I have agreed to be tortured by the dentist this morning so if anything goes amiss I should be back by noon.
These movie posters keep getting lost as I drag them down so they're up here instead.
See you in two weeks (September 11) for more forgotten books.
Kent Morgan co-writes a sports column for the Prime Times newspaper and his work has appeared in The Cooperstown Review, Deadball Stars of the American League, Senior Softball USA, Face-Off and the Winnipeg Sun.
Forgotten Movie: Paperback Hero
When it comes to movies with hockey content, most are easily forgotten. After all, who remembers the first major Hollywood movie with hockey content - Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable. Or which movie with hockey starred a future president of the United States. The answer to that one is Hell's Kitchen with Ronald
Reagan. The one hockey movie that people do remember is Slapshot with Paul Newman playing a minor league coach. Up here in hockey country aka Canada, Slapshot usually rates a the top of any list of hockey movies.
But it doesn't top my list and when I mention Paperback Hero as my favorite I'm often greeted with a blank look. That may be because Paperback Hero was filmed in 1973 and despite winning some awards, it seldom has been shown on TV and never made it to DVD. And try to find a VHS copy. Picture if you will Keir Dullea, the star of 2001: A Space Odyssey, back on earth playing a small town Saskatchewan hockey player named Rick Dillon, Known as Marshall, he wears a pro hockey team jacket, drives a red convertible across the Prairie wheat fields, and totes a six-shooter. On the ice, he's the big gunner on the local hockey team and a big man around a very small town. After World War II and throughout to the late 1960s and early 1970s, every Prairie community had a Rick Dillon - the guy who everyone claimed was good
enough to make the pros, but for reason never did.
In my Manitoba town, it was the guy whose father made him stay at home and help run the family taxi business. That's why Paperback Hero rings true to me as a hockey
film even though I had trouble accepting Dullea as a hockey player. And they all certainly weren't losers like Dillon who is told by Joanna (Dayle Haddon), the college-age daughter of the team's owner, "You're a big joke, Rick. Five years from now nobody will even remember you."
Because it's been so long since I've seen this movie, the plot is a little hazy. But I've never forgotten Dillon's love scene with local waitress Loretta (Elizabeth Ashley) in the shower of the local rink. The best place I've found to get more information on this forgotten movie is www.canuxploitation .com, a complete guide to Canadian B-film.
Jeremy Lynch is the entertainment editor for Crimespree magazine and rambles about film, television and more at www.crimesrpeecinema.com
ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED
First aired: March 21st, 1998 on HBO. Written by Walter Mosley, adapted from his novel of the same name
I don't think my demands of a film are too much, a combination of some of the following is wanted: be entertaining, invoke emotions, provoke thought.
ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED hits home runs in all three categories. I found myself watching a part of society that is far removed from my own, drawn in by realistic characters and reduced to tears by the fate of one.
Laurence Fishburne stars as Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con recently paroled after a over a decade in prison for double murder. Socrates has moved to Los Angeles to make a go of it. When the film opens we see him collecting cans and living in a shack. Despite conditions that most of us would find unbearable, Soco seems to take things in stride, making the most of what little he has.
But that does not mean he doesn't want more. As a fifty-something, large black man, work is not exactly easy to find. He is deemed too old for a construction job and too...I guess scary is the only way to say it...for a job at a grocery store in a nicer white neighborhood. Despite these setbacks, Soco never gives up, continuing to push forward in hopes of a better life, even when met with resistance.
Because it was adapted from a collection of stories, there is no real central storyline. The bulk of the film is Soco's experiences in the neighborhood and how his actions affect those around him . He becomes a mentor for a teenager (Daniel Williams) in the foster system, eventually finding him a good home, drives a violent junkie out of the neighborhood and helps a dying friend ease his pain by illegally purchasing narcotics.
The most interesting aspect of Soco is that Mosley does not portray him as a paragon of virtue or a man of total goodness. His own pride often works against him and his actions may not always be considered right. But he puts thought into those actions and clearly does what he THINKS is right, even if it is not always legal. Despite his past, and his rough nature, Socrates is truly noble man with strong moral fiber.
Fishburne's performance is amazing. After watching him in numerous mediocre films, I had forgotten that he is a powerful actor that can deliver the goods. Here, he truly becomes Soco. Having read the book previously, I immediately bought LF as Soco. He is exactly what I imaged the character to be. Fierce in his beliefs and desires, sometimes frustrated by inability to achieve his goals.
He is surrounded by a solid cast that offers up impressive performances. For me, Bill Cobb stands out especially as Right Burke, an older friend that ultimately loses a battle with cancer, yet goes out on his own terms. In the final scene between Cobb and Fishburne, my own eyes filled with tears. We see a man (Soco), who is used to being able to fix things through action, unable to help his friend (Cobb). The lost look in his eyes, as he realizes he is powerless to help, is one that I have seen (and likely had) more than once when a loved one has been nearing the end. Cicily Tyson, Williams and Natalie Cole all do nice jobs in support.
At no point does AO ever feel preachy. It seems to embrace the idea that solutions are different for everybody and folks may resolve the same situation in different ways. In the hands of a lesser writer, this could have been reduced to simply being another examination of race and/or the plight of the poor, but Mosley avoids letting those aspects overshadow the characters. Race and economic class certainly are a part of AO but,because of excellent writing and strong performances by the cast, the character stand front and center.
Is Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned a great film? I don't know if it is, but it has a good script and is filled with outstanding acting. As I said, it made me think about how right and wrong may be perceived differently by individuals and also moved me to tears, all the while keeping me entertained. What more can one ask for?
Anthony Ambrogio is the author of You're Next: Loss of Identity in the Horror Film -All Through the Night
These comments are excerpted from my article about All Through the Night, an essay printed in Peter Lorre (2004), one of the volumes in Midnight Marquee Press’s Actors Series.
All Through the Night, a film ripe for rediscovery, is a minor masterpiece. By now—by rights—All Through the Night’s reputation should be enormous, if only for its pivotal position in Humphrey Bogart’s filmography. Following his 1941 classics, High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, this important transitional movie cemented Bogart’s star status a year before Casablanca (1943) set his superstardom in concrete. All Through the Night was a popular film in its time “Its box-office receipts were even better than those of The Maltese Falcon,” report A. M. Sperber and Eric Lax in Bogart (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1997), p. 180. In fact, All Through the Night is, in many ways, a kind of “trial run” for Casablanca. (Sperber and Lax think so, too: “What began as an unpretentious little comedy—though with a budget twice that of The Maltese Falcon—was in some ways a zany dry run for Casablanca” [Bogart, p. 172].).
Working against All Through the Night is the fact that it isn’t Casablanca. It lacks that film’s credentials and cachet, despite its stellar cast, which includes future Casablanca stars Bogart (a cynical hero not quite as world-weary as Rick Blaine), Conrad Veidt (Nazi spy Ebbing, as civilized and sinister as Major Strasser), and Peter Lorre (playing a psychotic hitman). In addition, reliable contract player Ludwig Stössel, who appears (uncredited) as Casablanca’s memorable émigré Mr. Leuchtag—practicing his English at Rick’s café. (“What watch?” … “Such watch!”)—has a significant supporting role in All Through the Night.
All Through the Night features many reliable contract players who don’t appear in Casablanca but who nevertheless give All Through the Night the same excitement and richness that Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, et al bring to Casablanca: Frank McHugh, Jane Darwell, Barton MacLane, Edward Brophy, Wallace Ford, James Burke, and Martin Kosleck. All Through the Night is further distinguished by a trio of later tv greats: a pre-Uncle Charlie (My Three Sons) William Demarest, a pre-Sergeant Bilko Phil Silvers, and a pre-Ralph Kramden Jackie Gleason. For good measure, Judith Anderson (Rebecca’s Mrs. Danvers herself) turns up as a very lady-like, veddy English Nazi.
Of course, lousy pictures have been made with great casts—but All Through the Night isn’t one of them. Brilliantly scripted by Leonard Spielgelgass and Edwin Gilbert from a story by Spielgelgass and Leonard Q. Ross (pseudonym of humorist Leo Rosten), the movie is a model of economy and wit that moves, like Casablanca, with the usual Warner Brothers lightning pace—thanks to the efforts of director Sherman and editor Rudi Fehr (whose credits include Key Largo , House of Wax , and Dial M for Murder ).
All Through the Night was Sherman’s first A picture. His directorial début was The Return of Dr. X (1939; Bogart’s only horror film); his most recent movie had been Underground (1941), a melodrama about German resistance to Nazism. Sherman had written for other Bogart pictures (Crime School  and King of the Underworld ); thus, familiar with the colorful argot of streetwise characters, he was a good choice to guide Bogart in his first unequivocal lead in an A picture, full of colorful argot, about American anti-Nazism.
Sherman went on to a respectable Warner Brothers career. He helmed a couple of classic Bette Davis films (Old Acquaintance , Mr. Skeffington ) and some less-than-classic Joan Crawford films (The Damned Don’t Cry , Goodbye, My Fancy ). He was “gray-listed” in the red-scare fifties and ended his theatrical film career with fare like The Young Philadelphians  before doing tv work. Sherman’s credentials can’t compare to those of Raoul Walsh, John Huston, and Michael Curtiz (who auteured Bogart’s High Sierra, Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca, respectively). If Sherman were a more prestigious director, All Through the Night’s reputation would be enhanced.
The movie tells the story of “Gloves” Donahue (Bogart), a New York City gambler who’s not above stacking the odds in his favor. When Mr. Miller (Ludwig Stössel), the German baker whose cheesecake is the only kind Gloves eats, is killed, Gloves’ mother (Jane Darwell) involves him in the murder investigation. Gloves’ reluctant participation turns earnest when he learns there’s a femme to cherchez: Leda Hamilton (Kaaren Verne), who sings at a night spot owned by Gloves’ rivals, Marty Callahan (Barton MacLane) and Joe Denning (Edward Brophy). While Gloves is at the club, Denning is murdered, and Gloves is accused of the crime. In the course of clearing himself and fingering the real culprits, Gloves and his sidekicks Sunshine (William Demarest) and Barney (Frank McHugh) uncover a nest of Nazi spies operating in Manhattan and thwart a plot to blow up a battleship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Outwardly, this plot sounds nothing like Casablanca, but in several significant ways it is, albeit in modified, comic form. Like Casablanca, All Through the Night features a shady, apolitical protagonist who forsakes neutrality in favor of socially conscious engagement—spurred on (at least in part) by the love of a good woman. That good woman, as in Casablanca, is “a mysterious European woman running from a past she can’t explain” (Bogart, p. 173), but the comparison stops there. All Through the Night lacks Casablanca’s strong and compelling female lead. German-born Kaaren Verne, who plays Leda Hamilton, is pretty but no Ingrid Bergman. And Leda is a much more light-weight role than Ilsa Lund, though I always suspected that Verne’s Leda was meant to be “Bergmanesque”—an impression confirmed by Sperber and Lax: “Hal Wallis settled for her after he was unable to get his first choice, David O. Selznick’s recent discovery, Ingrid Bergman” (Bogart, p. 173).
Second-choice Verne probably got the nod because she had starred in Sherman’s Underground. Her best year in the movies was 1942: besides All Through the Night, she also appeared in King’s Row and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. (She also met Peter Lorre on the set of All Through the Night, fell in love, and began an affair, culminating in their 1951 marriage after Lorre divorced his first wife. She and Lorre subsequently divorced.) Verne had neither the distinguished career nor the talent of Ingrid Bergman; if she had—or if All Through the Night had starred Bergman instead—its reputation would be greater.
All Through the Night lacks Casablanca’s tragi-romantic dimension: the love triangle that complicates and adds dramatic depth to the story, wherein disappointment in love initiates the hero’s initial withdrawal from engagement and the return of his lover allows him to renew his activism. This raises the issue of class—in terms both of caste and aesthetics. There’s no doubt that Casablanca’s romantic couple is classier than its All Through the Night equivalent. All Through the Night features no self-sacrifice, no lines comparable to “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” or “We’ll always have Paris.” (All Through the Night’s final exchange between heroine and hero is “I … feel it’s about time someone knocked the Axis back on its heels,” and “Excuse me, baby. What she means is it’s time somebody knocked those heels back on their axis.” —Funny, but certainly not as classy.)
Of course, the world situation changed dramatically between January, 1942, when All Through the Night came out, and January, 1943, when Casablanca went into wide release. Nothing in All Through the Night—filmed before Pearl Harbor—can have the portentousness and resonance of Rick Blaine’s “If it’s December 7 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York? … I bet they’re asleep in New York; I bet they’re asleep all over America.” So we really can’t fault Warner Brothers for spinning a comic yarn rather than a grimmer fable of war.
Warner got into enough trouble as it was. The studio, whose Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) had pioneered the anti-Nazi propaganda film, had come under pressure from isolationists and America Firsters. Given the political climate in the States, Warner probably decided to take a more “light-hearted” approach to its axis-bashing to diffuse criticism. On September 26, 1941, while All Through the Night was shooting, Harry Warner was testifying before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Interstate Commerce on Moving-Picture Screen and Radio Propaganda, denying charges by isolationist Senators Gerald Nye and Bennett C. Clark that Warner products like Sergeant York (1941) and Confessions were designed to “create war hysteria.” He claimed that both films were factual portraits, one of a hero of the Great War and the other of a Nazi spy ring which had operated in New York City. (Not that he changed any isolationists’ minds. Pearl Harbor did that—or at least forced them to keep quiet for the duration.)
Aljean Harmetz thinks All Through the Night “was typical of a dozen or more early war movies in which Hollywood simply grafted old-fashioned Americanism onto its gangster and gambler heroes” (Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca—Bogart, Bergman, and World War II [New York: Hyperion, 1992], p. 295). She cites Alan Ladd’s Lucky Jordan (1942) and Cary Grant’s Mr. Lucky (1943) as further examples. But, just as Confessions was based on a true story, so, too, was All Through the Night. Malvin Wald—producer Jerry Wald’s brother—supplied the idea, inspired by an incident that occurred when he was working for the weekly Brooklyn World in 1936:
The editor [of the World] was acquainted with several Jewish gangsters who resented the Nazis’ holding meetings in Yorkville, the purpose of which was to spread Hitlerism and anti-Semitism. The gangsters would learn where the meetings were to be and tipped off the editor. Whereas the police could do nothing, the gangsters were free to break heads and disrupt the proceedings, and the photographers for the World would be on hand to chronicle the attempt to bring Hitler to America. (Malvin Wald, quoted in Bogart, p. 172)
Like Casablanca, All Through the Night’s multi-national factions (here represented by Donahue and Callahan’s rival gangs and an assortment of ethnic types—Wyoming cowboys, a Jewish waiter, a Chinese laundryman, a black servant, etc.) unite against a common, ruthless enemy. But All Through the Night lacks Casablanca’s “seriousness of purpose.” Its climax—wherein the diverse, “warring” parties (“The people you said you would split into angry little groups. You can’t beat them, Ebbing”) band together to break up the Nazis’ meeting—is satisfying but cannot compare to the emotional shivers Casablanca still creates when Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) leads Rick’s band in “La Marseillaise,” drowning out the Nazis’ singing, or when Captain Renault (Claude Rains) finally declares himself on the side of the angels by telling his men to “Round up the usual suspects.”
All Through the Night is a Bogart vehicle, but it is not just a Bogart vehicle: he takes everybody else along for the ride. It is actually an ensemble piece, sparked by Bogart and Demarest and Bogart-Demarest-McHugh performing as a wise-cracking comedy duo/trio in their scenes together, and marked by a colorful cast of supporting characters spouting the kind of rapid-fire dialogue that distinguished so many Golden-Age Warner Brothers films.
Patti Abbott-THE LATE SHOW (1977, Directed by Robert Benton, Starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin)
A woman ( Tomlin) comes to a private eye (Carney) about a missing cat. He takes the case and his search for the cat turns into a complicate crime story with a dead body at the end. The mystery is not without interest, but the real story, the thing that makes it hum, is the relationship that begins between Carney and Tomlin. Both the screenplay and the actors create real, idiosyncratic yet sympathetic people. Movies from the seventies seemed to be able to combine genre and believable characters. The one doesn't come with the other very often lately.
For anyone who has only seen Art Carney in THE HONEYMOONERS, this will be an eye-opener and the atmosphere is dead-on.
John Weagley is the author of THE UNDERTOW OF SMALLTOWN DREAMS and many crime fiction stories.““The Undertow of Small Town Dreams” (it’s currently available from Twilight Tales Publications)The Undertow of Small Town Dreams” (it’s currently available
fBARTLEBY (2001) Screenplay by Jonathan Parker & Catherine DiNapoli Directed by Jonathan Parker
First off, I should confess that I’ve never read Herman Melville’s classic novella “Bartleby the Scrivener.” The closest I’ve come is reading Peter Straub’s brilliant re-imagining “Mr. Club and Mr. Cuff.” So, I’m not the best person to talk about how this movie works as an adaptation of the source material.
What I can talk about is how I think this movie is a brilliant piece of absurdism.
The plot of BARTLEBY, in half-a-nutshell, is about an office where one of the workers (Bartleby) won’t do any work. With the response “I would prefer not to,” Bartleby leads his workplace into a strange, quiet chaos.
Crispin Glover is excellent in the title role. His quirky weirdness brings a depth to the role that few other actors would’ve been able to achieve. He’s surrounded by a solid, interesting cast of great actors (Maury Chaykin, brilliant in the Nero Wolfe TV series), good actors (David Paymer and Glenne Headly) and “Are they still working?” actors (Joe Piscopo, who’s actually not bad).
BARTLEBY definitely isn’t for everyone (many of the people I’ve recommended it to have responded with a polite “We’re glad we watched it.”) but I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a bit of tranquil oddness and David Lynchian eccentricities.Rich Robinson has written reviews and columns for The Crime Record, Mystery News, Deadly Pleasures and other periodicals, and publishes his own commentary & review newsletter, Lethal Interjection.
Green For Danger (1946, Sally Gray, Trevor Howard, Alastair Sim as Inspector Cockrill) – Well cast and nicely produced with good acting, this is an intriguing whodunit sure to please any mystery fan. Worth seeing even if you’ve read the book and know the culprit. Recommended.
More Forgotten Movies