Film Noir Friday: Spellbound [1945]

SPELLBOUND

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. Today’s feature is SPELLBOUND starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

When Dr. Anthony Edwardes, the distinguished psychologist who is to take over as head of Green Manors mental hospital, arrives at the countryside facility, his colleagues, including the outgoing head, Dr. Murchison, are surprised to see how young he is. That evening, Dr. Constance Peterson, the hospital’s only female psychologist, meets Dr. Edwardes at dinner and is immediately attracted to him. At the doctors’ table, Constance, who has been accused by her amorous colleague, Dr. Fleurot, of being cool and detached, talks animatedly about her idea for a woodside swimming pool and starts to draw her proposed design on the tablecloth with the sharp edge of her knife. Dr. Edwardes responds to the curved lines with a sudden burst of anger, baffling his peers.

Film Noir Friday: Apology for Murder [1945]

apologyformurder

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 APOLOGY FOR MURDER starring Ann Savage, Hugh Beaumont, Russell Hicks and Charles D. Brown.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Reporter Kenny Blake (Hugh Beaumont) falls in love with scheming Toni Kirkland (Ann Savage) not knowing that she is married to a man years older than she. By the time he finds out, he is so under her spell that he murders her husband which is what Toni had planned all along. City editor McKee (Charles D. Brown), Kenny’s boss and best friend, begins to pursue the tangled threads of the crime relentlessly and gradually closes the net on Kenny. The latter is mortally wounded by Toni, who has deserted him for another man.

Film Noir Friday: Fallen Angel [1945]

fallen-angel-vintage-film-poster-1945

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 FALLEN ANGEL starring Alice Faye, Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell–produced and directed by Otto Preminger.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

One night, drifter Eric Stanton is forced to disembark a San Francisco-bound bus because he has not paid the full fare. Eric is let off in the small town of Walton, and when he goes to Pop’s, a local diner, he finds Pop distraught over the disappearance of his beautiful waitress Stella. Retired police detective Mark Judd assures Pop that Stella will return, and soon she does appear, much to Pop’s relief. Eric then leaves and, after seeing a poster for a show by “psychic” Professor Madley, convinces Madley’s assistant, Joe Ellis, that he is friends with the professor. Ellis confides that ticket sales have been slow due to the influence of Clara Mills, the former mayor’s daughter, who has been telling her friends not to attend. Seeing an opportunity to make money, Eric goes to the Mills house the next morning, and asks the cynical Clara to give the professor a chance. Clara dismisses Eric, saying that the professor is a charlatan, but her lovely younger sister June is intrigued by Eric, and tells Clara that Madley is merely trying to make a living.

 

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: Club Paradise [1945]

Club_Paradise

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 CLUB PARADISE (aka Sensation Hunters).  The film stars Constance Worth, Robert Lowery, Doris Merrick.

TCM says:

Unable to bear another night of endless bickering among her family members, factory worker Julie Rogers storms out of her parents’ house and takes her friend Helen to the Black Cat nightclub, which is owned by Julie’s trumpet-playing sweetheart, Ray Lawson. There, Julie meets Danny Burke, a handsome but mysterious idler and, bored with Ray, immediately falls in love with him. Julie goes home later that night and is further repulsed by the behavior of her brother Fred, who is drunk and belligerent. Returning to the Black Cat, Julie once again finds Danny and accompanies him to the infamous Paradise Club. Julie’s father disapproves of Danny and tries to convince her to date Ray, until the day Ray and Julie are arrested in a gambling house raid.

 

A Mother’s Murder

On Mother’s Day most moms receive a card, flowers, candy or even breakfast in bed–but here in Los Angeles not all moms are so lucky.

***

There was a lot to celebrate in May 1945; the war in Europe ended with the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 7th. The mothers sons and daughters in the military would have the best Mother’s Day they’d had since before the war. Tributes to mothers were planned in churches and theaters all over Los Angeles. Dozens of Fox theaters offered free admission to mothers over 60. On one of the stages special guest celebrities included Bing Crosby, Abbott & Costello, Paulette Goddard, Rochester, and the Andrews Sisters.

Teenager Barbara Adams had something special planned for her mother, Maude, but it didn’t have anything to do with flowers or a trip to the theater.

On May 11, the Friday before Mother’s Day, Barbara went out shopping–she bought two canaries at a pet shop and a large knife at a downtown department store. Once she arrived home she tested the sharpness of the knife by decapitating the canaries in the kitchen sink, then she burned their bodies in an incinerator. She then prepared dinner for her mother who was expected to arrive late following her shift at General Hospital. An argument between mother an daughter broke out after dinner and ended when Maude smacked Barbara across the face.adams pic_1

About 2 a.m. on Saturday morning Barbara, wielding the knife she’d bought the day before, crept into her mother’s room, placed a pillow over her head to stifle her screams and then stabbed her over 20 times. Barbara washed the murder weapon in the kitchen sink, then changed out of her bloodstained nightgown and went to bed on the living room sofa. Before going to sleep she pulled out the family Bible and read for a while.

Barbara slept for over 12 hours. When she awakened on Mother’s Day, May 13, she dressed, cleaned up the apartment and then went to the first floor apartment of her landlady, Mrs. Anthony Dunn, and confessed to the murder. Dunn phoned the police. Officer C.O. Peterson was first at the scene. He said that Barbara told him that she had been contemplating the murder for a long time–she said, “We just couldn’t get along. I’d planned to take my own life but didn’t have the guts to do it. Now it’s up to you to take over.” Other than their disagreements, common enough between a 17-year-old girl and her mother, Barbara offered no motive for the slaying.

adams pic_2Detective Thad Brown, of LAPD’s Homicide Detail, accompanied by Juvenile Officer L.M. Simmons, questioned Barbara. She told them about the knife, the canaries and gave them an account of the murder. She was taken to the hospital room at Juvenile Hall where she was admitted under an alias. She spent the day reading magazines. She had two roommates, but she didn’t say a word about why she was there.adams pic 9

Barbara attended Sunday school and listened to Mother’s Day tributes. Afterwards, apparently unmoved, she watched her fellow inmates make tiny boutonnieres to present to their mothers during visiting hours.

LAPD detectives and juvenile authorities questioned anyone who knew Barbara and Maude. Friends and neighbors described Barbara, a student at L.A.City College, as studious and quiet. According to some, Maude worked long hours to provide her with a decent education. Others described Barbara as morose because she wasn’t allowed to go out with school friends. Instead of hanging out with her buddies she was required to spend evenings at home with her mom, studying.

It was up the the juvenile court to determined if Barbara was mentally competent to stand trial, and if she was they wold also need to decide if she would be handled as an adult or a juvenile.

***

An interesting window on Barbara’s childhood opened when Albert and Lena Rogers, who lived in the 2000 block of Outpost Drive, turned up to speak on the young killer’s behalf.

Lena told investigators that “Mrs. Adams was unusually intelligent, and a fine woman–the best maid I ever saw. She was with us four years. I knew she had a daughter in nursery school, and finally suggested the child (Barbara) be brought to live with us and to be a companion to our own Betty. They were just about the same age.”

adams 9 picThe Rogers went above and beyond. They arranged to have Barbara enrolled in Beverly Hills grade school with their daughter. The two girls later attended the Carthay Center Elementary School together.

Lena continued: “We soon noticed, however, that Mrs. Adams wielded a heavy hand over he small daughter. The child was whipped down and had no self-expression. Mrs. Adams was a sadist; she seemed to delight in punishing the child.”

Betty Rogers spoke for Barbara too. “I would awaken at night and hear Barbara crying in her bed. Then I would hear her mother to tell her to ‘shut up’ and not make any more noise.”

According to the Rogers’, Maude also pinched Barbara’s arm in the tender spot above the elbow anytime the girl made her mad. Finally, because Maude’s attitude and mental condition became so strange, the Rogers’ terminated her employment. They quietly slipped some cash into Barbara’s pocket and told her to remember she “always had friends” and to call them if she was ever in trouble. They didn’t see her again until her story appeared in the newspapers.adams pic_7

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Dunne were at odds with the Rogers’ characterization of Barbara as a victim.  Testifying at the Coroner’s inquest, Mrs. Dunne called Barbara a “conceited little snob” with a suicide complex (Barbara had cut her wrists the month prior to the murder) that made her “cold as ice”. Mrs. Dunne also testified that Maude was a “devoted mother” who lived for her daughter’s welfare: “She even gave Barbara singing and dancing lessons, even though the girl couldn’t sing. They were always going to shows, the best shows in town.” What about the fighting described by Barbara? Mrs. Dunne denied ever hearing the two women argue.adams pic_6

Mrs. Dunne testified how Barbara came to her and told her about the slaying: “I think you ought to know my mother is dead. I killed her–stabbed her.” Mrs. Dunne called out for her husband and then asked Barbara if she was sure her mother was dead. “Oh, she’s dead, all right. She is quite dead.”

Barbara never explained her mother’s murder other than to say that she had her reasons or the stabbing.

In September 1945, five Camarillo State Hospital psychiatrists declared that Barbara was “medically and legally insane.” Deputy Public Defender William B. Neeley said that he had read the medical reports and Barbara had been given “shock treatments” while at Camarillo and “responded with much improvement.”

The outcome of Barbara’s case wasn’t reported in the Los Angeles Times; however, it seems likely that Superior Judge Georgia Bullock concurred with the psychiatric reports and sent Barbara to the state mental hospital.

Barbara was never tried for her mother’s murder and she slipped quietly into obscurity.

 

 

Film Noir Friday on Saturday: Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion [1945]

boston blackie_booked

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 BOSTON BLACKIE BOOKED ON SUSPICION, directed by Arthur Dreyfuss and starring Chester Morris and Lynn Merrick. The Boston Blackie films are light-weight and formulaic, but I love them. Former crook Boston Blackie and Police Inspector Farraday  butt heads once again in this entry, the eighth in the series.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

When an illness confines rare book expert Wilfred Kittredge to his bed on the eve of a rare book auction, Boston Blackie disguises himself as Kittredge and offers to conduct the auction for his friend and book store owner Arthur Manleder. Unknown to Blackie, counterfeiter Porter Hadley has manufactured a first edition of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers to be sold at the auction. On the day of the auction, Blackie, aided by Kittredge’s assistant, Gloria Mannard, sells the book to Alexander Harmon for $62,000. The next day, Harmon discovers that the book is a fake and reports the crime to Inspector Farraday.

Film Noir Friday: His Girl Friday [1940]

Poster - His Girl Friday_02

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crime theater is open! Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is HIS GIRL FRIDAY directed by Howard Hawks and starring Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy.

Okay, I realize HIS GIRL FRIDAY is a screwball comedy and not a film noir, but it does revolve, at least in part, around the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer. Besides, I’m in the mood for something light.

TCM says:

Ex-reporter Hildy Johnson, recently divorced from fast-talking newspaper editor Walter Burns, pays him a visit at the office of the Morning Post to tell him that she is marrying mild-mannered insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin. When Hildy enters, Walter is engrossed by the story of the impending execution of Earl Williams, a timid bookkeeper who has been sentenced to die for killing an African-American policeman. To lure Hildy back, Walter lies that his star reporter is preoccupied with the birth of his first child and the paper needs her to cover the story. Hildy rejects Walter’s bait and announces that she is engaged, tired of being a newspaper reporter and now just wants to be a woman. Walter insists upon meeting Hildy’s fiancé and invites them to lunch. At lunch, Walter learns that the couple are leaving with Bruce’s mother, Mrs. Baldwin, on the four o’clock train to Albany. Scheming to win Hildy back, Walter convinces Bruce that only a story written by Hildy can save the wrongly-convicted Williams. Hildy calls Walter’s bluff, but agrees to write the story if Walter will purchase a $100,000 life insurance policy from Bruce.

Let’s begin with a Disney cartoon entitled: DONALD’S CRIME [1945]

Film Noir Friday: Detour [1945]

detour_ver2Welcome!  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 DETOUR,  starring Ann Savage and Tom Neal.

From Wikipedia:

Detour is a 1945 film noir thriller that stars Tom Neal and Ann Savage.

The film was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney (uncredited) from Goldsmith’s novel of the same name and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The 68-minute film was released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), one of the so-called “poverty row” film studios in mid-twentieth century Hollywood.

Although made on a small budget with bare sets and straightforward camera work, Detour has gathered much praise through the years and is held in high regard. In 1992, Detour was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

http://youtu.be/uWZ1whuzWrQ