Monday, June 29, 2020


Here's one I recorded off TCM like 8 years ago, the story goes like this... Tom Merriam signs onto the cargo ship Altair as the third officer under Captain Stone. At first things seem normal, the Captain looks at Merriam as a younger version of himself, and the young man sees Stone as the first adult to ever treat him as a friend. But after two very strange deaths of crew members, Merriam begins to think that Stone is a psychopathic madman obsessed with authority (whoa, timely!). He tries to inform other crew members (but no one will listen to him) and this makes Captain Stone very angry..

This one stars Richard (RKO superstar, father of Robert) Dix, Russell (THE BODY SNATCHER) Wade, Ben (THE LEOPARD MAN) Bard, Edmund (THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE) Glover and Skelton (MASTER MINDS) Knaggs - Man, you gotta love Skelton, he basically replaced Dwight Frye's type character in the forties. He died at age 43.

Tom Merriam is on his way to join the crew on the Good Ship Lollipop, Err, the Altair 4... Anyway, before he boards the vessel, he has a friendly chat with a blind vendor. The man tells him that the Altair is a cursed ship, and that he should think twice before it takes off. Tom thinks the guy's a little strange and heads off to the ramp.

Before they even they shove off (you shove off!) someone is missing from the roll call. That's because he's lying there dead for some reason... Sorry dude, it's time for us to shove off now!

Out at sea, the ship encounters a storm. The huge iron hook was not tied down even though the Captain was warned of an approaching storm, so, a few men are ordered to secure it however possible! Well, the hook crashes into one of the lifeboats, knocking it off the ship, and the men barely escape injury before it's secured!

Tom and the Captain have a little chat about the incident. Tom learns that the man in charge has some issues with his authority, but he's not convinced that the Captain's a bad guy, yet.

One of the crew gets appendicitis and two of the men have to play doctor as Sparks, the radio operator, relays instructions on how to remove it from a surgeon!

Tom has a heart to heart with Sparks, and even though there's a lot of evidence the Captain may be a murderer, the third officer still doesn't want to think the Captain would ever do that.

One crewman had words with the Captain, and the Captain told him that everthing's cool, but that, you know, other captains might hold it against him. So, the guy is in the chain storage chamber with the door open so he can get out before the last of the chain is in place...

Captain Stone just happens to be wandering by, and shuts the door!!

Tom basically catches the Captain in the act and tells the sicko that he murdered the man!

Tom quits and wants the Captain to drop him off at the nearest port! Stone says sure, no problem, but remember that other captains might hold something like this against you. Of course the Captain was putting on an act and threatens Tom with a gun!

Skelton (real name) plays Finn, a mute, who's the pint sized hero in this story. He finds a telegram from the captain that states a big lie to the authorities about the deaths. Boy, this sounds sooooo damn familiar!!

Tom has it out with the Captain after Sparks is found dead. He then tries to strangle the Captain until some crewmen take him away.

In this scene, it's evident that Stone is totally insane...

Tom has been tied down, drugged and muzzled. And just as he's ready to be stabbed to death by the crazed Captain, Finn shows up, just in the nick of time!!

The little guy is wiry as Hell and gives the Captain a run for his money.

The murderer is taken out by his own blade and brings the story to a happy ending. Speaking of endings, this post ends the most insane June I've ever lived through. Join us Wednesday as we begin probably another crazy month, here at The Dungeon!!..

1 comment:

KD said...

Wow, I have to see this'n! Ben Bard as "First Officer Bowns?"

Ben Bard ran an acting school, and according to the IMDb: "In the 1930s, he established Ben Bard Drama, one of the largest and most respected acting schools in Hollywood. It had an attached theatre company that produced stage classics and West Coast premieres of contemporary American plays."

My old buddy, filmmaker Arthur C. Pierce, studied drama at Ben Bard's school, where he bumped into lots of actors who later became friends cast members in his movies.

Mr. Pierce told me a little story about how when they were shooting THE DESTRUCTORS (1968, written by Pierce, who was always on-set for those Earle Lyon productions), he spotted Michael Ansara on set, went over, and stuck his hand out, saying "Nice to see you again, Mark Antony!" (Y'see, in Ben Bard's acting class, they had both been cast in a play together, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar! I wish I knew who Pierce played!)

Like Roger Corman had done in the fifties, Arthur Pierce also went to acting classes to get some understanding about the role of actors in his films.

Hrm, does this mean I have to go back to acting class before I produce my magnum opus? (I threw the script at my high school teacher/acting coach in my senior year, and stormed out to great cheers from my classmates! To this day, I don't regret it! The acting coach was a silly twit and a real diva.)

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