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 TRY AND GET ME! aka THE SOUND OF FURY, starring Frank Lovejoy, Kathleen Ryan, and Lloyd Bridges.
The film is based on the 1947 novel The Condemned by Jo Pagano, who also wrote the screenplay. The Pagano novel was based on events that occurred in 1933 when two men were arrested in San Jose, California for the kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart. The suspects confessed and were subsequently lynched by a mob of locals. The 1936 film, Fury, directed by Fritz Lang, was inspired by the same incident.
Enjoy the movie.
Impoverished Howard Tyler decides to move his pregnant wife Judy and their young son Tommy from Massachusetts to the friendly town of Santa Sierra, California, to find his fortune working in the mines. Once there, however, Howard cannot find a job and the family’s poverty deepens to the point where Judy cannot even afford a doctor to monitor her pregnancy. In his desperation, Howard meets a petty thief named Jerry Slocum and is easily convinced to work for him, helping him to commit a series of robberies. Convinced that the town is experiencing an incipient crime wave, publisher and editor of the Santa Sierra Journal Hal Clendenning assigns featured columnist Gil Stanton to sensationalize the new trend.
Eddie Muller, the Czar of Noir, introuced this film for TCM’s Noir Alley, which he hosts. Check it out.
If you have hair, you have endured an inevitable bad hair day. But have you ever had a haircut so awful it drove you to violence?
Newlyweds Barbara and William Mihich struggled to adapt to married life. After getting married in Las Vegas in March 1956, they had already split up once by August. They argued about money, and they also argued about how often Barbara’s hair was in curlers. William became so incensed by Barbara’s beauty routine he cut her hair. Whether by consent or by force, Barbara ended up with a ragged looking pixie. William, a plumbing contractor, not a hair stylist, took too much off the top, the back, and the sides. Barbara was not pleased.
After the hack job on her tresses, Barbara met friends at a local bar for a few drinks and to cool off. She arrived home in the pre-dawn hours, even more pissed off than when she left. Still keyed up, she put a record on the player and turned up the volume. William objected to the music, and to the fact she had stayed out so late. The hostilities resumed.
Their argument spilled out to the front yard, where they raged at each other until Barbara bolted for the front door. Before William could catch up, Barbara locked him out. She grabbed a gun and shot through a window. The round ripped into a neighbor’s house and they called police. Other neighbors hid behind trees and cars to avoid being struck by a wayward bullet.
The first officer to arrive outside the Mihich home ducked for cover when four bullets struck his patrol car. He called for back-up. Reinforcements pulled up. Lights flashing and sirens blaring. They cautiously approached, and placed searchlights around the house to prepare for a siege.
Police lobbed cannisters of tear gas through the home’s broken windows. Screaming, rubbing her eyes, and choking, Barbara stumbled out of the smoke. They placed her under arrest and transported her to the Lincoln Heights Jail, where they booked her on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
William came to Barbara’s defense. “She wasn’t shooting at me. She was just shooting away her temper.” Maybe, but she wrecked the interior of their home, scared the shit out of the neighbors, and got herself into a major jam.
Barbara told police William beat her. “I just got mad at the world. I wasn’t shooting at anybody in particular.” No target required. Any of the over fifty rounds she fired at random from a shotgun, two 22-caliber rifles, and a 22-caliber pistol were potentially fatal.
Detectives asked her what caused her rampage. She said William told her he’d trim her hair because he was tired of seeing it in curlers. Describing the chop, she got mad all over again. “He trimmed it all right, and how! He went hog wild and gave me a butch haircut.”
William described the incident to reporters. “We were just having a little argument on the front lawn when she ran off in a huff. She dashed into the house and slammed the door. The next thing I knew, bullets started pouring out of the windows.”
They freed Barbara on $3000 bail ($34,00.00 in 2023 USD), to await trial. Rather than face a jury, she opted to appear before a judge. A jury would have seen the coverage where reporters described her as the “pistol-packing blonde from Van Nuys,” and “the Butch Hair Cut Woman.” Unflattering and prejudicial depictions to be sure.
Judge Allen T. Lynch treated her fairly. On December 28, 1956, he fined Barbara $300 ($3400 in 2023 USD), and placed her on five years’ probation.
Did Barbara embrace the pixie cut, or did she grow her hair to Rapunzel length? Did the Mihich marriage survive the hair cut incident? I honestly don’t know. The couple stayed out of the news after 1956.
Los Angeles has long given refuge to those seeking religious freedom. Among the groups who settled in Boyle Heights, east of downtown, were Russian Molokans. Molokans are a dissenting sect of the Russian Orthodox Church. Similar in some ways to Quakers and Mennonites, Molokans are pacifists and shun alcohol. Think Quaker or Mennonite, and you’ve got the idea.
Thirty-five-year-old Peter Pivaroff, born in 1918, in Arizona, to Molokan parents, may have strayed from the core beliefs of his faith. In 1943, he enlisted in the military. By early November 1954, he was on a serious bender.
On Monday, November 8, Peter experienced chest pains. The pain got so bad his wife, June, took him to Lincoln Heights Receiving Hospital. They admitted him at 11 p.m. for treatment of a heart ailment and alcoholism. Hours later, his condition continued to deteriorate. They transferred Peter to Lincoln Hospital at 443 S. Soto Street for muscular spasms of his heart. Doctors took x-rays of his chest. When the x-rays disclosed a 3-inch-long needle in his heart, they were stunned. Peter died at 3:00 a.m. The attending physician at the hospital refused to sign a death certificate. The presence of the needle was alarming.
Autopsy surgeon, Dr. Frederick Newbarr, said they found a second puncture mark between the seventh and eight ribs and it was, “undoubtedly by the same instrument.” The puncture was about two inches deep. Dr. Newbarr called Peter’s case, “one of the most unusual cases I have seen in thousands of autopsies.”
Police Lt. Fred Laughlin said the lab would conduct microscopic tests to see “if something like a thimble or a pair of pliers were used to push the needle into the heart.” Homicide detectives R. L. Clodio and William Ojers took June to the Hollenbeck Station for questioning. She had little to offer. She said Peter gave her no explanation for his pains. “It was almost like he had amnesia.”
How did the needle get into Peter’s chest?
One explanation came from his ten-year-old daughter, Diana. She said she borrowed a long needle from a neighbor in October to work on a Halloween costume; then it went missing. Diana said the needle from Peter’s chest resembled the one she misplaced. Is it possible Peter landed on it and was so inebriated he never noticed?
The murder theory took a backseat when they discovered a doctor at Lincoln Hospital made the second puncture. Police speculated Peter’s history of alcohol abuse may have caused him to kill himself.
At the coroner’s inquest, Dr. Qualia testified he treated Peter for coronary thrombosis. When the treatment failed to produce results, the doctor called in experts for a consultation. They ordered x-rays, and that is when they saw the needle. It was not driven into his chest, entered from the armpit and pierced the center of his left breast and penetrated skin tougher than most other parts of the body.
Dr. Qualia said, “The tiny spot where the needle went in looked like a mole or a freckle. There was no bump or other surface indication that it had penetrated the skin.
The coroner’s jury determined Peter’s death was a homicide committed by a person or persons unknown. The police had no viable suspect. June testified about Peter’s out-of-control drinking and said he sometimes beat her. June had a motive.
To clear herself, June voluntarily submitted to a lie detector test. Lt. Fred R. Loflund, in charge of detectives at Hollenbeck Division, said June answered all questions honestly. She had no idea how the needle got into Peter’s chest.
Despite passing the lie detector test, the coroner’s jury urged police to find Peter’s killer. Investigators insisted Peter either committed suicide or unintentionally jabbed the darning needle into his heart while drunk.
With the police and the coroner’s jury at odds over Peter’s death, the district attorney’s office weighed in. Deputy District Attorney Aaron H. Stovitz said the facts did not warrant “under any circumstances the issuance of any criminal complaint.” He said the investigation did not reveal a suspect. He left the door open for the future by stating if evidence turned up later, they would “reconsider the matter.”
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 TURNING POINT  starring William Holden, Edmond O’Brien, Alexis Smith. According to the poster, it’s not suitable for children.
Enjoy the movie!
Special prosecutor John Conroy hopes to combat organized crime in his city, and appoints his cop father Matt as chief investigator. John doesn’t understand why Matt is reluctant, but cynical reporter Jerry McKibbon thinks he knows: he’s seen Matt with mob lieutenant Harrigan. Jerry’s friendship for John is tested by the question of what to do about Matt, and by his attraction to John’s girl Amanda. Meanwhile, the threatened racketeers adopt increasingly violent means of defense.
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 OUTSIDE THE WALL  starring Richard Basehart and Marilyn Maxwell.
One advertising poster for this film read, “All I know about dames I heard in prison … now I can find out for myself!”
This should be interesting.
Enjoy the movie!
At the Cherry Hill Prison in Philadelphia, Larry Nelson is summoned by the warden, who informs him that he has been granted a pardon. Larry, who was sentenced to prison at age fourteen for beating a brutal reformatory guard to death, has been incarcerated for fifteen years. On his own for the first time as an adult, Larry gets drunk with a woman who tries to steal his wallet. Later, Larry gets a job washing dishes. Although the waitress is interested in Larry, he has been soured by his first experience with a woman and avoids her. One night, the restaurant is held up, and Larry stops the robbery. Disturbed by his experiences, Larry decides to seek the peace of the country.
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 I WAS A SHOPLIFTER! starring Scott Brady, Mona Freeman, Anthony Curtis (yep, Tony Curtis), and Rock Hudson.
Shoplifting seems hardly to raise an eyebrow these days, but in 1950 it appears to have been a gateway crime. Today, shoplifting, tomorrow, who knows?
I’ve never seen this one before either, so I’ll be watching with you.
Enjoy the movie!
In a large California department store, detectives spot attractive young kleptomaniac Faye Burton. Jeff Andrews, another shopper, warns Faye that she is being watched, but she pretends not to understand him and continues her thefts. Shortly afterward, she is apprehended by the detectives, and moments later, Jeff is also taken into custody for shoplifting. Faye, who is a judge’s daughter, swears that she will not steal again, and is released after she signs a confession. Before she leaves, the officials warn her that she will go to prison if she is caught stealing again.
Two weeks after Sheriff’s deputies shot James Monroe Rudolph, the Green Scarf Bandit, he was on the mend in the prison ward of General Hospital. Doctors said Rudolph was weak. Evidently, he was strong enough to confess to scores of robberies, burglaries, assaults, and kidnappings. Deputy District Attorney Howard Hurd and a couple of Sheriff’s deputies, including one of my favorites from the era, Detective Sergeant Ned Lovretovich, were on hand to witness the statements made by Monroe.
Deputies placed Rudolph in custody following a call from eight-year-old Jimmy Jones. While Rudolph kidnapped his parents at gunpoint, Jimmy feigned sleep. As soon as it was safe, he called the sheriff’s department. Jimmy’s call resulted in the capture of the Green Scarf Bandit. For his courage, Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz had awarded the boy a miniature Sheriff’s badge.
The authorities were keen to get Rudolph in front of a judge, but his physical condition delayed the proceedings. Another complication was there was so much stolen loot in the Rudolph home in Placerville that it would take time for it to be sorted out, put on trucks, and placed into evidence. Cops estimated the worth of the stolen goods to be about $60,000 [$537,851.00 in current U.S. dollars].
On January 30th, James Monroe Rudolph, clad in his prison ward jammies, sufficiently healed from his multiple gunshot wounds, appeared for arraignment before Municipal Judge F. Ray Rennett.
In the complaint, sworn to by Deputy Sheriff Dave Terry, and issued by the Deputy D.A., Rudolph found himself charged with five counts of robbery, four of attempted robbery, nine of kidnapping and two of false imprisonment. Four of the robberies involved food markets from which Rudolph had stolen thousands of dollars in cash.
One robbery was especially audacious. Just a few days prior to the kidnapping of B.G. Jones and his wife, the Green Scarf Bandit used the same M.O. to rob a La Crescenta supermarket manager and his wife twice in one day!
Alfred W. Boegler and his wife Irene awakened by a soft noise at about midnight, saw a man in a green scarf mask climb through their bedroom window. Holding a pistol to the couple, the bandit politely turned his head as Irene changed from her nightgown into street clothes so she could accompany her husband and the crook to the Shopping Bag Market at 3100 Foothill Blvd in La Crescenta.
Alfred related to investigators a conversation he had with the masked intruder. “When we asked him what was to be done about our two sleeping children, he said that it was too cold to take children outdoors–and that they might get injured if there was a night watchman who started any shooting. He said if we co-operated on driving him to the store and opening the safe, we would be safely back home within 30 minutes.”
He may have been a gun wielding thug, but he wasn’t indifferent to the comfort and safety of young children. As the couple’s two daughters, Barbara (4) and Karen (18 months) slept, Boegler drove his wife and the robber to the market. Once they arrived at the store, the gunman used Irene as a hostage while Alfred went into the store with a passkey and turned off the burglar alarm. All the while, the gunman apologized, saying that his boss was “pretty tough” and he’d face dire consequences if the job didn’t go off perfectly.
After looting two safes at the market, the bandit let the Boeglers out of their car at the corner of Altura Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. They phoned the Montrose Sheriff’s station (the same station young Jimmy Jones called a few days later) and walked the short distance to their home. They collected their two kids and went to the home of Boegler’s brother, William.
When the Boeglers returned to their own home, a mere six hours after being taken from their warm bed, they were met by the green scarfed gunman who was waiting patiently for them in the kitchen.
“You double-crossed me. My boss doesn’t like that. We missed one safe.”
The man then kidnapped the Boeglers for a second time, emptied a third safe, and fled.
Rudolph may have thought of himself only as a bandit, but two of the kidnapping charges involved bodily harm, which in California, because of the Little Lindbergh Law, could send him to the gas chamber.
Following the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. on March 1, 1932, Congress adopted the Federal Kidnapping Act (aka Lindbergh Law), a law which allowed the feds to step in once kidnappers had crossed state lines with their victim. There were several states, California among them, that implemented their own versions of the law which applied in cases of kidnapping when victims were not transported across state lines; hence Little Lindbergh. California’s Little Lindbergh statute made kidnapping with bodily harm a crime eligible for the death penalty.
In 1951, when the Green Scarf Bandit was busted, the Red-Light Bandit (Caryl Chessman) was already on California’s death row for kidnapping—convicted under the Little Lindbergh law. Knowing that another bandit was sitting on death row may have provided the motivation for Rudolph to plead guilty to three felony charges: armed robbery, kidnapping for purpose of robbery, and false imprisonment. With his plea, Rudolph evaded the death penalty. For his misdeeds, they sentenced him to a term of five years to life.
The Green Scarf Bandit had no intention of serving his full sentence. About seven months after arriving at Folsom Prison, Rudolph, and his cell mate, Claude Newton, tried to break out.
They used an age-old method to fool the guards. They stuffed their overalls with paper and placed decoys in their bunks. Newton even braided a rope out of bed sheets and put a hook on the end so they could scale the wall. As they waited for the right moment to flee, the guards found them.
Warden Robert A. Heinze had the last word on the attempted escape.
“Everything was set to go on the escape, but it didn’t work.”
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 THE CROOKED WEB starring Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, and Richard Denning.
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Former G.I. Stan Fabian runs a drive-in restaurant with his waitress girl friend, Joanie Daniel, who receives an unexpected visit from her brother Frank. Frank asks Joanie for a loan for a “deal” in Chicago, but she refuses. At dinner that evening, Stan reveals to Frank that he wants to marry Joanie, but she has declined, wary of his lack of financial security. Later, when Stan drives Frank back to his hotel, he inquires about his deal and Frank divulges that years earlier during the war, he and partner Ray Torres hid a sizeable amount of gold, but they have been unable to raise the money necessary to return to Germany to retrieve their treasure.
It was just after 6:00 a.m. on December 10, 1951 when a bandit broke into the home of supermarket manager B.G. Jones and his wife Juanita. The bandit had tied a green scarf around the lower half of his face, and he was holding a weapon. He slugged B.G. with a leaded sap and Juanita screamed. The man gruffly asked if anyone else was in the house. B.G. said, “Just my little boy, and he’s asleep.”
But eight-year-old Jimmy Jones wasn’t asleep, he was playing possum. He feigned sleep even as the masked man entered his bedroom with a flashlight and looked around.
Few kids would have had remained as cool and collected as Jimmy, but the boy had an advantage. His father had prepared him for the possibility of a break-in.
B.G. recently warned Jimmy that a bad guy roamed the area. He abducted supermarket managers and forced them to open the safes at their stores. B.G. told Jimmy if he heard anyone break into the house that he was to lie still, wait until he felt safe, then run to the phone and call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Montrose substation. That is exactly what Jimmy did.
Jimmy told the deputy who answered the phone, “A man just took my father and mother away to make my daddy open the safe.” Then he told the deputy, “He shined his light right in my face, but I pretended I was asleep. I kept my eyes shut and didn’t move.”
Deputies Joe Rieth and J.R. Shelton were dispatched to the Shopping Bag Market at 920 Foothill Blvd in La Canada. The Deputies roared up just as B.G., stalling for time, fumbled with his key before unlocking the door for the bandit. Alerted to the arrival of the deputies, the masked man attempted to escape. He collided with off-duty deputy John Davis. Davis pulled his pistol and commanded the man to halt, but the fugitive continued to run even as Rieth and Shelton fired at him.
Slugs from Reith’s weapon penetrated the man’s neck, while pellets from Shelton’s shotgun peppered his legs. The man was so pumped with adrenaline he continued to flee. When Rieth and Shelton tracked him down, they discovered him hunched over the wheel of deputy Davis’s car, frantically trying to start it.
An ambulance took the critically wounded crook to Physicians & Surgeons hospital, Glendale. The bandit gave his name as Jim Marcus.
The Sheriff’s didn’t take the man at his word, which was just as well. He lied. It didn’t take long for them to ID him as James Monroe Rudolph of Placerville, California, which is about 450 miles from where he’d committed his most recent crimes.
Deputies found Rudolph’s late model Buick sedan parked about a block from the Jones’ home, and when they searched the trunk, they found highly incriminating evidence including, 100 empty money sacks, scores of rolls of coins, a wallet containing five $100 bills, and an ID that gave Rudolph’s L.A. address as a motel at 4562 N. Figueroa Street.
Also in the car were several changes of clothing, a.45 caliber automatic pistol, a Las Vegas police badge, and a fire extinguisher loaded with a knockout solution for spraying victims, and a green scarf. Police finally had the Green Scarf Bandit, the villain who had eluded them for weeks.
Sheriff’s robbery squad detectives went to Placerville where they arrested Rudolph’s wife, Inge, a German war bride. Inge surrendered to the detectives two fur coats, a fur jacket, a fur neck piece, several pairs of expensive field glasses, a half dozen cameras, and several thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry.
Inge insisted she wasn’t a party to her husband’s misdeeds, and the police believed her. She believed he had purchased the luxury items with money that he won in card games. Inge must have thought her husband was a high roller when he put over $8,000 (equivalent to $92,000.000 in 2023 USD) down on their $17,000 (equivalent to $195,000.00 in 2023 USD) home.
Rudolph and Inge met in Germany. They married in a civil ceremony in Linz, Austria in 1947. After Rudolph’s discharge from the Army in 1949, Inge accompanied him to the U.S., first to his hometown of Atlanta, GA, then to Washington, D.C., and finally to California.
While police searched the Rudolph home for more of the Green Scarf Bandit’s stolen loot, Inge traveled from Placerville to Los Angeles to visit James. When she saw his condition, she wept at his bedside, and declared that she would stand by him.
As the critically wounded man lay in a hospital bed struggling for his life, eight-year-old hero Jimmy Jones was recognized for his bravery by Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz. They gave the boy a miniature sheriff’s badge, and Biscailuz said, “Jimmy demonstrated a courage and calm presence of mind seldom found in a youngster of his age.”
Would James Monroe Rudolph, the man Jimmy helped to capture, recover from his gunshot wounds, or would he die before they could try him?
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 CITY OF FEAR starring Vince Edwards, John Archer, Patricia Blair, and Steven Ritch. In 1961 Vince Edwards hit the small screen as doctor Ben Casey.
Strictly speaking this isn’t a film noir (see below description from TCM). I think of this as apocalypse noir. Is that a thing? Anyway, that said, I don’t think you’ll mind too much. It is a wonderful copy, and there is some glorious footage of SoCal from the late 1950s.
Enjoy the movie!
A low-budget programmer from Columbia Pictures, the crime thriller City of Fear (1959) is sometimes classified as a Film Noir, although it is probably too conventionally executed and arrives a bit too late to be considered a part of the Noir cycle.
The plot is promising enough. At the San Quentin Federal Penitentiary, convict Vince Ryker (Vince Edwards) and a fellow inmate make an escape after stabbing a physician and stealing an ambulance. Upon his escape, Ryker grabs a metal container that he believes contains a large and valuable amount of heroin. In disguise and with a different car, Ryker approaches Los Angeles in hopes of selling the drugs. The police know that Ryker is in the city he has killed his fellow escapee and the body has been discovered.
Chief Jensen (Lyle Talbot) and Lt. Mark Richards (John Archer) consult with Dr. John Wallace (Steven Ritch) about the stolen materials in the criminal’s possession. In a surprising revelation, Wallace identifies it as Cobalt 60 a deadly radioactive material that slowly poisons those who are exposed for long periods to the container, and that if the container were to be opened, thousands in the Los Angeles may die.