Deluge

La Distruzione del Mondo in the Italian dub that presently remains, only the Statue of Liberty stands against the flood.

A horrifying spectacle advanced and intensified in some respects by The War of the Worlds (dir. Byron Haskin), another memory is Things to Come (dir. William Cameron Menzies). The devastation is such that Rod Serling evokes it in “Time Enough at Last” (The Twilight Zone, dir. John Brahm) and mimics it in “One More Pallbearer” (dir. Lamont Johnson), there is also Richard Brooks’ Wrong Is Right on a similar basis. Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes goes still further.

One is in the middle of nowhere, not forty-five minutes from Broadway but “about forty miles from where New York was,” leading a primitive existence, cf. Corman’s Day the World Ended, Oboler’s Five.

A vacation resort in the mountains is wrecked but has a sizeable population (cf. Clair’s Paris qui dort). Laws take hold enjoining marriage, a husband and wife live separated by the catastrophe.

A gang of thieves and rapists and murderers roam free, leaving corpses in plain sight.

Stroheim’s Greed is a visible inspiration, cf. Wellman’s Beggars of Life. The profusion of films that follow this one includes Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Salkow’s The Last Man on Earth or Sagal’s The Omega Man and so forth in various ways.

Feist is a rare master of surprise, among other things.

Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times was not impressed, “rumbling and gurgling thriller”. Leonard Maltin, “second-rate melodrama.” Hal Erickson (Rovi), “remarkable”.

The finest understanding obtains in Mervyn LeRoy’s Homecoming.

 

Guilty of Treason

The trial of Cardinal Mindszenty.

“If a few people could just stick together.”

“They’d probably disappear separately.”

A joke from Curtiz’ Casablanca sets the tone very accurately, with Dmytryk in Soldier of Fortune Feist understands the Second Thirty Years War (1914-1945) as the Second Hundred Years War, or worse.

Hathaway’s 13 Rue Madeleine is very strongly indicated, Furie’s The Ipcress File and Roeg’s the Man who fell to Earth are foreseen.

Halliwell’s Film Guide sees a “gutter press version of real events” in this witty masterpiece.

 

The Basketball Fix

Shaving points off college games, it’s big business on the gambling side, “the fix was in.”

A clean sharp film on the dilemma. “Can you put glory in the bank?”

The cinematography by Stanley Cortez has been noted, but the very keen script and other notable contributions have not.

Michael Ritchie’s Diggstown is the latter end of it.

 

The Big Trees

Bad law makes hard cases. Termite Terrace had a field day with this title, the mention of which sent dogs yelping in anticipation.

The screenplay is honed to a razor’s edge, and it sings. It would seem that all Feist has to do is photograph the scenery, but he gives you walloping great shots like a 360░ track on Douglas and Buchanan taking a redwood’s measure.

Two of Warner Brothers’ finest hours, with a good score, fine Technicolor, and superlative performances, notably from Edgar Buchanan, who shows himself the Rip Torn of his day.

 

Battles of Chief Pontiac

“These Indians are fools,” says Colonel Von Weber, “and stupid!” This is midway between Griffith’s America and Penn’s Little Big Man, and shows the construction of a thesis round the “teeming industrial metropolis” of Detroit. The marriage forced by political circumstances is a feature of Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, for example. “Sooner or later I’ll have you court-martialed and shot,” says the white man’s white squaw. The compulsory spanking is midway between Capra’s Meet John Doe and McLaglen’s McLintock!, from the Swan of Avon.

Fort Detroit it was, to begin with.

TV Guide, “a real hatchet job”.

Mighty pretty landscapes (cinematography Charles Van Enger, score Elmer Bernstein, screenplay Jack DeWitt).

“Do you have a mirror?”

“Mirror?”

“Mirror! Look...”

“See self in water.”

Berry Kroeger as Von Weber, Roy Roberts holding the fort, Helen Westcott, Lex Barker, the chief of the Ottawas is played by Lon Chaney, Jr. A useful comparison can be made to Boetticher’s Seminole, for another example.

The smallpox gifts have been reported down the ages.

“In all humanity, Sir!”

“By humanity you refer of course to my soldiers.”

The Herzogian last of Von Weber solus at length establishes the basis as Fort Apache (dir. John Ford).

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “undistinguished” by even the final gag.

 

Donovan’s Brain

Feist’s brilliant exercise of cinematic resources has primarily Stanley Cortez as cinematographer to govern the image.

Dr. Mabuse is the invisible presence behind this fašade, he is suitably winnowed down to the title character, the mind of a certain millionaire, a worshipper at the altar of Mammon.

Dmytryk’s The Devil Commands is much in evidence as the proximal basis. Charles Beaumont’s “Dead Man’s Shoes” for The Twilight Zone (dir. Montgomery Pittman) is a similar case of possession, aspects of which also occur in Rilla’s Village of the Damned and Leader’s Children of the Damned, notably. The monkeys at the end of Herzog’s Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes are placed here at the beginning, LeRoy’s The Bad Seed draws the same conclusion.

Dead in a crash, kept alive by a fool, “Mr. Donovan’s—remains,” scheming on even to the point of murder, finally ended by reason and the forces of nature.

“The truth is always dangerous, Mr. Fuller, in the Donovan situation it entails great misfortune to all who know. Believe me, your ignorance is insurance for personal safety. Mr. Donovan intends to dominate the international financial scene, and a fatal accident will occur to all who happen to stand in his way.”

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “utterly silly.” Leonard Maltin, “intriguing... modest, capable”. Time Out, “neat... modest but effective.” TV Guide, “adheres most closely to the original”. Cavett Binion (Rovi), “effective and intelligent”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “modest competence marks this”.

 

Pirates of Tripoli

Casablanca (dir. Michael Curtiz) is the obvious key, with Paul Henreid to set the seal on a certain wartime bit of repartee about Nazis in New York.