Thursday, January 23, 2020

THRILLER Thursday: Man In A Cage.

Man In A Cage.

The spider web fills the screen, it's Boris Karloff's THRILLER!



Season: 1, Episode: 18.
Airdate: January 17, 1961




Director: Gerald Mayer (the FATAL IMPULSE episode).
Writer: Maxwell Shane and Stuart Jerome, based on a novel by John Holbrook Vance.
Cast: Philip Carey, Diana Millay, Barry Gordon, Theodore Marcuse, Eduardo Ciannelli.
Music: Pete Rugolo
Cinematography: John L. Russell
Producer: Maxwell Shane.




Boris Karloff’s Introduction: “The frightened young man in the truck speeding away from death on a road in Morocco is Noel Hudson, and American. He fancies himself a soldier of fortune, running guns to a group of Arab nationalists. But now the adventure has turned to terror. Noel Hudson has goo reason to be terrified, there is some doubt that he will ever again be seen alive. Well what is the mysterious cargo that Noel is so frightened of? Sure as my name is Boris Karloff, you’ll learn the answer to that and many other mysteries in Morocco as you view THE MAN IN THE CAGE, from the novel by John Holbrook Vance. Our leading players are: Mr. Philip Carey, Miss Diana Millay, Master Barry Gordon, Mr. Theodore Marcuse, Mr. Al Ruscio, and Mr. Eduardo Ciannelli. Smuggling, murder and North African intrigue are the exciting ingredients in this Thriller.”

Synopsis: Noel Hudson (Guy Stockwell) is somewhere between Indiana Jones and Han Solo in a leather jacket and fedora, an American smuggler in Morocco. After delivering a shipment of guns, he is told at gunpoint that he’ll be taking a pair of boxes marked “soap powder” back to Tangier. He doesn’t want to take the mystery boxes, but they insist and even send one of their armed men with him. Noel is dead tired and wants to pull the old truck off the dirt road to sleep, but his armed passenger says he can sleep after they deliver the boxes. There’s a struggle in the truck cab, Noel twists the gun around and shoots his passenger by accident, dumps the body out of the truck and drives away into the night... never to be seen again. Both Noel and the truck completely vanish in the desert.



Just over 3 weeks later, successful businessman Darryl Hudson (Philip Carey) shows up in Tangier looking for his younger brother. When he checks into the hotel, a little Arab boy named Slip Slip (Barry Gordon giving the best performance in the episode while being just a little kid) helps him with the bags. Every one of the handful of extras in the hotel lobby looks obviously suspicious and listens in as Hudson checks in. There are no characters in this episode who act natural if there’s a chance to act shifty. Slip Slip tells Hudson that he helped his brother sometimes, and for a small price can show him where Noel’s apartment was.

The landlady (Danielle Aubry) tells Hudson that the apartment has been broken into a searched several times... and everything is in disarray. Hudson pokes around but can find no clues, and figures if there *were* clues they’ve been discovered and taken away by someone else. Hudson tells the landlady that he got a letter from his brother, and asks her if she can read the postmark. She can not. One thing Hudson does find is a picture of his brother and some blonde babe at the beach, which he pockets.

Back at the hotel, some Big Guy grabs Hudson at the front desk and says Mr. Upshaw wants to see him, and drags him into an alcove... where Upshaw (Theodore Marcuse) waits with his niece Ellen (Diana Millay). Upshaw was Noel’s “employer”, the fellow behind running the guns to Arab Nationalists... and he looks ethnic and speaks with some undefinable accent. But his daughter Ellen is blonde and looks and talks like she comes from Burbank. Upshaw wants to see the letter, Hudson refuses to show it to him. Upshaw says brother Noel split with his payment for the guns, and owes him a million bucks. Hudson manages to get out of there and heads to the hotel bar.



Everyone in this Tangier hotel bar seems to have come from New York City, judging by their accents. The Bartender says Noel was a regular at the bar, and some other New Yorker, a Car Salesman, says he hasn’t seen Noel for about 3 weeks. That’s when the Hot Girl from the beach photo sits down (Arlette Clark) another blonde in North Africa. What’s up with that? The Hot Girl says Noel stood her up 3 weeks ago, so she’s looking for a new boyfriend. Before Hudson can ask any more question, he gets a phone call from a Mystery Man (who actually looks like an Arab) and the Mystery Man says he has vital information about Noel, but of course can not give it to Hudson on the phone, so they must meet as Mystery Man’s apartment at 8pm tonight.

When Hudson gets there, Mystery Man has been tortured almost to death... bleeds all over Hudson’s suit... then Mystery Man jumps off his balcony to his death. When Hudson leaves the apartment, locals begin chasing him. Instead of getting an exciting chase, we cut to commercial.

After the commercial, Hudson is back in his hotel room trying to wash the blood out of his suit jacket when there’s a knock at the door. Inspector Le Boude (Eduardo Ciannelli) who questions him about Noel. Now, it seems as if the script may have built some suspense around the Inspector discovering the bloody suit jacket, but it’s fumbled so badly that no suspense is generated. The Inspector asks if Hudson talked to the dude who was tortured and Hudson says he didn’t and the Inspector tells him he’s gotta leave town in 48 hours and then leaves.



Hudson goes down to the hotel restaurant where he bumps into Upshaw’s blonde Burbankian niece Ellen, who tells him she’s supposed to use her womanly whiles to get her hands on that letter from Noel. She also spills the beans that the two cardboard boxes Noel was transporting back to Tangier for her uncle were filled her heroin. Hudson says his gun running brother would never transport heroin, that stuff kills people! But Ellen says it is true.

Slip Slip pulls Hudson away, saying he found a guy who knows where Noel is *now*. Hudson is taken to meet the guy in some office, and we recognize him as the Arab Nationalist guy who took possession of the guns and insisted that Noel take the two boxes of heroin back to Tangier as payment, Allah El Kazim (Al Ruscio) and his minon. They demand he hand over the letter from Noel, and when he refuses there is a 3 second knife and gun skirmish which ends in them searching Hudson and not finding the letter. Hudson says he mailed it to himself... so they take his passport (as ID to pick up the letter at the post office) and lock Hudson in a cage. Hey, you probably wondered when we’d get to the man in a cage part, right? Well, here it is!



Hudson gets out of the cage using a piece of rope and a branch and races to catch Allah El Kazim and his buddy before they can pick up the letter. Too late! But when Allah El Kazim and his buddy get into their product placement sedan in the post office garage, Hudson pops up from the back seat and takes their guns and the letter. He demands they give him information, and they tell him where Noel was last seen: a roadside hotel between the place where he delivered the guns and Tangier. Hudson then lets them read the letter... which has no actual information in it. Just a request for Hudson to send him enough money to fly back to the United States. So this letter from Noel that has been propelling the plot forward is actually pointless.

Hudson goes into the hotel bar, where everyone seems to be a New York City transplant and asks the Car Salesman guy if he can rent a car for tomorrow morning because he thinks he has a lead on where his brother Noel might be. Car Salesman guy says “sure” and that he’d like to go along and help.

When Hudson gets back to his hotel room, that blonde from Burbank is waiting for him for no apparent reason. He tells her he has a lead on Noel and has rented a car for tomorrow morning, she says “I have a car, let’s go now!” and they do.

At the roadside hotel, the desk clerk tells them that Noel spent a night there, sent the letter to Hudson from there, and also mailed these two boxes to his own address.



Hudson and Ellen the blonde Arab girl from Burbank drive back to Tangier, looking for the best place for someone to hijack Noel’s truck... why they never thought to do this much earlier in the story is a mystery. They find Noel’s truck at the bottom of a cliff. Noel dead behind the wheel. With zero emotions, Hudson says they need to get back to Tangier to find those two boxes of heroin!

Noel’s Landlady says, “Yeah, there were a couple of boxes mailed to Noel’s apartment, but I put them down in the basement rather than inside his apartment for no apparent reason except it would prevent all of those people searching the apartment from finding them.” Okay, she really didn’t say that... but it was something close. Hudson and the blonde Burbank babe go into the basement (do apartment building in Tangier even have basements?) and they find the boxes of heroin, and that’s when the Car Salesman shows up, because he’s the villain behind everything. The Car Salesman gets ready to kill Hudson and Burbank, when... the Inspector and a bunch of cops show up and save the day, because Slip Slip saw what was happening and called the cops. The end.



Review: Oh boy! After a few good episodes we return to the stinkers. It seems like every time they adapt a best selling novel on this show, it backfires. Here we probably had a big action packed foreign intrigue novel that got pared down for television until it’s a bunch of people acting suspicious in a hotel. Here it seesm like the novel might have been some wacky combination of THE MALTESE FALCON (that letter everyone is after, plus Marcuse playing some roadshow version of Sydney Greenstreet) and THE THIRD MAN (common man looking for killer of adventurous brother and in over his head). But the letter proves to be worthless, and our hero has *read* the letter and knows this. So the MacGuffin that moves the story forward has no value, and in the end no one really cares about it *or* the story. The main thing about a MacGuffin is that it needs to be the most important thing in the story. It’s what fuels the story. Here we have a lame MacGuffin and a lame story. Maybe in the novel the letter was more important and had a code or something, but here it’s just this false way to move the story forward. Bette Davis was after a more important letter...

The common man in a dangerous world element also doesn’t work, since the world here isn’t all that dangerous. Villains like Upshaw (Marcuse) politely leave when asked. Once they put him in that titular cage, he’s out in a minute. There is a real shortage of action for a story in this genre: even the fistfights are over in a flash. We end up with an episode filled with talking and people looking overly suspicious. The episode Mayer previously directed, FATAL IMPULSE, was a suspense episode that generated some real tension. Here he fumbles the scene with the bloody suit jacket and the Inspector... was this due to the director or was the scene just not written well on the page? Add to all of this Philip Carey is kind of an action guy, which undercuts the fish out of water element that Joseph Cotton had in THIRD MAN. You never feel that our hero is in any real danger.

The bigger issue for me was the lack of ethnic actors in the episode. It’s one thing to have only a couple of characters who looked like Arabs, but another to have so many characters obviously look and sound American and not even try an accent. Except for the stock footage, you’d think this whole episode *takes place* in New York City! This was obviously shot on the backlot, but even a movie like CASABLANCA had a cast that looked like they belonged in North Africa. Both of the women in this episode are *blonde* without a single ethnic looking woman in sight! The Bartender’s wife who we see in a couple of shots looks American. This works against the stock footage of Tangier, so that watching it you never believe it’s anywhere other than Studio City, California (which is where it was shot). Los Angeles was a cosmopolitan city back then, with plenty of actors who looked Arab... why not cast any of them?

No suspense, no clever lines, no twists, it’s just a completely bland episode.

Because we’re back to Rugolo doing the music, I wonder if this episode had been shot earlier and aired later? Maybe they made a bunch of novel adaptations, realized they didn’t work, and spread them out throughout the season so that we didn’t start the show with a bunch of stinkers?

I wish I could say next week’s episode is going to be better...

Bill

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Film Courage DIALOGUE MASTERCLASS!

Here are three Film Courage segments which belong together - the Barista Theory Of Dialogue and Character Vocabulary and now Bumper Sticker Dialogue - the first, second and third in a long conversation about writing dialogue. This is kind of a verbal extract from the Dialogue Blue Book. Let's just call this my masterclass on dialogue, even though it only covers 3 of the 50 Dialogue Techniques in the Dialogue Blue Book.







- Bill

bluebook

41 Tips On Dialogue!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 41 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 160 pages!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



USA Folks Click Here.

UK Folks Click Here.

German Folks Click Here.

French Folks Click Here.

Espania Folks Click Here.

Canadian Folks Click Here.

Other countries check your Amazon websites... it's there!

The next 3 Blue Books will be DESCRIPTION, STRUCTURE, and BLOCKBUSTERs (all 3 in 2016 I hope). Everyone wants the OUTLINES Blue Book, and I've promised it for the past couple of years, but the problem is I don't have enough ideas for new chapters, yet... and I want to get it up to 200 pages. I hope that over the next year I'll come up with some new chapter ideas and get that out at the beginning of 2017.

Thank you to everyone!

Bill

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Trailer Tuesday: NIGHT MOVES



Director: Arthur Penn.
Writer: Alan Sharp (ROB ROY).
Starring: Gene Hackman, Harris Yulin, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Warren.




NIGHT MOVES (1975) starring Gene Hackman as mopey private detective Harry Moseby, who is mopey because he thinks his wife (Susan Clark) is cheating on him... follows her... sees her with another guy (the always great Harris Yulin)... confronts her... and she gets mad at him for following her. The other guy is some damned cripple with a cane, can’t really kick his ass without looking like an jerk. And his wife says he’s emotionally distant and doesn’t trust anyone (which is true). So his marriage is on the rocks... when he gets his case.



Runaway daughter Delly Grastner (a teenaged and perpetually topless Melanie Griffith) has a washed up ex movie star for a mother and an ex stuntman as absent father. Each lives on an opposite coast: mother in Los Angeles and father in Florida. Harry has to hunt down Delly in the back alleys of Hollywood and the run down coastal area of Florida. Along the way he meets all kinds of fringe people, from Delly’s druggie ex boyfriend Quentin (an unbelievably young James Woods) to her father’s hippy girlfriend Paula (Jennifer Warren)... and Harry and Paula hook up when Delly’s dad Tom Iverson (John Crawford) isn’t looking. But, true to the genre, nothing is as it seems and soon some people die and Harry finds himself in the middle of a much bigger mystery involving film set accidents that may not be so accidental and scuba diving for sunken treasure (which may be drugs, drugs *are* a treasure, right?). Because this is the 70s, the film has an ending more like CHINATOWN than a traditional detective flick... and it isn’t so much solved as abandoned after too many people die to make solving it sensible. It’s dark and twisted, baby!

The film was written by Alan Sharp, who would later write ROB ROY. It’s a brilliant script that is more about character than crime (though there’s plenty of crime), and has a bleak and ugly world view. Dialogue is great, characters are amazing, and this is one of those films like that other Hackman Harry film where you realize just how great Hackman is as an actor. He is a quiet actor who manages to convey meaty emotions without seeming to be emotional. Alan Sharp wrote action flicks and westerns and the TV movies about the USS Indianapolis and those sharks that Quint talks about in JAWS. He also wrote the *awful* adaptation of DAMNATION ALLEY (one of my favorite novels). He died about a year ago at 79 years old, his last credit was in 2010.

The film was directed by Arthur Penn, who worked with Hackman on a little film called BONNIE AND CLYDE. Penn also directed THE MIRACLE WORKER and LITTLE BIG MAN and was one of those great directors of the 60s and 70s, who didn’t really fit in to the Hollywood of the 80s and 90s. He went from interesting stuff like MISSOURI BREAKS to flops like PENN & TELLER GET KILLED and directing episodes of Canadian TV series. Penn gives the film that glossy grit that 70s films had. Not the ragged and often incompetent look of some of today’s indies, but the professional look of a studio film... just with deep pools of shadow and a realistic look and feel. He makes NIGHT MOVES into a nightmare, with poetic shots and a real feeling of foreboding. All of the actors play it real, and you forget that they are actors playing characters at times. Penn makes you feel that the more Harry does to make things right, the more things will go spiraling out of control and just go wrong. And that tricky tone is maintained expertly throughout.

Best Movie Ever Made



Cinematography is by Bruce Surtees, who was Eastwood’s DP on many films like PLAY MISTY FOR ME and HONKYTONK MAN, and Eastwood “inherited” him from one of my favorite directors Don Siegel (DIRTY HARRY, and I met Surtees on ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ when I crashed the set... on Alcatraz) and Surtees was DP on RISKY BUSINESS *and* BIG WEDNESDAY (one of my other favorites) and CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. One of those great DPs who could shoot films in any genre and make them look great.

Music is by Michael Small, and if you don’t know who that is you haven’t seen many 70s movies. Small did soundtracks for KLUTE, PARALLAX VIEW, MARATHON MAN, THE DRIVER, the remake of POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE with Jack Nicholson, and many others. He has a distinctive sound, and when I watch some movie like STAR CHAMBER I know he scored it without reading the credits. Smalll was *the guy* for movies like this.

NIGHT MOVES is one of those “lost films”. No one seems to remember it these days. But it’s a great film, and a fantastic example of the Mopey Detective genre. If you liked CHINATOWN, put this in your Netflix queue and check it out. Oh, it’s contemporary, takes place in 1975.

Bill

BOSCH PILOT (free)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Fridays With Hitchcock: Interview With Hitch

While we wait for Season 4 of HITCH 20 to get rights clearance for clips, here's a one hour interview with Hitchcock that I last ran in 2016...



Of course, I have my own books focusing on Hitchcock...

- Bill

HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE


LEARN SUSPENSE FROM THE MASTER!

Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the “Master Of Suspense”; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!

Films Included: NOTORIOUS, SABOTAGE, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, THE 39 STEPS, REBECCA, TO CATCH A THIEF, FRENZY, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE LODGER, THE BIRDS, TORN CURTAIN, SABOTEUR, VERTIGO, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934), THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1955), SUSPICION, and NUMBER SEVENTEEN. 17 Great Films!

Only 125,000 words!

Price: $5.99

Click here for more info!

OTHER COUNTRIES:
(links actually work now)

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And....

HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR






USA Readers click here for more info!

HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

UK Folks Click Here.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

THRILLER Thursday: A Good Imagination

Good Imagination.

The spider web fills the screen, it's Boris Karloff's THRILLER!



Season: 1, Episode: 31.
Airdate: May 2, 1961

Director: John Brahm
Writer: Robert Bloch adapts Robert Bloch
Cast: Edward Andrews, Patricia Barry, Ed Nelson, Britt Lomond.
Music: great whimsical score by Morton Stevens
Cinematography: Benjamin Kline
Producer: William Frye



Boris Karloff’s Introduction: “Crime and Punishment. That in a nutshell is our story for tonight. Except instead of a neurotic student and his nemesis, our play is about a beautiful wife with an intemperate taste in men... and her discerning husband whose reservations will stop at nothing, not even murder. This good man however is not an ordinary killer. He has flair, imagination, a good imagination. That’s the name of our play. And our players are: Patricia Barry, Ed Nelson, and Edward Andrews as the injured bookworm. Join us now as we watch this bookworm turn... to murder.”

Synopsis: Handsome Randy Hagen (William Allyn) sleeps in his luxurious bachelor apartment... and is awakened by a noise. A door slamming? He walks into his living room, which has been ransacked. What? “Louise?” Meek Frank Logan (Edward Andrews) pops up from behind a table, “Louise isn’t here, I’m her husband.” Randy wants to know what’s going on, Logan says it’s obviously a case of burglary. “You tried to steal my wife. How do you think I got in here? With that key that you gave her.” He holds up the key in a gloved hand and says he knew about them all along. Randy asks what he wants, Logan replies that he must not have a very good imagination. “It will appear as if burglars broke into your apartment and you were killed trying to defend yourself.” Randy says “Don’t shoot me!” and Logan replies that he doesn’t have a gun, carefully puts his glasses in his pocket and grabs a medieval mace off a display on the wall, chases Randy into the bedroom and beats him to death. Comes out, puts his glasses back on, picks up a fallen copy of “Crime And Punishment” and sets it on the table before he leaves.



Louise Logan (Patricia Barry) comes home from Randy’s funeral and finds Logan in the living room reading a book. He says he came home early from the book convention, it was dead. Logan does a great job of needling her, asking how well she knew him. Why she felt the need to go to his funeral. How he died. “He was the type you’d expect to be shot by a jealous husband,” Logan says... and his wife turns white. Then Logan hands her the key to Randy’s apartment, says he found it on her dresser but it doesn’t fit any of the doors in the house. Louise grabs the key and leaves...

Louise tells her lawyer brother Arnold (Britt Lomond) that she suspects Logan may have murdered Randy. Arnold doesn’t believe someone like Logan is capable of murder... he’s a bookworm! Arnold agrees to hire Private Eye Joe Thorp (Ken Lynch) to look into Randy’s murder off the record.

Thorp comes into Logan’s bookstore pretending to be a customer, but Logan outsmarts him and gets him to admit he’s a Private Eye. That’s when Thorp turns the tables and says maybe they can make a deal... Thorp knows Logan took a flight out here from the book convention on the night Randy was murdered... and took a flight back to the convention a few hours later. He demands $10k for his silence. Thorp will meet Logan at 8pm at brother in law Arnold’s fishing cabin... Arnold will be there at 9pm and Thorp will tell him everything if Logan doesn’t show up with the money.



9pm, Arnold shows up at the cabin... and finds Logan sitting inside. Logan pours Arnold a drink and explains that Thorp demanded $10k to keep his mouth shut, and Logan gave him the money. Arnold is shocked, “He just took the money and ran?” No, he’s out back in a boat waiting for you. Arnold downs the drink, and Logan takes him out back to the dock where Thorp sits in a boat... dressed in fishing clothes. Arnold accuses Logan of killing him, and Logan explains that he’s just unconscious from the drugs I put in his drink, and yours. Carefully takes off his glasses and puts them in his pocket, then puts semi conscious Arnold in the boat with Thorp, rows the boat to the middle of the lake and capsizes it... swimming back to shore.



After Arnold’s funeral, Logan buys a house in the country so that Louise can escape the memories of her brother’s death in that fishing accident. No one around for miles. Logan will be working in the city, but come to the country house for the weekends. She’s stuck there alone... no man for miles.

Knock on the door... it’s local hunky handyman George Parker (Ed Nelson) wondering if Louise needs any work done? One thing leads to another and...



Logan comes home unexpected. George pretends to be inspecting the fireplace for repairs and leaves... but Logan suspects.

At the end of the summer, Logan decides to sell the country house... and George and Louise hatch a plan to steal the money from the house sale and run away together.

Logan asks George to help him brick up a section of the basement where rats might congregate before they hand over the house to the new owners. George asks where Louise is, Logan says she went into town to get the money for the house sale. When George has finished bricking the section of the basement, Logan hands him a beer. George asks if Logan is going to have one, and he says he never drinks around firearms. Logan has a gun, plays with it, puts it in his pocket. Gives George another beer and they examine the wall. The mortar has set, Logan asks if George can hear that noise behind the wall. Like a mouse. Then Logan tells George that he and Louise have separated...



Logan tells George that Louise was alive when he put her in the section, but George killed her when he walled her up in the section. Hasn’t George read Poe’s “Cask Of Amontillado”? Oh, that’s right... George doesn’t read. But George *does* freak out and runs away, as Logan laughs!

That night Logan is reading in the living room... when Louise comes home. Twist! She says a state trooper stopped her on the road to check her I.D. but wouldn’t tell her why. Logan says he knows why and it has to do with George. He was supposed to come and wall up that section of the basement... but never showed. Logan had to do it himself... would she like to see?



On the way down to the basement, Logan says that he got a call from the police that George had burst into the police station and accused Logan of murdering Louise and walling her up in the basement. Logan told them his wife was in town, which is why the state trooper stopped her on the road. Obviously George has gone crazy. When Louise breaks down, Logan takes her to the wall... which now has the bricks removed. She thought he had bricked the wall himself. Logan carefully takes off his glasses, puts them in his pocket, and says he will... “My alibi will be set, and so will the cement.” He finished walling her in the basement when...

The police chief shows up... with George! They thought if George could see Mrs. Logan again, he’d snap out of this strange delusion he has that she’s bricked up in the basement. Can Logan bring his wife to the door???



Review: One of the great things that both THRILLER and HITCHCOCK did was often tell stories from the *villain’s* point of view. We get to be mean and nasty and evil for a half hour or an hour and then go back to being nice people afterwards. All of use have dark fantasies, and these shows allowed us to safely explore them (without actually bricking our spouse inside a wall). Villains always seem to have more fun than heroes, so it’s fun to pretend to be one for an hour.

And this is an *understandable* villain. We can relate to him. He’s clever and witty and well read (this began as a short story by Robert Bloch, so readers were the primary audience for the story), and always several steps ahead of everyone else. If we aren’t that person, we’d all like to be that person. And whether you are quoting Bugs Bunny or Vizzini from THE PRINCESS BRIDE most people are morons. Here we have a cheating gold digger wife who seems to never learn her lesson. One lover dies under mysterious circumstances and she just keeps bleeding her husband dry as she searches for another. The people Logan kills aren’t innocent by a long shot... and also aren’t very bright. What’s fun about this story is that Logan *warns* his future victims ahead of time using book references, but they aren’t readers so they fall into his traps. Had they been more clever and better read, they would probably have survived!



The script is filled with the clever wordplay that Bloch is famous for, as I mentioned in an earlier entry his short stories and novels are filled with lines like “He cut off her scream... and her head.” He dances with language, finding dark puns and finding words that connect two different thoughts. The dialogue in this episode is fun!

One of the great elements of this episode is the perfect crime at the end, which is like an intricate chess game and requires George to go to the police and accuse Logan of murder while Louise is still alive (and the police can find her). There’s a stageplay by Lucille Fletcher (SORRY, WRONG NUMBER) called NIGHTWATCH (first staged in 1972) which does something similar, turning the only person who might be suspicious of the missing victim into a crazy lunatic by having them witness a false murder and make accusations... which are easily proven false because the victim is still alive at that point. This is also used to some extent in Hitchcock’s VERTIGO and DePalma’s BODY DOUBLE where a witness tells the police about a *false murder*. This is a great device, and in this case not only helps Logan get away with the murder but also gets revenge on George by making him look crazy.

This is a fun, dark episode with some great suspense and a twist ending. Next week we have a charming story about a little girl and her best friend... who happens to be dead.

Bill

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book - SALE!!!!!

The DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book is on sale TODAY through SUNDAY.

DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book



bluebook IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?

Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

This Blue Book will dive into techniques to improve your description, with sections on Just Good Writing, How Much Detail Is Too Much, How & What You Should Write, and a section on Your Writer’s Voice.

SUBJECTS INCLUDE: What Is Good Description? 25 Professional Techniques To Improve Description, Hidden Camera Directions, Contrast, Why You Need To Be Vaguely Specific, Using “Gags”, Hitchcock’s Chocolates, Unusual Storytelling Devices, The “Unfilmable” Controversy, Too Many Or Too Few Details? Using Name Brands, “Bound” And Creating Vivid Imagery, Stunts (Like First Person Screenplays), The New Normal, What Is Voice? Developing Your Unique Voice, Voice & Tarantino’s “Inglorious Bastards”, and much more!

Take command of your description and your unique writer’s voice!

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WEDNESDAY: 99 Cents. THURSDAY: $1.99. FRIDAY: $2.99. SATURDAY: $3.99.

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*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!
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*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!

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*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)

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*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!
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HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE


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We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

** HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR **

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Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others. Over 77,000 words!

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BRAND NEW!

*** THE BOURNE MOVIES

All five "Bourne" movies (including "Legacy" and it's potential sequels) - what are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? Reinventing the thriller genre... or following the "formula"? Five films - each with an interesting experiment! A detailed analysis of each of the films, the way these thrillers work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

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VINTAGE SCREENWRITING BOOKS


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ADVICE FROM #2 SCREENWRITER!
*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!
***
Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

Only $2.99!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer "The Mask Of Zorro", "Shrek" and "Pirates Of The Caribbean".

"William C. Martell knows the action genre inside out. Read and learn from an expert!" - Mark Verheiden, screenwriter, "Time Cop" and "The Mask", head writer on "Smallville" and "Constantine".

"This book is dangerous. I feel threatened by it." -Roger Avary, Oscar winning screenwriter, "Pulp Fiction" and "Killing Zoe".

"Bill Martell is one of Hollywood's best action-adventure writers, with 19 produced films to his credit. His "Blue Books" on the art of screenplay writing are legendary and "Secrets of Action Screenwriting" is the best." - Best selling novelist Dale Brown.

"My only complaint with SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is that it wasn't around when I was starting out. The damned thing would have saved me years of trial and error!" - Ken Wheat, screenwriter, "Pitch Black" and "The Fly 2".

"There's an art to writing for guys like Chuck Norris -- thanks to Bill Martell's book, I was prepared." - Genia Shipman, screenwriter, "Walker: Sons of Thunder".

"Finally a screenwriting book written by a working professional screenwriter. Bill Martell really knows his stuff, showing you how to write a tight, fast screenplay." - John Hill, screenwriter, "Quigley Down Under" and "Closed Encounters Of The 3rd Kind".


These links all lead to the USA store, if you are in some other country and want to write a review for your country, go to your Amazon website.

Thank you all again.

Bill

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trailer Tuesday: OUTRAGE (1950)

OUTRAGE (1950) (aka NICE GIRL)

Directed by: Ida Lupino.
Written by: Collier Young, Malvin Wald, Ida Lupino.
Starring: Mala Powers, Tod Andrews, Robert Clarke, Jerry Paris.
Produced by: Collier Young, Malvin Wald, Ida Lupino..
Cinematography by: Archie Stout.
Music by: Paul Sawtell.
Production Design by: Harry Horner (THE HUSTLER and THE DRIVER!).


First off: There is no trailer available for this film. How is that even possible? So here is some guy's (great) review of the film that has all kinds of great shots in a brief running time.



No secret that I am a huge fan of Ida Lupino, a great actress who knocks it out of the park in one of my favorite movies THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT where she plays the wife of Alan Hale, who owns a long haul trucking company, and plots his murder... by electric garage door opener! She gives an amazing performance in that film... and many others. But as a film director, she became one of my favorites without even knowing that it was the same person! She directed my favorite episode of the THRILLER TV anthology show, GUILLOTINE, and had an interesting career in films as well. After a career of playing sexy young women, she began writing and producing her own films with screenwriter husband Collier Young - and even after they divorced, continued to work with him. Their first film as producers was NOT WANTED (about unwed mothers) and after their director had a massive heart attack a couple of days into filming, she jumped behind the camera and completed the film... not taking credit. But everyone knew she had made the film... and when she decided to direct their company’s second film, the financiers were happy to put up the money. She was a director... and extremely skilled (she paid attention as an actress to the big name directors on the films she starred in). This was her third film, the second film she was credited for as director, and a great example of her social issues films...

Ann Walton (Mala Powers) is a 20 something office worker in a small town, who lives with her parents and is dating a nice young man Jim Owens (Robert Clarke) who she will one day marry. They meet for lunch in the town square every day: he buys sandwiches on his way, she buys desert from a lunch counter (two pieces of chocolate cake, their favorite).The creepy waiter (Albert Mellen) at the lunch counter hits on her... hey, she’s pretty. She meets Jim, and he has good news - he just got a raise and now they can afford to get married. There’s a great bit here where a shoeshine boy and a nosey old woman do everything possible to kill the romantic moment as he asks her to marry him. Ann says he will need to talk to her father, first... who was Jim’s match teacher... and who came close to flunking Jim. After dinner, Jim asks her father and mother (Raymond Bond and Lillian Hamilton) for permission to marry their daughter. Mom is excited, Dad is against it - this is his little girl! She’s not ready to be married! After Mom pulls him aside, Dad reluctantly gives his approval.



The next day, after telling everyone at work that she’s getting married, Ann heads home... passing the creepy waiter, who is closing up shop and asks her out. She says no... and he begins following her. He unbuttons his shirt slowly - which is really creepy! Ann tries to lose him in the industrial section of town, but he is still following her - his footsteps echoing. This is a great suspense scene that builds and builds and builds. She runs... the Waiter walks... and seesm to be gaining on her. There is no escaping this creepy guy! She yells, “Please! Somebody help me!” But this is the industrial part of town, and darkness has fallen... no one to hear her screams. There’s a great overhead shot here, where she seems powerless as she tries to find a place to hide in a maze of parked delivery trucks. She hides inside a truck, but when the Waiter gets closer and closer and closer she ducks down to hide... hitting the truck’s horn. It gets stuck. The Creepy Waiter yanks her out of the truck, throws her down, and BRUTALLY rapes her - the truck horn drowning out her screams.

This is a film from 1950 - and the rape is shocking.

Ann staggers home - clothes and face dirty and torn... bleeding.

Her Mom finds her collapsed at the front door and pulls her inside.



LATER: A Doctor and a Police Detective talk to her Mom and Dad... Dad feels powerless. When the Detective questions Ann, she keeps saying “I couldn’t get away” and only remembers the scar on the rapist’s neck - not that he was the Waiter. There’s a great shot here of Ann through the bars of the bed headboard as if she is in prison. Trapped. She doesn’t get out of bed, doesn’t leave the house, for a long time. When Jim comes to visit, she tells Mom to send him away - there will be no marriage. She never wants to see another man in her life - severe PTSD. When she finally tries to go back to work, she breaks down - and there’s a great scene where an office worker stamping papers becomes the sound of the rapist’s feet as he follows her down the alley to the parked trucks. Everything reminds her of the rape. Everything.

The police have some suspects in a line up... including the Waiter who raped her. But she completely freaks out and can’t identify him. She’s a mess. Jim is there to drive her home, and he tells her that what happened hasn’t changed the way he feels about her. He loves her. They can get through this together... but she dumps him. “I don’t want you to touch me!”

She doesn’t want any man to touch her. Forever.

This film does a great job of making us understand just how emotionally damaging rape can be.

Ann runs away from home - hopping a Greyhound bus for Los Angeles. Not telling her parents or anyone else.

When the bus has a meal stop in some part of rural California, some guy hits on her at the lunch counter and she freaks again and takes off running. Trying to escape every man on earth. Running. Running. Eventually she falls down at the side of the road - passed out from exhaustion.

A car slows... passes her... stops... and a Man picks her up and puts her in his car. Then drives away.

Watching the movie, I said “No! No! Hell no!” Because this film had done such a great job of making me feel her trauma. And that Man who picks her up and puts her in his car? I didn’t trust him, or any other man. And I am a man.

Ann wakes up in a strange bed.

Oh, hell no!

In a strange house.

Oh, hell no!

She seems to still be wearing all of her clothes. The Man hasn’t done anything to her... yet. But when she tries to leave the bedroom... The Man blocks the doorway and tells her to get back into the bed.

Oh, hell no!



She tries to get past him - fighting - but he over powers her and tells her that she has to stay in the room. Orders her to get back into the bed. He begins pushing her to the bed...

Oh, hell no!

Okay, now what do you think has happened to her? Is about to happen to her?

This is a great example of leading the audience, because once the Man has her in the bed.... A kindly Older Woman comes in with some water and calls the man "Doctor" and we understand what the Man's intentions were.

This scene puts us in her shoes, and makes every man a potential threat. We feel what she is feeling and think what she is thinking. That is great directing. Always think about ways to lead the audience so that they are in your protagonist's shoes and feel what they feel - no matter what it is. The reason why we are talking about this film now, and Ida Lupino as a director now, are scenes like this. Where we are frightened for Ann. Where every man is a threat to Ann... and a threat to us. This film is 70 years old, and still powerful.



The bedroom, by the way, is in the Kindly Older Woman's house - her daughter's room before she got married and moved away. The Older Woman, Madge Harrison (Angela Clarke) and her husband Tom Harrison (Kenneth Patterson) own orange orchards in this part of California. A rural area. The Man who blocked her way is Rev. Bruce Ferguson (Tod Andrews), a hunky and handsome (and sexually safe) Minister nicknamed "Doctor", who only wants to help Ann. Make sure that she is safe. He knows that she is running from something, and maybe needs to hide for a while to get her life back together. He promises that he won’t tell the police about her, and will make sure that nobody bothers her... and then he asks Tom if he and will be accompanying his wife to church this Sunday...

Fatherly Tom gives Ann a job at the orange packing plant - it’s harvest season and they need to get the oranges packed in wooden crates so they can be taken by truck and train to market. She’s great at packing oranges...

And this is a great sequence for a lower budget film. We are taken inside the orange business and shown how the fruit are inspected and selected and packed into wooden boxes and the boxes are sealed for shipping - all on a conveyor belt. It’s fascinating. This was shot in Marysville, California and the production value from the endless orange groves in the background and the packing plant that Ann works in takes us into this world that most of us have never seen before. People are fascinated by how things are made, so any time you can show them the details of some job that we don’t really know anything about, it’s better than special effects. This is sort of an Orange Packing Procedural...

Reverend Bruce shows up to make sure that she’s okay, and asks her what she did for a living previously (one of the reasons why I like this movie is that it’s about working class people who have jobs and have to earn a living whether they are men or women), and Ann tells him that she was an accountant for a company... and Reverend Bruce says that Harrison needs an accountant more than he needs an orange packer... and gets Ann a promotion.

All of this is Ann finding a new home, and slowly getting back to normal. Sort of.



On Saturday, Reverend Bruce asks if she wants to go with him while he sketches. Ann alone with a man? She decides to go (showing us that she is healing). He takes her to this beautiful hilltop overlooking the whole town, and sketches the trees and flowers. Tells her that he wasn’t always a Reverend... he was raised in Philadelphia, went off to World War 2, and lost all faith in God during the war. After the war he ran away... finding himself in this small town... and realized that he needed time to heal. Which brought him back to the church, and he became a Reverend. Through his story, he hopes to find out what her story is... or at least to show her a path to peace.

Just as Ann is beginning to find peace in this small town, the County Sheriff (Roy Engel) stops by the orange packing plant to ask if anyone has seem a young woman reported as a runaway by her parents... Tom Harrison and Reverend Bruce cover for Ann... but she is afraid that the Sheriff will arrest her and take her back home... where everyone knows that she was raped. Where everyone knows...

So Ann runs away.

Both Tom Harrison, who has become her surrogate father, and Reverend Bruce (who is hunky and dreamy and not sexual - so maybe her surrogate boyfriend) are worried. They search for her and can not find her. Both want to keep her safe, even if it means continuing to lie to the Sheriff. These are good men.

They can’t find her.

Reverend Bruce goes home, worried, and begins playing the piano to calm himself... when Ann shows up at his front door. He invites her inside and she is alone with a man. She tells him that she is the runaway girl, and confesses to him. He thinks that this is the catharsis she needed. That now she can move on with her life...

The town has a post harvest dance, and Reverend Bruce convinces her to go... socialize. This is her town, now... she needs to meet people. She feels ready for this. She buys a pretty dress. She goes to the dance...

But she avoids dancing. She isn’t ready for that. There's a great shot of everyone dancing and our protagonist Ann and a homely woman standing on the sidelines watching.

A man comes up to Ann and asks her to dance, she says no.
He GRABS her and starts dancing with her.
She struggles and escapes, running away.
He CHASES her - and it's like a rural replay of being chased by the rapist.

Oh, hell no...



This man, named Frank (played by comedian Jerry Paris from the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) catches her, says that all he wants to do is kiss her. Without her permission. She seems to have no say in this. It’s just a kiss... just a harmless kiss...

Then we get a big close up of Frank’s lips heading towards her face. And this shot dissolves to the rapist's face coming closer to hers.

What would you do to this guy who just wants a harmless kiss?

The reason why this film is so effective is that by this point, that “harmless kiss” is rape. It’s some guy grabbing at this woman (who we identify with) without her permission, without her consent. Can’t these men just leave her alone? Can’t they just wait until she’s ready to dance or kiss? Can’t they ask first instead of take?

As Frank’s face dissolves into the rapist’s face, she grabs something from the old trailer behind her - a wrench - and slams it into his head until her lets go of her.

Frank lets go of her. Falls to the ground. Head bloody. Dead?

Ann sees what she has done and runs and runs and runs.

Reverend Bruce finds here at his special place, the hilltop overlooking the whole town. “Why’d you do it, Ann?” He tells her that he has to take her back...

At the Sheriff’s Station...





The County Sheriff tells Reverend Bruce that he has taken Ann’s fingerprints and IDed her as the runaway girl... who was raped. Frank who just wanted a harmless kiss and ended up with a wrench to the head, is alive in the hospital and should have no trouble pulling through... but Ann is still in big trouble. The Sheriff will have to charge her. She may go to prison.

Reverend Bruce goes to visit Ann in Jail. Real Jail, not pretty. Not some Hollywood set. This is a dirty, grungy place. He tells Ann that he knows what happened back home... and she opens up, tells Reverend Bruce everything about the rape... about how when that man chased her and tried to kiss her, she just snapped. Thought it was going to happen all over again...

Reverend Bruce makes a deal with the Sheriff - have Ann seen by the Court’s Psychiatrist for an evaluation... and let Reverend Bruce talk to Frank in the hospital. After everyone understands the circumstances, and that Ann snapped because she thought she was going to be raped again, the Judge decides to give Ann probation as long as she gets help.

Reverend Bruce finds out that her rapist was captured by the police... after doing it again... and is now behind bars. He can never hurt Ann again. And her parents and boyfriend Jim are back home waiting for her. Ann says goodbye to Reverend Bruce and heads back to her old life and her old job... and her fiancé.



This movie was amazing for a 1950 film - though the rape was nowhere near as brutal as IRREVERSIBLE, it’s still shocking when they go from the Rapist holding Ann down on a loading dock with the truck horn blasting louder than her screams and slowly move up to a Man who looks out his apartment window, then shuts it so that he doesn’t have to hear the truck horn. This was all in one shot - and that’s one of the amazing things about this director. Even in her first films she was using the camera to tell the story - not just an actress who knew how to do the acting part of filmmaking and thought that was enough to direct. Lupino studied the technical elements and used shots like that to tell her story visually. There’s a great shot in one of her THRILLER episodes from the 60s where she gives us a little girl’s point of view as she swings on a swing - and even though the cameras back then were as big as a Volkswagen, she manages to get one to mimic the point of view of the little girl. That was practically an engineering problem - and she did it in her TV episode, probably shot in less than 6 days. Most of the male directors on that show didn’t do any shots like that (with the same cinematographers - so it wasn’t the camera department covering for her). All of her films and TV episodes are filled with shots designed to tell the story. She understood the language of cinema. There are hundreds of male directors who were never as good as she was. In her first film - the one she took over from the director who had a heart attack after a couple of days of shooting - she has an amazing chase scene that rivals anything that men were doing at the time. One of her mentors was Don Siegel, another of my favorite directors, and her action scenes are comparable to his.

Just used to tell stories with female leads dealing with social issues that were (and are) of interest to women. Rape, unwed mothers, dealing with heartbreak, and many other issues that her films tackled because Hollywood wasn’t dealing with them. Her independent company The Filmakers made close to ten great films... and we will be looking at them in future Trailer Tuesdays. Probably next up (later in the year) will be her first film NOT WANTED about unwed mothers. We still have a THRILLER episode of two that she directed coming up this year.

- Bill

PS: I know that it's a Counter Man not a Waiter - but it's 2020, and who knows what a Counter Man is?
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