|Vintage Pulp||Sep 13 2023|
Tracy and Castle try to avoid a watery grave in low budget crime thriller.
Above is a rare poster for the 1947 drama High Tide, which starred Lee Tracy and Don Castle as an editor of a fictional Los Angeles newspaper and a private investigator who crash while driving on what is presumably the Pacific Coast Highway, and find themselves immobilized in the wreckage. Trapped and thinking they're doomed to drown when the sea rises, they discuss the events leading up to their mishap. It's a b-movie all the way, a mere seventy minutes long, with stock footage, day-for-night shooting, and mise-en-scène on the more static end of the spectrum, but the story is interesting and the film noir flourishes are fun.
Some of the dialogue scores too: “He's having a slight attack of rigor mortis right in the middle of my living room floor.” That's not bad. We know, of course, that Tracy and Castle didn't just drive off the PCH but crashed for a reason pivotal to the plot. No spoiler there. It's an assumption you'll have made just reading the film's synopsis. We can't recommend High Tide strongly because it's too bottom bin to be really exciting, but it might give you intermittent pleasures anyway. It's certainly instructive in terms of making a workable movie with very little money. It premiered today in 1947.
I've spotted him. He's in front of that rear projection of the main lobby of Union Station.
Hey, that's strange. That looks like our rear projection, only reversed.
The rear projection of Los Angeles is lovely tonight. But not as lovely as you, my dear.
Driver, step on it. We've got to outrun that projectionist.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 1 2022|
There's always a Price for bad behavior.
These two wonderful posters were made for the melodrama Shock, which starred Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Anabel Shaw, and Frank Latimore, and premiered today in 1946. With promo art like this we couldn't resist the film. While staying in a San Francisco hotel Shaw looks out her window and sees a man and woman arguing in a nearby room. The man strikes the woman over the head with a heavy silver candlestick, and seeing this causes Shaw to fall into a catatonic state—a state of shock. A doctor is sought and luckily there's one in the hotel—the same man who a bit earlier crowned his wife. The doctor figures out pretty quickly that his murder made Shaw go into shock, so he commits her to a sanitarium under his care. Diabolical.
Vincent Price plays the doctor and the role is perfect for him. He's a master of the sinister, and here he's positively terrifying. He decides that he needs to keep Shaw from talking, and, helped by his mistress Lynn Bari, who's a nurse in the sanitarium, he uses psychotherapy to try and wipe out Shaw's memory. That doesn't work, so he reverses course and tries to drive her insane. Later he reverses course again and decides to kill her via insulin shock. All this non-Hippocratic behavior from Price generated angry reactions from physician and psychiatrist groups around the U.S., but that's just hilarious—physicians have always been integral to atrocities, from the Tuskegee experiments to the Gitmo torture programs.
If the movie has any issue, it's that Shaw's frailty and hysteria feel anachronistic. The script sets up her mental condition by having her pre-shocked—she was told her soldier husband had been killed in the war, so she was already in a fragile state. Even so, we aren't sure many World War II-era women would have become catatonic after seeing someone hit over the head. We said “hit over the head” as opposed to murdered because Shaw had no reason to assume she'd seen a murder, rather than a severe beatdown. But okay, murder they wrote, so we'll accept the filmmakers' premise that candlestick + head = automatic death, and that Bari is in no mental condition to see such a thing. In which case we have to pronounce Shock an adequate little drama, worth it anyway for the oily Price, but decent in general.
You ever realize you're so untrustworthy you shouldn't even trust yourself? I do. It's weird.