Wednesday, May 22, 2019

THE BIG OPERATOR - "A Brass-Knuckled Drama" (1959)

This Wednesday's Wildcat feature is another Albert Zugsmith 1959 production with the same basic cast as "The Beat Generation."

Albert Zugsmith's "The Beat Generation" was about a serial rapist, and "The Big Operator" is about a slimeball labor union leader with no morals, or basically a serial rapist on a larger scale!

Mamie Van Doren and Steve Cochran are now a happily married couple with a son named Timmy.

Mickey Rooney has the role of a rotten little sumbitch up to his teeth in graft, corruption and lies!
When confronted with real questions, he just continually takes the fifth!

The Mick's character named Little Joe Braun has a severe Napoleonic complex!

Ray Danton is Little Joe's hit man! I guess if you've got a name like Oscar Wetzel, and you want to be a tough guy, it's a good idea to take on a moniker like "The Executioner!"

As previously stated, the only reason I watched this movie in the first place was to see Vampira.

Unfortunately, she's on screen less than two minutes!

Grabowski is in this one too, this time as a tough guy with nasal congestion!

Choosing to use another singer in one of the main roles, the great Mel Tormé, known as 'The Golden Fog," is a very dissatisfied and vocal union member!

Just like "The Beat Generation," "The Big Operator" has it's share of guest stars like the voice of Mr. Magoo, or Thurston Howell III, however you want to look at it, Jim Backus!

Everybody's favorite heavy, Leo Gordon is in there too as one of Little Joe's henchmen!

These guys weren't messing around, and if you crossed the picket line, they'd overturn your car!

Mickey Rooney was only 5' 2" tall, and his good friend Judy Garland was only 4' 11 1/2" tall.
At six foot, Steve Cochran looks like a giant by comparison!

You can only hope these guys get what's coming to them!

Here's a fantastic shot of six people in one car searching for the missing little Timmy!

Little Joe Braun gets caught red handed in a closet after kidnapping little Timmy. These goons will do anything it takes to have it their way. Little Timmy was played by Jay North of "Lassie" fame.

An alternative title for "The Big Operator" was "Anatomy Of The Syndicate."
It might have been 60 years ago, but this movie still has the ability to make you feel uncomfortable! That's good film making!

Monday, May 20, 2019

LA HERENCIA DE LA LLORONA / The Heritage of the Crying Woman - 1947

Here's a rare, early Mexican horror movie that features a detective who is investigating the ghostly appearances of La LLorona, a spirit that is haunting a family which has faced a recent tragedy. This was the second film dealing with the legend of the Crying Woman. It stars Paquita de Ronda, Juan Jose Martinez Casado, Tito Novaro and Agustin Isunza.

Here's our goofy detective, he's a little old fashioned in his methods...

Here are our lovers, ah, to be young again. In the true Mexican tradition, this one is filled with lots of singing and dancing, and, makes you yearn for the good old days, just the opposite of the fix we're in at this time in space.

There's something weird about that mirror, what the heck!

There are mysterious characters that seem to have their own agendas that go against the grain.

Strange things are beginning to happen at the hacienda and word of the Llorona is mentioned as the possible reason for the problems that have come home to roost.

Then, there's a death in the family, things are starting to get real...

The detective and his pal are staying with the family. That night, they find a big snake under their sheets for a little bit of comedy relief.

Then, the good guys learn that one of the people hanging around is an escaped criminal after he shoots and kills someone that knew the real story behind the appearance of the Llorona.

The convict is captured and they put the cuffs on him. We then learn that he was actually there to steal from the family and used the story of the Llorna as a cover for his deception. What a relief!

Of course, we have to end with the detective who has stepped in a bear trap! What the Hell?!!.. We're back on Wednesday with more wild 'n' weird junk, just 4 U -

Saturday, May 18, 2019

THE BEAT GENERATION - "Way-Out Parties Beyond Belief!" (1959)

Tonight's Saturday Night Special is the result of my reinvigorated interest in Vampira and her very cool career, and the path led me here, because in 1959 Albert Zugsmith, produced four movies that were all very fascinating for a number of reasons, but what I found most interesting was how they used a large number of the same actors in all four movies (Ala Roger Corman), and then each film also had it's own group of other special individuals.

Let me try and explain.
No slouch in the production department, Albert Zugsmith had already produced three of my favorite movies, "Written On The Wind," "The Incredible Shrinking Man," and "Touch Of Evil," before this, and in 1958 he produced "High School Confidential," starring Russ Tamblyn, but also in the cast were Mamie Van Doren, Ray Anthony, Jackie Coogan, Charles Chaplin Jr., and Norman Grabowski who would all be in his next three or four movies too, along with a lot of other notable names like Vampira!

The first movie of the 1959 series was "Night Of The Quarter Moon," and the second one was "The Beat Generation."
The third movie was called "The Big Operator," which I'll tell you more about on Wednesday, and the fourth was called "Girls Town."

So rather than try and explain all the complex intricacies of this movie called "The Beat Generation," I'm just going to introduce you to some of this crazy amazing cast!
Steve Cochran has the lead role in this film, and is the co-star of "The Big Operator."
He was also in the "Twilight Zone" episode titled "What You Need."
At the age of 48, Steve sailed off in his yacht to Guatemala, but died of a lung infection before he ever got there.

 Looking as good as ever, in this film, the versatile Mamie Van Doren plays a slutty tramp, but in "The Big Operator," she's Mrs. Everyday Housewife. She was also in "Girls Town."

 Ray Danton is a nasty serial rapist in this film, and in "The Big Operator," he plays an evil hit man called The Executioner. Personally, I like Ray better when he plays more humorous characters.

Jackie Coogan, aka Uncle Fester, is in three of the four movies. In this one he's a cop, In "The Big Operator," he's a crook!
 At this point in time, no one knew what an impact the cartoon character's of Charles Addams' world would have on pop culture. Did you know that when Maila Nurmi developed her Vampira character, one of her main influences was the wife in The Addams Family cartoons, who at that time, wasn't even known as Morticia yet? 

In "The Beat Generation," Maila was a beat poetess, and in "The Big Operator" she plays a hip gallery owner! She doesn't get enough screen time in either movie in my humble opinion!

 I also find it fascinating that in both movies, she is billed as Vampira. That would be kind of like billing Bela Lugosi as Dracula I think.

Trumpet playing band leader Ray Anthony is in all five of Albert Zugsmith's 1958-59 films!
Ray also performed the original theme song in Zugsmith's "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

Famed accordionist from Fresno, Calif, Dick (Daddy-O) Contino is also in "Girls Town."

 Just like me, Albert Zugsmith must have been a big music fan, because all of these films have music in them. Cathy Crosby performs a song in all but
"The Big Operator."

Margaret (13 West Street) Hayes was also in "Girls Town."

 Bill Daniels is also in three of the four movies, but he was also better known as a singer!

One of the characters working in all four of the 1959 Zugsmith films was the comedy relief guy Norman Grabowski. Not exactly a household name, Grabowski as they call him, is one of the most important people in this movie, especially to hot rod fans around the world since he was literally the creator of the T-Bucket style of hot rod. He also designed Kookie's hot rod in "77 Sunset Strip." That bit of information makes this pose a lot more understandable! Four to the floor and pedal to the metal!!

That brings us to another category! Charles Chaplin, Jr. was not only in all five of the 1958-59 films, he was also one of many actors used by Albert Zugsmith who were children of other very famous stars, in this case, Charlie Chaplin!

Robert Mitchum's son James or Jim, who has a stunning resemblance to his Dad, was also in "Girls Town!" Not in this movie, but other actors like this are John Drew Barrymore and Harold Lloyd Jr.

Albert Zugsmith either really liked music, or he knew that it really gave a film that extra punch, so when he wasn't using musicians as actors, he was using musicians as musicians, like Louis Armstrong.
In "High School Confidential," there was an appearance by Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Platters show up in "Girls Town."
Also, the main soundtrack for "The Beat Generation" was written by the guy who also did most of the music for Mr. B.I.G., the swingin' Albert Glasser!

And that brings us to a list of all the various and sundry actors and musicians of all ilks who make up the balance of very interesting characters in these movies like Fay (Hercules Conquers Atlantis) Spain!

Irish (Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle) McCalla!

Professional boxer turned actor, Slapsie Maxie Rosenblum! And the list of characters in the five films goes on and on with names like Michael Landon, Nora Hayden, Mel Welles, Julie London, Dean Jones, Agnes Moorehead, Nat 'King' Cole, Frank Gorshin, Mickey Rooney, Mel Torme, Jim Backus, Jay North, Leo Gordon, Paul Anka, Elinor Donahue, Gloria Talbott etc. etc. etc.
If you watch "The Beat Generation" and "The Big Operator" back to back, it can surrealistically seem like it's a continuing story. Steve Cochran quits his job as a cop and divorces Fay Spain, and Steve and Mamie Van Doren get married and have a kid, while Ray Danton goes from serial rapist to hit man, and Vampira never notices any of it because she's way too cool!!

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??