Down the Noir Highway

What could make a reputable insurance instigator go bad? A beautiful woman? Lots of loot? A sense of empowerment? For Joe Peters (Charles McGraw), it’s all of these things but it’s definitely a femme fatale named Diane (Joan Dixon) who first ignites the copper’s lust and then his greed. Roadblock (1951) is a cleverly plotted, terse little film noir that has more twists and hairpin turns than a winding mountain road. What makes it stand out from other low-budget noirs produced at RKO is Charles McGraw’s compelling performance as an easily seduced sucker unlike his usual tough guy roles and Joan Dixon’s sultry presence.  Continue reading

Commies at the Greasy Spoon Diner

The Psychotronic Video Guide calls it “One of the oddest movies of the fifties,” Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide deems it a “trash classic,” and any movie buff who has ever seen it will probably concur that Shack Out on 101 (1955) is easily the nuttiest B-movie to emerge in the Cold War era when paranoia over communist infiltration provided Hollywood with a new type of villain.   Continue reading

Oswald’s Last Picture Show

The premiere of the documentary OSWALD'S GHOST at the Texas Theatre in 2007

The premiere of the documentary OSWALD’S GHOST at the Texas Theatre in 2007

50 years ago today (11/22/2013) Lee Harvey Oswald ran into the Texas Theatre in Dallas to hide after shooting police officer J.D. Tippit.  The Texas Theatre was showing a double feature that day – WAR IS HELL (1963), a low-budget, Korean War drama directed by Burt Topper and narrated by Audie Murphy, and CRY OF BATTLE (1963), Irving Lerner’s small scale WWII/Pacific Campaign actioner with James MacArthur, Van Heflin and Rita Moreno.     Continue reading