Archive for January, 2018

A Crazy Classic Movie: Death on the Diamond! AKA, Someone is Killing the St. Louis Cardinals!!!

I was looking over Turner Classic Movie’s monthly schedule for January when a film title caught my eye: Death on the Diamond.  The overview of the film’s plot read that someone was killing off the St. Louis Cardinals during a pennant race.  I had to laugh a bit and began to wonder if the culprits were the Cincinnati Reds or the hated Chicago Cubs-if  you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan, you’re not a fan of the Cubs.  I recorded the movie so buckle in for a review of this short, 69 minute film.   

The movie was made in 1934, and at that time the real St. Louis Cardinals were on top of the baseball world.  That year, they would go on to finish number one in the National League and win the World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers in seven games.  In Death on the Diamond, the Cardinals are in a 3-way race for the pennant, battling it out with the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.  The manager/owner Pop Clark, knows his team must win the pennant for him to be able to keep his ownership of the team.  A new potential owner, Mr. Ainsley is waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and take the team from Clark if the Cardinals fail to win the pennant.

Several horrid events occur during this pennant race before the murders begin.    Two former players who got caught up in gambling are hanging around Sportsman’s Park, trying to get back on the team, greatly annoying Pop Clark.  Then,  St. Louis gambling kingpin Joseph Karnes has bribed the team’s new pitching ace, Larry Kelly.  Wise sports writer Jimmie Downey  warns Kelly not to associate himself with Karnes and the bribery attempt is foiled.  Soon after, someone shoots out the tire on a taxi that Larry is riding in, the taxi crashes into a street construction site,and Larry escapes with a badly injured foot and has to miss 2 weeks of games.  Then, someone was seen exiting the clubhouse by the batboy, Mickey.  While Mickey didn’t get a good look at this person, he did discover that this person messed around with all of the players gloves, as there was some kind of liquid inside of them.  The team’s doctor examines the gloves and discovers that the liquid would have caused severe skin-damage to the players.  Man! Someone doesn’t want the Cardinals to win this pennant race!

Larry meeting Pop Clark, team owner and manager.

A bit of batting practice with Larry and Dunk.

Frances and Larry fall in love-awww!

Don’t eat that hot dog, Truck!!

 

Three murders occur in this film, one right after the other. First, slugger Dunk Spencer is shot dead by a sniper during an away game in Chicago, as he is rounding third base and heading to home. During the second game against the Cubs, pitcher Frank Higgins is summoned to the away team’s locker room to take a phone call. While there, he is attacked from behind and strangled. Lastly, back at Sportsman’s Park, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, loveable catcher Truck Hogan unwittingly slathers his hot dog with poisoned mustard! He doesn’t linger long after consuming the hot dog.

The list of suspects: the two outcast former players, gambler Joseph Karnes, possible new owner Mr. Ainsley, and at one point, even the new pitcher Larry Kelly is thought to be the killer since he and Dunk Spencer were both heard arguing about which one of them was going to date Pop’s daughter, and secretary of the team, Frances.  I won’t give out the who the murderer is  but I was surprised as to who it was and that person puts on an over the top, chew up the scenery rant for the confession!

Death on the Diamond was fun for me to view since I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan and used to live in a suburb of that city for almost 20 years. There’s a banner advertising the now defunct newspaper the Globe-Democrat on the wall of Sportsman’s park. The still functioning St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the newspaper that the newsboy is selling on the street. Actual footage of the Cardinals from the 1930s are used for the baseball game scenes.  While no actual Cardinal players were cast in the film, one of the players speaks with a strong southern accent  with funny lines to quip, and I am pretty sure his character was based upon Cardinals pitching ace Dizzy Dean. Dean was an Arkansas native who was a fan favorite player of the Cardinals for most of the 1930s.

The film was based on mystery writer Cortland Fitzsimmon’s novel of the same title.  MGM purchased the rights to the novel in order to turn the tale into a movie.  Author Fitzsimmons wrote the screenplay, along with Harvey Thew, Joseph Sherman, and Ralph Spence.  The film was directed by Edward Sedgewick and produced by Lucien Hubbard. Cast: Robert Young as Larry Kelly, Madge Evans as Frances Clark, David Landau as Pop Clark, Nat Pendleton as Truck Hogan, Paul Kelly as Jimmy Downey, Joe Sawyer as Dunk Spencer, Robert Livingston as Frank Higgins, Ted Healy as umpire Crawfish O’Toole, C. Henry Gordon as Joseph Karnes, Edward Brophy(later the voice of Timothy the mouse in Dumbo) as Police Sgt. Grogan, DeWitt Jennings as Patterson, and Willard Robertson as Police Lt. Cato.  The young batboy, Mickey, is played by Mickey Rooney and that was fun to see.  Also, playing a bit part as a police guard for the team is Ward Bond.  Also in a bit part is great character actor Walter Brennan, with no lines, as an excited radio sports announcer during a game.    

Death on the Diamond is a wacky bit of film, fast-paced, with the requisite happy ending.  If you’re a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, I’d say it’s a must-see.  If you’re a Cubs fan, it may just be a fun fantasy to see! Here’s a link to one of the trailers for the movie that MGM had made to be shown in movie theaters.   The movie is available for purchase at Amazon and at TCM’s Shop.

 

 

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Book Review: Coolidge by Amity Shlaes

PBS’s American Experience tv program, quite a few months ago, examined the life and presidency of  President James Garfield.  Garfield was assassinated in July of 1881 by a deranged individual, 200 days after being elected President.  A friend had watched the program and said that Garfield did seem to have been an impressive person and what a shame his presidency was stopped so quickly.  My friend wished a person of Garfield’s integrity would have been in the running for the office of  President in 2016.

President Calvin Coolidge

Fast-forward to today, and I was having a discussion with my  child, whom I lovingly call my liberal- hippie.  The topic of unions and strikes came up and I mentioned that I had read over the weekend that FDR once tried to imply in a speech that President Calvin Coolidge was a fascist! My liberal hippy child then mentioned he had heard that Coolidge had thrown striking workers into jail?  I sighed and decided to give my hippie kid a history lesson. To his credit, he listened to my evidence.

In the Autumn of 2014, I read  author Amity Schlaes’s book, Coolidge.    The book had been published in February of that year and I  found it utterly fascinating; I tend to favor autobiographies, biographies if I know the were written by credible writers, and historical fiction.   What I had previously known about Coolidge wasn’t much:that he was born and raised in New England, he was married to  a lovely and accomplished  woman who had a career in deaf education, he was the father of two sons, and that he was known as a man of few words.  There is a funny anecdote about Coolidge being at a dinner party where a lady  tells him that she made a bet that she could get him to say more than two words, to which Coolidge replied, “You lose.”

John Calvin Coolidge Jr.  was  born and raised in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  His father held a lot of different jobs, notably as a justice of the peace and he served in the Vermont House of Representatives.  Coolidge knew tragedy as a youth when his mother died when he was 12, and his only sibling whom he was close to, younger sister Abigail, died at age 15 when Coolidge was 18.  Coolidge’s father valued thrift and hard work and he instilled those traits in his son.  He encouraged his son to find part-time jobs, work at them well, save his earnings, and to invest them wisely.  Coolidge went to high school at Black River Academy in Ludlow, VT.  He went to college at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Coolidge petitioned to join fraternities as a freshman but was rejected.  However, when he joined the college’s debate team and began to shine as a debater, he was able to finally join a fraternity his senior year.  After graduation, since affording law school was out of the question, Coolidge earned his law career  by apprenticing himself to a law firm in Northampton, MA. Why this method of earning a law degree has stopped, I don’t know.  With the increasing expense of college educations, I would think this idea ought to be revived.

In 1905, Coolidge met Grace Anna Goodhue.  She was a graduate of the University of Vermont and a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton.  She and Coolidge were both attending the Congregationalist Church and met through various events that the younger members of the church liked to attend.  Coolidge proposed in the early summer of 1905, Grace accepted, and despite a mother-in-law who didn’t like him(she often said he was elected President due only to her daughter) the couple married that October.  Two sons were born to the marriage, John in 1906 and Calvin  in 1908. Tragically, Calvin died during his father’s presidency.  He had been playing tennis at the White House, in stocking feet, and developed a blister that became badly infected.  It was 1924 and antibiotics hadn’t been discovered yet. Young Calvin died of blood poisoning, and it’s one of the saddest accounts in Schlaes’s book.

Coolidge followed the advice of the lawyers he had clerked for while earning his law degree: get involved in local politics.  He began by  serving as a city councilman for Northampton, Mass., then serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  After that term was done, instead of running again for that seat, and with a young family at home, he opted to run for Mayor and won.  As  Northampton’s mayor, he showed the economic skills that I believe we need in the White House in 2016: Coolidge was able to raise teacher’s salaries, lower city taxes a bit, and paid off some ofthe city’s debts.  Coolidge then ran for the Massachusetts Senate and won.  He ran for a second State Senate term and won again.  Coolidge then served two terms as Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, and then Coolidge served two terms as Governor.  During his first term in that office, the Boston Police went on strike and instead of caving in to their demands, Coolidge enlisted the National Guard to take over the city’s police duties, and he himself oversaw the running of the police department.  American Federation of Labor leader Samuel Gompers sent Coolidge a private message stating that he disagreed with the Governor’s actions “… the right of the policemen has been denied“.  Coolidge made his reply to Gompers public and famously wrote:”Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot justify the wrong of leaving the city unguarded.  That furnished the opportunity; the criminal element furnished the action.  There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime…”  That public reply went across the nation and many Americans agreed with Coolidge’s points and a favorable view of him grew nationally.

1920 and Coolidge was selected to be Presidential candidate Warren G. Harding’s Vice Presidential running mate.  They easily defeated their Democratic opponents.  Coolidge didn’t have a lot to do as Vice President but Harding did ask that Coolidge attend all cabinet meetings, the first President to ever ask his Vice President to do so. On August 2, 1923, President Harding died of a heart attack while on a Western US speaking tour.  Coolidge was visiting his father in Vermont, staying in the family home that had no electricity or telephone.  Coolidge was sworn in by his father, who was a notary public.  This was in the wee hours of the morning, so after he was sworn in, President Coolidge went back to bed!  The next day he went back to Washington for a more formal swearing in conducted by a Supreme Court Justice.

What did I appreciate about Coolidge’s Presidency?  I appreciated his efforts to cut the government budgets each year and to pay off all of the debt the country incurred from World War I.Here is a link to all that he did that was wise for the US Economy while he was President.  The head housekeeper who had served with the Hardings despaired at the White House budget cuts and she resigned! I admired that the advice and lessons in which Coolidge’s father imparted to him didn’t leave him when he reached adulthood. Coolidge wasn’t one to talk a lot, but when he did speak, it was succinct and well-thought out. It wasn’t blurted out as unthinking verbal hits. 1923-29, the years of Coolidge’s presidency, the US saw economic growth combined with an administration that practiced economic frugality.  The American public thought so well of Coolidge that many wanted him to run for another 4 year term(this was before the Supreme Court had passed the 22nd Amendment that limited a President to serving for 8 years.) Coolidge felt it was time for him to bow out and he did so with grace. There were only two negatives that I could recall that marred an otherwise exemplary time in office. One was an anti-immigrant attitude that Congress and American public were fostering, that led to the Johnson-Reed Act, which severely limited the amount of immigants that could enter the US. Coolidge was hesitant to sign it as it would especially harm the numbers of Asian immigrants and the US had been developing a good relationship with the nation of Japan.  However, Congress and labor groups kept demanding that the Act be signed so Coolidge did give in and sign it in May of 1924. I wonder if the signing of this Act started into motion the hard feelings Japan developed towards the US which ultimately led to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941? The other negative event was a personal one.  The Coolidge’s were vacationing for the summer of 1927 in South Dakota. The First Lady and her Secret Service agent went off on a hike and were gone several hours, which worried Coolidge greatly. When the First Lady and her agent returned, Coolidge’s ire had grown and he demanded the agent be re-assigned. That left the press stationed in South Dakota in order to cover the first family’s vacation to wonder about the First Lady and her agent. The First Lady turned the tables on her husband and wrote a letter stating how professional her agent was in conducting his work and that she didn’t want him re-assigned.  To her credit, the First Lady remained friends with this agent and his wife the rest of her life.

I recommend this book as a great read.  It’s interesting not only for an in depth look at Coolidge but also at America in the 1920s before the Great Depression hit. The book  makes me wish we could have a person in Coolidge’s mold to run for presidency in the future;  a president who does the job well, who speaks few words  sounds wonderful right now!

 

My Classic Movie Pick: 1946’s Deception

In 1942, Warner Brothers scored a huge hit with the tear-jerking, bittersweet romance Now, Voyager, which starred Bette Davis, Claude Rains, and Paul Henreid.  In 1946, the studio decided to put this triumvirate together for another picture and this go round resulted in the film, Deception.  Did any other actresses in Hollywood know how to wield a gun as well as Bette? Sorry for that spoiler, but not really!   

Bette plays Christine Radcliffe, a promising pianist who happens to have been a student of the famous conductor and composer Alexander Hollenius(Claude Rains, having a great time with this role.)  Christine is sitting high up in a concert hall, tears in her eyes, as she listens to the guest cellist playing his piece with an orchestra accompanying him.  After the concert, she rushes backstage to see the cellist, Karol Novak(Paul Henreid). She is desperate to see him because before WWII struck, they had both been music students in Europe and had fallen in love.  Christine got back to the USA before the War got worse but poor Karol spent the war in a concentration camp.  He survived, but Christine thought he had been killed.  She is joyful and deliriously happy to be reunited with Karol again and they soon make plans to marry.

Christine has one big secret and she decides to not tell Karol about it until after they are married, when she finds the right time to tell him.  Big mistake! However, that would take away from movie’s plot if Christine did the sensible and honest thing.  During the wedding reception Christine realizes her decision to wait for the big secret reveal is a mistake when Alexander Holenius crash’s the party at Christina’s apartment.  He saunters in, clearly realizing that his expectation to be alone with Christine was a mistake as he sees all the people and the wedding cake.  It’s pretty easy to figure out that Holenius and Christine had “something” going on and her marriage to Karol feels like a slap in the face to Holenius.

Holenius not too happy at the wedding reception!

Karol is no dummy.  He has an inkling that Christine and Holenius weren’t just a student and a teacher. How did Christine afford her apartment and her fur coats, fancy dresses, pieces of art and jewelry? Christine tells him at first that Holenius just likes to give his favorite friends gifts.  Then she finally tells him the truth and assures him that it is all over between her and Holenius.  Karol is on the brink of classical music stardom and Holenius offers to let him audition to play the cello solo for an upcoming concert series.  Christine makes some visits to Holenius to try and explain that she loves Karol and not him, that Holenius should respect that, and he better not do anything to destroy Karol’s career.  With that threat from Christine, there’s a gleam in Holenius’s eye to make it a difficult experience for Karol in the world of classical music in NYC.

Christine warning Holenius not to mess with Karol!

Bette Davis is great as Christine. Passionate in her love for Karol, weary in spirit when she is dwelling on her relationship with Holenius. Paul Henreid is the strong, silent, handsome type but he does let a flicker of Karol’s anger appear at times and it’s scary.  Henreid didn’t actually know how to play the cello but mastered the hand movements and is very convincing in his musical scenes.  For St. Louis Symphony fans, a bit of trivia: former conductor Leonard Slatkin’s mother, Eleanor Aller,  was the cellist for this movie, playing the parts that Henreid pretended to play.  Of course it goes without saying that Claude Rains has a field day as the former teacher/lover of Christine, roiled with jealousy at Karol, and knowing he has the power to control this couple’s future in the classical music world.

Paul Henreid in one of his excellent cello playing scenes.

If you love classical music, this film has a lot of great pieces in it, arranged by the wonderful Erich W. Korngold.  A musical prodigy in his youth in Austria, he began to help Hollywood movies with beautiful and rich musical scores, beginning with A Midsummer’s Night Dream in 1935.  In 1938, Hollywood called again asking him to return from Austria to create the score for a new film, The Adventures of Robin Hood.  While Korngold was working on this film score, the Nazis were marching all over Europe and brutally establishing their regime.  This caused Korngold to decide to stay in the US during the war, and he often said later that The Adventures of Robin Hood saved his life.

For a good drama, to see three actors performing their roles very well, and despite telling yourself as you watch, “Christine shouldn’t have kept that secret from Karol…,” tune in to Deception.  It is available on Amazon via their instant rent.  TCM may show it again before this new year is over, so keep your eye out for it via their monthly schedules at their website.

Deception: Warner Brothers film, directed by Irving Rapper, produced by Henry Blanke, screenplay by John Collier and Joseph Than, based on a play Monsieur Lamberthier by Louis Verneuil.  Good supporting cast members include John Abbott as Mr. Gribble, a competing cellist, and Benson Fong, as Jimmy, Holenius’s servant.  Fong, when in  his senior citizen years, was often cast on the tv show, Kung-Fu.

50 Shades of Greitens?!

I live in Missouri and have since 1993. Our family survived the giant flooding of the St. Louis area back then as we chose a suburb on high ground that wasn’t affected too much by that natural disaster.  I bring that up as an introduction to a political disaster that has hit Missouri this week, brought about by one person’s hugely bad choice.

 

I woke up on Wednesday morning, as I typically do, and proceeded to make the morning coffee, turning on the kitchen radio and listening to the news.  First up was ABC Radio News, at the top of the hour, 7:00 am.  What then followed almost caused me to do a spit-take of my first sip of coffee, at 7:05, with the Missourinet news report.  It was reported that the state’s governor,Eric Greitens, who had campaigned as a conservative republican, a family man, a US navy seal, had had an affair right before he ran for the governorship and that blackmail was involved. Missourinet went on to report that St. Louis’s  CBS tv affliate station KMOV was reporting this, that the station had done a special investigative report all about this breaking news.  I quickly went over to the computer and searched for KMOV and found their report, with lurid details about the governor’s tawdry affair with his  hair stylist, and how he supposedly had blackmailed her into never revealing this affair.  KMOV   had interviewed the hair stylist’s former husband who had provided details about his then-wife’s blackmail threat.    I was shocked by this news and quickly texted my husband about it all as he had already gone into work that morning and had missed this news story.  I then texted our kids about it and one of them came up with the quip that I used for my blog’s title; the hair stylist’s husband’s commentary for KMOV mentioned some strange methods one would use in an affair, which made all of us think of that 50 Shades movie and book.

Since all of that news came out, the governor’s office has issued several statements. First, Mrs. Greitens and the governor acknowledged that their marriage went through a rough patch prior to the campaign, that they have healed their marriage and Mrs. Greitens has  forgiven her husband.  Mrs. Greitens also issued a statement, really a warning of sorts, for the gossip mongers to leave her and their two young sons alone.  The governor’s latest statement is that while he did have the affair, the story about blackmailing the other woman is untrue.

One of my favorite radio podcasts, The Three Martini Lunch, discussed this story.  I had to agree with podcast hosts Jim Geraghty and Greg Corombos that the audio of the blackmailed woman, given to KMOV by the woman’s now ex-husband certainly sounds authentic-her choking voice trying to confess to her husband about the affair is heart-breaking as she mentions the blackmailing.

At all of this news that hit Missourians this week, I have some advice.  If you are ever, ever thinking about running for a public office, please don’t do so if you have made lousy choices in life.  Breaking your marriage vows being an example of a lousy choice.  If you haven’t made such a lousy choice and want to run for public office, consider some safeguards in your public life: don’t go to a hair stylist if your’re a guy, just go to the nearby neighborhood barber shop.  Also, adopting Vice President Pence’s policy of not eating dinner alone with a female isn’t a bad policy, or if you have to, make sure the wife is with you!  Voters don’t want to find out after they’ve voted for you that you are an idiot!!

From listening to another podcast during Christmas break, Need to Know, hosted by Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, I discovered a possible solution for Governor Greitens.  In 1961, in Great Britain, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, had an affair with a 19 year old model.  In March 0f 1963, this information was leaked to the British press and Profumo, at first, denied all of the accusations. (If you have watched Netflix’s original series, The Crown, Season 2 mentions this a bit.)  A few weeks after making his denial speech to the House of Commons, Profumo  confessed and admitted to the affair.  What also made this such a scandal is that the model in the affair, Christy Keeler, was also fooling around with a Soviet naval attache who was stationed in London, and that there may have been a security risk; British government info Profumo may have blabbed about to Keeler getting relayed to the Soviet guy. Profumo resigned  and here’s the rest of the story I learned from the podcast.  Instead of trying to rally  his political career, Profumo accepted that his political life was over, and turned to a quieter pursuit,working as a volunteer for a charity based in the East End of London.( If any of you are fans of Call the Midwife, it is set in the East End of London.) He basically disappeared into that life, atoning for what he had done and worked at that charity for 40 years as a volunteer.

My advice to Governor Greitens, is to finish out your term as governor, if you’re not forced out.  Bow out of a political life and find a charity to support quietly as a volunteer, as Profumo did.  When Profumo passed away at the age of 91, he was surrounded by his wife and children, showing that forgiveness did indeed happen for that family and I do truly hope it can happen for Missouri’s govenor and  his family.   

Here’s to hoping Missourians won’t be hit with a news story such as this in the weeks to come. Hopeful that we can get to Spring safely and dodging of the flu and bad weather will be all that we in the Show-Me state will have to contend with!

My Classic Movie Pick: 1955 Western, The Violent Men

During Turner Classic Movies’s Summer Under the Stars in August of 2017, I dvred several movies starring Glenn Ford.  Ford was one of the 31 stars featured that month.  Ford made several westerns in his career and a new one to me was released  in 1955, The Violent Men.   The film is  dramatic with a capital D, set in the rugged west of New Mexico, with a lot of action and plot twists.

 

Columbia Pictures bought the rights of the novel, Smoky Valley, by Donald Hamilton and hired Harry Keiner to write the  screenplay.   Direction was by Rudolph Mate and the  producer was Lewis J.  Rachmil.  The soaring music was by Max Steiner and the film was made with cinemascope for a better look via the widescreen with the added splash of  technicolor.  This film sounds and looks great.   The cast is large, and there are two actresses in it I was not familiar with.  Glenn Ford, obviously the protagonist, plays John Parrish, a former Yankee soldier turned cattle rancher who after a 3 year try, has decided to take his fiancee Caroline(May Wynn-one of the actresses I wasn’t familiar with) back east with him, where they’ll marry and he’ll find something else to do for a living.

Moving east will take money and John tells Caroline, her father, and John’s ranch hands that he plans on selling his cattle ranch to area cattle baron Lew Wilkison(played by Edward G. Robinson-yes! the actor most associated with playing gangsters, is in a western!).  John does add a warning to his announcement, if Wilkison doesn’t offer him what his ranch is really worth, he’ll turn down the offer.  Caroline isn’t happy to hear this, as she wants to get east and urges John to take whatever offer he receives.  The ranch hands are outraged, and tell John that Wilkison has sent his henchmen out and about to harass the smaller ranchers in order to drive them away and they thought John was a better boss, a better man who wouldn’t cut and run.  John is left between a rock and a hard place, and goes off to see Wilkison.

Wilkison has an impressive spread, a small man in size but not in ego. Despite being crippled due to a range war that happened 12 years in the past, Lew Wilkison still inspires a sort of fear amongst the local folks.  Lew vowed to buy up all the land in a large area to please his wife, Martha,(Barbara Stanwyck) so that they would be the leading family in the New Mexico territory.  One would think if one were pursuing a family dynasty one would have a passel of heirs, but no, there is only one daughter, Judith(Dianne Foster-the other actress I wasn’t familiar with.)  Lew worships the ground Martha walks on yet daughter Judith hates her mother-that plot point isn’t given much explanation, but as the story moves forward, we’ll see reasons as to why Judith is right to be wary of her mother.  Lew’s younger brother, Cole(Brian Keith, with dark hair and mustache, not looking like Uncle Bill from Family Affair at all!) helps with running the ranch and reason one for Judith to hate mama: Martha and Cole are carrying on a torrid affair under Lew’s nose!!!  Cole, not a great guy, is two-timing Martha with a Mexican girl Elena(Lita Milan); the phrase that there is no honor among thieves comes to my mind.  A shout out to a young Richard Jaeckel is in order too, as he is his smarmy, snarling best as henchman #1 Wade Matlock, murdering the sheriff in cold blood, under orders from someone at Wilkison’s ranch, but Lew denies giving out any such order when John confronts him about this event.  John, refusing to be charmed by Martha, also refuses Lew’s weak offer for his ranch, and the Wilkison’s new motto(not Judith’s) is to drive John Parrish from the territory and all the rest of the small ranchers trying to hold on to their properties.

Lew and Martha Wilkison, power couple of New Mexico territory

Judith, who hates her mother, Martha

Martha with her lover, Cole

 

John casually confronting Matlock in the saloon.

Edward G. Robinson, the more I explore the films he was in, the more I am impressed with his acting abilities and his talent.  He wasn’t only good at playing an underworld gangster, he played a gentle father in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, a spoof of his gangster self in Larceny, Inc., a wise insurance inspector in Double Indemnity, and now as ranch baron Lew in The Violent Men.  If you aren’t familiar with all of his films, make that a goal for yourself in 2018!  I will give a tiny spoiler, at the film’s end, Lew accepts  a giant dose of mea culpa and it’s good to see that happen.

Barbara Stanwyck is good in this film, too.  I mentally noted that her character is sort of a western version of Lady Macbeth.  She is power behind her husband’s throne, yet conniving for her own power in several ways, leaving her husband oblivious to her machinations.  She will receive a shock in the film and her just desserts, two more tiny spoilers.

The film may pop up again on TCM this year, and it is available via the TCM Shop and at Amazon.  I’ll end the post with two great posters that advertised the film in Italy, back in 1955.  I find these two posters very artistic.  I also found a great shot of Ford and Robinson on the set, making me hope that there was a great sense of fun and camaraderie despite the film being  a dark drama.

 

Robinson and Ford on set