Battle of the Roses
Three shots tell the tale of war. From the gate of a rose garden, the camera sees a tilted pram with a doll in it, and beyond this the ruins of the town.
This is partially adduced from The Third Man. Roley develops it. The mad occupant of the garden is a young woman who fears to leave it, her family was wiped out in a night. She is carried off by Sgt. Saunders in a German offensive, and walks back next morning with the birdcage from King of Hearts. A down-angle sees her across the bridge in the main street and tilts up from the cobblestones to include an abandoned tank and the ruins as before.
Finally, the squad pulls out, leaving her in the miraculously undamaged garden (“Heaven protects the innocent”) with her gramophone and an old servant. Saunders’ farewell is handled in alternating closeups after she has stepped through the gate to present him with a rose (“special unit citation,” he tells Lt. Hanley, “battle of the roses”). The soldiers go up the street and around a corner where they are lost to view, the camera tilts down slowly along the cobblestones to the pram and doll directly beneath it.
The wildly-filmed street fighting in the opening scene is disordered and costly, the Germans withdraw for a counterattack.
The Double or Nothing
The Rat Patrol
Moffitt is about to be shot as a spy. Roley has a POV as the jeeps burst through the padlocked gate of this desert camp, and another as they leave with a captured German captain.
The brass have worked out an arrangement with the Germans for exchanging prisoners, this is to be the first. The captain makes a fuss and is killed, inadvertently. Troy puts on his uniform.
Col. Voss is queried by a subordinate, why so much trouble “to wipe out a splinter group of two jeeps?” Injured Moffitt learns of the trap from a German doctor, tries to escape by taking a hostage, collapses.
He limps out to the meeting place and collapses again, onto Troy’s shoulders (here and during his escape attempt, more POV work from Roley, with a distorting lens). The jeeps lay down a smokescreen and get away, greatly vexing Col. Voss.
Moffitt in a medical tent is tended by a blonde nurse in khaki overalls and scarf. “He suffers so nicely,” Sgt. Troy remarks. “Fortune favors the brave,” says Sgt. Moffitt, who begins the raid alone at night in the enemy camp, wearing a German officer’s uniform to open a safe and remove a document. “I was ordered to take this document,” he says in German when surprised. “Nonsense,” says his adversary likewise, “you’re a spy.”
The Trial by Fire Raid
The Rat Patrol
An elaborate, well-filmed raid on a train being loaded with ammo and fuel at a train depot. Hauptmann Dietrich is a mild taskmaster, the impoverished Arabs are being paid for the work, an unrelenting corporal is ordered not only to allow an Arab woman to go to the fountain for water so that her father may have a drink in the hot sun, but to escort her there. A rest period is ordered aboard the train.
Sgt. Troy is persuaded to give the civilians a chance. “My people pray always for the Allies to liberate, and now you do not liberate.” Her father will not budge, he too has prayed, Allied bombers have disenchanted him.
Troy is captured, the woman and her father are questioned. A daring move sends her to the train, her father in the general alarm joins her to set the charge and is killed.
The American flag replaces the swastika, the old man is buried “dishonorably”, Troy picks up Dietrich’s Iron Cross from the street and hands it to the woman.
The Hide and Go Seek
The Rat Patrol
Hauptmann Dietrich accomplishes the feat of capturing a British general’s young son fishing on the seacoast. The boy is to be traded for the return of “the foremost general in the desert campaign”, whose absence might alarm the German public, and whose location is not known. The colonel in charge of this operation wonders what Hitler will think, Dietrich replies, “must we always second-guess Hitler?”
The boy is guarded by Petrushka’s Moor with two kittens made to butt heads in playful war. A rabbit’s foot is mocked and dangled, “you English have a queer notion of luck!” A ship sank with mother and brother aboard, the boy is unable to speak having seen this, “conversion hysteria” say the doctors.
Roley has a continuous tracking shot follow the progress of a commando raid along the front of several outbuildings where guards must be overcome, the camera veers off for a wider view and cranes up as the patrol begins to cross a stone bridge.
On the return, the rabbit’s foot is dropped and must be sought at the bridge, where the boy utters a cry to warn Troy fallen back in search of him. The boy’s captor dies, “you’re gonna be doing a lot of screaming from now on,” says Sgt. Troy with a smile.
The Pipeline to
The Rat Patrol
The Germans have laid an oil pipeline under the desert, according to a half-mad British general rescued in the desert under the guns of an enemy column. His map coordinates don’t pan out, Moffett knows a likely place. Mutiny, the general calls it.
Dehydration and sunstroke are the least of the general’s infirmities, when he collapses it’s because of an abdominal wound he’s kept bandaged. It’s to the hospital or to the pipeline.
They find it near Egyptian statues away from bedrock, per Moffitt’s suggestion, and light fuses. Hitchcock is wounded.
“War is hell,” quotes Sgt. Troy, leaving the private in good spirits with a pretty nurse alone.
The last defense against a would-be dictator is neutralized with a double ready to pronounce for the takeover.
The Impossible Missions Force make him very sick, then drop Phelps and Cinnamon providentially as doctor and nurse at the monastery gates. They do a rush job for the afternoon speech.
Rollin is an old friend and visiting prelate shocked at the fraud, therefore entombed alive in a sarcophagus he opens with his cross, a convertible jackscrew. Thence he brings tunneling Barney and Willy to the next room where they break through the wall, remove the impostor from his oxygen tent and substitute the cardinal, who shortly denounces the instigator as a “liar, traitor and murderer.”
The Test Case
An entrepreneur with the adverse party has a meningitis cheaper than H-bombs. Cinnamon as a journalist named Engstrom offers him $500,000 for it in a typewritten document which at the turn of a pen becomes his biography.
Rollin is the title character, a “specimen” political prisoner introduced to fake his own death under observation. The viral gas is replaced with one that induces symptoms, and this is projected into the observation room.
“I would have dug a little deeper,” says the security chief examining the transformed bio. A crucial image divides the screen between a microphone with a loose wire and a gas balloon.
Roley’s direction is akin to Katzin’s, editing scenes in a handheld camera with zoom, focus-pulling and a swath of jump-cuts at a moment of crisis.
A revolutionary cadre runs an underground cell with hired muscle, financing its operations by robbing banks, one of a number of such cells under the supervision of a man who is the target of the mission.
The IM Force infiltrate the cell and stage a robbery. It goes badly, a police chase sends the group on the lam in a well-to-do house. The owners are at a dog show with their pet Afghan hound, Genghis.
Radio communications to the leader cannot be monitored by Barney even at close range, because this overall leader is a mere fiction devised to palliate the authority of the cell leader, who is arrested.
An unusual teleplay in its comic overtones, to match an unusual mission. “I spent six years in Folsom once,” says a hood, “because I thought a stolen car would get me around a police roadblock. It didn’t.” Paris and Grace introduce themselves as the well-to-do couple with an oil portrait of their Afghans in the den.
The door of the vault is blown across the room toward the camera in a careful appreciation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
A waylaid shipment of jewels is locked in a briefcase handcuffed to the wrist of a well-dressed man anchored just off the bottom a few hundred yards from shore. One scuba diver knows the place, and an entrepreneur tortures him for it in anticipation of a deal for the jewels.
Barney extricates the scuba diver and passes himself off as an insurance investigator. Casey floats a diamond to bait the trap, and Phelps is a sporting diver who also knows the spot.
The complex operation has Barney on shore monitoring Phelps on the entrepreneur’s boat, the scuba diver underwater and Willy following him.
The deal is set for Phelps’ seaside apartment. When the money man arrives, the police close the net.
A prime role for Jeremy Slate as the scruffy, bearded frogman out for the big score, whose caginess contrasts with the interestingly calculating entrepreneur of Fritz Weaver.
The Sixth Sense
The unconscious nature of inspiration is likened to a neurosis, for purposes of demonstration, and for clarity’s sake this in turn is related as a crime story.
A psychic impression in the womb so detailed that with the aid of a mandala and meditation Dr. Rhodes can read the inscription inside a gold pocket watch.
The girl’s father was framed for murdering an extortionist of shop owners. Years later, she has visions of being attacked in her home, the place smashed, no-one is there, no damage is done.
Her blind mother fought off the man, whose name is traced by Dr. Rhodes. A ticking sound precedes the visions, he follows it to the watch, lost and buried outside the house. The girl’s scream averts his murder, the prisoner is released to his wife and daughter.
Once Upon a Chilling
The Sixth Sense
The head of a cryogenics institute has died in a fall, his frozen body appears in a vision to the sensitive he hired before his death, and who refused his love.
His portrait on the wall provokes another vision, he climbs the stairs and then falls or is pushed. Was it his wife, who lives in the house? It was the young man who replaced him as head of the institute, pursued into the freezing chamber by the initial apparition.
Roley has a splitter lens for a multiple image of the vision ascending the stairs, which is remotely like The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake in a way. The continuous blue light of the chamber is a great effect, and the dislocated cooling tubes dancing in the air amid the pursuit.
A great memory of The Frozen Dead, “preserving beauty and love in the future.”
A characteristic theme from Hamlet abstracted from the series, reduced to an essence and greatly intensified thereby.
A hit man and chess master (Alex Cord) is induced to believe he’s murdered several people in fits of uncontrolled rage, with no contracts, including his brother (Peter Breck).
Eventually he contacts his boss. The password for a meeting is the final move of a famous chess match known not to the bigwig in the backseat but to his driver.
William Read Woodfield describes a mystery at sea, disentangles it from its moorings of superstitious awe, then explodes the rationalization as a diabolical ploy, all to present a Coast Guardsman adrift off Miami as a threat to shipping.
Roley films it all, corpse in bursted hatch, priest hanging dead from the mast, levitating sport fisherman also dead in the aft cabin of a yacht called Requite.
A dead mobster returns from a plane crash to claim his turf.
Roley at his most amazing.