Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Great Day In The Morning (1956)

Our next movie would be the 1956 American Civil War drama/Western/noir Great Day In The Morning starring Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack and Ruth Roman!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Ship That Died (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 8 seconds)

In this short from a series on historical mysteries, the disappearance of all the people onboard the ship “Mary Celeste” back in 1872 is shown. Narrated by John Nesbitt, it’s an interesting short. So far, the first time that I have even heard of the “Mary Celeste” mystery, and it seems interesting. Even after all this time, it is still unknown what happened, and one does wonder! A few of the theories are shown, but, obviously, who knows what the truth may be? Certainly an interesting and thought-provoking short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Strange Glory (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 38 seconds)

Another historical mystery, this time on Anna Ella Carroll and whether she was the author of the Tennessee Plan that turned the tide of the American Civil War. This one is narrated by Carey Wilson. Certainly an interesting mystery (and one that still seems too relevant in some respects). Obviously, with all the participating parties long since gone, who knows whether this one will ever be cleared up.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Face Behind The Mask (1938)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 46 seconds)

Another historical mystery, this time focusing on the man imprisoned by the French king Louis XIV, wearing an iron mask. Another interesting story, this time narrated by John Nesbitt. Obviously, like many, I have heard of the Alexandre Dumas tale (and seen a few versions of it), but watching this short was probably the first time I had heard that this had actually happened! Obviously, it still remains a mystery as who was imprisoned, and while this short had three theories, there are obviously any number of others to go around as well.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Magic Alphabet (1942)

(available as an extra on the Great Day In The Morning Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 54 seconds)

An entry in the “Passing Parade” series of shorts, this one is on Dr. Christiaan Eijkman, who sought a cure for beri-beri back in the 1890s. Also the later discovery, as a result, of vitamins. The short also shows its wartime creation, urging housewives to learn about vitamins to hep keep their families strong enough that victory in war could be achieved. Certainly an interesting short historically, even if it is a somewhat formulaic story of man trying to find a cure for a disease through trouble and then randomly hitting on something that makes it work (admittedly quite relevant today)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

While being shot at by a group of Native Americans, Owen Pentecost (Robert Stack) is saved by Ann Merry Alaine (Virginia Mayo) and her two guides, Stephen Kirby (Alex Nicol) and Zeff Masterson (Leo Gordon). Owen accompanies them to Denver, Colorado, where he soon finds himself gambling at the Circus Tent bar, owned by Jumbo Means (Raymond Burr). However, Owen has a lucky streak going, and with the aid of saloon girl Boston Grant (Ruth Roman), Owen ends up winning the bar. Amidst the growing tensions between North and South preceding the upcoming Civil War, Owen finds himself being aligned (whether he likes it or not) with the small group of Southerners in town. Since he inherited a bunch of mining claims when he took over the Circus Tent, Owen tries to offer the people in town a chance to mine some gold, as long as he gets his share. One man tries to hide his gold from him, but a shootout occurs, with Owen the only one still standing. Ann sees it happen, and although she is disappointed, she lies about the killing when the Northerners start threatening to hang Owen. Soon, the dead man’s son, Gary Lawford (Donald MacDonald), arrives in town, and Owen takes him in, even helping teach him how to shoot, much to Ann’s dismay. After the news of the surrender of Fort Sumter gets to town, the North/South tensions in town bust wide open, with the Northerners going after the Southerners. Owen finds himself trying to figure out what to do, whether he should help the other Southerners get their gold out, or try to save his own hide.

For me, this turned out to be an interesting movie. I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of it before, and was only slightly familiar with actress Virginia Mayo (mainly from the Bob Hope comedy The Princess And The Pirate, but since Great Day In The Morning was announced and released on Blu-ray, I’ve also seen her in Out Of The Blue as well). Still, her presence was enough for me to give this a try. And boy, did I enjoy the movie! The Civil War aspects of this made it an interesting movie, especially since, in some ways, neither side was exactly portrayed as being flawless. Obviously, the flaws of most of the Southerners and their way of life are well known and come into play here (with the obvious exception of Owen Pentecost, who is disliked by both sides for his mercenary ways). But we also see the biases of the Northerners too, with the likes of Leo Gordon’s Zeff Masterson openly hating anybody from the South without even considering the possibility that they may not share the alliances of beliefs of other Southerners. Then there’s Raymond Burr’s Jumbo Means, who wants as much to profit from the coming war and take down the local Southerners (especially Owen Pentecost after he takes both Jumbo’s bar and gains the affections of Ruth Roman’s Boston, even though she openly admitted she doesn’t care for Jumbo’s advances). The only male Northerner we feel much sympathy for is Alex Nicol’s Stephen Kirby, who is a captain working in the secret service to keep the Southern miners from getting their gold back to the Confederacy, but he’s the only Northerner not working from hatred or mercenary means. And of course, Owen Pentecost as the film’s antihero takes some time for the audience to come around to rooting for him (even if things don’t go his way, both in this movie and historically, considering the outcome of the American Civil War). As I said, very much a blind buy, but one I will readily admit I liked and recommend giving a chance!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Great Day In The Morning (1956)

The movie was released originally by RKO Studios near the end of that studio’s life. As a result, the movie never received its due. For home video in particular, it barely got released on VHS and never on DVD. And on TV, its had its problems with a poor transfer and incorrect aspect ratios (at least, that’s what I’ve heard). However, the Warner Archive Collection has rectified that problem by doing a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and restoring it for their recent Blu-ray release. Honestly, the film looks fantastic, with the transfer showing off the scenery from the location shooting in Silverton, Colorado! You couldn’t even begin to convince me to try watching the older transfers from what I’ve heard, so this recent restoration for Blu-ray is certainly the best way I know of to see it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

White Heat (1949) – Virginia Mayo

To Be Or Not To Be (1942) – Robert Stack

Down Three Dark Streets (1954) – Ruth Roman – Five Steps To Danger (1957)

Raw Deal (1948) – Raymond Burr – Crime Of Passion (1957)

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TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Raw Deal (1948)

And now, we’re up for another noir, the 1948 movie Raw Deal, starring Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt.

Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) is in prison, taking the rap for his boss Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr), but he is crying out for freedom. So, Rick arranges things for him to escape. However, Rick is NOT doing this out of the goodness of his heart, as he hopes the police will kill Joe as he tries to escape. Joe’s girlfriend, Pat Regan (Claire Trevor), is waiting outside the prison with the getaway car, and Joe’s escape is more successful than Rick had planned. The police do manage to hit the car with a few bullets, which stops them from getting away cleanly, and they stop at the apartment of Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt), who had been trying to help Joe’s lawyer at the trial. They take her hostage and take off in her car, making their way toward a previously arranged meeting spot with Rick. However, Rick has sent Fantail (John Ireland) in his place to kill Joe. Fantail fails, though, when Ann picks up a gun and shoots him (although he is only wounded). Joe has fallen for Ann (which has made Pat jealous), but he tries to send her back to San Francisco on her own. Fantail finds Ann and brings her to Rick. Rick calls Joe, but only talks to Pat, telling her Joe must come to him or Ann will die. The question is, can Pat tell Joe or will she let Ann die?

Raw Deal was originally made for Eagle-Lion Studios, re-teaming director Anthony Mann with his cinematographer John Alton and star Dennis O’Keefe after the success of the previous year’s T-Men (don’t ask, I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s currently on my short list of movies to watch in the near future, when I can get that far). I can’t deny the success of the director and cinematographer, as it does heighten the effect of the movie. While no doubt the censors were involved in what they could (or could not do), their creativity in working with that makes this movie wonderful. I know the scene where Raymond Burr’s angry Rick Coyle tosses a flaming brandy onto his girlfriend after she accidentally spills her drink on him is made more horrifying mainly because he throws it at the camera. We don’t see the actual “damage,” but our imaginations can certainly run wild with it. The camera angles just do a great job of making his character just that much more threatening. And of course, over it all, we have Claire Trevor’s Pat essentially narrating the story (in a rare instance of a woman doing so for the genre), as we get her viewpoint on the story. Honestly, I have to admit I enjoyed this movie, and it is one that I would quite readily recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix, either as a limited special edition or as part of a triple feature John Alton Collection with T-Men and He Walked By Night. The last I knew, the special edition, with all its extras, was running low on copies available, so if you want it, be prepared to buy right away, otherwise, the bare-bones triple feature release is still a good way to see it! And with a typically pristine transfer from Classicflix, with only a handful of specks on the image here and there, it’s an easily recommended release!

Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Murder, My Sweet (1944) – Claire Trevor – Marjorie Morningstar (1958)

Raymond Burr – Great Day In The Morning (1956)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Crime Of Passion (1957)

Here we are again for another noir, this time the 1957 movie Crime of Passion, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr.

Barbara Stanwyck plays Kathy Ferguson, a San Francisco newspaper advice columnist, who helps police from Los Angeles to catch a woman who killed her husband.  One of the policemen is Bill Doyle (Sterling Hayden), who falls for Kathy.  They are soon married, and she leaves the newspaper business to become an average housewife.  She finds it hard to take, and decides to use the skills she had learned to advance in the newspaper world to try to help her husband advance, with unintended consequences.

In some respects, this movie has managed to maintain a modern feel, as we can feel some of the sexism of the times, since we can plainly hear Bill’s police captain tell Kathy when he first meets her that she shouldn’t be doing her work as a columnist and should instead be trying to make sure supper is ready for her husband.  Not to mention, we can see how maddening life as a suburban housewife is for her, with the men and women separating themselves (and I can’t say as I blame her, considering some of the conversations she had to endure).

Honestly, this is one of those movies I had never heard of, until it was released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2017.  I tried it, because I had seen a few of Barbara Stanwyck’s movies (although none of her noirs), but most of all, I tried it because it was released by Classicflix.  I had seen many reviews for their releases indicating they had taken it upon themselves to try to restore a number of lesser-known movies and give them well-done releases on disc at a time when most companies would have advised against it.  I have enjoyed a number of their quality releases (and I’m speaking mostly to the film transfers on that), and it makes it easier for me to try a lot of them.  This is a movie I enjoyed, and one that I would recommend trying.

Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Titanic (1953)Barbara Stanwyck

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) – Sterling Hayden – Five Steps To Danger (1957)

Great Day In The Morning (1956) – Raymond Burr