FEATURES


  

Cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart
Running Time: 92 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Classic screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks. Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, editor of a major Chicago newspaper, who is about to lose his ace reporter and former wife, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), but not without a fight! The crafty editor uses every trick in his fedora to get Hildy to write one last big story, about murderer Earl Williams and the inept Sheriff Hartwell. The comedy snowballs as William's friend, Molly Malloy, the crooked Mayor, and Bruce's mother all get tied up in Walter's web. The incredible combination of Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy in the main roles made this movie one of the all time classic comedies.


  

Cast: Vincent Price, Carolyn Craig, Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal, Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman.
Running Time: 75 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Written and Directed by William Castle. Filled with an infectious sense of mischief, House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price in one of Castle's most beloved concoctions. This creepy ghost story is lots of fun with Price in prime form, alternating between pure ham and quiet subtlety, able to express a macabre notion simply by arching an eyebrow. Co-star Elisha Cook Jr. has only one task here, to look shell-shocked and mutter predictions of doom, and he performs it with twitchy, sweaty aplomb. Castle directs House on Haunted Hill to be spooky rather than frightening, with floating skeletons and flickering candlelight, but a few ghastly images of acid baths and hanged women slide in for the E.C. Comics crowd. Campy and creepy in equal measures, House on Haunted Hill deserves its status as a horror classic.


  

Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Buddy Baer, Dorothy Ford, Shaye Cogan
Running Time: 81 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

One of only two color features made by Abbott and Costello, this fantasy musical of the classic fairy tale tells the tale of Jack (Costello), a professional baby-sitter, with Dink (Abbott) as Jack's agent. After a run-in with a gargantuan cop (Buddy Baer) and a statuesque waitress (Dorothy Ford), Jack and Dink show up at the home of Eloise Larkin (Shaye Cogan), there to look after Eloise's troublesome nephew Donald (David Stollery) while the girl and her boyfriend Arthur Royal (James Alexander) rehearse at their community theatre. While reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to the bratty Donald, Jack falls asleep, and begins dreaming himself, and his cohorts, into the story as the impoverished boy sent out to sell the family cow. While en route to town with his cow, he encounters a shady butcher (Abbott) who bilks him out of his broken-down bovine for the price of a few "magic" beans. In keeping with the traditional tale, Jack plants the beans and from them a magnificent vine grows to reach into the clouds. Along with the butcher, Jack climbs into a fantastic world inhabited by a terrifying giant (Baer) and other magical creatures, including a gold egg-laying hen, a singing harp, and a distressed prince and princess.


  

Cast: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Pamela Blake, Sammy "Sunshine" Morrison, Dave Durand
Running Time: 66 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Kid Dynamite is one of the most thematically complex of all the East Side Kids movies. In addition to the usual rough-house antics and verbal comedy, there are plot lines involving patriotism and a symbolic "sibling" rivalry between Leo Gorcey's and Bobby Jordan's characters, all interwoven very carefully. The key story arc hooks around Gorcey's character slow realization that it's time to outgrow his petty jealousies and rages and worry about bigger concerns, such as fighting World War II. The movie even gives a short refresher course to younger viewers on why the war was so important, and what the Allies were fighting for. Wallace W. Fox's direction is a little more subtle than usual in the East Side Kids films, as he has these various important elements to work with, which also allow him and Leo Gorcey to impart a nasty, more interesting side to the character of Muggs McGinniss. The whole cast of regulars stretch their acting muscles a bit here, in addition to getting a good workout (that is Bobby Jordan in the boxing ring scenes), and the result is one of the more entertaining and enduring movies of the series, and one laced with an interesting nostalgia and honest sentimentality over a subject that's forgotten today -- the interaction between Henry Hall's Mr. Gendig and Margaret Padula's Mrs. Lyons are a reminder that a lot of people who were older adults during the years 1942-45 had to cope with strong memories of the First World War. And, yet, even amid the movie's serious messages and topical focus, Kid Dynamite has more than its share of laughs, most of them provided by Morey Amsterdam, then an up-and-coming comic, who was hired to write special comedy material for the script (most of which ends up being spoken by Huntz Hall). Other highlights (besides the fighting) include a Jitterbug dance contest featuring singer Marion Miller and Mike Riley's Orchestra, run by political candidate Klinkhamer (Vince Barnett, who is very funny throughout the movie); Dudley Dickerson serious performance as Mr. Scruno, the father of Sammy "Sunshine" Morrison's Scruno; Minerva Urecal as a disapproving court judge; and Kay Mavis, soon to be Mrs. Leo Gorcey, in a delightful jitterbug sequence with Gorcey's Muggs McGinniss.


  

Cast: James Best, Ingrid Goude, Baruch Lumet, Ken Curtis, Gordon McLendon
Running Time: 68 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Ken Curtis, former singing cowboy and Gunsmoke's Festus, joined right-wing radio's Gordon McLendon in producing this hilariously bad monster movie about a horde of outsized rodents run amok on an isolated island. The creation of mad scientist Baruch Lumet (father of acclaimed director Sidney Lumet), the monster shrews (portrayed by collies in goofy rubber masks!) escape the lab during a hurricane and devour nearly every other animal on the island before seeking human prey -- including star James Best and girlfriend Ingrid Goude (1957's Miss Universe), who are stranded on the island by the same storm. The survivors manage to escape to safety thanks to some goofy contraptions constructed from trash cans. This one is best remembered by bad-film buffs for its tail-wagging canine stars and a multitude of famous names on both sides of the camera. Curtis and McLendon's companion film The Giant Gila Monster is slightly less ridiculous.


  

Cast: Peter Graves, James Seay, Steve Pendleton, Frank Gerstle, John Frederick
Running Time: 71 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Atomic scientist Doug Martin is missing after his plane crashes while on an investigatory mission after a nuclear test. Showing up at the base later, he is given sodium pentathol after being caught in espionage activities. He is not believed as he relates how he was captured by aliens with eyes that look like ping-pong balls who plan on conquering Earth by using giant animals and insects.


  

Cast: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoja, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart
Running Time: 86 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

By night they leave their graves, crawling, shambling, through empty streets, whimpering, pleading, begging for his blood! Do you dare to imagine what it would be like to be -- the last man on earth -- or the last woman? Alive among the lifeless -- alone among the crawling creatures of evil that make the night hideous with their inhuman craving. Based on the chilling Richard Matheson science fiction Classic "I am Legend" and later remade as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston. This classic features Vincent Price as scientist Robert Morgan in a post apocalyptic nightmare world. The world has been consumed by a ravenous plague that has transformed humanity into a race of bloodthirsty vampires. Only Morgan proves immune, and becomes the solitary vampire slayer.


  

Cast: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Myrtle Vail, Laiola Wendorff, Jack Nicholson
Running Time: 62 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Roger Corman is a man with a Midas touch -- that's the only way to explain Little Shop of Horrors, a 1960 ultra-low budget horror movie/detective film satire that yielded a hit off-Broadway musical and a multi-million-dollar film version more than 20 years later. Jonathan Haze's Seymour Krelboin is a delightful satire of the kind of nebbishy hero that Jerry Lewis was making millions out of playing at the time, and the two cops hunting for the "skid row killer" were a dig at Jack Webb's then-popular police shows and movies, most notably Dragnet. Corman's secret was to play it all -- the comedy, the cop sequences, the sight gags -- even more deadpan than Webb's work, so that the jokes were in the past once people tried to figure out what they had just seen. This was a style of comedy later perfected by the makers of Airplane and Police Squad and its offshoot, The Naked Gun movies, but Little Shop of Horrors is where it started; the ethnic jokes alone are a foot deep, and they slide past so fast that one has to watch the movie more than once just to catch them.


  

Cast: Richard Carlson, King Donovan, Harry Ellerbe, Leo Britt
Running Time: 76 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

As much a mystery film and a manhunt as a sci-fi thriller, "Magnetic Monster" pushed suspense buttons for viewers in 1953 and still holds up a half century later. Richard Carlson (who also co-produced) plays Dr. Jeff Stewart, an agent for the Office of Scientific Investigation. Stewart and his colleague, Dr. Dan Forbes (King Donovan), are called in when unusually strong radioactivity is detected in the Los Angeles area with a seemingly inexplicable case of super-magnetism at an office building. Soon they are on the trail of a rogue research scientist, Dr. Howard Denker (Leonard Mudie), who has created a dangerous and unstable new element called Serranium. Every few hours the Serranium mass grows, adding to itself by absorbing the energy from the atomic structure of any matter around it. The danger lies not only in the immediate destructive power of the Serranium's rapidly increasing energy absorption, but its increasing mass that threatens to unbalance the Earth itself, in its rotation and orbit!


  

Cast: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper, Hugh Wakefield
Running Time: 75 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

The first film version of The Man Who Knew too Much proved to be the international "breakthrough" film for British director Alfred Hitchcock, transforming him from merely a talented domestic filmmaker to a worldwide household name. While vacationing in Switzerland, Britons Leslie Banks and Edna Best befriend jovial Frenchman Pierre Fresnay. Not long afterward, Fresnay is murdered. He whispers a secret in Banks' ear before expiring. This is witnessed by several sinister foreign agents, who kidnap Banks' daughter Nova Pilbeam to keep him from revealing what he knows: That a diplomat will be assassinated during a concert at London's Albert Hall. Unable to turn to the police, Banks desperately attempts to rescue his child himself, still hoping to prevent the assassination. The film's now-famous setpieces include the "Siege of Sidney Street" re-creation and the climactic clash of cymbals at Albert Hall, followed by the crucial scream of Edna Best. German film star Peter Lorre made his English-speaking debut in The Man Who Knew Too Much, though he was still monolingual in 1934 and had to learn his lines phonetically. Written by A. R. Rawlinson, Charles Bennett, D.B. Wyndham Lewis, Emlyn Williams and Edwin Greenwood (an impressive lineup for a 75-minute film!), Man Who Knew Too Much was remade by Hitchcock himself in 1956.

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