Saturday, May 15, 2021

JAMES WHITMORE: World War 2, Film-Noir, Musicals, Science Fiction, Racial Prejudice, Westerns and President Harry Truman

True versatility in an actor is a rare quality. Over his career, JAMES ALLEN WHITMORE, JR., won a "Tony", "Grammy", and an "Emmy". He missed a clean sweep by not winning either of his "Two Oscar Nominations". This is a look at SEVEN of his motion pictures that illustrate that rare versatility in an actor.



 

 

 














A LITTLE BACKGROUND

James Allen Whitmore, Jr. was born on October 1, 1921, in White Plains, New York. He attended "Amherst Central High School" in Snyder New York and played on their football team. He took a football scholarship to the private, co-educational, "Choate School" in Wallingford. Connecticut. This led to attending "Yale University" and becoming a member of the football team. However, an accident ended his football dream and James Whitmore turned to the "Yale Dramatic Society" and become a member of the "Skull and Bones", the oldest Senior class society at Yale. Whitmore was also one of the founders of the Yale Radio Station.

His plan was to go onto law school, but the Second World War broke out. In 1942, Whitmore enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and finished his degree work lasting to the start of 1944. After completing "Officer Training School", James Whitmore was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and was sent to Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands. He would end his military service on guard duty at the Panama Canal and was discharged in March 1946.

His future plans changed; James Whitmore now studied at the "Actors Studio" in New York City. On October 1, 1947, the World War 2 drama, "Command Decision", opened on Broadway at the "Fulton Theatre". In the cast as "Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant Harold Evans", was the young actor. At the 1948 "Tony Awards", James Whitmore co-shared, with actress June Lockhart, the "Best Newcomer Tony". Additionally, for his performance, he would receive the 1948 "Theatre World Award". Which is given to one actor, or actress for being the "Best Newcomer in a Broadway Performance".

Although his name did not appear on the posters for the Glenn Ford and Nina Foch, Film-Noir Crime Drama, "Undercover Man". When the motion picture premiered, on March 20, 1949, James Whitmore had third billing, as "George Pappas", in his first motion picture.



   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Above, Glenn Ford, Nina Foch and far right, standing, James Whitmore.



FIVE MOTION PICTURES

 

BATTLEGROUND special premier showing in Washington, D.C. on November 9, 1949




Initially the story belonged to RKO Studios, but they shelved it. When Producer Dore Schary left RKO, he purchased the rights, and brought it with him to MGM. However, Louis B. Mayer was against the production, because he believed the public had grown tired of World War 2 movies. Schary proved Mayer wrong, as "Battleground", became the highest grossing MGM motion picture in the last five years.

The motion picture was Directed by William "Wild Bill" Wellman. Wellman was a World War One flyer in the French "Lafayette Flying Corps" and highly decorated by both the French and Americans. In 1927, "Wild Bill", Directed the First Best Picture Oscar Winner"Wings". It was about a subject he knew well,  American flyers in World War One. 

William Wellman would duplicate that achievement by having "Battleground" nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and add, himself, for Best Director.














My article, "WILLIAM A. 'WILD BILL' WELLMAN '3' with JOHN WAYNE: 'Island in the Sky', 'The High and the Mighty' and 'Blood Alley", will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/07/william-wild-bill-wellman-3-with-john.html


The screenplay was by Robert Pirosh. Pirosh, actually served in the "Battle of the Bulge", but was not part of the "101st Airborne Division". Which his screenplay is built around, but he did incorporated his own experiences into the Oscar Winning screenplay.

Wellman and Mayer wanted Robert Taylor to star as "Holley", but the actor believed the story was beneath him.

Van Johnson portrayed "Holley". Van Johnson had just been seen opposite, Judy Garland, in "In the Good Old Summertime" and would follow this picture, opposite Elizabeth Taylor, in the comedy, "The Big Hangover".

 John Hodiak portrayed "Jarvess". Hodiak had 5th billing behind, Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Vincent Price, in the Film-Noir, "The Bribe". He would follow this picture with another 5th billing, behind Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Valentina Cortese and Sidney Greenstreet in the adventure, "Malaya".














Above, Van Johnson is on the left and John Hodiak on his right.

Richardo Montalban portrayed "Roderigues". Montalban had just been seen in the Film-Noir, "The Border Incident" and would follow this picture with another Film-Noir, "Mystery Street".

























George Murphy portrayed "Pop Stazak". Murphy had just been seen with Montalban in "Border Incident" and would follow this picture with the Barry Sullivan and Arlene Dahl, Film-Noir, "No Questions Asked".
















My reader would have to go down four more actors, Marshall Thompson, Jerome Courtland, Don Taylor and Bruce Cowling, before reaching James Whitmore's name.


James Whitmore's Best Supporting Oscar nominated role was as "Platoon Sergeant Kinnie". The actor had just been on the television anthology series, "The Philco Television Playhouse's" in "Dinner at Antoine's", March 20, 1949. He would follow this film with the Western, "The Outriders", starring Joel McCrea, Arlene Dahl and Barry Sullivan.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The very hard hitting, no nonsense, "Battleground", tells the story of one squad in the "327th Glider Division" of the "101st Airborne Division". They're located outside of the town of "Bastogne", the picture's alternate title. The squad becomes involved in what became known as "The Battle of the Bulge" against massive German Tank Divisions. The following actual quote gave the audience a look into the mindset of the German high command.























The screenplay also permits the audience to know each of the men and their relationships with each other. "Rodrigues" comes from Los Angeles and has never seen snow, but he will learn to hate it. After their first battle experience, new recruit, "Layton", played by Marshall Thompson, goes to visit the other new recruit, "Hooper", played by Scotty Beckett. Only to discover he's dead and nobody else knew it. "Sgt. Kinnie" puts together a patrol to go out on recon, but before they can leave. The German's shell the squad and "Bettis", played by Richard Jaeckel, panics and deserts. 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 









The squad is short on food supplies, ammunition is running out, bad weather is keeping the transport planes from flying over and the German tank column is moving ever closer. Unknown to the squad, Germans under a flag of truce, went to "Brigadier General McAuliffe" to offer him the chance to surrender. He answers with one of the most famous World War 2 replies:

NUTS!

Which actually completely confused the German High Command as to what he meant. Word of McAuliffe's reply works it way to the front as the weather finally begins to clear and the battle resumes. In the end, the battle won, the remaining men, led by "Sgt. Kinnie", are seen walking down the snow-covered road. As fresh -looking replacements start to pass, "Kinnie" starts a traditional reply cadence. As the now, "Veterans", proudly show their stuff to the newbies.



 THE ASPHALT JUNGLE released May 12, 1950

 



This is a classic Film-Noir in all respects and was another project that Producer Dore Schary brought to MGM. Which Louis B. Mayer objected too and was found to be wrong again.


The picture was Directed by John Huston. Huston has just Directed the Jennifer Jones and John  Garfield, Adventure Drama, "We Were Strangers" and would follow the picture with Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" that starred the "Medal of Honor" recipient Audie Murphy.














My article, "JOHN HUSTON: 'Moby Dick' 1956, 'The Barbarian and the Geisha' 1958, 'Freud: The Secret Passion' 1962 and 'The List of Adrian Messenger' 1963", is available for reading at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/05/john-huston-moby-dick-1956-barbarian.html


The screenplay was co-written by John Huston. Among his 40 writing credits are, the 1932, Bela Lugosi, "Murders in the Rue Morgue", the Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, 1938, "Jezebel", and in 1941, the Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart, "High Sierra", the Gary Cooper, "Sergeant York". and another classic Film-Noir, the Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor, "The Maltese Falcon".

Most viewers think Huston's "Falcon" is the only filmed version of Dashiell Hammett's novel and they'd be wrong. The original 1931, Pre-Motion Picture Code, version is considered my many to be the better of the two and closest to the original novel. For those of my readers who might be interested. My article, "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of': The Maltese Falcon in Writing and on the Motion Picture Screen", will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/03/the-stuff-that-dreams-are-made-of.html


The other writer was Ben Maddow, the 1948 Film-Noir, "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands", starring Joan Fontaine and Burt Lancaster and the same years Western, "The Man from Colorado", starring Glenn Ford, William Holden and Ellen Drew.

The Main Cast:

Sterling Hayden portrayed "Dix Handley". Hayden had just been seen in another Film-Noir, "Manhandled", co-starring with Dan Duryea and Dorothy Lamour. He would follow this feature with "Journey Into Light", co-starring with Viveca Landfors and Thomas Mitchell.


















Louis Calhern portrayed "Alonzo D. Emmerich". The character worried, the "Hayes Office", the censors for the motion picture industry. Because, to them, "Emmerich" seemed to escape real justice by committing suicide. John Huston was forced to rewrite the scene, but in the end, the scene stayed as shot and Houston won out.

Louis Calhern had 6th billing in "The Red Danube". That was set right after the Second World War, in the British Zone of Vienna, Austria, and starred Walter Pidgeon, Ethel Barrymore, Peter Lawford, Angela Lansbury and Janet Leigh. After this picture, Louis Calhern portrayed "Buffalo Bill Cody", in MGM's film version of the musical "Annie Get Your Gun", co-starring with Betty Hutton and Howard Keel.




 

 








Jean Hagan portrayed "Doll Conovan". Hagen is best remembered for two characters. The first is the "Helium-voiced Lina Lamont". From the classic musical, "Singin' in the Rain", starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. Along with playing Danny Thomas' wife in the first three seasons of the television series "Make Room for Daddy". Which she would quit, because the part became boring. Hagen would be replaced by Marjorie Lord for the final 8 seasons of the show.



 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above, Jean Hagan with Sterling Hayden.



James Whitmore portrayed "Gus Minissi". Whitmore had just been seen in the previously mentioned Western, "The Outriders", and would follow this feature with 5th billing after, Deborah Kerr, Robert Walker, Mark Stevens and Peter Lawford, in the Comedy, "Please Believe Me".



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sam Jaffe portrayed "Doc Erwin Riedenschneider". The actor had played the "High Lama" in Director Frank Capra's, 1937, classic version of the James Hilton novel, "Lost Horizon", starring Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt. Jaffe followed that classic with another, in the title role of Director George Stevens',1939, "Gunga Din", starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Victor McLagen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. After this feature, Sam Jaffe would be seen portraying, "Professor Jacob Barnhardt", in yet another classic motion picture. A Science Fiction from Director Robert Wise, the original, 1951, "The Day the Earth Stood Still".
























John McIntyre portrayed "Police Commissioner Hardy". McIntyre would become a familiar faces in 1950's Westerns. Along with portraying, "Sheriff Al Chambers", in Director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1960, "Psycho". However, he is best known to fans of 1950's and 1960's television Westerns. After taking over for the late Ward Bond on "Wagon Train" in 1959.





















I now come to an actress whose name never appeared on the posters for "The Asphalt Jungle" and was not Director John Huston's first choice for the role. He wanted Lola Albright, but she wasn't available. He brought in an MGM contract actress, rehearsed her for a screen test, but didn't like what he saw. However, as the actress was walking out of Huston's office, he changed his mind. Later stating, according to film authority, Eddie Muller, on "Turner Classic Movies", "Noir Alley", June 2, 2019, that she was:

one of the few actresses who could make an entrance by leaving the room.

Marilyn Monroe portrayed "Angela Phinlay". This was 11th billed Monroe's 8th motion picture. Of which, four were without on-screen credit and the actresses next role would, also, be without on-screen credit.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This motion picture is part of my article, 'MARILYN MONROE: Mentally Unstable Babysitter and Misfit" at:


http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/04/marilyn-monroe-mentally-unstable.html




The plot is about a jewelry heist that goes wrong and the falling out of the robbers. A familiar tale, but John Huston, as he was known for, made this a character driven story and the heist is no more than a vehicle to tell it.

The mastermind is the recently released from prison, "Doc Erwin Riedenschneider". Who through a bookie, named,
"Cobby", played by Marc Lawrence, is set up with a meeting with corrupt lawyer, "Alonzo D. Emmerich". 



























"Doc" needs funding for a jewelry store heist and "Emmerich" agrees, if he's the fence for the jewelry.

"Doc" now hires professional "Safe Cracker", "Louis Ciavelli", played by Anthony Caruso. 
























However, "Ciavelli" will only work, if the getaway driver is the hunchback, "Gus Minissi". Who owns a small diner!





































The last member of the heist gang is, "The Hooligan, or a Petty Criminal", and a friend of "Gus", named "Dix Handley". Thereby, Huston tying his characters together. While, "Doll" is in love with "Dix" and listens to his dream of buying back the "Horse Farm" his family lost.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



During the heist, "Ciavelli" breaks through the outside wall and disarms the alarm. This let's in "Dix" and "Doc". "Ciavelli" uses some homemade nitroglycerine to open the main safe. Then things go completely wrong! When the unexpected concussion from the nitro causes the neighborhood's power grid to go down. Which results in alarms going off all over the neighborhood and the police arriving to investigate.

A Security Guard arrives enters the store, "Dix" slugs him, and the guard drops his revolver. It goes off, as it hits the floor, wounding "Ciavelli" in the stomach.


























They all get away unseen, but now there's a police manhunt.

"Ciavelli" insists on being taken home by "Gus". This is done and  "Gus", "Dix" and "Doc" go to "Emmerch's". Only to discover he's broke and had planned to double-cross them. Previously, "Emmerch" had sent "Bob Bannon", played by Brad Dexter, a crooked cop, to get the money owed him from others, but was this unsuccessful and the double-cross was created.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Now "Brannon" pulls out a gun, but "Dix" is able to kill him and is also shot. "Doc" tells "Emmerich" that his  double-cross was stupid and suggests that he call the Jeweler. Asking for 25 percent of the value to return the jewels. "Dix" and the "Doc" leave after splitting up the jewelry.

"Emmerich" gets rid of "Bannon's" body in the river, but the police find it. When they trace "Bannon" to "Emmerich", he tells them that he spent the night with his mistress, "Angela Phinlay".


























Crooked cop, "Lieutenant Ditrich", played by Barry Kelley, beats "Cobby" up and gets him to confess about those who are behind the heist. "Ditrich" hopes this action will keep "Police Commissioner Hardy" away from his own corruption, it doesn't work, and he's arrested also. Now, "Hardy" moves on the robbers.


"Hardy' arrests "Emmerich" and forces "Angela" to confess the truth. That he did spend the night with her. Next, 
"Gus" is arrested and he attacks "Cobby" in jail.


































When the police break down "Ciavelli's" door, they find his funeral in progress.

"Doc" and "Dix" separate and the former hails a cab and asks the driver to take him to Cleveland. There he will be recognized by two police officers that arrest him and find the jewels inside "Doc's" overcoat.





















"Doll" gets a car and accompanies "Dix" to Kentucky and the family horse farm. He gets out, but the wound from "Bannon" finally catches up with him. He dies in the horse pasture.

 


 










 

 

 

 







 

 











Dory Schary, if not Louis B Mayer, had to like the fact that the screenplay was up for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Writers Guild of America Award, and won The Edgar Allan Poe Award. Then there was John Huston's nominations as Best Director by the National Board of Review, the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. Not to mention Sam Jaffe being nominated for Best Supporting Actor Academy Award and winning the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the Venice, Italy, Film Festival. Along with associated Technical nominations,

 

In 1592, William Shakespeare published his play "The Taming of the Shrew". In 1948, a musical by composer Cole Porter, with the play written by husband-and-wife playwrights, Bella and Samuel Spewack, opened on Broadway. This was Cole Porter's response to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Oklahoma". Which had opened on Broadway four years earlier and was still bringing audiences in.

In early 1950's America, two related events occurred that had an effect on the motion picture industry. The first was the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his "Red Scare Communist Hearings". The second, hit home for the motion picture industry, and this came from the "House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA)". Which was the House of Representatives response to McCarthy's Senate "Witch Hunts". 

 

Producers, Directors, Movie Stars and others from the film industry were called in front of the "HCUA", because of possible Communist ties, real or imagined. Giving what was considered a wrong answer, that must include giving-up the names of others that might be Communist members or sympathizers, would end end up with a person being "Blacklisted" by the studios. A means of those same studios showing their loyalty to the United States and not the people they employed, no matter how big their were within the system.

The studios other response to the "HCUA" was a major change in the type of motion pictures they made. Biblical Epics started appearing again, because no Congressman would dare call God a Commie! 

My article, "The Bible According to Hollywood", looking at Hollywood films and how Cecil B. DeMille created "Biblical Sex" is at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/05/the-bible-according-to-hollywood.html

Westerns became a staple that moved to the new medium of television for the same reasons.

My article about a "Gizillion" Westerns I watched growing up, "HI HO SILVER, AWAY: The 1950's When WESTERNS Dominated the Air Waves", can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/01/xxxxx.html

Science Fiction movies became a staple of the period and I wrote about one type.

My article, "Invaders from Mars, Except When They Came From Venus, or Planet X", is ready for exploration at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/07/invaders-from-mars-except-when-they.html

Then there were the musicals that started appearing from studios that had never made one before.

However, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), had been making musicals since the advent of sound with 1929's, "The Broadway Melody". With the forgotten, Bessie Love. Who had starred in Stop Motion Animator, Willis O'Brien's, 1925 classic, "The Lost World". 

Through the 1930's, audiences heard Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. The duet sang in filmed operettas like, 1936's, "Rose-Marie", with an unknown James Stewart in his 3rd on-screen appearance. During the 1940's, Judy Garland reign supreme. So, the idea of MGM making musicals during the 1950's wasn't a new idea and they started that year with "Annie Get Your Gun".

KISS ME KATE had its premiere in New York City on November 5, 1953


 

This was the first musical filmed in 3-D!

One year before "Kiss Me Kate", on, 
November 26, 1952, the first commercial 3-D motion picture, "Bwana Devil", starring Robert Stack, had premiered in Los Angeles. On April 9, 1953, Warner Brothers Studio, premiered their 3-D remake of the Fay Wray, 1933, "Mystery of the Wax Museum", as "House of Wax", starring Vincent Price. The Third Dimension craze took off across the United States. Even Alfred Hitchcock would release his 1954, "Dial M for Murder", starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings, in the 3-D.


My article, "THIRD DIMENSION the Golden Age of 3-D Motion Pictures 1952-1955", is ready to be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/08/third-dimension-golden-age-of-3-d.html


George Sidney Directed this 3-D movie. Between 1936 and 1941, Sidney Directed 21 short subjects for MGM and his first feature length motion picture. However, he followed that picture with another 3 short subjects and the first of these is of interest here. The title was, "Murder in 3-D", and was about a man getting a call from his Aunt and going into her old mansion. The short was filmed in an early 3-D process for limited release. Now, adding the fact that George Sidney had just  filmed two successful musicals for MGM, 1950's, "Annie Get Your Gun" and 1952's, "Show Boat", both starring Howard Keel. George Sidney became the prefect choice for "Kiss Me Kate".

 


 









The screenplay was by Dorothy Kingsley. Among Kingsley's screenplays were, the 1944 George Murphy musical, "Broadway Rhythm", the Esther Williams, Red Skelton and Ricardo Montalban. 1949, "Neptune's Daughter", and 1951's, "Angels in the Outfield", starring Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh and Keenan Wynn.


The Main Cast:

Kathryn Grayson portrayed "Lilli Vanessi" and "Katherine (Kate)". Also in 1953, Grayon was in two other MGM musicals. These were, "The Desert Song", co-starring Gordon MacRae, and "So This Is Love", co-starring Merv Griffin and Joan Weldon.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Howard Keel portrayed "Fred Graham" and "Petruchio".  Keel had just been seen in a Warner Brothers musical co-starring Doris Day, 1953's, "Calamity Jane". He would follow this MGM musical with another, a remake of "Rose-Marie", co-starring with Ann Blyth. 




















Ann Miller portrayed "Lois Lane" and "Bianca". Miller was known for her dancing. In "Kiss Me Kate", while singing Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot", George Sidney took full advantage of the 3-D process. As the audience saw Ann Miller dancing right into their laps in a classic sequence. Miller had just been seen with Jane Powell and Farley Granger in the 1953 MGM musical, "Small Town Girl".



















Below, as of this writing, is a link to the entire "Too Darn Hot" number.


https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=images+of+ann+miller+doing+to+darn+hot+in+1953%27s+kiss+me+kate&docid=608049837425889140&mid=46D6066D75BDAABEF75A46D6066D75BDAABEF75A&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Keenan Wynn portrayed "Lippy". Earlier in 1953 he was 3rd billed, after Humphrey Bogart and June Allyson, in the Korean War drama, "Battle Circus". Wynn followed this picture with the 1953, "All the Brothers Were Valiant", that starred Robert Taylor, Stewart Grander and Ann Blyth.


















Bobby Van portrayed "Gremio". Broadway song and dance man Van had just been seen in the title role of 1953's, "The Affairs of Dobbie Gillis", that starred Debbie Reynolds. He followed this picture with television appearances and stage performances.






















Above left to right, Bobby Van as "Gremio", Bob Fosse as "Hortensio"Tommy Rall as "Lucentio" and he also is "Bill Calhoun", and  Ann Miller as "Bianca"


James Whitmore portrayed "Slug". Whitmore had just been seen in "The Girl Had Everything", starring Elizabeth Taylor, Fernando Lamas, William Powell and Gig Young. The actor would follow "Kiss Me Kate" with "All the Brothers Were Valiant".
























Gangsters, James Whitmore and Keenan Wynn confront leading man Howard Keel over unpaid debts. They believe he is actually Tommy Rall's character of  "Bill Calhoun".


There is a great song and dance sequence, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". That is sung by Whitmore and Wynn. As of this writing, the complete scene can be viewed at:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=brush+up+your+shakespeare+from+1953+kiss+me+kate&docid=608012935070643878&mid=7CC2FEDA6F00B0607EA77CC2FEDA6F00B0607EA7&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

















The plot is Willie Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", but is a double version. "Fred" and "Lilli" are divorced  Broadway stars, that are to appear in a musical version of the "Bard of Avon's" classic, but also their lives, off stage, parallel those of "Petruchio" and "Katherine". As the two stories intertwine to Cole Porter's music.

























Above, Keenan Wynn, Howard Keel, James Whitmore and Kathryn Grayson. Below, Ann Miller and the boys.
















As I mentioned, "Lippy" and "Slug" think "Fred" owes the bookie they work for, but it is "Bill", the boyfriend of  "Lois", who really does. "Bill" has set up "Fred", but in the end that is settled and "Lippy" and "Slug" appear in the musical version of Shakespeare after singing their earlier song, below.







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 As for "Fred" and "Lilli", she gets tamed, and the two are back together.















I mentioned that Science Fiction motion pictures got a strong foothold during the early 1950's, because of "Blacklisting's". There was another reason for their popularity during this period and that was the fear American's had of the Atomic Bomb and an attack by the Soviet Union. I experienced drop and cover drills in school, because we thought that going under our wooden desks would protect us from an atomic bomb drop on Los Angeles. I listened to daily "Civil Defense Siren Tests" and the air waves, radio and television, where filled with warnings. You had to experience it to believe it!


On June 29, 1950, James Whitmore starred with actress Nancy Davis, the future first lady Nancy Reagan, in a Science Fiction feature from Director William A. Wellman, "The Next Voice You Hear". The two played an average American husband-and-wife. Whose life is overturned by a voice on their radio. A voice that claims to be God! 

The story played upon those American fears of a nuclear war. Which would, also, be reflected in Director Robert Wise's, 1951, original, "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Along with the excellent low budgeted, 1952, original, "Invasion U.S.A.", from Director Alfred E. Green. In which, the Soviet Union drops atomic bombs on San Francisco, New York and other American cities and does invade our country.

There was another fear of the Atomic Age and that was effectively reflected in a second Science Fiction feature starring James Whitmore.

THEM! originally premiered in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 15, 1954.




The motion picture was Directed by Gordon Douglas. Douglas started directing films in 1935 and among his film prior to "Them!", are, the 1945 Comedy, "Zombies on Broadway", co-starring Bela Lugosi, 1948's, "The Black Arrow", starring Louis Hayward and Janet Blair, 1951's, "The Great Missouri Raid", starring Wendell Corey and MacDonald Carey, 1952's, "Mara Maru", starring Errol Flynn, Ruth Roman and Raymond Burr, and the 3-D Western, 1953's, "The Charge at Feather River", starring Guy Madison and Vera Miles. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The original story came from George Worthing Yates. Who would become involved with turning Willis O'Brien's screenplay, "King Kong vs Frankenstein" into 1962's, "King Kong vs Godzilla". Among other of Yates' screenplays are, the 1938, Cliff-Hanger, "The Lone Ranger", 1947's, "Sinbad the Sailor", starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Maureen O'Hara, Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1955, "It Came from Beneath the Sea" and 1956's, "Earth vs the Flying Saucers". Along with several Cult Classic 1950's Science Fiction and Horror movies.











My article, "George Worthing Yates: Screenplays from 1927's LIGHTING LARIATS to 1962's KING KONG VS GODZILLA", is at the following link:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/01/george-worthing-yates-screenplays-from.html


The actual screenplay was co-written by Ted Sherdeman. Sherderman wrote the excellent and forgotten 1949, "Lust for Gold". Which is the story of the "Lost Dutchman Mine" and starred Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino. In 1956, it was the Jeff Chandler, World War 2, "Away All Boats" and, later, Japan's Toho Studios, 1969, "Latitude Zero".

The second writer was Russell S. Hughes. Who was basically a television writer, but did some Western screenplays. Such as the 1955, "The Last Frontier", starring Victor Mature, Guy Madison, and Robert Preston. Along with the Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine and Rod Steiger, 1956 Western, "Jubal".



"THEM!" was the start of the giant insect motion pictures of the 1950's. Only Universal International's, 1955's, "Tarantula", came close to equaling the story.

My article, "THEM!', 'TARANTULA', 'THE MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL', 'THE DEADLY MANTIS', 'THE BEGINNING OF THE END', 'THE BLACK SCORPION' and 'THE EARTH VS THE SPIDER': In the 1950's Insects Bugged America", may be bug my reader at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/03/them-tarantula-monster-from-green-hell.html 


Initially, there were two interesting aspects not in the final print of "THEM!". 

The first was that the motion picture was to be shot in Warner Color. There are test prints showing the Ants as Purple. That unrealistic look caused the movie to be filmed in black and white. Actually, a great move for building tension.

The second, came after the entire motion picture had been shot in 3-D. The next time you watch "THEM!", keep that fact in mind! Because my reader will realize how great the movie would have been, if released in that process. However, Jack L. Warner, eying the decline, already starting in 1954 for the 3-D process. Made the decision to release the film in 2-D and, to date, no known 3-D prints exist.


The Main Cast:


James Whitmore portrayed "New Mexico Police Department Sergeant Ben Peterson". Whitmore had just been seen in the Western, "The Command", co-starring with Guy Madison and Joan Weldon. He would follow this picture with another World War 2 film that was based upon author Leon Uris' novel "Battle Cry", from a screenplay by Uris. 




















Edmund Gwenn portrayed "Dr. Harold Medford". Gwenn is perhaps best known for playing "Kris Kringle" in the original 1947, "Miracle of 34th Street", starring Maureen O'Hara and John PayneBack in 1936, Edmund Gwenn brought Boris Karloff back to life in "The Walking Dead", and he appeared in the 1952 version of Victor Hugo's, "Les Miserables", starring Michael Rennie and Robert Newton.























Joan Weldon portrayed "Dr. Patricia 'Pat' Medford". Although she had just appeared with Whitmore in "The Command" and would appear on different television shows through 1958. Joan Weldon was actually a member of the "San Francisco Opera Company" and returned to her real love, opera.

























James Arness portrayed "FBI Agent Robert Graham". Arness' 4th motion picture had been "Battleground". In 1950, he was one of the bad guys in Director John Ford's "Wagon Master", that starred Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr. and Joanne Dru. In 1951, before he had the title role in Howard Hawks' "The Thing from Another World". James Arness starred in the forgotten 1951 Science Fiction, "Two Lost Worlds". While in 1952, the actor co-starred with his friend, John Wayne, in "Big Jim McLain". In which the two portrayed agents of the "House Committee on Un-American Activities". The track down a Communist Spy Ring in Hawaii. The picture reflected both actors strong Conservative politics.

 




















Onslow Stevens portrayed "Army Intelligence Officer, Brigadier General Robert O'Brien". Among Stevens' roles was "Aramis", in the 1935 version of Alexander Dumas', "The Three Musketeers". Other roles include, co-starring with Carol Landis and Henry Wilcoxon in 1940's, "Mystery Sea Raider". Along with three Horror entries, 1941's, "The Monster and the Girl", 1945's, "House of Dracula", playing "Dr. Edlemann", and 1948's, "The Creeper".

 













Sean McClory portrayed "Army Major Kibbee". Of McClory's first 16 on-screen appearances, 7 were without credit. However, among his credited films, were the Ginger Rodgers, Ronald Reagan and Doris Day, 1951, modern KKK story, "Storm Warning". John Ford's 1952, "The Quiet Man", starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Sean McClory, also appeared as one of Wayne's downed DC-47 transport crew. In Director William A. Wellman's, 1953, production of Ernest K. Gann's, "Island in the Sky", featuring James Arness. 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Note: In the above scene with Sean McClory and James Arness. Joan Weldon is using a 3-D slide camera, as an indication that the movie was shot in that process and her photo's would have been seen 3-D also. I had the same camera at one time.

 

 Three minor roles of interest:


Sandy Descher portrayed "The Little Ellinson Girl". This was Descher's 11th on-screen appearance, of which 5 were on television, and 4 movies were without credit. At the end of her career, in 1969, Sandy Descher appeared on either the big, or small screen, in 48 different roles. 30 of which were on television series.




 

 










Fess Parker portrayed "Texas Pilot Alan Crotty".  Before, "THEM!", Parker had appeared on-screen 14 times. The last 5 on different television shows and of his movies, 6 were without on-screen credit, including "Island in the Sky". However, it is what happened before this motion picture was released that is important here. Jack L. Warner invited his friend Walt Disney, who liked Science Fiction movies, to the studio for a private screening. As the story goes, Disney had Warner's projectionist rerun Fess Parker's scene multiple times. When Jack L. Warner asked Walt Disney why the reruns? Disney is supposed to have replied that he had found his "Davy Crockett" and for Fess Parker and Walt. The rest was history.




 

 










For those of my readers that might be interested. My article, "Walt Disney's 'Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier" is found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/06/walt-disneys-davy-crockett-king-of-wild_25.html


Leonard Nimoy portrayed "Army Sergeant in Information Center". This was the uncredited Nimoy's 9th on-screen appearance. Of these, probably the most interesting was portraying "Narab" from the planet Mars. One of the title characters in the 1952, Cliff-Hanger, "Zombies of the Stratosphere". In February 1965, Nimoy first portrayed, "Mr. Spock", in the rejected, by NBC, original pilot episode of Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek".






 

 

 

 







"Zombies of the Stratosphere" is part of my article, "Republic Pictures: THE ROCKET MAN CLIFF HANGERS", at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/09/republic-pictures-rocket-man-cliff.html 

The George Worthing Yates' story opens with a search for a little girl walking alone in the New Mexico desert. It concerns a Police Search Aircraft piloted by "Johnny", played by John Close, and a New Mexico Police Car with two Officers, "Sergeant Ben Peterson" and "Trooper Ed Blackburn", played by Christian "Chris" Drake. 

"Johnny" is about to end his search, but sees the little girl walking carrying a doll. 
"Ben" and "Ed" spot the girl, stop the car, and "Ben Peterson" goes out to her. He determines she's in a state of shock.






















"Ben" brings the girl back to their squad car. As "Johnny" comes on the air to inform "Ben" and "Ed" that there's a trailer up the road.





 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two police officers pull up by the trailer and "Ed Blackburn" goes to investigate and calls for "Ben Peterson" to join them. Leaving the little girl sleeping, "Ben" approaches "Ed, and sees that the trailer has been somehow pushed out.







































There are no bodies and money has not been taken. "Ed" makes a comment about finding some sugar and then discovers a odd looking print. Both men agree it wasn't made by a mountain lion and may be nothing at all.

"Ed" is told to call in for an ambulance and a crime crew. The story now seems to be a murder mystery and the scene switches to a man making a plaster mold of the strange print and the girl in the ambulance. 













As "Ben" speaks to one of the ambulance attendants, played by William Schallert, they hear a strange sound and the two do not notice the girl, with a frightened look on her face, sit up on the stretcher. 















The sound stops and the girl goes back down still in shock. A comment is made about winds in that part of the desert.

Next, "Ben" and "Ed" go out to "Gramps Johnson's", played by Matthew McCue, store, but find the place ransacked and the walls pulled out like the trailer. No money has been taken. sugar is found, a shotgun that seems to have been broken apart by something is found by the cash register, and "Gramp's" body is in the cellar.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Ed Blackburn" is told to stay at the store until the crime lab can arrive and "Ben" heads back to town. Moments after "Ben" leaves, "Ed" hears the sound from before, turns off the lights, goes outside and exists the scene. As his scream is heard and the sound becomes louder.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back at the police station it has been determined that the owner of the trailer was an "FBI Agent, named Ellinson" on vacation with his family. Cut, to "Ben Peterson" and "Robert Graham" returning from the desert after looking at the scene. Graham asks to send either original, or a copy of the print to "FBI Headquarters". The local coroner arrives and tells the group that "Gramps Johnson" had enough formic acid in his body to kill several people.



































"Ben" and "Bob" are at a military airfield waiting the arrival of two doctors named "Medford". They speculate that somebody has identified the print, but the doctors are from the "Department of Agriculture". The plane lands and they meet "Dr. Harold Medford" and his daughter, "Dr. Patricia Medford". To the surprise of both men, the elder "Medford" wants to immediately read all the investigative reports.




















































The two Doctor "Medford's" agree that the idea this was a fake report is wrong. Irritated, because they seem to be ignored by the doctor. Both "Bob" and "Ben" want answers. "Medford", tells them he's not being coy about this and understands they're concerned about what appears to be a local incident. However, the mounting evidence points elsewhere and they wouldn't want to risk a Nationwide panic!

"Harold Medford" tells him he wants to see the "Ellinson Girl" and then the original scene "Ben's" report speaks too.

The elder "Dr. Medford" tells the doctor taking care of the girl that he has a means of possibly bringing her of shock. 

 


 

 










He uses some formic acid and the girl awakes, runs to the side of the hospital room screaming over and over again, one word:
























THEM!

 

 






 

 




 

 

 

 

 


"Dr. Harold Medford" wants to go to the location of the "Ellinson" trailer. "Bob" mentions its getting late, but "Medford replies:

It Might Be Later Than You Think!


The winds are blowing hard as they arrive and the doctor needs assistance with his goggles. Then, he goes with "Ben" to the location and a little more of the irritation surfaces as "Bob" and "Dr. Patricia Medford" speak to each other. Then her father calls them over to see another print.



















It is at this point that the murder mystery, becomes pure Science Fiction. As "Pat" leaves the group, the sound begins again, and above her on a hill, a giant ant appears.






"Pat's" father yells at "Bob" to shoot the other antenna to confuse it and then it's killed by more gun fire.




 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Dr. Harold Medford" now tells "Ben" and "Bob" they are looking at  an ant and explains how the stinger injected "Gramps" with formic acid.




 


Meeting with "Brigadier General O'Brien" and "Major Kibbee", "Dr. Harold Medford" explains he theory that the ants are mutations from the first Atomic Bomb test, nine years earlier in, 1945. An air search takes place to find the nest and it, along with the bones of the missing people, will be found.






















Next, it's decided to drive the ants deep into their nest by laying down phosphorus in bazooka shells. Then, drop cyanide gas bombs into it to kill them.















 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





After an argument between "Bob" and "Pat", "Dr. Patricia Medford", "FBI Agent Robert Graham" and "New Mexico Police Sergeant Ben Peterson" enter the nest.












 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 








It is discovered that two Queen Ants and their mates have left the nest. Which is now burned under the orders of "Pat Medford".

What follows is a search for the two Queen's and their new nests. One Queen entered an open hatch on a merchant ship. The ship is ordered sunk by a Navy destroyer that will be kept at sea to keep word of the ants from getting out.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The search for the other Queen will lead to Los Angeles by way of a Texas pilot in a hospital.


























Then interviews at a Los Angeles Police Station, being told a women's, "Mrs. Lodge", played by Mary Ann Hokanson, husband was killed, possibly by the ants, but her two boys are missing







































The search for the ants continues and will end in a hospital alcoholic ward.





















Above, "Jensen", played by Olin Howard, tells "Bob" and "Ben" he's been seeing ants in the L.A. River for months. "Bob" looks at the river bed and notices the entries into the sewer system.

























A toy airplane is found and it's verified that "Mrs. Lodge's" husband would take their boys there to fly a model airplane. 
























"Brigadier General O'Brien" places Los Angeles under martial law.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







Above, the immenseness of the sewer system is revealed to "Brigadier General O'Brien" and "Dr. Medford". I can vouch for that, because I used to play in them. Now the word is given and the military, along with "Pat", "Bob", "Ben" and "Major Kibbee", enter the sewers to find the boys and the nest.

 









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Ben Peterson" hears something and everyone stops the search as he investigates. He locates the boys alive, but they're trapped within the nest. "Ben" now enters, as everyone else converges on the location, "Ben" is able to get the boys to safety, but a giant ant attacks him.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 












As "Bob" and the army break into the chamber, but "Ben" dies in "Bob's" arms. The soldiers move off and start shooting the ants in very close quarters.





































"Dr. Medford" orders the shooting to stop, but a cave-in occurs trapping "Bob" on the other side. He is rescued and the nest is found to contain new Queens, but they have not left and "Dr. Harold Medford" orders the nest burnt. 












































The story ends with a warning about Atomic Bomb testing. "Robert Graham" askes "Dr. Harold Medford" what about all the other atomic tests? "Medford" replies that mankind may not have seen the last of 'THEM!"

 

In 1961, Mansfield, Texas, born Journalist, John Howard Griffin, published a non-fiction work entitled "Black Like Me". 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Back in 1959, Griffin decided to investigate racial inequality in the deep South. He wanted to experience, for himself, what it was like to be "Black", in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He went to a New Orleans dermatologist and chemically had his skin color changed. 

Three years after his book was published, while fixing a flat tire, a group of white men assaulted and severely beat-up John Howard Griffin with chains.

Publication Information:

 In 1962, Signet Books released the first paperback edition.  

In 1975, Griffin wrote an essay about his experiences after publishing his book. It was included in the 1977, 2nd Edition, of the work.

John Howard Griffin passed away on September 9, 1980. 

However, editions of "Black Like Me", continued to be published in 1996, 1999, 2003, 2004.

In, 2010, the "50th Anniversary Edition", was released.



BLACK LIKE ME released May 20, 1964.



The motion picture was from Producer Julius Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum only has three films to his credit and the first is a short he made himself. The second was a very low budgeted Horror entry, 1962's, "The Dismembered".

The motion picture was Directed by Carl Lerner. As a director, Lerner only has one other film, a short subject. Lerner was a film editor and among his features are, Rod Serling's, 1956, "Patterns", the Henry Fonda, 1957, "12 Angry Men", 1962's, "Requiem for a Heavyweight", starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney and the Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, 1971, "Klute".








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The screenplay was by Lerner and his wife Gerda Lerner. Both only have one other writing credit, a short subject. 

However, there was a third, uncredited screenplay writer, Paul Green. Among Green's credited work are, the Richard Barthelmess and Bette Davis, 1932, "The Cabin in the Cotton", Will Rodgers, 1933, "Doctor Bull",  Frederick March's.1934, "We Live Again" and the 1933, 1945 and 1962 versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "State Fair".


The Main Cast:

James Whitmore was now "John Finley Horton". For the previous four years, Whitmore, had been guest starring on television programs and had his own, 1960 into 1962 show, "The Law and Mr. Jones". "Black Like Me", was his first motion picture since the Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and Janet Leigh, 1960, "Who Was That Lady?". After filming this feature, James Whitmore returned to television until 1967 and the next film I will address.
























Sorrell Booke portrayed "Dr. Jackson". Booke starting on-screen acting with the television Soap Opera, "The Guiding Light", in 1952. He was mainly seen on television with an occasional movie appearance. He is probably best known for portraying, "Boss Hogg", on the 1979 through 1985, television series, "The Dukes of Hazzard". 

















Roscoe Lee Browne portrayed "Christopher". This was Browne's 7th on-screen appearance since 1961's "The Connection". He followed this feature with two more television appearances and the Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Alec Guinness and Peter Ustinov,1967, "The Comedians", with 8th billing.



 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Al Freeman, Jr. portrayed "Thomas Newcomb".  Freeman, Jr. his on-screen appearances with the television Soap Opera, "The Edge of Night", in 1956. He was uncredited in the Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine, 1958, "Torpedo Run", and was in the Rita Moreno, Mark Damon and Gerald Mohr, 1960, "The Rebel Breed". In 1961, Al Freeman, Jr. was in the war drama, "Snipper's Ridge".

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Geer was "The Truck Driver". Geer is best remembered as "Grandpa Walton", on television's, "The Waltons", from 1972 through 1978. His first on-screen appearance was in 1932 and by the end of his career, in 1978, Will Geer had 108 roles.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the subject matter and his familiarity with the book that brought James Whitmore to "Black Like Me".

The story starts with Whitmore's, "John Finlay Horton", explaining his plans to his wife, "Lucy", played by Lenka Petersen.











 







"Horton" goes to New Orleans dermatologist, "Dr. Jackson", and with the doctor's help has his skin color changed.





"Horton" starts his journey and meets a shoe shine man named "Burt Wilson", portrayed by Richard Ward. "Wilson" shows "John" how to "Act Right" as an African-American in the South. It is through "Burt", that the journalist leans how to fit in within the African-American culture and "The Art" of shining shoes.














As "John Horton" moves from State to State, he experiences racial prejudice from whites. For no other reason than his new skin color. He has documentation that he's a College Graduate, but the only jobs offered to him. Are as menial labor such as a janitor, field hand, or that shoe shiner. "Horton" is very surprised to encounter racism within the African-American community toward his goal of experiencing what it's like to be black. The character of "Thomas Newcomb", becomes so enraged at the idea. He believes "John" could serve the plight of the African-American's better as a "White Man" telling what he sees.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Above Whitmore with Thelma Oliver as "Georgie"

Many of the instances in this film are taken directly from John Howard Griffin's book with name changes out of fear for the real people he met and wrote about.





































The film is flawed and the critics were mixed at the time. An example came from Bosley Crowther, of the "New York Times", upon the picture's release. He felt that the movie did not actually place the viewer inside an "African American's Skin". While, 50 years later, critic Leonard Maltin, in his 2014, "Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide". Rated the motion picture three out of four stars. Adding, that while there are areas of the picture that are dated. The basic themes remain relevant to today.



In 1924, author P.C. Wren published his novel about the French Foreign Legion, "Beau Geste". The novel would first become a motion picture in 1926, starring Ronald Colman, Neil Hamilton and Ralph Forbes as the "Geste Brothers". In 1939, it was Gary Cooper, Ray Milland and Robert Preston's turn, and in, 1966, it was Guy Stockwell and Doug McClure with the third brother missing from the screenplay.


Wren's basic story line would reappear in other novels and in motion picture screenplays with character names and the settings changed. This is one of them!

P.C. Wren's story opens with a troop of French Foreign Legionnaires approaching a Fort with the French Flag flying, but upon entering. They discover the parapets are manned by dead men. The question of what happened at the Fort, becomes the actual story


CHUKA released June 11, 1967 in the United Kingdom.




The motion picture was also Directed by Gordon Douglas. Douglas had just Directed James Coburn in 1967's, "In Like Flint", and would follow this picture with three films starring Frank Sinatra. These were, 1967's, "Tony Rome", 1968's, "The Detective" and 1968's, "Lady in Cement".


The screenplay and the novel, the movie are based upon, were by Richard Jessup. Back in 1954, Jessup started writing for the Science Fiction television show, "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet". His credits would only total 10, but they included the novel that the Steve McQueen, Ann-Margaret and Edward G. Robinson, 1965, "The Cincinnati Kid" was based upon. Like, "Chuka", that novel seemed to borrow from writer Walter Tevis', 1959, "The Hustler". The basis for the Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason and Pipe Laurie, 1961, motion picture. Jessup just changed the occupation of the main character from a pool player into poker player.


The Main Cast:

Rod Taylor portrayed "Chuka". Rodney Taylor started out as "Israel Hands", in Director Byron Haskin's, Australian made, sequel to his Directed, Walt Disney's, 1950, "Treasure Island". Taylor came to the United States and first appeared on the old "DuMont Network's", 1954 anthology series, "Studio 57". In 1956, he was one of the rocket crew that comes back to future, post-Apocalyptic Earth, in the excellent Science Fiction, "World Without End". He would follow that feature with two Elizabeth Taylor epics, 1956's, "Giant" and 1957's, "Raintree County". In 1960, Rod Taylor starred in Producer George Pal's classic version of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine".

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ernest Borgnine portrayed "Sergeant Otto Hahnsbach", an obvious reworking of "Beau Geste's", "Sergeant Markoff". In 1966, Borgnine finished the five-year-run of television's "McHale's Navy". He would follow this feature with 1967's, "The Dirty Dozen".


























Sir John Mills portrayed "U.S. Cavalry Colonel Stuart Valois". The distinguished British actor had just been seen in Executive Producer Ivan Tors, 1967, "Africa: Texas Style", co-starring Hugh O'Brien and Nigel Greene. He followed this film with the one season, forgotten, American television series, "Dundee and the Culhane". It was about a British lawyer, Mills, in the American West. John Mills took the series, because he was stuck in the United States. While is daughter, Haley, finished her contract Walt Disney.




















Luciana Paluzzi portrayed "Senora Veronica Kleitz". Italian-American actress, Paluzzi, is probably best known for portraying "S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Assassin Fiona Volpe" in the 1965, "James Bond" film, "Thunderball". In 1968, she co-starred in the cult Science Fiction feature, "The Green Slime".




















James Whitmore portrayed "Indian Scout Lou Trent". Whitmore had just been in an episode of the television, Science Fiction series, "The Invaders". He would follow this feature with an episode of the television series, "Tarzan".























Victoria Vetri portrayed "Senorita Helena Chavez". Vetri was billed in "Chuka", as "Angela Dorian", see the above poster. Her parents were Italian born, but she was born in San Francisco. Between 1962 and this motion picture, Victoria only made two other motion pictures and primarily was seen in different American television series. In 1971, as Victoria Vetri, the actress starred in Hammer Films, "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth", Directed by Val Guest. Her final motion picture was the 1973, Horror Science Fiction, "Invasion of the Bee Girls".






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Hayward portrayed "Cavalry Major Benson". During the 1930's through the 1950's, Hayward was a dashing "B" leading man and had been appearing on American television. Among his films are, Director James Whale's classic 1939 version of  theAlexander Dumas' novel, "The Man in the Iron Mask", and the classic, 1945 version of authoress Agatha Christie's, "And Then There Was None".














Above facing the stagecoach shotgun guard, portrayed by Joseph Sirola, are left to right, Luciana Paluzzi, Victoria Vetri, James Whitemore, Louis Hayward and Sir John Mills.

 


The story opens with the commanding officer of a Calvary Troop dictating his report. He tells of arriving at a Fort were all the men are dead upon the battlements.




















Of finding a single fresh grave and a specially made Colt pistol, belonging to a notorious gunman. The officer mentions capturing the Arapaho War Chief "Hanu", played by Marco Lopez. Contrary to the Calvary Officer's description of the gunman. "Hanu" describes him as a:

quiet, lonely man















And the flashback story of what happened at the Fort begins:


A horseback rider, "Chuka", in the snow covered mountain pass comes upon a group of starving Arapaho's. He gets some of his food and gives it to them and rides off. Little realizing that among that group is the Arapaho War Chief "Hanu".



 

 










 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Coming off the mountain pass, "Chuka", sees a stagecoach with a broken wheel and stops to help. The coach is carrying two Mexican ladies, "Senora Veronica Kleitz" and "Senorita Helena Chavez". For a moment the eyes of the Senora and the rider meet and was there some recognition in them?





 

 

 









Next, a group of Arapaho warriors appears and the men prepare for a fight.



 

 

 

 

 

 


















However, the Arapaho's are lead by "Hanu", he recognizes "Chuka", and they ride past. Accompanied by "Chuka" the coach arrives at the Fort.













 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Colonel Valois" is concerned about the Arapahos and a missing patrol. He orders that no one, including the stagecoach, its passengers, and "Chuka" are to leave the post. The "Colonel" gives the ladies his quarters and sends out "Lou Trent" to find the patrol, but his horse returns without the Scout. That night, "Colonel Stuart Valois" holds a strange dinner party and the screenplay goes back to "Beau Geste".



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining the French Foreign Legion wasn't normal for the time P.C. Wren used for his novel. The men that joined were attempting to escape their past that included murder. 

The audience now learns that everyone has a secret. From the Colonel to the lowest rank those secrets brought them to this particular post. Fort Glendennon is Fort Zinderneuf of "Beau Geste". The soldiers are the dregs just escaping prison, or worse. They've been sent to this Fort in the middle of nowhere as humane punishment. "Valois" was cashiered from the British Army for being a coward, his second in command, "Major Benson", is a card cheat and, unknown to the Colonel, is keeping an Arapaho mistress in his quarters. At the dinner, "Colonel Valois" wants to know how many men "Chuka" has killed? The only good soldier present, is "Otto Hansbach". Who was with the Colonel in the Suez and knows he wasn't a coward, but drunk and out cold. When his men were all killed in a leaderless battle.

Another secret will be revealed between "Senora Veronica Kleitz" and "Chuka". He worked for her wealthy father as a lowly hired hand on the ranch. When her father discovered their love. "Chuka" was run-off and became a hired gun. While, "Veronica", was forced into a loveless marriage.

"Sergeant Hansbach" doesn't like "Chuka", but the Colonel recognizes his usefulness at a Fort full of potential deserters. Like, "Spivey", played by Michael Cole, that "Hansbach" was flogging for the offense as the coach arrived.










 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Colonel Valois" wants "Chuka" to go out and find "Lou Trent". "Chuka" says he'll do it, but only if he's paid $200. Valoris" agrees much to the displeasure of "Sergeant Hansbach". "Chuka" finds the large Arapaho encampment, rescues "Trent", and the two become friends.

"Chuka" and "Lou" start drinking, but "Hansbach" with some of the soldiers watching. Challenges "Chuka" and Director Gordon Douglas gives the audience one great, almost three minutes long, fight sequence. That will end in a draw and the two men becoming friends.









 

 










The Arapahos's attack and in the battle, both "Colonel Stuart Valois" and "Senora Veronica Kleitz" will be killed.















 

The Arapahos enter the Fort and find "Chuka" ready to kill "Senorita Chavez" and himself, but "Hanu" lets them live and with his warriors leaves "Fort Glendennon" for good.




















The story returns to the present. The grave is "Veronica's", the Colt was tossed aside by "Chuka". Nobody knows what happened to the two.


The film originally had a ten-minute prologue, but it was considered complicated and gave away too much of the ending. It was dropped, before release.



GIVE EM HELL HARRY released September 18, 1975




This was both a Broadway Play starring James Whitmore as "President Harry S. Truman" and a motion picture version. Both were written by Samuel Gallu. 

The entire cast is James Whitmore and he would be nominated for both the Best Actor Golden Globe an Best Actor Oscar in 1975. The story of this one man 104-minute play and film is biographical and I highly recommend it to my readers.









































James Allen Whitmore, Jr. passed away on February 6, 2009, in Malibu, California. He last appeared on-screen in an episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", entitled "Ending Happy", April 26, 2007. 

RIP!

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