TENSION - "Everybody's Got A Breaking Point" (1949)
For most folks, the day after X-mas is about relaxation because it's all over, but down here in The Dungeon, since we don't know how to relax, it's all about finding more subjects to torture and creating TENSION!! Time to go back to the year 1949, when life was simpler but also sometimes undeniably a lot more complicated depending how you look at it!
Great title card to go along with Barry (PYRO) Sullivan as Detective Collier Bonnabel's introductory narration! The music in "TENSION" was composed by André Previn, one of the most versatile musicians in the world, who can easily transiton from Classical to Jazz and Pop, a truly brilliant musician whose career spans eight decades!
What was he talking about? Oh, that's right, Tension and how to get people to SSNNNAPPPPP!!!!!
This is the great Richard Basehart as milquetoast pharmacist Warren Quimby! Anybody who grew up in the 60's will remember Richard for his 110 episodes of "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" as Admiral Harriman Nelson! He was also in the "Twilight Zone" as Adam Cook in the episode titled "Probe 7, Over And Out!" Richard also had the role of Ishmael in the classic 1956 feature "Moby Dick," and in 1962 had the starring role in a movie called "Hitler!"
Warren Quimby's total bitch of a wife Claire is played by Audrey (Lady In The Lake ) Totter! Almost always a bad girl in most of her roles, Audrey was the personification of a femme fatale in this film and many others! Her career waned when bad girls were no longer fashionable in the Disney world of the 60's!
Warren takes Claire to see the charming house he wants to buy her out in the suburbs, but she wants nothing to do with it, and won't even get out of the car! She likes it in the city where the sugar daddies are prevalent!
Claire leaves Warren to go live with a rich guy in his beach pad, so he takes he frustrations out on the bowling alley!
The man with the money that she so craves, Audrey's new beau is Barney Deager as played by Lloyd Gough! Lloyd's career came to a screeching halt in the early 50's for about 10 years when he and his wife were blacklisted for their left-wing political affiliations! He bounced back in the 60's and was in "The Outer Limits" episode "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" as a General Claiborne, and was in 26 episodes of "The Green Hornet" as Mike Axford!
When Warren comes around to try and stake a claim back on his wife, not only does Barney Deager kick sand in Warren's face, he knees him in the nuts for good measure, and has to think twice about not killling him!
Warren decides he's going to kill Barney, and to do that he needs to set it up perfectly, so he decides to take on a whole new look and personality! Ditching his glasses and getting some of those new high-tech contact lenses is a good place to start!. He then goes and gets himself a new apartment, and tells the people who live there that he's a traveling salesman, and that's why he's not around during the week! He plans on killing Barney as this new person, and then disappearing without a trace!
The pharmacy where Warren works provides some of the busiest looking scenes you're ever going to see. Look, there is stuff and more stuff literally everywhere!!
Growing up in California, I don't remember the California Crazy chain of gas stations, but I guess it existed!!
In his new digs, Warren meets his neighbor Cyd Charrise as the warm, pretty, and intelligent Mary Chanler! Sometimes you wonder why actors and actresses change their names, Cyd Charrise was born Tula Ellice Finklea, does that answer your question? Cyd Charrise was a brilliant classically trained dancer who was in a bunch of musicals! She was such an amazing dancer, her legs were insured for five million dollars in 1952!! Warren is so obsessed with killing Barney, he can't really even conceive of being in a new relationship!
Warren breaks into Barney's pad, and is just about ready to do him in when Barney wakes up! Warren suddenly realizes what a fool he is, changes his mind, and finally decides that he will be happier if he just lets the whole thing go, and start a new life with Mary, who, unlike his wife, is somebody who actually likes him!!
But since this isn't a love story, before Warren can get around to hooking up with Mary, Claire shows back up with her bags in hand! Somebody has killed Barney, and she needs a place to hide, she needs Warren to take her back!
Warren finally does what he should have done in the beginning of the film, he slaps the shit out of Claire, and she's not happy about it one bit!
The sweet science of boxing was particularly popular in the 40's and 50's and always makes for a good back drop for a scene! Here our narrator Barry Sullivan and his partner, William Conrad as Lieutenant Edgar Gonsales question Barney Deager's man-servant! William Conrad obviously went on to star in his own TV show "Canon" for 121 episodes, and was no slouch in the narration department himself as he narrated "Rocky And His Friends," "The Fugitive," "Tales of The Unexpected," and "Buck Rogers In The 25th Century!"
Mary Chanler in the meantime has been left on hold, and innocently goes to the police to file a missing persons report on the man she has fallen in love with! Oops! Bad move!
The cops were already trying to put the squeeze on Warren for the murder, so Detective Bonnabel takes Mary out for a cup of coffee, so she can see that her boyfriend isn't who she thinks he is! Yeah, it's starting to get a little tense!!
If you listen to the opening narration again, you'll hear Lieutenant Bonnabel say that sometimes you have to do things like romance or kiss your suspects to get them to give you the information you need. Claire really thought that her and Bonnabel were going to run off together, but boy did she have a surprise coming when that rubber band finally snapped!! Unorthodox detective work to say the least, but very effective!!