Vintage Pulp Dec 22 2015
CHANCE ENCOUNTER
Mexico may be vast, but it’s never big enough to avoid what you’re running from.


With a poster this amazing you’d expect a pretty good movie. It promotes the Japanese run of the thriller Second Chance, which opened there today in 1953 after premiering in the U.S. in July. The film is near impossible to find, but we already possessed a downloaded copy from years back because we long ago sought out all Robert Mitchum’s work due to his utter coolness. Second Chance has not only Mitchum, but the always excellent Linda Darnell, exteriors shot in the Mexican towns of Cuernavaca and Taxco, color film stock (which lost its vividness in the intervening decades), and a 3-D process (of course not replicated for the home viewer).

So, is it any good? Well, when technical innovations arrive in Hollywood, filmmakers often use them as gimmicks, with diminished regard for story flow and physical logic. You see the same phenomenon today with CGI. Because this was RKO Radio Pictures’ first 3-D movie, and it was in Technicolor, many scenes take advantage of those aspects, but fail to build characterization or advance the plot. So there you go. But the locations in hilly Taxco look great, the musical interludes are grandly staged, and it all climaxes with an extended cable car set piece where down-on-his-luck prizefighter Mitchum gets a chance at redemption by taking on hitman Jack Palance. We’ve seen better. But we’ve seen far worse.

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The Naked City Dec 17 2009
TO LIVE AND DIE IN CUERNAVACA
Another drug lord bites the dust.

Yesterday in Mexico, drug lord Marcos Arturo Beltrán Leyva was shot dead by navy personnel during a raid on a luxury apartment complex near Cuernavaca. Known as “The Boss of Bosses,” Beltrán Leyva had always been on the radar of president Felipe Calderón, who even approved a $2.4 million bounty. And back in August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal indictment against the drug lord for smuggling billions of dollars worth of cocaine across the U.S./Mexico border. After this slow ratcheting up of pressure, Calderón finally made the move to apprehend Beltrán Leyva after the severed heads of five police officers and a prosecutor were found in streetside garbage Wednesday morning by sanitation workers in the state of Durango. President Calderón is touting the Beltrán Leyva killing as a success in his much-publicized drug war, which many observers had seen as little more than a highly destructive standoff. But even in the afterglow of yesterday’s events, government officials admit that unless the U.S. demand for cocaine diminishes, Beltrán Leyva simply represents the latest in a long line of drug lords.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 29
1963—Warren Commission Formed
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However the long report that is finally issued does little to settle questions about the assassination, and today surveys show that only a small minority of Americans agree with the Commission's conclusions.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
November 27
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
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