Secret of the Incas

Machu Picchu rises like a metaphor above Cuzco. Four factors dominate the theme, the enterprise of an honest chevalier d’industrie, the outright thieving of a “crud”, the good work of a university-trained museum archŠologist, and the love of liberty in an escapee from the Iron Curtain.

King Solomon’s Mines is finally understood to be at the basis of this, as the last scene shows.

A.W. of the New York Times saw it all before, he thought, but was able to admire the Peruvian location work and Yma Sumac. Halliwell’s Film Guide did not get so far.


One Desire

Randsberg, turn of the century, a place to make one’s fortune. “You see, it takes a certain talent to handle money. You might even call it an art.” The dance hall girl and the senator’s daughter, he’s the bank president as well.

The Technicolor compositions by Maury Gertsman on costume and setting and makeup are a delight in themselves, the weft of the dramatic warp. Fanny and Alexander (dir. Ingmar Bergman) initiates the third act, nothing less. Respectability, it’s called. “No decent man can ever be proud of a cheap woman.So it comes to quibbling over a price, “I’ve got a lot of dough.The works of John Singer Sargent appear to have been consulted. It ends on a windy New Year’s Eve, in flames, a venture that comes to nothing...

H.H.T. of the New York Times, “suds are suds.Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “sudsy”. Leonard Maltin, “standard soaper.TV Guide, “mounted with a sincerity that keeps it from degenerating into soap opera.Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “produced by Ross Hunter with a veneer of class that the material itself lacks.Halliwell’s Film Guide, “tawdry”.


The Private War of Major Benson

Preminger’s The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell came five months later to analyze the significance of Hopper’s film, which provides a rigorous summation of the circumstances and the outcome in quite fictional array, and by a director whose skill and genius make the grand order of difficulties faced a mere barcarolle to all appearances.

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times didn’t understand it at all, of course, and thought it a “popular” swipe at a military man. Preminger was no help to him, a whitewash job, thought Crowther.

Heston’s comic gifts went for nothing in Gotham like the rest of it, but time will tell is the point of both films.


The Sharkfighters

With the Navy in Cuba to find a repellent for sailors adrift and downed airmen, a 1943 “top priority”.

“The passion of the scientist, the precision of the artist” (Nabokov). Among the caimaneros on the Isle of Pines, a youthful longing to be somebody in Havana driving a machine, mirrored by the Mister Roberts theme.

Lee Garmes entirely on location with CinemaScope and Technicolor evoking Orson Welles in Brazil (It’s All True), score Jerome Moross.

Nothing for the critics (“if you like swimming in polluted water with sharks,” says Albee), “bland”, says Leonard Maltin dining out, Sandra Brennan (All Movie Guide) has the plot all wrong, something about “an unscrupulous scientist”. TV Guide, “not much to get excited about.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “straightforward... suspenseful”.


The Dutch Schultz Story
The Untouchables

Schultz is first seen at the height of his power, boss of all rackets in New York. He blinds a soda-fountain proprietor and policy banker who has accepted Lucky Luciano’s lower price for protection. Mrs. Flegenheimer is in the hospital, her daughter has just been born.

Flaherty gets the goods on Schultz’s operation, headquartered in Harlem, by undercover work. A raid secures evidence for an indictment on charges of income tax evasion. Schultz offers $75,000 for it.

Schultz pleads bias (LaGuardia has called him a “dirty rat”, editorials decry his sway), a trial upstate bogs down in details, Schultz buys favor with charitable donations all over town. Ness brings in Schultz’s victims to testify. With the unwitting help of his wife, Schultz drugs and frames a schoolteacher at a roadhouse. Her uncle is the jury foreman.

The judge is shocked and shamed by the verdict. Ness is undaunted, he or Luciano will bring the Dutchman down. The Italian forces a parley, Schultz is double-crossed and powerless, dies “by the law of the jungle, in a hail of machine-gun bullets”.


The Case of the Tarnished Trademark
Perry Mason

Crawford & Zimm’s King Lear is an answer to the unposed question of Robert Wise’s Executive Suite, what happens when the financial manager takes over a manufacturing company, in the person of a villainous con man who delays his own extinction by speedily running the company into the ground (cp. The Anniversary, dir. Roy Ward Baker)?

A Danish furniture-maker who has nourished a lifelong dream of founding a children’s hospital sells his trademark to the villain, and his workshop as well. In a trice the new owner has the materials degraded, floods the market at insupportably low prices, and figures to have worn out the trademark in six months.

He frames a middleman for his own phony check, allowing the hospital land to be purchased by another buyer. A rare villain, inside deals are his stock-in-trade, check-kiting his specialty. A rival for the land puts him under it.


The Case of the Counterfeit Crank
Perry Mason

This is protective coloration partly, by one who knows himself to be sane in a world gone mad, and interestingly the effect of age on his contemporaries. The young sharpers he’s in business with don’t see the counterfeit (Mason does, instantly) but only the crank, “Napoleon B. Santa Claus”, with no method in his madness. They want a downtown investment in Barlow, money is missing for the crank’s dream of a city in the desert. He takes refuge in his seeming folly, but the sheer unthinkable thing happens to him, his desert property is sold out from under him.

There are more questions asked in the murder of the embezzler than can be answered comfortably within a surreal framework, or nearly. Mineral extraction is given out as the profit motive in the new city, but that is proven to be baseless. The air force has an eye on the area, a source generating income for a sizable population. But the crank has plans to donate land to the air force, it was his nephew who made the sale to cover his own malfeasance.

Not Napoleon B. Santa Claus, but Uncle Sam.


Day of Reckoning
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

It’s almost like an Ibsen play, but it’s set on a motor yacht for the murder during a riparian card party. The wife on the afterdeck announces that she’s leaving the husband for another man, he grapples with her and she is flung overboard. They’ve been drinking, she can’t swim, in a few seconds she’s out of view as he stares in a slow realization of his victory. Hopper sets this up with moonlight, the wife setting the automatic pilot and admiring the scene and one-second shots deploying her in the water, then puts the camera on Barry Sullivan in a medium shot for his long take.

The casting is unusually broad and deep so as to provide a solid weight for what follows. After the husband artfully covers his tracks by returning to the cabin below while the yacht continues on and eventually goes aground, the wife is thought to have fallen over the side, a search is made and there is an official investigation. The husband’s insane jealousy carries him through this, he’s trying to find the other man, perhaps the golf pro who’s been their houseguest, no, it’s the judge who tells investigators he saw it all from the cabin, no harm was done by the husband to the wife during their conversation. The judge isn’t under oath and couldn’t see anything, but he doesn’t want to allow a man he takes to be innocent to suffer needlessly a routine police interrogation.

At length, the husband resolves to confess his crime. He tells his family and friends, but they won’t hear of it. He’s suffering delusions brought on by grief and a misplaced sense of guilt. They have a reputation to uphold and a standing in the community that he would jeopardize by going to the police with such a story, they tell him.

He escapes from their constant attentions and makes a confession to the authorities, who disbelieve him. He is committed by his family and friends to a mental asylum.

Under Hopper’s direction, Sullivan reveals or fabricates in moments of stress a style founded on Humphrey Bogart that is fascinating to watch. The cast includes Claude Akins, Dee Hartford, Hugh Marlowe, Katharine Bard, Jeremy Slate and Louis Hayward.


The Case of the Avenging Angel
Perry Mason

This beautiful composition by Lawrence Louis Goldman is laid out with an unusual clarity in some aspects, notably in the red herrings, so as to trump more effectively certain twinnings and mirror effects that dissolve when looked at directly—and Hopper’s direction is exactly to the mark, floating a line that stays steady while the action seethes or recedes, a sort of unblinking study well-suited to a tale of show business.

A wealthy man silently promotes his English son’s career as a pop star, not having known of the boy’s existence previously thanks to the mother’s secretiveness. The hired manager is a blackmailing tyrant whose assistant and the patron’s wife are both having affairs with, the musical side of the business is ruthlessly exploited, and the nightclub owner who gave the boy his break is cut out.

One of the many feints has the wife a suspect in the murder of the manager by dint of jealousy over the decades-old English tryst, to frame the boy, but she reveals her true involvement on the witness stand contrarily “to save her husband’s son”.


The Case of the Crafty Kidnapper
Perry Mason

George Stevens’ Penny Serenade gets orchestrated by William Bast in such a way as to promulgate Graham Greene’s eight Japanese gentlemen and wind up on the other side of Preminger’s Bunny Lake Is Missing.

Danny Shine knows all about everything, he is silenced before his column can go to print. A subordinate is tried, the boss’s infant son has been kidnapped.

All of this hugger-mugger has to do with a single multiplied image of chicanery and deception at the Globe News Syndicate.