ARSÈNE LUPIN DOUBLE FEATURE: Arsène Lupin (1932)/Arsène Lupin Returns(1938) Maurice LeBlanc’s international sleuth sensation gave Conan Doyle’s consulting detective a run for the collective imagination in climes as diverse as The Continent and Japan – so it’s only natural that Hollywood came calling. But Lupin is crime-solver cut from a very different cloth – an international jewel thief! The first film is an early Talkie, but thanks to a sensational cast and a sizzling script it quickly soars above any early-in-the-learning-curve limitations. Lionel Barrymore plays Parisian Detective Guerchard, dedicated to apprehending the notorious Lupin, John Barrymore plays the member of the gentry who harbors a secret, and Karen Morley is the seductress sent under-the-bedcovers to ferret it all out. Guerchard’s and Lupin’s cat-and-mouse game set the trope for detective vs. thief thrillers for decades to come. The half-decade later follow up film, with Melvyn Douglas as the debonair dastard, shows what a quick study cinema was in regard to sound. A brightly polished bit of froth and mystery, the film pairs Douglas with Warren William as a crime-busting ex-Fed out to nab Lupin for a crime he did not commit.
Darkness, Foreign and Domestic
SLANDER (1957) Steve Cochran stars as slick, scandal sheet impresario H.R.Manley in this tale of truth and consequences from the dawn of the “national inquisition” era. The piper’s calling for an outstanding share of H.R.’s publishing empire, so he needs a big story, pronto. Setting his sights on a squeaky-clean queen of the Great White Way, Manley leverages a budding kiddie-TV star’s (Van Johnson) convict past to get at the star’s childhood secret. But Martin ain’t talking, and tragedy is in the making. Ann Blyth and Marjorie Rambeau deliver die-hard dramatics as the driven-away puppeteer’s wife and the burning-with-shame mother of Manley. Roy Rowland directs. 16×9 Widescreen.
THE COUNTERFEIT PLAN (1957) Zachary Scott is as crooked as only he could be in this crime procedural that tracks an escaped con from his break-out to the break-up of the most daring counterfeit plan to hit the Commonwealth. Fleeing France for the U.K., ruthless mastermind Max Brant sets up shop inside the country manse of ex-crony Louie Bernard (Mervyn Johns). But when Louie’s co-ed daughter (Peggie Castle) comes calling, Louie, the best “plate-man” in the biz, is trapped in Max’s criminal machinations. Alternately high-stakes drama with meticulous documentary-style attention to the scheme’s artistry and organization, The Counterfeit Plan is a gripping journey inside the world of criminal enterprise. Montgomery Tully directs. 16×9 Widescreen.
CHASE A CROOKED SHADOW (1958) Anne Baxter headlines this mind-bending mystery set amidst the villas of the Catalonian coast. South African diamond heiress Kimberly Prescott returns to her family estate outside Barcelona following the twin fatalities of her father and brother. But a stranger (Richard Todd) shows up, claiming to be her deceased brother and installs himself inside her villa. As she struggles to uncover the reason for the deception, her “brother” is accepted as legitimate by more and more people, including her uncle (Alexander Knox) and the local police inspector (Herbert Lom). As Kimberly’s paranoia explodes, so does her faith in her sanity. Directed by Michael Anderson. 16×9 Widescreen.
CLAUDELLE INGLISH (1961) This torrid Southern Gothic stars a roster of Warner contract players in a can’t-look-away depiction of a young girl’s descent into seductive self-destruction. Young Claudelle Inglish (Surfside 6’s Diane McBain), the daughter of sharecropper Claude Inglish (Arthur Kennedy) and his bitter spouse Jessie (Constance Ford, playing the very picture of crystalline brittleness and causticity). Enmired in a world of desperate hypocrisy and degeneration with the only good man in her life an ineffectual father, Claudelle descends into a maelstrom of sin after being betrayed by the man (Chad Everett) she “let love her”. Tossed at the local rich man (Claude Akins) by her mother, Claudelle rejects that fate and plays siren to her towns many sinners (including Will Hutchins). The more Claudelle sinks, the more desperate she becomes for salvation. Gordon Douglas directs. 16×9 Widescreen.
THE CROOKED ROAD (1965) Film Noir King Robert Ryan stars in this dark political thriller set amidst the cold war turmoil of central Europe. Hard-hitting journalist Richard Ashley is out to prove the Duke of Orgagna (Stewart Granger), an anti-Communist bulwark, has been misusing American funds on the eve of the national elections. Complicating matters is the Duke’s wife who’s Ashley’s ex-lover Cosima. As she hints her embers have not cooled, the Duke counsels Ashley against his American naiveté in the more morally nuanced world of the Balkans. But when Ashley’s informant is killed, and he’s getting the frame, Ashley accepts the Duke’s invitation for a weekend stay on the a private island, crawling with heavily armed gardeners. Don Chaffey directs. 16×9 Widescreen.
Too Sly for Shooting
SUGARFOOT: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (1959-60) Will Hutchins amiably ambles on as everyone’s favorite sarsaparilla sipping “sugarfoot” Tom Brewster in the third season of the TV Western classic. Tom continues his long-distance legal studies while getting into more scrapes and jams than a polecat at a cactus farm, so it’s a good thing his pacifist outlook is backed by a lightning fast, albeit reluctant, trigger finger and his even faster wits. The season opener sees Tom’s lookalike cousin The Canary Kid (also Will Hutchins) facing a murder charge and it¹s a case big enough to attract the likes of Christopher Colt (Wayde Preston, Colt .45), Bronco Layne (Ty Hardin, Bronco) and Johnny McKay (Peter Brown, Lawman) and Doc Holliday (Adam West). Further foes friends and fillies include Connie Stevens, Troy Donahue, Ray Danton, Ruta Lee, George Kennedy, Mala Powers, James Coburn and Robert Armstrong. And a young Robert Altman directs a pair of episodes (“Apollo with a Gun” and “The Highbinder”)!
NOTE: These DVDs are Manufactured on Demand (MOD); to order, fans must visit The Warner Archive Collection, WB Shop.com, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.