Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Overlooked Films: I LOVE TROUBLE (The Double Take) by Roy Huggins

I reviewed Roy Huggins' private eye novel The Double Take a couple of years ago (HERE). The novel introduced Stu Bailey, who went on to become my favorite TV detective in 77 Sunset Strip. At the time, I was surprised to discover the novel had been filmed, several years before the TV show, as I Love Trouble. My initial reaction was Franchot Tone?? What kind of name is that for a hardboiled private eye?

Chances of every seeing that movie seemed slight, so I gave it no further mind until it turned up on YouTube. Hallelujah! I'm happy to report that I was wrong about old Franchot. He does make a good hardboiled dick, and this is a pretty dang good film, with a screenplay written by Roy Huggins himself.

A word of warning: This copy of the film is in pretty bad shape. There are long stretches where it plays just fine, but in others it jumps and flutters and spatters and almost blacks out. But if you're willing to look past the flaws, you should have no trouble following the story and dialogue and imagine what it must have looked like in its prime. If (like me) you're a fan of The Double Take, it's well worth the annoyance.

I think I read somewhere that Huggins later adapted this story for an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. Maybe one of these days I'll get to see that, too, and compare his two treatments of the story.

Your Overlooked Films HQ is SWEET FREEDOM

Monday, July 21, 2014


I posted a Marx Miniature Tommy-Gun a while back (HERE), and there will be quite a few more Miniatures in the months to come. This flintlock rifle is 9 1/2 inches long, and, as is fitting for a longrifle, it's the longest gun in the Miniature line. Real Kentucky rifles (like Davy's Old Betsy) were usually five or six feet long.

This particular weapon, in its plastic footlocker display box, was marketed in 1974 as one of seven "Historic Guns," but I'm pretty sure the rifle itself was originally made with gold (rather than black) trim in the early '60s. See those little notches in the box below the rifle? They were designed to hold a powder horn. The footlockers also typically held a box of Marx caps. 

More Cap Guns HERE!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Toy Solder Saturday: MARX 54mm FRONTIERSMEN

If you were commanding the defense of the Alamo against Santa Anna's conscripts, or battling to save Fort Apache from rampaging Native Americans, these are the guys you'd want by your side. Marx used them in most of their Alamo sets and some of the forts. 

And no, this guy above is not supposed to be Davy Crockett. It's too dang bad he isn't, because their "Official Davy Crockett as Portrayed by Fess Parker" is a joke. I'll tell that story in a future post, but suffice it to say that with that figure, Marx really screwed the pooch.

More midget warriors HERE.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Forgotten Books: DAY OF THE RAM by William Campbell Gault (1956)

A couple of weeks ago I re-read Ring Around Rosa (aka Murder in the Raw), the first appearance of private investigator Brock Callahan, and complained because he was grabbing his ankles and taking too many whacks from the police. That's HERE.

Well, Brock returns in Day of the Ram, and while his nose is still a little brown for my taste, he's showing signs of improvement. Plus, as the title - and the cover - indicates, this one is directly involved with Brock's former profession as a guard for the L.A. Rams. So I have to give Day of the Ram at least a thumb and a half up.

Football has changed a little since 1956. Brock tells us that lineman like he was are are bit players who make no more than a living wage. And there’s this observation about the players in general: 

Some of them earned less here, as pros, than some of the others had earned as amateurs in college.

Along with the football, Gault paints a great picture of L.A. in the fifties. Here's a sample:

Somebody had described Los Angeles as a dozen shopping centers in search of a town. It isn’t quite that. Areas have names of their own out here, but Hollywood is still Los Angeles and so is Westwood. And so are Brentwood and Bel-Air. But not Beverly Hills or Culver City or Santa Monica; they are distinct and separate municipalities, island surrounded by the creeping fungus that calls itself Los Angeles.

Another nice passage: 

Ned Allen had said “this town,” but that’s just a phrase. He meant the Los Angeles area - all the town roughly identified as “this town” of Los Angeles. It’s really not a town at all, but a collection of attitudes. 

The paperback cover tells us Brock is tough, but he has some odd ways of showing it. After an encounter with an insensitive bartender, he pays for his forty-cent beer in five pennies and “the dirtiest coins I could find.” And when his girlfriend's neighbor's doberman barks at him, he spits in the dog's face. Yeah, he's got a long way to go, but that's an improvement over Ring Around Rosa.

There are some nice touches of the times. His former teammates kid him about his new profession, calling him "Dick Tracy" and "Fearless Fosdick." He overhears a man half-joking with his wife: "Some day, Alice - pow!" And when he's jailed by a detective with a bad case of B.O. The detective asks:

     “Anything witty to take back to the boys in the squad room, Callahan?”
     I smiled at him through the bars. “I’m glad I use Dial. I just wish that everybody did.”

And here's a cool tip of the fedora to Raymond Chandler:

     The Chief of the Santa Monica police was certainly a dandy. A little man with an unctuous voice, looking at me across his big, expensive desk, and sadly shaking his head.
     “What else could we think, Mr. Callahan? A respected businessman in our community claims you came in brandishing a weapon. Whose story would you believe, if you were in my position?”
     “Since when is a bookie joint a respected business?” I asked him.
     He frowned at me, horrified. “Evidently you don’t know our little town.”
     “I read about it,” I said, “but the writer called it Bay City.”
     “There’s no gambling here, not while I’ve been chief.”
     “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” I said humbly.

Next up in the Callahan series is The Convertible Hearse. I believe I'll take it for a test drive.

Your weekly round-up of arcane literature is at pattinase