Shame on You, Part 1

Donnell Cooley was born in Oklahoma on December 17, 1910 to Emma and John Cooley. The family was dirt poor and by 1920 they had moved to Oregon in pursuit of a better life.  John worked in a saw mill so the family still lived from hand-to-mouth. They were fortunate in one way, John had inherited his family’s musical abilities and was a decent fiddle player.  He passed  along his passion and talent to his son, in fact by the time he was 8-years-old Donnell was performing professionally with his father at local square dances.

Spade Cooley

Spade Cooley

Following in the footsteps of many musicians before him, Donnell moved to Los Angeles in 1930. He worked as an actor–he was Roy Rogers’ stand-in; and toured as a singer with the Riders of the Purple Sage. He also picked up the nickname Spade, thanks to his prowess as a poker player. He may not have known it them but, lucky in poker, unlucky in love.

In 1942 Spade took over as the leader of Jimmy Wakely’s group, the house band at the Venice Pier Ballroom. The band was large and often had multiple singers, one of whom was Tex Williams. The band was extremely popular and pulled in huge crowds every weekend. When Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys moved West, Cooley found himself with some serious competition. He’d had a disagreement with the Ballroom’s promoter, Burt “Foreman” Phillips, and was fired. Prior to his departure from the Ballroom, Cooley demanded a ‘Battle of the Bands’ to be held over two weekends. Never known to be shy or retiring Spade announced,  in advance of the battle, that he was the winner. Then he coined the term the ‘King of Western Swing.’ It would be used ever after to describe both Cooley and the musical style.bob wills

He was still married to his first wife, Anne when, in 1942, he met Ella Mae Evans. Bobby Bennett, Spade’s band manager, declared that “She had no voice,” but Cooley was smitten with the petite blonde, who was 13 years his junior, and hired her anyway. The pair married in November 1945, just a couple of months following his divorce from Anne.

Over the next couple of years Spade became even a bigger star. He’d had a hit with “Shame on You” in 1945 and six more chart toppers followed in succession.

Ella Mae’s singing career ended when she became pregnant. She gave birth to their first child, Melody, in 1946.

Spade & Ella Mae

Spade & Ella Mae

Wearing a cowboy hat instead of a crown, Spade took the appellation of King seriously and he ruled Ella Mae with a iron first. Not long after the marriage, and shortly before Melody’s birth, Ella Mae found her husband with another woman in their home. She packed her bags and told him he could find her at her sister’s. Spade told her that if she ever left him he would find her and kill her. Ella Mae believed him and stayed.

Spade had always had a bad temper. He’d run through musicians and singers by the dozen and those he didn’t fire often left of their own accord because they couldn’t deal with the boss. Spade was a heavy drinker; but drunk or sober he was capable of throwing a world class tantrum. Could he kill?

NEXT TIME: Spade’s career peaks and his marriage hits bottom.

Film Noir Friday: Eyes in the Night [1942]

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Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is EYES IN THE NIGHT [1942], directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Edward Arnold, Ann Harding, Donna Reed and Friday (the dog–who plays himself and steals the show).

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

New York detective Duncan Maclain refuses to allow blindness to interfere with his work, which is aided by his faithful dog Friday, his butler, Alistair, and his assistant, Marty. One day, actress Norma Lawry, an old friend, visits Mac and asks him to help her prevent her stepdaughter Barbara from doing something foolish with actor Paul Gerente. Paul, a cad who had once been Norma’s lover, has convinced Barbara that Norma only married her father Stephen for his money. Mac tells Norma that she doesn’t need a “gumshoe” and suggests that she talk to Paul herself. Paul refuses to listen to Norma’s pleas and insists that he loves Barbara, who is appearing in a local theatrical production with him, even though she is only seventeen. That night, Stephen has to go away on a business trip to test a secret formula on which he has been working for the government. Because Norma is worried about Barbara, she decides not to accompany him and goes to Paul’s apartment. When Barbara arrives, she finds Paul’s dead body and thinks that Norma has killed him, even though Norma insists that he was dead when she arrived.

Film Noir Friday: Saboteur [1942]

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Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is SABOTEUR [1942], directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Norman Lloyd and Otto Kruger. This is a fantastic WWII era thriller by the master of suspense.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Munitions worker Barry Kane is falsely accused of setting fire to the Stuarts Aircraft Factory in Los Angeles, a fire that caused the death of his best friend, Ken Mason. Barry realizes that the real saboteur is Frank Fry, the man who handed him a fire extinguisher, which turned out to be full of gasoline. Remembering that Fry had an envelope addressed to him from the Deep Springs Ranch in Springfield, California, Barry goes there to find the killer, but the ranch’s owner, Charles Tobin, tells him that he does not know Fry. Tobin’s granddaughter, however, hands Barry a telegram addressed to Tobin from Fry stating that Fry is going to Soda City. Although Tobin has Barry arrested, Barry manages to escape from the police by jumping off a bridge.

http://youtu.be/NiD11N9dWJY

Film Noir Sunday Matinee: Alias Boston Blackie [1942] & After Midnight With Boston Blackie [1943]

I’ve been crazy busy the last couple of weeks so I slept right through Film Noir Friday! But the projector is back up and running, the popcorn machine is heating up and the sodas are chilled.

Put your feet up and get ready to enjoy a double feature.

Since it’s Sunday I thought it would be nice to offer a light weight film selection. So find a seat and join me in the Deranged L.A. Crimes screening room for a couple of WWII era BOSTON BLACKIE films starring Chester Morris.

Our first feature is ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE.

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TCM says:

Prompted by the sentiment of Christmas, reformed safecracker Boston Blackie persuades the cast of a musical comedy company to help him entertain the inmates at his “alma mater,” the state prison. The stars of the troupe are Roggi McKay, the famous clown, and a young dancer, Eve Sands, whose brother, Joe Trilby, is an inmate at the institution. Eve is anxious to see her brother, who was jailed on false evidence and who now he seeks revenge on Duke Banton and cab driver Steve Caveroni, the two men who framed him.

http://youtu.be/c5AgY4mTLro?list=PL5TUHC5E_gjcmy08vKChSLRyVDzwHfiWs

TIME FOR INTERMISSION!  YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS–LET’S ALL GO TO THE LOBBY!

Now for our second BOSTON BLACKIE feature, AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH BOSTON BLACKIE.

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When Diamond Ed Barnaby is paroled from prison after serving a sentence for stealing diamonds, his fellow gang members, Joe Herschel, Sammy Walsh and Marty Beck, spring into action to reclaim the jewels. Anticipating trouble from Herschel and his gang, Diamond Ed tells his daughter Betty that he must leave town but will meet her at the Arcade Building on Friday. After retrieving the gems, Diamond Ed locks them in a safe deposit box at the Arcade Building, intending to give them to Betty. Several days later, a porter with a telegram for reformed jewel thief Boston Blackie pages him on a train. Inspector Farraday, Blackie’s nemesis, who is also a passenger on the train, identifies himself as Blackie and accepts the telegram.

Film Noir Friday: Kid Glove Killer [1942]

kid_glove_killer

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is the KID GLOVE KILLER starring Van Heflin, Marsha Hunt, Lee Bowman and Samuel S. Hinds.

Enjoy the film!

TCM Says:

With the help of Gerald I. Ladimer, a slick young attorney, Mayor Daniels and Turnley, the district attorney are elected on a reform ticket to smash the rackets that have been dominating their city. Unknown to the new mayor and district attorney, Jerry is in league with underworld boss Matty, who has promised to back him for the United States Senate in return for political favors. When Jerry realizes that the district attorney is serious about instituting reform, he notifies Matty and soon after, the district attorney is found murdered.

 

Film Noir Friday: This Gun For Hire [1942]

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The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Visit our snack bar for a fizzy beverage, a big bag of popcorn and a candy bar.

Tonight’s feature is This Gun for Hire, a 1942 film noir, directed by Frank Tuttle and based on the novel A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene. The film stars Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, and Alan Ladd.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anIc0WfIm4o&feature=share&list=PLEF00711AD0520D86