Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Our movie today is KILLER BAIT (aka TOO LATE FOR TEARS) based on a Saturday Evening Post serial by Roy Huggins (who also wrote the screenplay), directed by Byron Haskin (WAR OF THE WORLDS and tomorrow’s ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS) and starring Lizabeth Scott, Arthur Kennedy, Don DeFore and Dan Duryea.
As this started I proclaimed the fantastic Sam Raimi flick A SIMPLE PLAN a complete ripoff. Basically this couple is bickering while on the way to visit some friends, driving in a convertible. This is Jane and Alan Palmer (Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy). She doesn’t want to go, he does and she makes a grab for the keys.
In the little struggle the lights blink on and off, sending a signal to a waiting driver, who shoots by, throwing a bag in their backseat after nearly causing an accident.
Turns out they were in the wrong place at the right time. The bag is full of money. Suddenly, behind them, approaches a car blinking its headlights… they speed off and are chased, narrowly escaping.
They get the bag home and play that what if? game everybody has played. It’s $60,000 in cash (worth a lot more back then, when rent was, like, $5 a week), unmarked, untraceable cash.
Jane wants to keep it, Alan wants to give it to the authorities, sure that it can only bring bad things. This is about the time I was twining together my noose for Sam Raimi. The scene could have been lifted directly from this film and placed into A SIMPLE PLAN and not be noticed.
Then the movie changes gears and I had to relent. I like Raimi too much and the movie goes into a completely different direction.
However, imagine if Bridgette Fonda’s character was less moral and wasn’t in love with her husband. Then you’d know where this movie goes.
Dan Duryea shows up at Lizabeth Scott’s door claiming to be a cop and I knew something was wrong with him right away… I think it was the polka dotted bowtie. Of course, he was the one that money was intended for and it quickly becomes a game of deception, seduction and murder.
I’m really loving this trend of noirs we’re hitting. While most of them are a little stiff compared to modern films and filmmaking techniques, there’s a topsy-turvy twisting feeling to every one of them, smart character dialogue and just plain crazy dark stories.
Coming up in the next 7 days:
Tuesday, June 17th: ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964)
Wednesday, June 18th: CITY FOR CONQUEST (1940)
Thursday, June 19th: SAN QUENTIN (1937)
Friday, June 20th: 42nd STREET (1933)
Saturday, June 21st: DAMES (1934)
Sunday, June 22nd: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935)
Monday, June 23rd: MURDER, MY SWEET (1944)
I’m still reeling a little bit from the death of Stan Winston, so my apologies if this installment came off a little distracted. KILLER BAIT is a really good flick and deserves a watch if you dig crime/noir at all and haven’t seen it.
Tomorrow we follow director Byron Haskin from this dark noir to a Technicolor Sci-Fi adventure film called ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS. See you folks then.