Film Noir Friday–Saturday Matinee: Private Hell 36 [1954]

private_hell_thirty_six

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 PRIVATE HELL 36 starring Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff, Dean Jagger and Dorothy Malone.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Two LA detectives get in over their heads when they get involved with a nightclub singer who holds the key to the missing loot from a New York elevator robbery. Once they find the money, they are tempted to keep it and betrayal and corruption come to run the order of things.

Film Noir Friday: Wicked Woman [1954]

wicked woman

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 WICKED WOMAN (aka FREE AND EASY) starring Beverly Michaels and Richard Egan. The film has been described as “Eisenhower era sleaze” and “delicious trash”.  I leave it to you to decide.

TCM says:

After a Trailways bus delivers voluptuous blonde Billie Nash to a small town, she checks into a rooming house. Her rooming house neighbor is Charlie Borg, who runs a tailor’s shop next door and offers her a meal. The next day, Billie gets a job as a waitress, at $6.00 a night plus tips, at a bar run by Dora Bannister and her husband Matt. Needing new clothes, Billie cons twenty dollars out of the lecherous Charlie by promising to date him. Billie discovers that Dora is a secret drinker and decides to go after Matt. She is even more determined when Gus, the cook, tells her that Matt used to work for Dora’s drunken father, who owned the bar, and that Matt saved the business. Later, when Matt and Billie are alone after the bar closes, she seduces him.

Film Noir Friday: The Other Woman [1954]

otherwoman

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 OTHER WOMAN starring Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, Lance Fuller and Lucille Barkley.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Bit player Sherry Stewart (Cleo Moore) gets miffed when director Walter Darman (Hugo Haas) turns her down after she reads for a small part in his picture. She and her boy friend, Ronnie (Lane Fuller), devise a plan to lure Darman to her apartment, where she gives him a drugged drink. She tells Darman they had been intimate and blackmails him for $50,000.

A Visit From the Sheriff — 2016

Ching-ching-a-ling! Ching-ching-a-ling!
Are those sleighbells I hear?
No.
It’s gunfire…

COX_CHRISTMAS

T’was the week before Christmas, December ’54
David Cox’s house was filled with violence, mayhem and smashed crockery galore.

David’s Downey neighbors awoke to ruckus and clatter,
and wondered just what in the hell was the matter.

It must be that S.O.B. Cox, they concluded —
a few beers in his belly and he’s completely deluded.

They turned away from their windows and went back to their beds,
where they pulled the covers up over their heads.

David had arrived home three hours late,
with booze on his breath and his eyes filled with hate.

His wife, Billie, had made a modest request
for $25 to buy each of their girls a new dress.

“Mary and Katherine don’t need presents, you frivolous bitch!”
David picked up a lamp and smashed it to bits.

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He ripped out the windows, wood frames and plaster,
then sped off in his truck leaving behind a disaster.

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Later that evening when David came home
he drove his truck into a fence, then lurched around drunk and alone.

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Hello! Anyone home? He shouted to the empty house.
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

His children were frightened and his pregnant wife was alarmed,
she tooks the kids to her mother’s so they wouldn’t be harmed.

The Norwalk Sheriff’s station was called, and deputies rushed to the scene.
David was wielding a shotgun and he looked pretty damned mean.

“Drop your weapon!” the deputies shouted calling David by name.
But Cox opened fire and the cops did the same.

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Sgts. Lovretovich and Piper stood over David who was collapsed on the lawn.
He’d taken multiple rounds — he was deceased, he was gone.

Why didn’t he do as we said, they pondered aloud; to behave as he had —
he must have been crazy, he must have been mad!

david coxDavid’s drinking and anger had cost him his life,
he’d never again see his friends, children, or wife.

Christmas was dismal for the Cox family that year.
Instead of baby dolls, buggies and bears named Ted,
there was a casket, flowers and tears to be shed.

No doubt about it, David Cox had acted a fool.
A moron, an idiot, a jackass, a tool.

Neighbors were heard to exclaim, ere Deputies drove out of sight.

Don’t mess with the Sheriffs, they’ll put up a fight.

 

NOTE: I recently heard from a relative of the Cox family and was heartened to learn that Billie and her children went on to have good lives. David Cox wasn’t an evil man — he was just a guy who tried to solve his problems with a bottle of booze and a shotgun.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago and have made it a holiday tradition.  I’m really just an old-fashioned dame at heart. A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS by Clement Clarke Moore  provided the inspiration for this post.  Of course it’s impossible to do justice to the original, but it was fun just the same.

I took very few liberties in writing this story. The details of the shooting are as they appeared in the Los Angeles Times report of the incident. One of my favorite Deputy Sheriffs of the era, Ned Lovretovich, played a role in this story. I’ve written about him  several times and his career continues to fascinate me. Thugs With Spoons is one of my favorite Ned stories.

A big thank you to Mike Fratantoni for bringing this story to my attention–he knows the most deranged tales..

 

Pushover [1954]

PUSHOVER_1954

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 PUSHOVER [1954], starring Fred MacMurray, Phil Carey, and Kim Novak.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

A carefully planned bank heist by hoodlum Harry Wheeler and his partner leaves a policeman dead and $200,000 stolen. After the police investigation, headed by Lt. Carl Ekstrom, identifies Wheeler as the culprit, Eckstrom assigns detective Paul Sheridan to befriend Wheeler’s girl friend, Lona McLane, who has moved into an apartment in town. Paul stages a meeting with Lona and a powerful attraction develops between the two. Paul takes Lona to his apartment for the night, then spends the next several days with her. Later, Eckstrom, Paul and his partner, Rick McAllister, devise a stakeout across from Lona’s apartment, and wait for Wheeler to contact her. On Paul and Rick’s first shift, Lona leaves the apartment and Paul follows her, only to be startled when she drives to his apartment. He meets her there and she accuses him of having staged their meeting and asks if he is a cop. Paul admits to being a detective, but insists that he has been seeing her for personal reasons.

The Good Die Young [1954]

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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 THE GOOD DIE YOUNG [1954], the film stars Laurence Harvey, Gloria Grahame, Richard Basehart, Joan Collins and John Ireland.

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Three good men – a broken boxer, an American veteran trying to win back his mother-dominated wife, and an air force sergeant married to a faithless actress – are corrupted by Miles Ravenscourt, an amoral “gentleman.” Because they need money, they let Miles lure them into his scheme to rob a postal van with a large cash cargo.

Film Noir Friday: A Life At Stake [1954]

ALifeAtStake1954

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 A LIFE AT STAKE [1954], starring Angela Lansbury, Keith Andes, Douglass Dumbrille, Claudia Barrett, and Jane Darwell..

Enjoy the movie!

TCM says:

Building contractor Edward Shaw is brooding over his recent business failures, due to his partner’s gambling, when he is approached by lawyer Sam Pearson. Pearson, who scoffs at Shaw’s determination to repay his debts, offers to introduce him to a client who can invest a half million dollars in his company. Curious, Shaw agrees to meet with Pearson’s client, Mrs. Doris Hillman. At the luxurious Hillman home, Shaw is intensely attracted to the flirtatious Doris, who states that she wants to form a partnership with him in which he will build homes on the properties she finds. Doris asserts that Augustus, her much-older, wealthy husband, wants to keep her happy, but Shaw is suspicious of his sudden good fortune. Doris explains that she knows about Shaw’s work because her cousin lives in a home he built, and so Shaw agrees to further negotiations, if the Hillmans supply the funds for him to repay his original investors. Doris promises to ask Hillman about the provision and Shaw leaves, although he finds himself preoccupied with thoughts of the sexy Doris.

Film Noir Friday: Suddenly [1954]

Suddenly-Poster-01

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 SUDDENLY! starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden. The tranquility of a small town is jarred when the U.S. President is scheduled to pass through and a hired assassin takes over the Benson home as a perfect location to ambush the president!

Enjoy the film!

TCM Says:

Tod Shaw, the sheriff of the small California town of Suddenly, is courting Ellen Benson, a widow whose husband was killed in the Korean War. Ellen and her eight-year-old son Pidge live with her father-in-law, Pop Benson, a retired Secret Service agent. Ellen, who has become embittered by her husband’s death in battle, is overprotective of Pidge and will not allow him to see war movies or own toy guns.One Saturday morning, Ellen is dismayed to discover that Tod has bought her son a toy cap pistol, prompting her to break up with him.

Later, Tod learns that a special train carrying the U.S. President will be arriving at the town’s railroad station late that afternoon. The president will de-train, then travel by car to a nearby ranch for a fishing vacation. Tod is instructed to coordinate the local security procedures and, after requesting assistance from the state police, meets with members of the advance secret service team, led by agent Dan Carney. Carney assigns his men to inspect and secure all the buildings overlooking the station, including the Benson house.

Enjoy the film!

http://youtu.be/IPeIrBUpP1Q

The Purple Haze Slaying

Purple Haze was in my brain,
lately things don’t seem the same,
actin’ funny but I don’t know why…
–Jimi Hendrix

RearWindowIn the 1954 Hitchcock masterpiece, “Rear Window“, L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a professional photographer, is wheelchair bound while he recuperates from an accident. His rear window looks out onto a small courtyard and he can see into the apartments of several of his neighbors.

One evening  he hears a woman scream “Don’t!” and then a glass breaks. He watches as Lars Thorvald, a traveling jewelry salesman with a bedridden wife, makes repeated late night trips carrying his sample case. What is he carrying, and where did Thorvald’s wife go? Jeff begins to suspect Thorvald of a grisly murder.

On March 6, 1952, two years before “Rear Window” hit theaters, Jordan Jones, a Sacramento based insurance salesman, was staying in a downtown Los Angeles hotel located at 230 West 7th Street.  Like Jeff Jeffries he was staring out of his window watching the guests in another wing of the hotel. But as just as Jeffries would discover in Rear Window, peeping isn’t always merely a spectator sport.

Most of the guests had the good sense to draw their shades against prying eyes, but suddenly Jones noticed a couple putting on an X-rated show–far racier than anything he’d find in a Main Street burlesque house. Their shades were up and the lights in their room were ablaze. He watched, riveted, as the couple hungrily pulled off their clothing and began to have sex. Jones continued to watch the impromptu show–it sure as hell beat whatever was on the radio that night.  But then their lovemaking turned ugly.

The man put his belt around the nude woman’s neck and started choking her and it didn’t appear to be a part of their sex play. Jones immediately reported the incident to the hotel desk, but he kept his front row seat and watched as a bellboy appeared at the door of the couple’s room. The man removed the belt from the woman’s neck, and the bellboy presumably returned to his duties.

Klink enjoys a post confession burger.

Klink enjoys a post confession burger.

Moments after the bellboy departed Jones watched in horror as the man turned to the woman and resumed choking her, then he dragged her nude body around the room by the belt that was still tight around her neck.  When she crumpled to the floor the strangler began going through the woman’s handbag and clothing.

This time Jones phoned the hotel manager who, with three bellboys, crashed into the couple’s room where they found the killer standing dazedly over the woman’s nude body. A Fire Department inhalator squad tried to revive the victim and Dr. Alfred Schaffel from Georgia Street Receiving Hospital administered adrenalin injections, but it was too late. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

haze headline

LAPD homicide Lt. Bob Reid said that the woman’s papers identified her as forty-eight year old Mae Ellen Mathis from Dragerton, Utah. She had been employed as a registered nurse at Queen of Angels Hospital for a short time, living in the nurses’ residence there.

The strangler gave his name as William Klink, a 27 year old refrigerator repairman, but he refused to give a home address. Klink said he had met Mae in a bar on Hill Street and that she agreed to accompany him to the hotel where they registered as husband and wife.

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LAPD Sgt. Jack Gotch (L), William Klink (C), D.A. Ernest Roll (R)

Andrew Faiss (47) the bellboy who had showed them to the room only two hours earlier said that they had carried no luggage.

Officer L.M. Vaughn shows Klink the murder weapon.

Officer L.M. Vaughn shows Klink the murder weapon.

KIlink, who was on parole out of Ohio for a forgery conviction in 1947, told a different story to detectives and District Attorney Roll than Jones had.

According to Klink he’d been drinking for hours before he had hooked up with Mae.  After he and Mae had made love he said that he had feigned sleep and then watched as his companion got up, put on her clothes, and began going through his pants pockets.

Klink offered no rational explanation for why he’d put his belt around her neck and strangled her to death.

“I was in a kind of purple haze,” he said.

A few months following Mae’s slaying Klink was found guilty of second degree murder. Superior Judge John J. Ford sentenced him to five years to life in the California Institution for Men at Chino.

haze headline2

Film Noir Friday: Quicksand [1950] & Drive A Crooked Road [1954]

QUICKSAND

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, as a tribute to Mickey Rooney who passed away earlier this week, we’re showing a double feature starring the diminutive actor. If you only recall Rooney as Andy Hardy, you’re in for a surprise. The actor actually took his turn at film noir during the 1950s.

First up is QUICKSAND [1950] starring Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, Barbara Bates and Peter Lorre.

TCM says:

At a diner, young auto mechanic Dan Brady has just finished telling his co-worker Chuck that he has broken up with his adoring girl friend, Helen Calder, when he notices the stunning blonde cashier, Vera Novak. Dan convinces Vera to go out with him that evening, but when he returns to his job at the garage, he remembers that he has no money. While making change at the register, Dan realizes that the bookkeeper will not be in to check the cash drawer for a few days and decides to borrow twenty dollars, intending to pay it back the next day when he collects the money that his friend, Buzz Larson, owes him.

And thus begins Brady’s downward spiral…

drive_a_crooked_road

Second on tonight’s bill is the 1954 film DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD starring Mickey Rooney and Dianne Foster.

TCM says:

Los Angeles auto mechanic Eddie Shannon, a devoted car buff with no family or other outside interests, frequently competes in local car races to improve his driving. The other mechanics at work tease Eddie constantly over his diminutive stature and solitary nature. One day Eddie meets Barbara Mathews, an attractive woman who invites him to the beach. Uncertainly, Eddie accepts the invitation, and at the beach Barbara introduces him to Steve Norris, a handsome businessman from the East, who is spending several weeks in a Santa Monica beach house. Eddie is surprised when Barbara shows an interest in him and shyly begins dating her. Barbara tries to learn as much about Eddie’s interests as possible, but asks him if he is content to remain a mechanic all his life. Eddie confides that his dream has always been to drive in one of the top European races. Barbara takes Eddie to a party thrown by Steve and his associate, Harold Baker, and during the evening, Steve asks Eddie his opinion about the best kind of race car. After the party, Barbara advises Eddie that Steve might be able to help him realize his dream of racing in Europe. Later that evening, Steve visits Barbara, eager to discuss plans for a bank robbery, for which they hope to use Eddie’s driving skill. Barbara pleads with Steve to call off the heist, as she feels sorry for Eddie, a lonely man who has never experienced love…