Murders in the Rue Morgue

The heavy gloom is fitfully lighted by the sordid gleams of Dr. Mirakle’s lurid sideshow, Florey has a fine old time with a medical student’s predicament.

Morgue Keeper: Well, M. Dupin! What brings you here so late?
Pierre Dupin: The two women.

The joke when it comes is fast and fantastic. Raree girls excite the boys, their sweethearts are disdainful. The setup is that Dr. Mirakle kidnaps girls to make a mate for his ape Eric. He injects each girl with Eric’s blood, each girl dies.

The punchline is that Eric carries off Dupin’s girl for himself, scampering over the rooftops of Paris ahead of King Kong (dirs. Cooper & Schoedsack).


Outpost in Morocco

The Emir’s daughter, demi-denizen of Paris, and the Foreign Legion captain. The girl is summoned home early and that is all Florey needs to advance a memory of the war, that and Mauser rifles.

The structure is all but entirely made of scenes built upon masterpieces of French painting, which are to be recognized or deduced by the spectator. Between George Stevens’ Gunga Din and Basil Dearden’s Khartoum, a matter of military contingency. “What is it?”

“They’re dynamiting the river to change its course. That means our well will go completely dry. We must let the horses go now.”

“I guess you’re right, about the horses.”

“They’ll be better off than we will.” David Lean remembers the scene in Lawrence of Arabia, whence Peckinpah in The Wild Bunch. The rest is T.S. Eliot and René Char (cf. Zoltan Korda’s Sahara), “my hearth has not dried up with wishes for your houses.”

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times attempted to foist a witticism on his Gotham readership, “despite its Moroccan binding, the contents of this film are pure pulp.” Leonard Maltin, “cardboard adventure yarn”. TV Guide, “hardly a credible story, made less credible by some cardboard characterizations.Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “wooden desert adventure”. Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “Akim Tamiroff easily steals the show.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “stolid... dull”.


The Stacked Deck
Four Star Playhouse

The exact cognate of Jacques Becker’s Touchez pas au grisbi for kidnapping, murder and blackmail as a metaphor of the war at Willie Dante’s place, Dante’s Inferno.


Perchance to Dream
The Twilight Zone

Beaumont evokes the dream state in a teleplay all but the first few minutes of which are revealed to be a dream, and he does so by observing that l’amour, c’est la mort, imagining the dreamer as a man pursued by a femme literally fatale.

The Freudian dilemma is classically presented with a textbook symbol at the outset, swelling sails breasting the waves. It is the dream state ruled by Maya the Cat Girl and her ticket barker, eventually the psychiatrist and his secretary. Out of this neurosis is a suicidal leap that goes nowhere, never for one moment able to extricate the dreamer.

There is a fantastic progression of events all given as narrative in a psychiatrist’s office, the painting of a ship under sail which he learned as a child to look at until it moved, his paranoid recollection of a news item causing him to see the woman in the back seat of his car while driving, the fair with its sideshow of “fat ones and thin ones, blondes, brunettes, redheads,” where she appears as Maya the Cat Girl inviting him to the Fun House full of terrors...

A very precise allegory, then, dominated by hallucination and given to Richard Conte for the purposes of an absolute mental fear projected at the outset as nausea at the sight of crowds in and out at the revolving-door entrance of a skyscraper.



The Fever
The Twilight Zone

Maugham’s or Milestone’s Rain, re-composed by Serling as a pure vaudeville for slot machine and tourist.

Florey’s determined execution of this accomplishes the transposition in tight, expressive shots carried out with a latitude of intensive thinking that fries the mickey out of the thing. It looks like something more than gambling fever, the way Florey films it. The blinking eye of the ROL-A-TOP slot machine with a $10,000 jackpot advances toward its victim like the murderous pod in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It scours the eye of the mind in stark compositions. It’s the breathless come-on that never pays off.

At the same time, it’s the house odds, five for six, three for five. The drama lies in the effect on a rube from Elgin who never saw such a thing before.

There’s almost no example of the twilight zone in evidence that reveals it better than this, a simple phenomenon accepted as the symbol of something also not that uncommon, and you can practically see the point at which it occurs, “the middle ground between light and shadow...”


The Doreen Maney Story
The Untouchables

Baer TKOs Schmeling. The gate receipts are stolen from an armored truck out of Yankee Stadium, four guards are killed. Doreen hides the loot in a Penn Station locker, the gang holes up at her father’s farm in Tennessee.

Ness brings her back. Her lover, Sheik Humphries, has taken up with her sister, who visits Doreen in Bronx County Jail. The loot is needed for bail, payoffs and a lawyer.

Ness confirms there is no bail for murder. Doreen wants out for 24 hours, he won’t let her kill Sheik. “The biggest gamble of his life” is an engineered escape during a midnight transfer to the Women’s Detention Center in Greenwich Village, she takes a cab driven by Rossi, tailed by Ness and Allison.

At Penn Station, Ness shoots the gun out of her hand. Sheik picks it up and is shot. “Maybe you can make bail,” says Doreen.


The Changing Heart
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

It belongs to Daddy.

There is nothing for anyone else, he made her run on time.

Hitchcock in and out of a cuckoo clock that chimes.


A Jury Of Her Peers
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A New England murder investigation, pretty as a poem by Robert Frost.

Hitchcock’s new shows, one about a Hollywood veterinarian and his mentor, also The Unmentionables and Frontier Fink.


The Opportunity
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Aisle displays and French wallets, or why the balloon goes up without a pilot.

Masterfully directed by Florey, on a theme closely related to “The Deadly” (dir. Don Taylor).


The Children of Alda Nuova
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Out in the Dark Ages, looking beyond the Romans to the Etruscans, all ruins, shabbiness, dirt.

Florey has a great eye for this, as described, and then some, it is all to counterpose another horror even worse.

Hitchcock on Pisa, the Leaning Tower.


The Long Morrow
The Twilight Zone

Among the many films that went into Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, most are tactical, such as Frend’s Scott of the Antarctic for the sense of movement (in the ship’s departure) and the poetical titles, or Dryer’s Vampyr and LeRoy’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (the live burial and the bombing raid) for the planetary end of the Star Gate sequence, and so forth.

The forty years of space flight signal the Old Testament aspect, and the astronaut emerging from suspended animation, “something like dying and coming to life again,” is the essence of Kubrick’s film.

Serling has the mission in mind. The astronaut finds no life in the planetary system he visits, but the girl he left behind has undergone the experience of hibernation, and that is the point.

The irony of the construction includes all the complexities, such as Dr. Bixler the mission specialist who sends the astronaut up, and the new officer who tells the returning explorer “what a distinction it is to meet a man who put such a premium on love.”