Thursday, January 08, 2015

MOOM PITCHER DOUBLE FEATURE! DIAL RED O and SUDDEN DANGER starring Bill Elliott! (Allied Artists, 1955)

Aging cowboy star "Wild Bill" Elliott himself hangs up them ol' Colt 45s for a new set o' weaponry in this mid-fifties Allied Artists series! Yes, the grizzled one after years of riding the range was now portraying an El Lay County Sheriff Lieutenant going under the name of either Flynn or Doyle in these rather hard-hitting crank outers just custom made for the cheap-theater to late-night tee-vee moom pitcher circuit. And man are they just what the he-man in us all have been craving lo these many years, what with alla that jam-packed action, grubbiness, women who look like ladies and sinister plots that keep people like us going in the face of the general geldarama that has befitted mankind for the past thirtysome years of our sorry existence.

The films in question today come from the first disque in the BILL ELLIOTT DETECTIVE MYSTERIES set that Warners had the good sense to release (thanks for the Christmas present Bill!), and let's just say that these early entries into the Flynn/Doyle series really do this old turd well as far as resensification of self, masculinity, take no shit from no one attitude goes even this late down the line. It's all hard-edged cop drama worthy of the best of the day (DRAGNET and M SQUAD included) and best of all these don't get bogged down in any sociopsychological goo that confused more'n a few young kids who grew up seeing men carrying purses and wimmen smoking cigars! Just hard-edged, stripped-down tension here. It's no wonder that none other than Sam Peckinpah was the dialogue coach on DIAL RED O, and if he wasn't taking notes I woulda been surprised.

DIAL RED O features ex-BRAVE EAGLE himself Keith Larsen as a veteran holed up in a VA hospital who escapes the day his divorce is finalized, right at the exact time his former Marine mate murders the guy's ex with a few well-placed judo chops to the neck! SUDDEN DANGER's got this blind guy who comes home from braille school only to find that his mom committed suicide in order that he get the moolah needed for what will hopefully be the last in a long series of operations that the guy has little faith in. Of course the discrepancies in the case pop up faster'n vaginal scabs on your sister, and after even a cursory look it seems as if Doyle's got the sightless one pegged as the killer himself! But then more clues and conflicting testimonies get poured into the stew and after awhile even you're not sure just how this crazy case is gonna end up what with certain parties fudging their sagas to fit their own sordid needs.

Elliott actually made the transition from cowboy star to grizzled detective just as well as any a-list actor who was getting on in years, while the supporting players from Larsen to Beverley Garland, Jack Kruschen (as a gruff Don Thompson-esque sci-fi fanzine writer type) and Lyle Talbot (who never turned down a role!) add the right sorta feeling that aids the filming dinginess even more'n any of us would have hoped. And best of all these did come out via Allied Artists who gave us all of those fantastic BOWERY BOYS films so if you liked the way those looked and felt all those lonely afternoons ago you'll be sure to love these films in the here and now Gene Shalit be damned!

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