Did GEORGE RAFT have it in his contracts that he must have at least one scene in his movies where he dances? I for one am glad if he did. I love to see him gliding his way round a dance floor, he is such a smoothie!

At the start of this film there is at least 5 minutes of George showing what a good ballroom dancer he was. His tango with Marie Windsor is great, he makes it looks so easy as he leads the lovely Marie .


It seemed really odd to see DAN DURYEA in this color western playing a very subdued character in love with the gorgeous YVONNE DE CARLO who runs the ‘River Lady’ gambling boat.
I kept waiting for Dan to burst out of his straitjacket character and let rip, but it never happened.

Unusual too to see Yvonne playing a ruthless character who falls for logger ROD CAMERON,but wants him to move up in the world.
Nice little cameo from FLORENCE BATES, also in a change from her usual grand dame roles – she runs a tavern.

Lucille Ball Chester Morris

Lucille Ball Chester Morris

Good cast in this 1939 film from RKO about the passengers on an L.A. to Panama plane which crash lands into the jungle. Always a good set up for drama and conflict – mixed bag of people who have to get along.
The title tells you how many survive.
The pilot is CHESTER MORRIS. LUCILLE BALL shows yet again she should have done a lot more drama, but she really doesn’t have much to do in this.
Nice quote from Allen Jenkins:
“I don’t wanna blow my own horn,but in some circles I’m considered very handy with a heater.”
“Five Came Back” was remade as BACK FROM ETERNITY with ROBERT RYAN.


CHARLTON HESTON looked a bit lost in this very average melodrama – he’s a Texas rancher who falls for JANE WYMAN ( as Lucy). She has been jilted and ends up selling her high fashion trousseau to the local ladies and then sets herself up in business in the oil-boom town.
The supporting cast of CLAIRE TREVOR and THELMA RITTER makes it worth a look, but I didn’t see any sparks between Heston and Wyman.



CHARTER PILOT, from Fox in 1940, stars LLOYD NOLAN as an ace commercial pilot and LYNN BARI as his girlfriend who is a radio actress in a serial about his fictional adventures – which she also writes!
Sounds promising ,but not a lot happens and it is disappointing.
Nolan and Bari make a good team. I’m enjoying seeing early Lloyd Nolan films. His talent is obvious, in comedies like this and of course in dramas.
ETTA MCDANIEL (sister of Hattie McDaniel) plays Lynn’s maid.


SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT (1944) is one of the CRIME DOCTOR ‘B’ movie series which kept WARNER BAXTER going in the 40s ( he made 10 ‘Crime Doctor’ films from 1943 to 1949.)
Baxter’s health was poor and he looked a lot older than his 54 years.
These hour long dramas were popular with audiences so Columbia kept making them.

This one is set in an old dark house called Rocky Point near the sea. It is owned by NINA FOCH who makes a surprise night time visit to the Crime Doctor and explains her sudden appearance by saying,
“I was afraid I wouldn’t live till the morning!”
Nina has been having nightmares and all her weekend guests are suspects – her lawyer, MINOR WATSON, her sister and brother in law, JEANNE BATES,LESTER MATTHEWS, her boyfriend EDWARD NORRIS, her uncle GEORGE ZUCCO, and her handyman,BEN WELDEN.

There are hidden rooms, an hypnotic gas,plus several murders before the Crime Doctor solves the mystery.
At 67 minutes, it’s average but I guess in 1944 it would be ok as the second half of a double bill ( and it wouldn’t cost Columbia too much to make.)
It’s always nice to see Nina Foch and also character actor,Ben Welden, usually a small time crook, but here one of the good guys!

14 responses »

  1. Not surprised Warner Baxter’s health was poor – all that stress directing the show “Pretty Lady” in “42nd Street” must have taken a lot out of him!

    Loving all those capsule reviews of “B” movies – some real rarities there!

  2. Thanks,Siriami. It is amazing to find so many films I’d never even heard of.
    And yes, Mr Baxter had a rough time in FORTY SECOND STREET especially when he had to get a replacement star in a hurry! Step up, Ms Keeler!

  3. Cripes! things are getting really fast moving in Viennaland!
    Re RIVER LADY,really enjoyed this one I loved the barbed
    one-liners Rod and Dan trade with each other.
    Florence Bates was also behind the bar in
    THE SAN FRANCISCO STORY with an eye patch and smoking a
    pipe! Her assistant barman was none other than Tor Johnson.
    Anyone who uses this tavern deserves to be shanghaied. (they are!)
    Never heard of CHARTER PILOT,a most interesting cast too!
    Someone has sent me a copy of UNDERCOVER DOCTOR with
    Lloyd Nolan,J.Carroll Naish and Broderick Crawford,really looking
    forward to watching it this weekend.
    Please Vienna,just keep those obscure Bs coming.

  4. Great selection Vienna. I’ve never seen River Lady, Outpost in Morocco or Five Came Back but I very much want to. The first and last are available on DVD so I’ll probably get round to them at some point.

    Glad to see you highlighting a Crime Doctor movie too. I saw all these when I was a kid – Irish TV used to run seasons of series detective movies on Saturday afternoons in the early 80s. I’d snap the Baxter series up in a heartbeat if someone would put them out on DVD.

  5. Thanks,Colin. OUTPOST IN MOROCCO is on YouTube .
    I saw THE WHISTLER lately and liked its plot better than The Crime Doctor. Will be doing a review.

  6. As a fan of Warner Baxter, I’d love to see those Crime Doctor movies – such a shame that he had so much illness and was old before his time. Hope they get a DVD release!

    • I haven’t seen enough of his films either, but would definitely recommend John Ford’s ‘The Prisoner of Shark Island’, where Baxter plays the doctor imprisoned for treating Lincoln’s assassin, Hawks’ ‘The Road to Glory’, a great war film where he is cast alongside Fredric March and Lionel Barrymore, and ‘Penthouse’, a comedy-mystery directed by W.S. Van Dyke with Myrna Loy which is a lot like ‘The Thin Man’ movies. I also absolutely love ‘Forty-second Street’!

  7. Wow, so many movies! Really enjoyed this review roundup. Hoping to track down RIVER LADY, love Yvonne DeCarlo and Dan Duryea!

    CHARTER PILOT has such a fantastic cast, I was sorry to read it disappointed you. Will have to try that one out when I find it someday.

    When I was a young teenager my parents took me to see FIVE CAME BACK as part of an RKO festival at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Made a very big impression, so creepy!! I didn’t know Chester Morris at all then but in recent years I’ve been trying to watch a lot more of his movies.

    Best wishes,

  8. I watched River Lady on YouTube . I’m becoming a Chester Morris fan after seeing Blind Alley. I’m going to get one of his Boston Blackie films to see what they are like.
    An RKO festival. heaven!!

  9. Raft was quite the dancer! In the 1932 movie Taxi, Raft and James Cagney square off in a dance contest. Not a great film but worth it just for that dancing scene.

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