Horror Island

An impecunious Princeton graduate stumbles on yet another moneymaking scheme with a pirate map and Sir Henry Morgan’s island.

The mad academic conclusion has an anticlimax and a shaggy dog that trumps all.

Foran, Carrillo et al. in an up-and-up haunted house gagfest dozed through by a very jaded yachtsman.

T.S. of the New York Times blinked and yawned, Halliwell couldn’t make head nor tail of it either.



The Wolf Man

He is a wolf to women, pure and simple. Waggner’s masterpiece is centrally focused on the sequence that begins in the observatory of Talbot House. Larry has been many years in America, was a technician at Mt. Wilson, knows nothing of astronomy, he trains Sir John Talbot’s refractor on the English village street, in and out of focus, remarkably exact, a girl in the window above Charles Cunliffe, Antiques. Presently he is there, standing outside the door next to Saneman Products, Ltd. He admires her earrings, upstairs on her dressing table, won’t buy any others, he’s “psychic”. He’ll buy a cane, Waggner as producer handles this without any fuss, she lifts one before the customer, holding it in her hand, then another, he likes neither, takes a silver wolf’s-head out of the rack, swings it like a putter.

The gypsy fortuneteller sees the pentagram in his victim’s hand, Larry beats the wolf to death, a man is found. No scar is visible where Larry is bitten, later a pentagram is there.

His own father beats him to death with the cane, not recognizing the poor beast, who lives in the yellow eyes that sire Rosemary’s baby, and in the essential remake, The Boston Strangler (dir. Richard Fleischer).

The beast lies dead, the chief constable considers it a heroic death, slain by a wolf, the girl is in the gamekeeper’s arms, she turns to the body, now recognizable, calls out his name, “Larry!”

And so you have, on top of everything else that necessarily follows, Bu˝uel’s El.


Operation Pacific

The submarine warfare 1941-45.

Max Steiner’s theme and handling of the first scene prefigure John Barry (and the scene goes into Ralph Nelson’s Father Goose).

U.S.S. Thunderfish, unreliably armed. The metaphor is divorce (the U.S. Navy is co-respondent), the decoy ship is from Archie Mayo’s Crash Dive.

The proposition needs studying on, torpedo tests, “theory”.

The pivotal exchange, which takes place between two nurses at the U.S. Naval Hospital built in 1942 for Pearl Harbor, suggests that Waggner’s uniformed protagonists inspired Stanley Kramer’s nun and priest in The Runner Stumbles.

The beautiful theme returns after the sinking of the “I-type Jap submarine”.


Red Nightmare

“Espionage as a science, propaganda as an art, sabotage as a business.” Cf. Alfred E. Green’s Invasion USA.

Waggner’s singular masterpiece has precedents in LeRoy’s You, John Jones! and Renoir’s Salute to France, the phony American town behind the Iron Curtain goes into Woodfield & Balter’s “The Carriers” (dir. Sherman Marks) for Mission: Impossible. Another Cagney film might be said to precipitate the nightmare, Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three, setting up the subtle, forthright psychology that is Waggner’s hallmark. Cf. Sternberg’s The Town.

“You just tell your government that some day its own people are gonna get wise to it. Some day there’s gonna be enough holes in that Iron Curtain that all of your people will be able to escape to freedom! You’ll never be able to build a wall strong enough to hold them!Cf. Costa-Gavras’ L’aveu.

Time Out, “slice of Hollywood paranoia.Mark Deming (All Movie Guide) says it’s not merely “infamous” but “justifiably” so.


Green Ice

Batman and Robin are on the take, Mr. Freeze would have Gotham City believe.

He kidnaps Miss Iceland for his bride.

Continued as “Deep Freeze”.


Deep Freeze

One billion dollars or Gotham City turns to ice.

Bruce Wayne is hurt to the quick by a little boy’s disapprobation of the Caped Crusader.

Concluded from “Green Ice”.