Category: 1956


It Conquered the World (1956)

“The Wild and Wicked” (1956)

Also known, and probably better knows as The Flesh Merchant. The usual story about a girl coming to the big city, and ending up as a hooker. Before it was cool.

What film is this from? Tune in next week...

What film is this from? Tune in next week…

A roundup of what I’ve watched, read or listened to lately:

  • Projection Booth #144 on “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (1962). I loved the part of the episode that one commenter dismissed as “psychobabble” about this film being a reflection of the male Id of that era, how the legacy of Nazi physician Joseph Mengele is portrayed on film, the subgenre of “disembodied head/brain/brain-in-a-pan” films, etc.

41g53K4ScrL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Also from the episode we learn that both Brain and Debbie Does Dallas both have musical theater adaptations!

  • Lastly, here are the trailers for the best films I saw in September, in no particular order:

Covered on episode 6 of 1951 Down Place.

Will be covered on a future episode of Badasses, Boobs, and Body Counts–I suggested it as part of “listener appreciation month,” and Mike and Iris took the suggestion. However, Mike says its the one film for the BB&BC listener appreciation month he’s not looking forward to… I suspect we’ll be agreeing to disagree about this classic.

We last found Frank Adreon when he brought us the Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders serial in 1953. Adreon (1902-79), toiled long and hard at Republic Studios’ serial factory, and then brought us a number of overwrought dramas in a variety of genres which are now fairly obscure. Here is a sample:

1954. Serial, later aired as a TV movie in 1966 under title "Target: Sea of China"

1954. Serial, later aired as a TV movie in 1966 under title “Target: Sea of China”

1955. Aired in '66 as "The Claw Monsters"

1955. Aired in ’66 as “The Claw Monsters”

1956. Full length film (not a serial), decent B-film noir.

1956. Full length film (not a serial), decent B-film noir.

1956. Hard boiled B-film noir.

1956. Hard boiled B-film noir.

1962.

1962. Forgettable Korean War drama.

1966. Kitschy sci-fi/spy action, notable for starring people who'd guest on the original Star Trek series.

1966. Kitschy sci-fi/spy action, notable for starring the Goldfinger “hat killer” and a couple future guest stars on the original Star Trek series.

1966. Arguably, an influence for The Terminator--in that some shmo has to come back in time to now to destroy a technology that destroys humanity in the future.

1966. Arguably, an influence for The Terminator–in that half-person/half-robot has to come back in time to now to destroy a technology that destroys humanity in the future.

tumblr_le9du4WUNz1qb8ugro1_1280This fetching young woman is the late Hungarian actress, Eva Bartok (1927-98), who had a 16-year career in front of the camera between 1950-66. We saw her last in Spaceways (1953). Bartok may have had a child by way of Frank Sinatra from an affair in 1956, but other than that bit of gossip, she’s more-or-less forgotten about these days. Her films tended to be B-list melodrama thrillers, often with a World War II or early Cold War espionage angle.

1952. Also starring Christopher Lee.

1952. Also starring Christopher Lee.

1953. With Nazis!

1953. With Nazis!

1955. Hammer film about trying to exfiltrate a Polish scientist to the West.

1955. Hammer film about trying to exfiltrate a Polish scientist to the West.

1956. Commies using gamma rays to turn children into mutants!

1956. Commies using gamma rays to turn children into mutants!

1958. Teutonic white slavery racket exposed!

1958. Teutonic white slavery racket exposed!

1959. Keeping Nazis from the diamond fortune.

1959. Keeping Nazis from the diamond fortune.

1959. Double-billed with Dinosaurus! (1960)

1959. Double-billed with Dinosaurus! (1960)

1960. Possibly Bartok at her best.

1960. Possibly Bartok at her best.

1964. Mario Bava classic.

1964. Mario Bava classic.

Wilhelm (“Willie”) Wilder, who lived from 1904-82, was an interesting director mainly known for his eight film noirs and for being the estranged, older brother of Billy Wilder. Willie also left an interesting sci-fi legacy which I’ve tried to capture the outlines of here. We first bumped into his Phantom From Space when we looked at sci-fi and horror from 1953. A more complete biography can be found here, written by his granddaughter.

1954. Cheaply made warning of immanent alien attack.

1954. Cheaply made warning of immanent alien attack.

Probably the first motion picture about a Yeti.

1954. Probably the first motion picture about a Yeti. Myles Wilder is Willie Wilder’s son.

Spoiler alert: "Manfish" is the name of a boat, not some sort of sea creature. (spoiler alerts for a nearly 60 year-old movie?)

1956. Spoiler alert: “Manfish” is the name of a boat, not some sort of sea creature. (spoiler alerts for a nearly 60 year-old movie?)

1956. AKA Spell of the Hypnotist

1956. AKA Spell of the Hypnotist

1958. The head of Nostradamus and . . . monkeys?

1958. The head of Nostradamus and . . . monkeys?

1958. Low budget spy thriller against the backdrop of Sputnik.

1958. Low budget spy thriller against the backdrop of Sputnik.

 

If you’ve not seen these, drop what you’re doing and find them RIGHT NOW.

Anti-Film School

drive-in-theater-30

Today, a little over three hundred drive-in movie theaters remain sprinkled throughout the United States. This means that many Americans are not lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theater close by their home. In the drive-in’s heyday, small production companies would release B-movies tailor-made for the drive-in audience. There was everything from angry extraterrestrials to hip-shaking teenage beach parties, all of which are now enjoyed for their campy special effects and corny performances. Today, many of these films are available on DVD, Blu-ray, or Netflix, and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch. If you’re someone without the luxury of a drive-in theater nearby, you can create your own drive-in movie night right at home. Just grab any one of these out-of-this-world flicks, pop some pop corn, cook up a few hot dogs on the grill, grab a date or the kids, throw open the living room…

View original post 1,151 more words

Now here’s a classic film, we should see more of: 1960’s The Playgirls and the Vampire, is an early Italian exploitation/horror gem that is notable mainly for showing several attractive young Italian women running in terror through a castle in their see-through nighties. Blogger B2 claims it was the first Italian horror film to mix horror and nudity. More was definitely to come! Maybe bold for its time a half-century ago, its formula has been aped ad nauseum ever since:

You can watch the whole thing here, courtesy of AMC.

Not much to say about the film itself that has not already been said: it’s not a good film, it plods along at a dull pace, and but is interesting nevertheless for being an early horror film, and if you can get into it; it can be a lot of fun for its short run time of 76 minutes.  What I find most interesting here is its context.

Playgirls is an interesting example of a trend mentioned by Danny Shipka–of why early Italian horror films were (arguably) slow to develop:

The Italian population, still reeling from the atrocities of World War II, were unprepared to be taken [back to a] place of horror and despair in their exploitation films.

Here's your Velvet Elvis of Playgirl Maria Giovannini. No, I didn't create this.

Here’s your Velvet Elvis of Playgirl Maria Giovannini. No, I didn’t create this, but there’s more here.

Indeed, looking over the bios of the entire cast, crew, and producers of this film shows–if IMDB is complete, a bigger if for foreign films of this vintage and obscurity–that only one actor was active in the Italian film industry during the war (Alfredo Rizzo, would have been in his late 30s when the war started, and he only made two films during the war). Others–if they were old enough at the time to be employed, only became active in the film industry after the war. Obviously, the war displaced most of the Italian economy and social life, including its famous film industry, and we might assume that the cast and crew of Playgirls were doing other things–like surviving–during the war.

Given the ages of most cast members, it’s reasonable to assume that the war was a childhood experience and memory for most of the them–the “Playgirls” for which we have birth year information (Maria Giovannini, later a well known star of Italian soaps in the late-1950s, and Lyla Rocco) were between 2 and 6 years old at the outbreak of the war.

Lyla Rocco, c. 1953. She later married popular Italian actor Alberto Lupo, and helped him recover from a stroke in 1976 for him to return to television in 1978.

Lyla Rocco, c. 1953. She later married popular Italian actor Alberto Lupo, and helped him recover from a stroke in 1976 for him to return to television in 1978.

Playgirls was directed by the late Piero Regnoli–who was 21 at the start of World War II, and who only passed away in 2001. Regnoli was better known as a screenwriter, who wrote more than 100 screenplays between the 1950s and the early 1990s, the most notable of which were I, Vampiri (1956), directed by Mario Bava–whose centenary is this year–and the Lucio Fulci classic Demonia (1990).

Fun fact: Regnoli’s daughter is the world-class skiing champion, Daniela Ceccarelli,  who earned a gold medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Lastly, looking at the filmographies of the cast and crew, we see that subsets of the Playgirls cast also are seen in the following films:

The two leading men of Playgirls–vampire Walter Brandi, and the aforementioned Alfredo Rizzo–also appeared together in Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) and Terror, Creature from the Grave (with Barbara Steele), also from ’65:

hawk-of-the-caribbean-movie-poster-1963-1020360989Regnoli wrote and directed the financially troubled Caribbean Hawk (1963), which featured Brandi as a pirate; while Brandi and Marisa Quattrini were both in the better known 1960 Italian horror film featuring a group of dancers entering a vampire’s castle, The Vampire and the Ballerina:

So, in sum, spend some time with Playgirls, and then jump off from there to other work this cast and crew of done–together or separately–since, which is what I’ll be researching and writing about here for the foreseeable future!

Rodan (1956)

Excellent way to get in the mood for the upcoming Godzilla remake!

Anti-Film School

Rodan 1956 #1

by Steve Habrat

In 1954, Japanese production company Toho Studios sparked a giant monster craze with their brooding epic Godzilla. While there was plenty of emphasis on stomping and smashing, Godzilla also took time to focus on a likable group of a characters, and dared to reflect upon a nation still coming to terms with the devastation of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the Kaiju craze in full effect, Toho quickly got busy working on a follow-up to Godzilla. Replacing original director Ishiro Honda with Motoyoshi Oda, Toho’s Godzilla Raids Again was a step backwards for the radioactive beast, as a good majority of the film was interested in cheap cardboard destruction and monster-on-monster brawls that resembled an unintentionally hilarious slapping match. Godzilla Raids Again was a success for Toho, but reaction from audiences and critics was far from positive, sending Godzilla off…

View original post 1,034 more words

Marion Michael (playing Liane) was famous for the rest of her life on the strength of her role here as a 16-year-old girl.  She died in 2007 at age 66.