 1960, Jean Simmons appeared in a number of significant films. However, she made a film in 1958 called “Home Before Dark” that doesn’t get much attention. It’s about a woman named Charlotte Bronn who returns home after having spent a year in a sanitarium recovering from a nervous breakdown. She hopes to put her life back together again but the people who caused her to have the breakdown in the first place are still around. Dan O’Herlihy plays her unfeeling college professor husband, Arnold Bronn, who is not only cold toward Charlotte but has feelings for Charlotte’s stepsister, Joan (Rhonda Fleming). As an added insult, Arnold, Joan, and Charlotte’s stepmother are living off of Charlotte’s inheritance which Arnold now controls since her breakdown. Efrem Zimbalist Jr is a sympathetic visiting professor who is boarding at the Bronn household. Simmons is outstanding and was nominated for the Best Actress award for her complex performance. Dan O’Herlihy is reptilian. “Home Before Dark” was filmed in and around Boston so it was fun to see the downtown Boston shopping area that I used to visit in my youth. “Home Before Dark” is a must for fans of Jean Simmons.

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    • This is a movie I haven’t seen but it is one I have been aware of and that I have heard very good things about. I’ve often meant to seek it out and what you’ve written here has piqued my interest again.

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    • I agree that HOME BEFORE DARK is very absorbing and Jean Simmons is outstanding in that role.

      I’d usually say that of her. In my formative years, she was in so many good movies and it seems I saw most of them, so she was always kind of one of my iconic actresses Given that, I took the opportunity to say so when I had a chance to talk to her briefly after a screening one time–this was of the wonderful ANGEL FACE–and for some reason felt inclined to mention how much I liked THE ACTRESS, which seemed to really please her perhaps because she wished it had fared better or been better regarded then. It was probably in that period (1953) that I started seeing her a lot, beginning with YOUNG BESS, which I saw several times. She really entranced me.

      Liking most of her movies (and that goes for some of her later ones as well–THE HAPPY ENDING, in which she is beautifully directed by her then husband Richard Brooks, is outstanding), I must acknowledge that A BULLET IS WAITING didn’t impress me much, despite the cast and director, but don’t remember it well and can’t say why now. But you made it sound intriguing, especially Simmons’ character, so maybe will give another look sometime.

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      • I haven’t seen everything Simmons was in but I have seen a good many, and I can’t think of many (any really?) where I was disappointed by her work regardless of what was happening around her.

        A Bullet Is Waiting worked for me, but that’s not to say everyone will react as positively. I felt it achieved what it set out to do effectively, although it still think it wraps it all up much too abruptly.

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      • Frank, Blake, all
        “Home Before Dark” is a film that seems to have escaped my hunt for all things Simmons. How did I miss this one? Many thanks for the heads up on the title.
        Gord

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  11. Once was enough for me for “THE OUTLAW”.

    Frank’s chat about “HOME BEFORE DARK” is encouraging me to seek it out soon. Not sure if I have ever seen it but if so, it was long ago so definitely one I want to see.

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  12. About half way up my re-watch pile is 1949’s “The Blue Lagoon” with Miss Simmons and Donald Houston. I manage to work it in every 5-6 years. Great film imo.

    Gord

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  13. Since it came up in a previous thread, I just wanted to mention here that I did manage to watch Picnic on the weekend. I might come back to look at it in greater length at some point but with work and other pressures being what they are, it won’t be soon. With that in mind, I’ll just post a few brief comments here for those who might be interested.

    This was a first viewing for me and I was unsure exactly where it was all headed but it came together rather beautifully as it progressed. The idea of everyone in their own personal race against time is a powerful one and ought to have a universal resonance, and the same can be said for the secondary theme of expectations not living up to the build up, of what is waited for or desired from afar not coming to pass or in some cases not worth the effort of that wait. In essence it’s a bittersweet affair, that slips effortlessly from the ridiculous to the appalling by way of tragedy, with fulfillment as the final destination.

    The characters are all well fashioned and all the stages of life from energy and hunger, through desperation to a kind of contentment are sketched briefly but convincingly. There are some broad brush strokes applied here and there, or at least I felt that to be the case with Arthur O’Connell and Rosalind Russell in particular. Still, it somehow made the plight of Russell all the more affecting. I’ve not always been a fan of the actress but I must admit I think she was never lacking in courage as a performer – this occurred to me before with regard to some of her 40s roles such as The Velvet Touch.

    Cliff Robertson was impressively weak and insecure and contributed well to the overall sense of nobody being quite how others perceive them. But of course the focus is firmly fixed on Holden and Novak and they are both as good as I imagined they would be. The dance sequence is a definite highlight, the music and visuals blending to produce a mesmerizing few minutes of delightful cinema that lift it all to a different level. Fabulous filmmaking.

    So yes, I think I can say I had a good time with Picnic. The Eureka Blu-ray I viewed is a fine disc and the movie is a keeper for me.

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    • It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I think you might like “Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (1960) another William Inge play that was adapted for the screen. Again, family tensions are set against the backdrop of small-town middle-America. Delbert Mann directs Robert Preston, Dorothy McGuire, and Shirley Knight. I found it to be a painful but humane, moving, and ultimately hopeful study of a family under duress.

      A helpful resource for researching films that were adapted from Broadway plays is the IBDB (the Internet Broadway Database). It’s interesting to see who played significant roles in famous plays that were made into films. Some fine stage actors never made it to the movie versions. Maybe the studios felt they lacked photogenic qualities. But more often, I would guess, they wanted bigger names who were available in the film industry.

      The original Broadway cast of “Picnic” included Ralph Meeker as Hal, Paul Newman as Alan, Jancie Rule as Madge, Kim Stanley as Millie, and Eileen Heckert as Rosemary. Arthur O’Connor appeared in both the stage and film versions.

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      • For the sake of clarification, Paul Newman played Cliff Robertson’s part, with Meeker being replaced by Holden, which fame and prior success aside, is not an even match. No one in pictures had as yet to think or act upon Newman’s macho qualities. As for Janice Rule, she never came to replacing or even channeling Kim Novak, nor should she have. An aside unrelated to Picnic, in 1930 Spencer Tracy played the lead in The Last Mile, as did Clark Gable in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and both were signed, Fox and MGM contracts, but when filmed Preston Foster played Killer Mears (1932) and in the 1959 remake, Mickey Rooney. It all depends.

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        • I was making a general statement, Barry, and not suggesting that Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule should have starred in the film version of “Picnic”. However, Eileen Heckert and Kim Stanley would go on to have some significant film roles. Paul Newman played Glenn Griffin in the Broadway version of “The Desperate Hours”. Humphrey Bogart played Griffin in Wyler’s film. Allegedly, after seeing the preview of the movie, Bogart told Wyler, “I think I’m too old to play gangsters”.

          Then there was the famous dust-up when Audrey Hepburn was given the role of Eliza Doolittle in the film version of “My Fair Lady” a role that Julie Andrews owned on Broadway. Rex Harrison didn’t want Hepburn. Most of Hepburn’s singing was dubbed. In a movie that was nominated for 13 Oscars, Hepburn wasn’t nominated.

          Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Bellamy, Theodore Bikel, Henry Fonda, and Pat Hingle lost film roles to, respectively, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Christopher Plummer, Robert Mitchum, and Robert Preston. Jessica Tandy would see her stage characters played by Vivien Leigh and Jean Simmons in the movies. Mary Martin lost roles to Mitzi Gaynor and Julie Andrews. On the other hand, the stage stars of “Tea and Sympathy, Deborah Kerr, John Kerr, and Leif Ericson all reprised their roles in Vincente Minelli’s film.

          Just trading baseball cards!

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          • The only trade-off I have a problem with is Audrey Hepburn, but as wonderful as she was, Julie owns the part. That was just the madness of Jack Warner. As I understand it, Cary Grant was offered by Jack both Henry Higgins and Preston’s part in The Music Man. To his everlasting credit, this great actor, and a clearly good man, turned them down. I love trading cards. Thanks, Frank.

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            • I played Jerry Ryan in Philadelphia — TwoFor the Seesaw, and was that tough, but when I think of Two for the Seesaw, it is about Dana Andrews who replaced Fonda on stage in New York, and I made it a point of honor never to see the film.

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      • Thanks for the tip on The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.
        I’ve watched and very much enjoyed a couple of Delbert Mann movies this year – Middle of the Night was a first time viewing and possibly recommended by yourself (?), and a rewatch of Separate Tables.

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  14. That is really beautifully expressed, Colin.

    Some of the reasons that it has continued to mean something to me are in your words.

    I won’t try to add anything to that because I so like the way you said it.

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  15. A bit off topic here, but does anyone know, THE FLAW 1955? Terence Fisher directs with John Bentley, Donald Houston and Rona Anderson starring. A low budget murder mystery according to IMDB. Just wondering if someone here might have cast their eyes over it at some time.

    Gordon

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    • I have “THE FLAW” in my collection, Gord. John Bentley was a popular leading man of low-budget British ‘B’s, and Rona Anderson was in lots too (she married Gordon Jackson). Not great art of course but enjoyable and always fun to spot the locations plus casts of British character actors. I would recommend a watch.
      A vast number of these films have been shown now on our wonderful Talking Pictures TV channel.

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      • Renown released this some years ago as one of those double features they put out, paired up with Witness in the Dark. I meant to get it and then thought I’d leave it till later, and then it went out of print! Very annoying.

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        • That’s a shame, Colin, because “WITNESS IN THE DARK” is rather good too. Just shows it pays to get these things when you see ’em (we’ve all done the same thing though!).

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          • A number of those Renown titles seem to have gone out of print now. I probably have most that I want and others occasionally show up on the second hand market, but the pricing isn’t always what I’d be prepared to pay.

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  16. It never ceases to amaze me that, after a lifetime of watching all sorts of films, I am still discovering so many little-known gems. Today I watched a 1946 Columbia crime melo that was John Sturges’ second film as director and starring character actor Lloyd Corrigan and a golf ball!! Full of little touches that indicate a director of great talent was on his way.
    Coming up soon, and in similar vein, will be an early Anthony Mann and two early Budd Boetticher films.

    Like

  17. Jerry
    SHADOWED is a well done low renter from Sturges. I saw it back in 2009 and liked it enough to put up a review on IMDB. The daughter is played by a 17 year old Helen Koford before she became Terry Moore. Nice work from both the cast and crew in this one.
    Gord \
    Check your mail

    Like

  18. I know this is an international group, but in America it’s Thanksgiving so just wanted to acknowledge that. It has been an especially challenging year, and that’s true everywhere though nowhere more than America. Yet paradoxically now everything looks better and more hopeful for the future and there is so much to be thankful for after all.

    I started the day with the Miles Davis/Gil Evans PORGY AND BESS, one of the masterpieces of American music. And of course, so many movies would be good to see now, but especially appropriate would be anything by the great Irish-American director John Ford, one of the very greatest of all American artists and one of the most profoundly patriotic as well, at his most optimistic so eloquently expressing themes of renewal and reconciliation.

    So, just off the top of my mind YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, WAGON MASTER, THE LONG GRAY LINE, THE SEARCHERS. But maybe most ideal of all would be THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, well worth mentioning in this most trying year. Best Thanksgiving wishes to all the US visitors who enrich this site with their contributions all year round, and indeed to all visitors wherever in the world you call home.

      Like

    • Of the worthy films that you mention,Blake
      WAGON MASTER is the one that more than any other
      has been a real comfort to me in these horrible times.
      I am fortunate to have the new Warner Archive restored
      Blu Ray and it’s wonderful WAGON MASTER just gets
      better with each viewing-the old commentary is great too,
      so glad I gave it another listen-according to Harry Carey Jr
      Ford made SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON in 28 days!
      WAGON MASTER is an American Masterpiece.

      Liked by 2 people

          • OK. I’ve also included another 37 films that I rated “9” as there could easily be some movement between the two ratings. Many of these films were rated 5, 10, 15 years ago and I was tempted to make some changes but will let the original rating stand. The list is sorted by rating and then by title.

            2001: A Space Odyssey 10 1968 Stanley Kubrick
            8½ 10 1963 Federico Fellini
            Andrey Rublev 10 1966 Andrei Tarkovsky
            Au Hasard Balthazar 10 1966 Robert Bresson
            Bicycle Thieves 10 1948 Vittorio De Sica
            Chimes at Midnight 10 1965 Orson Welles
            Citizen Kane 10 1941 Orson Welles
            Diary of a Country Priest 10 1951 Robert Bresson
            King Kong 10 1933 Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper
            La Dolce Vita 10 1960 Federico Fellini
            Lawrence of Arabia 10 1962 David Lean
            Le trou 10 1960 Jacques Becker
            M 10 1931 Fritz Lang
            Madame de… 10 1953 Max Ophüls
            Mouchette 10 1967 Robert Bresson
            My Darling Clementine 10 1946 John Ford
            On the Waterfront 10 1954 Elia Kazan
            Rome Open City 10 1945 Roberto Rossellini
            Rules of the Game 10 1939 Jean Renoir
            Seven Samurai 10 1954 Akira Kurosawa
            The Man from Laramie 10 1955 Anthony Mann
            The Mirror 10 1975 Andrei Tarkovsky
            The Night of the Hunter 10 1955 Charles Laughton
            The Passion of Joan of Arc 10 1928 Carl Theodor Dreyer
            The Searchers 10 1956 John Ford
            The T.A.M.I. Show 10 1964 Steve Binder
            The Third Man 10 1949 Carol Reed
            The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice 10 1951 Orson Welles
            The Virgin Spring 10 1960 Ingmar Bergman
            Tokyo Story 10 1953 Yasujirô Ozu
            Touch of Evil 10 1958 Orson Welles
            Touchez pas au Grisbi 10 1954 Jacques Becker
            Ugetsu 10 1953 Kenji Mizoguchi
            Vertigo 10 1958 Alfred Hitchcock
            Wagon Master 10 1950 John Ford
            A Man Escaped 9 1956 Robert Bresson
            Battleship Potemkin 9 1925 Sergei M. Eisenstein
            Beauty and the Beast 9 1946 Jean Cocteau, René Clément
            Black Narcissus 9 1947 Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
            Casablanca 9 1942 Michael Curtiz
            Casque d’Or 9 1952 Jacques Becker
            Day of Wrath 9 1943 Carl Theodor Dreyer
            Dr. Strangelove 9 1964 Stanley Kubrick
            L’argent 9 1983 Robert Bresson
            L’avventura 9 1960 Michelangelo Antonioni
            Night and the City 9 1950 Jules Dassin
            North by Northwest 9 1959 Alfred Hitchcock
            Notorious 9 1946 Alfred Hitchcock
            Odd Man Out 9 1947 Carol Reed
            Oliver Twist 9 1948 David Lean
            Ordet 9 1955 Carl Theodor Dreyer
            Paths of Glory 9 1957 Stanley Kubrick
            Pickpocket 9 1959 Robert Bresson
            Raging Bull 9 1980 Martin Scorsese
            Rashômon 9 1950 Akira Kurosawa
            Red Beard 9 1965 Akira Kurosawa
            Shadow of a Doubt 9 1943 Alfred Hitchcock
            Stray Dog 9 1949 Akira Kurosawa
            Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 9 1927 F.W. Murnau
            The Bride of Frankenstein 9 1935 James Whale
            The Godfather 9 1972 Francis Ford Coppola
            The Godfather: Part II 9 1974 Francis Ford Coppola
            The Hunchback of Notre Dame 9 1939 William Dieterle
            The Leopard 9 1963 Luchino Visconti
            The Life of Oharu 9 1952 Kenji Mizoguchi
            The Magnificent Ambersons 9 1942 Orson Welles
            The Seventh Seal 9 1957 Ingmar Bergman
            The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 9 1948 John Huston
            War and Peace 9 1966 Sergey Bondarchuk
            White Heat 9 1949 Raoul Walsh
            Wild Strawberries 9 1957 Ingmar Bergman

            Although I only have one Anthony Mann on this list, the 17 films of his that I’ve rated have an average score of 7.7. By comparison, 19 films by Alfred Hitchcock had an average score of 7.63.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Most interesting. There are a far few there I’ve not seen and some that have moved firmly onto my radar in recent times – I know we’ve spoken of Jacques Becker before.
              I notice there are a good selection of Robert Bresson titles in there.

              Liked by 1 person

  19. Blake
    I echo Colin’s words on wishing best Thanksgiving wishes to you and yours. We do our Thanksgiving holiday in October here in Canada.

    As for John Ford, I have his THE IRON HORSE from 1924 up soon for a watch.

    Gord

    Like

    • I would also like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends we all love to hear from and chat with. I strongly echo Blake’s hopes for renewal and a better time to come.

      Like

  20. This weekend’s films include….

    1- RETURN OF DRACULA 1958 last seen in about 1965
    2- BAT MASTERSON 1958 Episode one of the Gene Barry 1958-61 series First time watch
    3- THE LINCOLN LAWYER – 2011 First time watch
    4- TARGET ZERO 1955 Richard Conte, C. Bronson – Re-watch
    5- OVERLAND TRAIL – 1960 Episode called – MOST DANGEROUS GENTLEMAN with William Bendix – first time watch

    Like

  21. i missed it as well in the cinema. I like the writer, Michael Connelly’s books. Ever seen any of the BOSCH tv series?

    RETURN OF DRACULA 1958 with Francis Lederer scared the poop out of me as a 9 year-old. I slept with a towel wrapped around my neck for months after seeing this. I was sure there was a vampire lurking in the woods near our home.

    Gord

    Like

  22. Thanks Gordon for bringing this thread down to my level
    RETURN OF DRACULA is a model low budgeter
    ($100,000 I believe) and showed that Paul Landres
    could do much with very little.
    It holds up very well today and people have read all sorts
    of things into the film-weird Eastern European is on the loose
    in 50’s middle America.
    Film was Levy Gardner Laven’s foray into the lucrative drive in
    exploitation market.
    Landres’THE VAMPIRE is also very good and Arnold Laven even
    knocked out one of these things himself THE MONSTER THAT
    CHALLENGED THE WORLD but gave himself a larger budget of
    $250,000. Laven’s film did little to revive Tim Holt’s career but he is
    very good in the movie all the same.
    TARGET ZERO which I have mentioned on these pages before is an
    excellent Korean War film with good performances from Richard Conte
    and Peggie Castle and has an interestring early Charles Bronson role.

    Like

  23. John
    Now off your comments i’ll need to hunt up ’THE VAMPIRE. LOL That is one of the great things about this site. Everyone has a suggestion on a film I have never heard of. Great place for info sharing! A nod to Colin for his work here.

    TARGET ZERO used to show late night back in the late 70s all the time. Most likely at the time though I was a couple beers further along than I should have been to recall what was really happening.

    Gord

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Here are the films I’ve watched this week (November 22-28).

    1) “Warpath” (1951) Byron Haskins (see separate comment above).

    2) “Stolen Face” (1952) Macabre melodrama directed by Terence Fisher with Lizabeth Scott & Paul Henreid. While watching it my wife said, “this is like Vertigo”. I enjoyed it.

    3) “Two of a Kind” (1951) was directed by Henry Levin and features Edmund O’Brien, Lizabeth Scott, and Terry Moore. Interesting premise, but the happy ending and Terry Moore ruined this movie for me. In fairness to Ms. Moore, she was given a poorly written part to play.

    4) “The 317th Platoon” (1965). Tip of the hat to Gordon Gates for this one. The WWII historian, Antony Beevor, calls this super low-budget but very realistic film the greatest war movie ever made. The French are being routed and the 317th is trying to get to safety with the enemy seemingly everywhere. The director and cinematographer, Pierre Schoendoerffer and Raoul Coutard, both saw action as photographers in the French Indochina war. The film was shot entirely in Cambodia. Coutard, “was limited to bare-bones essentials: two Éclair Cameflex CM3 35-mm cameras (sometimes handheld, sometimes on a tripod, with night shots lit by a single magnesium flair) a Nagra II reel-to-reel tape recorder, and a generator to recharge batteries.”** I think anyone interested in war films will definitely appreciate “The 317th Patrol”

    5) “Vivre Sa Vie” (1962) Jean-Luc Godard. I liked it better than the other two Godard films that I have seen, “Breathless” and “Contempt”. While I admire “Vivre Sa Vie” on the technical level, this depressing, nihilistic film is not for everyone. Nice camera work by the above mentioned Raoul Coutard.

    ** “100 Great War Movies: The Real History behind the Films” Ronald Niemi

    Like

    • Frank
      Glad you liked “The 317th Platoon”. A hell of a film in more ways than one. Easily one of my top 25 war films. Another French war film along the same lines is “Intimate Enemies” – “L’ennemi Intime” from 2007. This one is set during the equally nasty Algerian war against the French Colonial Government for their independence. I liked this one more than the well known “The Battle of Algiers” from 1965. I have a review up on IMDB for “Intimate Enemies” – “L’ennemi Intime”. War films are a particular favorite of mine, so if you are looking for oddball or unknown titles let me know. I am sure I can help.

      Gord

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Gord. I’ll definitely check out “Intimate Enemies”. I went through your IMDB reviews and picked out a few titles to put on my to-watch list – “1944”, “Land of Mine”, “The Bridge”, “The Winter War”, and “The Star”. I concur that the 2013 version of “Stalingrad” is woeful. Have you seen the 1993 German film “Stalingrad”? If not, I highly recommend it.

        Like

        • Frank

          Yes, I have seen the 93 version of Stalingrad. Good, but personally I think the best film I have seen on the battle is, “Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben” – “Stalingrad: Dogs, Do you want to live Forever” from 1959 It is a German film and is quite good. I have a review up on IMDB

          As for THE WINTER WAR, there are various runtimes so try and get one of the longer versions.

          Gord

          Like

  25. STOLEN FACE is a very good Hammer Film in fact I did
    read Scorsese was considering remaking it at one time.
    There’s only one better early Hammer in my opinion
    CLOUDBURST which I believe still lurks in Colin’s now
    legendary unwatched stack.
    With STOLEN FACE Lizabeth Scott is the whole show and
    she’s excellent.
    While Gordon is on a Francis Lederer scarefest he might like
    to check out TERROR IS A MAN (1959) which can be viewed
    on-line.
    TERROR IS A MAN was the first Filipino Horror Film and the
    first in that genre from the prolific Gerry De Leon.
    I remember seeing it at the cinema (The Odeon Brick Lane
    to be precise) years back and found it really scary at the time.
    At any rate Mr Lederer outlived these roles and was still teaching
    (according to imdb) prior to his passing aged 100.

    Like

    • Terror Is A Man was produced by Kane Lynn for under $100,000. 00. He was the most attractive and brightest guy in this line of work I have ever met, and also a significant war hero during WWII. His most successful film, The Walls of Hell with Jock Mahoney heading the bill. An aside; Greta Thyssen. Wow! Just as attractive and sensual in person as on-screen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad you got to see “CLOUDBURST”,Colin. Rather fine little film.

        I managed to watch “SHAKEDOWN” (1950) today. I say ‘managed’ because it wasn’t a great print – probably a 16mm film put onto video tape some time back. But it is a Universal-International starring Howard Duff and a great cast and a really good film that deserves an official release. Anyone out there know it? (Bet Gord does LOL).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ll say I’m familiar with the title in the sense that it’s one of those I’ve read about. As far as actually seeing it is concerned, well like a lot of U-I movies we’ve spoken of before it continues to elude me.

          Like

        • Jerry
          Yes, I have seen it and have a review for SHAKDOWN up on IMDB .Howard Duff is great as the slime ball in this one. You are right that it deserves a decent release.

          Gord

          Like

        • Yes Jerry, I know it. Matter of fact, I’ve mentioned it before on this site with the focus being on Lawrence Tierney. If one happens to be all things Tierney, one won’t what to miss this one. Rating on IMDb is a very respectable 7.1 much in thanks to the review done by our very own Gordon Gates.

          Like

  26. This weekend’s films included….

    1- RETURN OF DRACULA 1958 Last seen in about 1965 Wow! Had not seen this since
    I was in grade school. There were whole parts of it that rolled out just as they did back in the day. No wonder it scared the hell out of me then. Low budget but very well put together with fine work from cast and crew. Francis Lederer as the vampire is great.

    2- BAT MASTERSON 1958 Episode one of the Gene Barry 1958-61 series First time watch. Bat Masterson, (Gene Barry) get into a scrap with a crooked gambling hall owner (Robert Middleton) and his hired gunmen. He also gets to swap spit with several pretty types, Adele Mara and Jean Willes. Good enough that I will take in the next several episodes.

    3- THE LINCOLN LAWYER – 2011 First time watch. Lawyer Matthew McConaughey gets involved with a less than innocent client who threatens McConaughey’s family. The client, Ryan Phillippe tells the lawyer he will kill his family etc if he is not set free. I am not a McConaughey fan, so I was rather surprised just how entertaining this was. Some nice twists etc keep things moving right along. Cast includes M. Pena, M. Tomei. W.H. Macy and F. Fisher. Worth a look.

    4- TARGET ZERO 1955 Richard Conte, C. Bronson Peggy Castle – Re-watch/ This one has some US soldiers. a UN worker and a British tank caught behind Red Chinese lines after an attack. Then they need to hide out till a UN counter-attack can reach them. Nothing new here, but it does fill the time well enough..

    5- OVERLAND TRAIL – 1960 Episode called – Perilous Passage – This is the 1st episode of the 17 episode run of the 1960 western series. William Bendix plays the owner of a stagecoach line. In this one Bendix and his ace driver, Doug McClure, are hired to drive a special passenger to Denver. The man is Cole Younger of the Younger Brothers outlaw gang. Needless to say nothing is simple with the job. They are set upon by Younger’s gang led by Belle Starr of all people. Then the whole group is attacked by a large group of less than friendly native types on the war-path. This one just get sillier as it goes. Easy to see why it had such a short run.

    Gord

    Like

  27. All
    Coming up on TCM here is the 1980 Rory Calhoun horror, slash comedy, MOTEL HELL. It was part of the program for the last show at the last local drive-in, before it closed for good. Our man Rory was chewing up the scenery from start to finish. LOL It looked like he was having a gas.

    Gord

    Like

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