Variety (March 1956)

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6 FILM REVIEWS Variety Wednesday, March V, 1956 On the Threshold of Space (C’SCOPE-COLOR) Fascination here in dramatiza¬ tion of aero medical research work behind Air Force’s ven¬ tures with speed and space. Prosperous prospects. Hollywood, March 5. 20lh-Fox release of William Bloom production. Stars Guy Madison, Virginia Leith, John Hodlak, Dean Ja(?m; fea¬ tures Warren Stevens, Martin Milner, King Calder, Walter Coy, Ken Clark, Donald Murphy, Barry Coe. Directed by Robert D. Webb. Screenplay, Simon Wincelberg, Francis Cockrell; camera (De Luxe Color), Joe MacDonald; special photographic effects, Ray Kellogg; editor, Hugh S. Fowler; music, Lyn Murray. Previewed March 1, *50. Running time, n MINS. Capt. Jim Hollenbeck..'.Guy Madison Pat Lange..Virginia Leith Major Ward Thomas..John Hocliak Dr. Hugh Thornton.Dean Jagger Capt. Milcc Bentley-..Warren Stevens Lt. Morton Glenn.....Martin Milner Lee Welch.K»ng Calder Lt. Col. Masters...Walter C.oy Sgt. Ike Forbes.Ken Clark Sgt. Zack Deming.Donald Murphy Communications Officer.Barry Coe Medic .Richard Grant Paramedic Officer.Donald l reed Taxi Driver.•• • Ben Wright George Atkins.Carlyle Mitchell Dawson .Robert Cornthwaite Secretary .• ■ • Jo Hilbert Nurse .- Juanita Close Mrs. Lange.Helen Bennett Prosperous playdates should re¬ ward this interesting dramatiza¬ tion of the aero medical research that lies behind Air Force experi¬ mentations with speed and space. It fits in the science-fiction classi- cation, although is actually sci¬ ence-fact because of dealing with things that have advanced and will advance U. S. air might. A satisfactory story thread used to tie together the deeds of human guinea pigs who risk their lives so the air will be safer for the regular flyboys. There’s excite¬ ment and suspense, plus thrills, as the plot puts mien to the test in riding rocket sleds at break-neck speeds; being ejected from jet • bombers at sky-high altitudes and daring the stratosphere in balloon- borne gondolas; all to the purpose of finding out how much the hu- /!■ man body and equipment can take. ^ The William Bloom production locationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico so the footage is crammed with authenti¬ city. Direction of the dramatiza¬ tion by Simon Wincelberg and Francis Cockrell is ably handled by Robert D. Webb, who keeps his cast performing naturally amidst • the technicalities of real-life der¬ ring-do. Barbara McLean served as associate producer to Bloom. Guy Madison provides a like- . able, easy performance as a young medical officer who is put through some of the more daring experi¬ ments and Virginia Leith impresses as the wife who hides her fear for him behind an understanding of the worth and need for what he does. The late John Hodiak is ex¬ cellent as the commanding officer who dares the rocket sled himself, as is Dean Jagger, medico-scien¬ tist working with the Air Force in the experiments. Also doing their roles well, among others, are Warren Stevens, Martin Milner, King Calder, Walter Coy, Ken Clark, Donald Murphy and Barry ■ • Coe. The Cinemascope lensing in De . jMXfi Color by Joe MacDonald, ^•''plus the special photographic ef- f fects by Ray Kellogg, contribute f measureably to the picture. Lyn \ Murray’s score, conducted by Li- | > onel Newman, is another plus fac¬ tor, as are the technical contri¬ butions. Brog. Comanche (C’SCOPE-SONG-COLOR) Actionful outdoor feature with Dana Andrews. Good prospects. Hollywood, March 5. United Artists release of Carl Krcuger production. Stars Dana Andrews, Kent Smith; features Linda Crlstal, Lowell Gilmore, Nestor Paiva, Stacy Harris, Mike Mazurkl, • Henry Brandon, Reed Sherman, John Litel. Directed by George Sherman. Screenplay, Carl Krue- 5 er; camera (De Luxe Color), Jorge Stahl r.; editor, Charles L. Kimball; score and song, Herschel Burke Gilbert; lyrics, Al¬ fred Perry; sung by The Lancers. Pre¬ viewed March 2, '50. Running time, •7 MINS. Bead . Dana Andrews Ouanah . Parker-.. Kent Smith Margarita .’.Linda Cristal Ward .Lowell Gilmore Puffer .Nestor Paiva Downey . Stacy Harris Flat Mouth...Mike Mazurkl Black Cloud.Henry Brandon French .. ... Reed Sherman General Nelson A. Miles.John Litel Good early-\yest actioner that should fare well in the outdoor iffarket. The action is backed with a plot that states its case satisfac¬ torily and the scenic values derived from the location-lensing in Mexico in .Cinemascope and De Luxe Color are splendid. Peace comes to the southwest .plains in this United Artists re¬ lease, but it takes some doing on the part of Dana Andrews, intrepid Iiididff ■sedutr, ‘b&fote the redskins and whites agree on a treaty. Pro¬ duced and written by Carl Krueger, the film is long on pictorial beauty, but without sacrificing the kind of movement necessary to keep this type of show entertaining. George Sherman, an old hand at outdoor action, paces the plot well with his direction so the 87 minutes of foot¬ age is compact and swift-moving. Krueger’s screen story has an lf-75 period and shows how an honorable peace was worked out between the maurauding Coman- ciies that swarmed over the south¬ west and the whites that were moving into the country- There arc very' few high heroics on the port of either side, so the action dramatics • play off believably as Andrews takes on the responsibili- ly of getting Chief Quanah Parker, played well by Kent Smith, to lay down his tomahawk. Andrews comes through excellently, and there are good performance assists all down the line. There are both white and Indian menaces to a treaty, with Lowell Gilmore, stuffed-shirt politician from Washington, and Stacy Harris, an Indian-hating white, as the paleface troublemakers. Henry Brandon, brave who defies Smith’* peace orders, takes care of the other dirty work. Nestor Paiva, Andrews scouting partner; John Litel, a sensible general; Mike Mazurki and Reed Sherman are among other good casters. Film introduces Linda Cristal, Mexican actress. She’s a beauty Who’s rescued from the Indians by Andrews. Jorge Stahl- Jr.’s camera work manages some scenes of incredible beauty and also is on top of all the mass action that generates ex¬ citement In the footage. Charles L. Kimball’s editing is good. The Herschel Burke Gilbert scoring is keyed to the action demands and keeps busy through most of the film. Additionally, his tune, “A Man Is As Good As His Word,” with lyrics by Alfred Perry, is sung by The Lancers as a song narrative bridging scenes. Brog. Backlash (COLOR) Unevenly-directed but pictur¬ esque western with Richard Widmark, Donna Reed. Handy entry for outdoor action trade. We Did It Ourselves ‘ National Assn, of Invest¬ ment Companies has spon¬ sored a 13^-minute short which is calculated to whet one’s appetite for Mutual Funds. Arthur Lodge Produc¬ tions as well as Swanson & Dalzell, adaptors, did an excel¬ lent job in playing down straight commercialism. It can muster as a “public serv¬ ice.” . . Producers . made -judicious use of newsreel clips plus smart dovetailing of the few original photographed shots. Investment of all types^life insurance, securities, govern¬ ment bonds, bank savings and closed end stocks—are re¬ viewed sketchily. Subject points up that the nation’s stake in industry is not just Wall Street—but small inves¬ tors in every community in the country. Payoff . line future citizens should participate in the growth of the U.S. by put¬ ting their money into invest¬ ment securities. Subject in no way attempts to explain the operation or technicalites of Mutual Funds, how much dividend the aver¬ age closed-end’ share pays or for what price these stocks are redeemable. This is- probably smart. “We Did It Ourselves” is being offered gratis to thea¬ tres and tv stations, running time being geared so it can fit into 15-minute sjlots. Wear. his outdoor character and is tough enough to please those who like him best when he’s mean. Miss Reed also handles her character well, that of a girl who hasn’t al¬ ways been what a lady’s supposed to be. Mcljntire is excellent, as are Barton MacLane, army sergeant who’s a key figure in the search; Roy Roberts, honest rancher; Harry Morgan, Edward C. Platt, Robert Foulk, Robert J. Wilke and Jack Lambert, among others. Irving Glassberg uses his cam¬ eras well in the action ai)d in' get¬ ting the outdoor sites on film. Other technical credits also are good. Brog. Hidden Guns Hollywood, Feb. 28. Universal release of Aaron Rosenberg production. Stars Richard Widmark, Donna Reed, John Mclntire, William Campbell; features Barton MacLane, Harry Morgan, Robert J. Wilke. Jack Lambert, Roy Roberts. Directed by John Sturges. Screenplay, Borden Chase; based on a novel by Frank Gruber; camera (Technicolor), Irving Glassberg; editor, Sherman Todd; music, Herman Stein. Previewed Feb. 21, '66. Running time, 83 MINS. Jim Slater. Richard Widmark Karyl Orton . Donna Reed Jim Bonniwell . John Mclntire Johnny Cool . William Campbell Sergeant Lake ... Barton MacLane Tony Welker.Harry Morgan Jeff Welker . Robert J. Wilke Benton . Jack Lambert Major Carson . Roy Roberts Sheriff Marson.Edward C. Platt Sheriff Olson . Robert Foulk Dobbs . Phil Chambers Richard. Widmark and Donna Reed add name value to this regu¬ lation western drama and its pros¬ pects in the outdoor action market look satisfactory. It has Techni¬ color, rugged outdoor settings and other standard . western feature trappings,- plus a fairly tight 83- minute running time, to make it a handy entry. Story period is early . Arizona soon after the Civil War, and most of the location lensing was done in that state for picturesque visual values. -.When Interest wanders from the story ; in the Aaron Rosenberg production, the eye caff always pick up scenic* beauty for compensation. Interest will wan¬ der, too, because John Sturges’ di¬ rection Is not always sure-handed and permits some characters to wander to the ludicrous side. Such a one is the young killer played by William Campbell, who. does his deadly work with an overboard Liberacean grin. When Sturges is telling the Frank Gruber story, scripted by Borden Chase, with a straight toughness the guidance is good; otherwise just fair. Identification of five white men killed in an Apache raid and of one who escaped, plus the where¬ abouts of $60,000 in gold the party was supposed to have had, puts the plot in gear. Widmark wants to make sure his nogood father, John Mclntire, is one of the dead and not, as he secretly fears, the one who fescaped with the coin. Miss Reed is in on the search for the money, believing her husband, one of the dead, had an interest in it. Widmark’s fears are well-founded and Miss Reed doesn’t get her gold, but they both wind up at the finale with each .other, after Mclntire, who had used the loot to found a rustling empire, is Wiled by honest ranchers. ' , Widmartc fits*.‘rathe*' Well into 1 Tautly suspenseful. Much be¬ yond run-of-rangc melodrama. Republic release of Gannaway-Vcr Halen production. Stars Richard Arlen,. Bruce Bennett, John Carradine. Directed by A1 Gannaway. Original story and screenplay, Sam Roeca, A1 Gannaway; camera, Clark Ramsey; edltdr, Leon Barsha. Music composed, directed, played by Ramez Idrlss; additional songs by Gannaway, Hal Levy; choral- direction, Salli Terri. Previewed in N.Y., March 2, *56. Running time, 66 MINS. Stragg . Sheriff Young . Snipe Harding Faron .. Judge Wallis .. Becky Carter .. Kingsley ....... Doc Carter ... Grandy . Burt MiUer ... Joe Miller .... Emmet . Ben WiUiams » Peabody ...... Fiddler . T.erry . . Bruce Bennett . Richard’ Allen .... John Carradine . Faron Young . Lloyd Corrigan .... Angie Dickinson .... Damian OTlyrin . Irving Bacon . Tom Hubbard . Ron Kennedy . Bill Ward Raymond L. Morgan . Edmund Cobb . Ben Welden . Guinn Williams . Gordon Terry This is considerably stronger and more intriguing than the run-of- mill western meller. “Hidden Guns” has new angles, an original introduction of each turn in plot and considerably more suspense than a grind-’em-out prairie opera. Film looks strong fare for western houses and okay for some others. Basically, this is the tale of a card sharp who meets, his match in a tough sheriff’s son despite paid politicos and hired gunmeri. Inability to find witnesses to tes¬ tify in a cold-blooded killing over a card game actually starts the law on the crooked gambler’s trail. Eventually this .leads to slicker’s arrest and downfall when the whole town turns against him. Plot has Sheriff Arlen working with his son, Faron Young, his dep¬ uty, in a half-hearted effort to reform the bought and paid for community. Deputy Young takes charge of the sheriff’s office when, his dad is seriously wounded in a framed gun fight. Terrific suspense is developed by having the son go up against the same gambler in a gun duel—only that the deputy is hep to the concealed sniper and outshoots the gambler and hidden pal. There’s the usual gunplay and a whale of a fistfight between Young and one of the gambler’s hirelings which carries on through a’ fall down hill and into a poor of water. Pic is different in that story de¬ velopments are telegraphed or kept up to date via a choral group. “Hidden Guns” also has a fine original score composed and played by Ramez Idriss, the -use of guitar and string instruments being remi¬ niscent of “High Noon.” Vet Arlen is excellent as sheriff whift ’Young rated onq of' Amer¬ ica' s No. 1 western recording stats, (makes a good western-type deputy serving as his father’s aide. His singing is heard in the background throughout the production with fine effect. John Carradine turns in a grip¬ ping concept of the suave but cold¬ blooded sniper and hired gunman. Bruce Bennett is adequately nasty as the gambler. Lloyd Corrigan makes a sharp bought-up judge while Angie Dickinson is in briefly for scenic effect. Irving Bacon makes the Doc Carter role realistic. A1 Gannaway’s direction is way above par for a standard western as is his story and screenplay on which he worked with Sam ^toeca. Clark Ramsey does a smart job with his camera, employing many more closeups than generally found in an oats opera. Wear. Turn & Abner Abroad Three television pilots poorly edited into a theatre feature. Howco Productions release of James Kern production. Stars Chester Lauck, Norris Goff, Jill Alis. Directed by Kern. Screenplay, Carl Ilerziftger; based on stories by Herzinger and Kern; camera, Octhvian Miletich; editors, Maurice ■Wright and Blanche Jens. Previewed in N.Y., Feb. 24, '56. Running time, 72 MINS. Lum . Chester Lauck Abner . Morris Goff Marianne . Jill Alis Collette . Lila Audres Papa Possavetz . Branko Spoylar Nicky . Gene Gary Duchess . Vern Mesita Mischa . Valdo Stephens Frankenshplnin . Steven Voyt Lisa .. Nada Nuehich Croupier . Chris Peters Tommy Ellis ...•. Jim Kiley Dignitary . Joseph Batistich There was talk some months ago of the old" Ozarkian radio team doing a series of television films abroad. Apparently the project aborted and this is the net result —three hollow “pilot” films which would have run 26 minutes each for video, now edited pnd tied into a 72-minute theatrical release. The gyrations of the “goodwill am¬ bassadors,” as the Carl Herzinger script terms them, seem to have little marketable value as anything but a second feature in the sticks. Lum and Abner show up first in Belgrade, getting involved in the love life of ballerina Jill Alis. Chester Lauck (Lum) and Morris Goff (Abner) get the U.S. Embassy to back a blowout campaign to find her American -newspaperman—fi¬ ance, and all ends happily as a group of. European hayseeds join the U.S. brand in a. good old fash¬ ioned square dance. After, an in¬ sufficient bridge with Gene Gary,, the ballet impresario of the first part, doing a short narration and then appearing as a Gallic sports- caster, the homespun pair arrive in Paris. There they become dupe$ for a smuggling ring and end up being saved from the fiends (in¬ cluding . a. mace-wielding giant named Frankenshplin) by the po¬ lice. Locale shifts to Monte Carlo, where they break the b?mk, but settle for . $14.80 so that the people of Monaco won’t have to pay extra taxes. Yanks take their payoff in medals from a grateful citizenry. Boxoffice outlook :of the big- hearted bumpkins isn’t helped by the slapdash editing of Maurice Wright and Blanche. Jens (their efforts possibly hampered, by low- budget). Quite often the sound fades before the visual track does, and the fade-outs are such that time is needed for reorientation. The ■ Octhvian Miletich . camera picks up nice foreign scenery, which, of everything, is the pic’s best asset after whatever loyalty and following adheres to Lum and Abner. Art. Broccoli ■ • - m Continued from page £ - • ■ - and humor—played against back¬ grounds that are exotic and intrigu¬ ing and featuring at least 'one or two stars of proven international boxoffice appeal.” Alan Ladd had : the lead in three "Warwick entries; Richard Widmark and Mai Zetter- ling shared the spotlight in the fourth. Broccoli further placed emphasis on the need of heavy promotion of the finished product and this, he feels, is a factor that other pro¬ ducers. working abroad have over¬ looked. This led into discussion of Warwick’s newest feature, “Cock¬ leshell Heroes,” costarring Trevor Howard and Jose Ferrer, lensed in England and Portugal under Fer¬ rer’s direction in Cinemascope: Both Broccoli and Allen will tour the U. S. to bally the film, as will Yana, British vocalist, who makes her screen debut in “Cockleshell,” and Cpl, William E. Sparks, sur¬ vivor' of the wartime . Cpckleshell raid upon which tlie film is’based. Wetbacks (COLOR) Patchwork plotting. Mediocre. Hollywood, Feb. 24, Banner Pictures release of a Hank McCune Production. Stars Lloyd BrldKes Nancy Gates; features Barton MacLane^ John Hoyt, Harold Peary, Nacho Galindo. Robert Keys, David Colmans,' Jose,Gon¬ zales Gonzales, Louis Jean Heydt. Scott Douglas, WaUy Cassell, Richard Powers, Salvador Baguez. Directed by McCune. Screenplay, Pete LaRoche; cam- era (Eastman Color), .Brydon. Baker; edi¬ tor, Ronald V. Ashcroft; music, Les Bax- t« r - Reviewed Feb. 22, ■’56. Runhing time, 84 MINS. Jim Benson .. Lloyd Bridges Sally Parker.. Nancy Gates Karl Shanks ..Barton MacLane Steve Bodine . John Hoyt Juan Ortega . Harold Peary Alphonso -. "Nacho Galindo Reescr . Robert Kevs Pedro.;. David Colmans Wetback .. Jase Gonzales Gonzales Coast Guard Comdr.. .Louis Jean Hcvdt Immigration Officer..Scott Douglas Coast Guafd Lieut.:.Wallv Cassell Highway Patrol Inspec...Richard Powers Mexican Policeman.Salvador Baguez The most elementary sort of patchwork plotting makes this fea¬ ture shoddy fodder. Some excel¬ lent scenic footage of Mexican and Catalina locales, plus a genuinely thrilling motorboat chase se¬ quence, are its assets. Pete LaRoche screenplay pre¬ sents a financially strapped fishing boat captain, played by Lloyd Bridges, in the clutches of a wet¬ back-smuggling gang. However, the twists arid turns of the uncon¬ vincing plot finally discloses that he has been the unwitting bait set out- by the U.S. Immigration Serv¬ ice to entrap, the baddies, essayed by .John-Hoyt and Harold Peary. Also, a seeming femme tra'mp companion, portrayed by Nancy Gbtes, turns out to be-a Govern¬ ment undercover agent. The heavies pursue Bridges and MiSs Gates to sea and' the ; best footage show a ring-around-the- rosy chase around a tanker in full steam. Finally, the Coast ‘Guard hoves into view to put the arm on the. smugglers and to leave the couple time to enthusiastically in¬ tertwine. . Bridges and Miss Gates are a nice-looking. couple who walk through tffeir derring-do assign¬ ments with a certain amount of plausibility. Barton MacLane makes a convincing semi-heavy, who also turns out to be an un¬ dercover Government man. Hoyt does his able best with the cliche-ridden . role of the top heavy, but the Great Gildersleeve often allows through Peary’s' chore as his sidekick. In lesser - parts, Nacho Galindo plays a sympathetic Mexican bar owner with commend¬ able gusto,, while Jose Gonzales Gonzales supplies a bit of welcome comic relief aib a seasick wetback. . Producer-director Hank McCune is. most effective When Setting the earlier scenes arid staging the chase sequence!. 1 However, the weak script defeats his other ef¬ forts. ■ , Quality of the Eastman’ Color footage lensed by Brydon ?.Baker varies, from a.number of beautiful piejurizations to a distinctly off- key cast., Those parts of Les Bax¬ ter’s score which utilize Mexican guitar themes serve well to set the tropical, mood. Kove. Kettles in the Ozarks- Looks like series is running out of stedm after eight times at bat. Very so-so. Hollywood, March 6. Universal release- of Richard Wilson production. Stars Marjorie Main, Arthur Hunnicutt; features Una Merkel, Ted de Corsia, Olive Sturgess, David O'Brien, Richard Eyer. Directed by Charles La- mont. Story and screenplay, Kay Le- nard; camera, George ’ Robinson; editor. Edward Curtiss; . music supervision, Jo¬ seph Gernhensori. Previewed Feb. 27, '56.. Running time, II MINS. Ma ‘^Kettle. .,;.*.Marjorie Main Sedge Kettle..Arthur Hunnicutt Miss Bedella Baines...Una Merkel Professor .Ted de Cox-sia Nancy .Olive- Sturgess Conductor . David O’Brien Billy ....Richard Eyer Susie .V,. Chei-yl Callaway Bancroft Balner.....Joe Sawyer Benny .Sid TomacK Mountaineer ......Louis HaPron Joe .Harry Hines Jack Dexter....JJm Haywax'd Universal’s “Kettles” scries is pretty thin fun after eight times at bat. Filled with comedy antics dating back to silents, only the most -loyal of smalltime fans will get much from it. This time, Ma and the kids take off on a cornball express to the Ozarks to visit Uncle Sedge, a new character played by Arthur Hun- nicut, but patterned to Percy Kilbride’s P 3 Kettle- role. Kil¬ bride’s the smart one retiring after seven times in the series, but his presence is sorely misled. However, there’s not much he could have given this one. Aboard train enroute to' Un¬ cle Sedge’s rarhshackle farm, ,the Kettel offspring manage to keep Marjorie Main, as Ma, right busy, and', down- on the’ farm, she straightens. <W(t Hunnioutt, a shift- (Continued on page 18)