99 River Street (1953) John Unleashes The Payne With Power Punches

99 River Street (1953) John Payne movie film noir poster

Depressed and broken ex boxer Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) can’t help reminiscing back to his heyday as a prize fighter and unfortunately to that fateful day when he took a beating on the ropes. The day he damaged his eye, bringing with it the end of his boxing career. He sits there with great sadness, in his apartment, watching a rerun of the fight. Things aren’t helped for our poor Ernie as his wife Pauline (Peggie Castle) loves nothing more that belittling him, reminding him what a loser he is and how he has ruined their future.

Tagline – Rips into you like a double-crossing Dame!

99 River Street (1953) John Payne ernie boxing ring KO99 River Street (1953)Pauline (Peggie Castle) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) taxi cab drive

He works, making ends meet, as a cabby for his good loyal friend Stan’s (Frank Faylen) taxi business but Ernie has a big dream, to manage his own petrol station. Pauline is not impressed with this ridiculous venture, besides she has other plans, she has a fancy man in the shape of Victor (Brad Dexter) a ruthless diamond thief. The devious two plan to leave poor old Ernie as soon as Victor trades in his bounty for a barrel of cash from local fence Christopher (Jay Adler), a gangster hiding behind the front of a pet shop.

99 River Street (1953) Victor (Brad Dexter) Pauline (Peggie Castle) cheating on ernie99 River Street (1953) Victor (Brad Dexter) Christopher (Jay Adler) diamonds fence gangster

Meanwhile our cabby gets caught up in a web of deceit, adding to his woes. Luckily Stan is on hand for a bit of moral support but there’s also his friend, a beautiful actress, called  Linda (Evelyn Keyes) who gets caught up helping our hero after causing a spot of bother. She’s a real star and no stranger to danger, she’ll do whatever she can to help her friend.

99 River Street (1953) Linda (Evelyn Keyes) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) cafe acting

Unfortunately Ernie has a monstrous raging temper, it’s always brewing, ready to bubble up over the top and unleash pain down on anything in his rageful way. Unlucky for them, Christopher has two henchmen that happen to cross Ernie’s path. With hardman Mickey (Jack Lambert) giving Ernie the channel he needs to release his explosive brutality on.

99 River Street (1953) Mickey (Jack Lambert) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) punch up

Tagline – The Picture That Lays It On The Line!

Whether he’s running about town or driving his taxi to the next destination, trouble isn’t far away, sticking by his side, Linda keeps him company but with so much going on, from the likes of gangsters, thugs and the constant threat of the police hunting him down. Poor old Ernie is in a pickle! Can he find a way out of this deep dark despair before he kills someone or gets bumped off himself?

99 River Street (1953) John Payne Stan (Frank Faylen) friendship

Can’t recommend this one highly enough, noir drama at it powerful and exciting best. It’s a frantic journey in it’s short runtime, it really packs a punch.

 A few observations

  • Directed by Phil Karlson who only the year before worked with John Payne on the equally excellent action drama, Kansas City Confidential which I reviewed last week. Make sure you check that one out, it’s another cracker.
  • Two brilliant scenes to look out for and both featuring Evelyn Keyes as Linda. Her performance at the theatre and later, flirting in the cafe are both wonderful standout moments.

99 River Street (1953) Linda (Evelyn Keyes) flirting drunk cafe

  • Love that Ernie stays in his cab uniform with his hat throughout the picture.
  • This was yet another recommend by the excellent Mikes Take On The Movies blog.
  • Not a Phil Karlson and John Payne movie but I also checked out The Crooked Way which is pretty good. Those trio of films make a good introduction to John Payne who I didn’t know until last month.

99 River Street (1953) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) cdiving cab taxi radio

I’m sure you will enjoy this, it just picked Kansas City Confidential to the top spot for me. What do you think? Let me know if you wish.

Thanks for popping on by the wolf den and keep discovering those wonderful old films.

99 River Street (1953) John Payne movie opening credit titles screenshot

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Cremator (1969) – Crazy Cremating Czechoslovakian Cinema!

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia movie poster burning

There’s no way I can talk about the film Cremator without spoilers, so please make haste if you don’t wish to know. This is more of a, what the fuck was that all about post! First up, how this gets labeled as a comedy, along with crime and drama, I have no idea. There are definitely extreme dark comedy moments but the by and large of it is utmost bleak and depressing.

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia crematorium horror film close up

Set in Czechoslovakia sometime around 1939/40 during the Second World War when Nazi Germany have invaded the country and are setting up a protectorate. The deranged Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrusínský), a strange rotund smiling man, who on first impressions has an almost innocent look to him. Coming off like a loyal family man, he is the father to a son and daughter, with a dutiful wife. It doesn’t take long before you realise there’s something oddball and peculiar about this man.

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia crematorium wifeCremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia family

He’s extremely proud of his job as head of the city crematorium. Happy to tell anyone wishing to know, the process he uses to dispose of the bodies in his care.  Whenever he opens up a casket to reveal a body, out comes his trusty comb to give them a quick tidy up. Giving the dearly departed’s hair a loving swipe to the side before he then, with a freakish creepy routine, tidies up his own hair with the comb.

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia crematorium horror film loves his job

For Kopfrkingl, he sees his job as a blessing, to free the souls on their next journey path, to cleanse them by releasing their smoke into the ether. Maybe you might think he is doing his job well, a way to cope with the arduous task in hand? But no our Kopfrkingl is quite demented and unbalanced as he battles religious symbols, the influence of Nazi propaganda, the pull of prostitution and most bonkers, seeing himself as the reincarnation of the recently departed, 13th Dalai Lama.

As the Nazi influence and propaganda thoughts go through his head he starts to dismiss his own and his family’s, identity. Seeing himself as more German, even though he only has a “drop” of German blood flowing through his veins.

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia coffin body

This is truly a dark psychological horror story with a horrendous anti-semitic core throughout the whole film but the smiling freaky man in his twisted mind things and believes with his cremating, relieves all earthly suffering and he is divine in his ways.

He is watched by a dark haired woman throughout the film at different times, she looks so heartbreaking sombre, I wondered if she was a ghost, a spirit of some kind, maybe even the angel of death?

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia ghost girl

Did I read into it right? That his actions of wanting a bigger more productive crematorium whilst working for the Nazi’s imply that he was the catalyst for the monstrous atrocities that were to come at the hands of the Germans in World War Two? I certainly got that impression and it’s plagued my mind, so extremely disturbing.

A few things I learnt.

  • I’ve read it was not widely seen until the collapse of the communist system in Czechoslovakia in 1989, it had been banned shortly after it’s 1969 first showings. Not sure how true that is as writer, director Juraj Herz says in a personal quote…

“I went to various projections of the film in many different countries, from the Netherlands to Naples, and I was keen to see how the reactions of the audience were completely different in every country. In Prague, people were depressed; in Slovakia, they laughed; in the Netherlands, it was a comedy from the beginning to the end; in Italy, the spectators went from the cinema right to the bar because cremation is just impossible, awful and unacceptable in their country.”

  • It’s original title is “Spalovac mrtvol” which on Google translate comes out as “Corpse burner” or “Corpse Incinerator” and is based on a novel of that name by Ladislav Fuks.
  • Rudolf Hrusínský plays the part of the truly unhinged and psychotic lunatic extremely well, bringing a unique sinisterism to him.
  • The camerawork and editing is incredible, as scenes are merged into one another in magical surreal brilliance. Add to the close up, fisheye style lens shots of Rudolf along with the Czech language, makes everything come together to bring a magnificent surreal feel to it.

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia crematorium horror film

Yes of course it is such a deeply disturbing film but it is also so beautifully filmed, so intriguing and artful. The camera shots and black and white print are gorgeous. It’s nature through it’s avant garde style is so utterly surreal, with that sinister undercurrent running effectively rife from beginning to end, just gives the film a crazy perplexing macabre fascination. It will certainly not be for everyone but if you like art house cinema it’s very much worth searching out. Maybe you will get a very different feel and explanation to the story. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts if you so wish.

Something more lighthearted will be coming for the next post I hope, thanks for popping on by the wolf lair. All the best… Mikey Wolfman

Cremator (1969) Rudolf Hrusínský Juraj Herz Czechoslovakia movie poster

The Great White Hope (1970) Darth Vader Fights Hatred With His Fists.

The Great White Hope (1970) james earl jones movie poster

Hey! That black boxer with his shining bald head on the screen looks familiar? Without that big cuddly frame and his glasses he’s almost unrecognisable as he bounds up and down firing off punches as fast as his mouth. When the words come out you instantly recall that voice, that unmistakable voice, those deep tones of the dark side, that ultimate bad guy, Darth Vader. You’ll also gonna know those vocal sounds from the likes of Disney’s father of the pride, Mufasa, from The Lion King. And who could forget Eddie Murphy’s Dad, King Jaffe Joffer in Coming To America. He’s the guy thats so iconic that it can only be one guy, that super legend, Mr James Earl Jones. Continue reading “The Great White Hope (1970) Darth Vader Fights Hatred With His Fists.”

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Exploding! Like A Gun In Your Face!

Kansas City Confidential (1952) movie poster film cover

I discovered this tense, well crafted thriller after being impressed by the performance of Neville Brand in director Don Siegel’s brilliant titled and extremely taut prison drama Riot In Cell Block 11. He played the lead character, James Dunn who rebels against the prison system, demanding better living conditions for the inmates. Flicking through his filmography I noted the intriguing Kansas City Confidential directed by Phil Karlson. Neville might not be the lead in this film but he does get to play one of three great quirky bad guys.

Tagline – The Picture That Hits With BULLET FORCE And BLACKJACK FURY!

Continue reading “Kansas City Confidential (1952) Exploding! Like A Gun In Your Face!”

Wolfman’s 70’s Chase Themes Soundtrack Music Compilation

Werewolf by Night comic book marvel transformationHere’s a 50 minute mix of mine featuring a barrage of 70’s chase themes from funky as hell soundtracks. Music and trailers from a selection of blaxploitation and seventies action films that hit with a Truck Turner sized funk fist, full force, straight in the kisser. Continue reading “Wolfman’s 70’s Chase Themes Soundtrack Music Compilation”

Inferno (1953) Robert Ryan Goes Into Survival Mode In Harsh Desert Heat.

Inferno (1953) 3d robert ryan movie poster

Which way will Robert Ryan go this time? Will he be his classic bad guy, or maybe he’ll sneak in one of his good guy roles? Then again he could be a man on a redemption path we are taken down? It part of the fun with his films, wondering which way he will go. I did a little post on which journey will Mr Robert Ryan take us on the film Crossfire, if you fancied having a look.

Inferno features the man Robert showing us his cub scout skills whilst dragging his leg, moaning, groaning and talking to himself. The tagline below might be a tad over selling it but it sure is a great fun movie. Continue reading “Inferno (1953) Robert Ryan Goes Into Survival Mode In Harsh Desert Heat.”

What’s Been Watched This Month – January 2018

Whats Been Watched 14

I do like a list, hope you do too! Here’s what has been watched in January 2018.

The new year has started and if you was interested on what I had seen this month, then this is the place for it. On the TV front Black Mirror season 4 with my daughter has been one of the highlights. Though we do have the last episode Black Museum to go. Continue reading “What’s Been Watched This Month – January 2018”

Countdown (1967) Robert Altman, James Caan & Robert Duvall Go To The Moon

Countdown (1967) Robert Altman james caan robert duvall nasa poster space moon rocket

I’m always a sucker for a good old space yarn centered around Mankind’s reach for the Stars and the Moon. The story of NASA and the lunar project’s have been a fascination for many, young and old. I’m too young to have seen a man on the Moon, though I was a wee little baby at tender age of one when Eugene Cernan last stepped on the lunar surface.  As I grew, my affection and interest with the space programs grew. The 80’s were a fantastic time for all things space related, you had the Space Shuttle program and the first astronaut jetpack untethered space walk, Russia’s amazing Mir Space Station and then unfortunately that doomed Challenger mission. These were just key moments in this here wide-eyed teenaged wolf but from those years, my obsession with space grew. Continue reading “Countdown (1967) Robert Altman, James Caan & Robert Duvall Go To The Moon”

Dark Passage (1947) Bogart In First Person Face-Off Thriller

Dark Passage (1947) Humphrey Bogart Lauren Bacall movie poster

Was recommended this noir thriller starring husband and wife double act Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  I for sure wasn’t expecting to be wowed by its unique take right from the get go. For this film’s first few acts are played out entirely in first person perspective. Meaning that our “hero” Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) face is never seen for a big portion of the film. Filmed in a point of view (POV) style or his face being covered up. A very brave decision for the studio to have made I can imagine, not having your big star, leading man’s face on the screen. Continue reading “Dark Passage (1947) Bogart In First Person Face-Off Thriller”

Fat City (1972) Real Life Can Pack Quite A Punch!

Fat City (1972) Billy Tully (Stacy Keach) Oma (Susan Tyrrell) drunk pub

Down and nearly out ex-semi pro boxer Billy Tully (Stacy Keach) looks into another empty bottle of spirits and drags himself to his feet, hey he might be down but he’s not out for the count yet. Determined to get back into shape and start a fresh, he packs his dirty old kit and heads off to the boxing gym. Wheezing, straining and sweating off the booze from countless nights, he steps and skips around the hall, shadow punching, ducking and a diving. He’s still got the moves under all that rust and achy bones. Continue reading “Fat City (1972) Real Life Can Pack Quite A Punch!”