Gal Trouble: A four-spot of thrillers featuring damsels in distress, Women In Danger: 1950s Thrillers sports some of the screen’s greatest actresses in trouble—a whole lotta cinematic trouble.
The collection, all of which originated from Universal Pictures, includes:
Woman In Hiding (1950): Expert noir mystery with Ida Lupino as the scion of a wealthy family who uncovers scheming new husband Stephen McNally’s real plans after she survives a suspicious car crash and is helped by a drifter (Howard Duff, her soon-to-be-real life-husband). The show also features Joe Besser.
Female On The Beach (1955): Joan Crawford shines as a widow who leaves Las Vegas for a new seashore home in California. Soon, she encounters a shady realtor (Jan Sterling) and a beach bum (Jeff Chandler) whom she becomes interested in, but there’s a secret lurking as the place’s previous tenant died from mysterious causes.
The Unguarded Moment (1956): Esther Williams gets out of the pool for this suspenser in which plays a sexy school teacher who captures the attention of student John Saxon. She begins getting dirty letters and eventually agrees to meet the admirer at night, but she doesn’t know what she is in for. George Nader also stars.
The Price Of Fear (1956): Lex Barker is part owner of a dog track who goes on the run when the mob muscles in. He winds up accused of two murders, including a hit-and-run that was actually committed by flirtatious pick-up Merle Oberon. The heat gets turned up as the police pursue him in this thriller with Charles Drake and Warren Stevens.
Guy Trouble: “People are standing up and applauding Walking Tall.” That was the tagline of the teaser trailer, which featured people standing up, at first one by one, and putting their hands together for the first Walking Tall film. It was a highly successful campaign, as the 1973 film with the $500,000 budget eventually brought in over $23 million, a huge hit for its time. Produced by—of all people—Bing Crosby, the original starred beefy Joe Don Baker as Buford Pusser, the real-life ex-Marine and sometime wrassler who returns home to his small Tennessee hamlet to find the place overrun by bad guys. He soon becomes sheriff and, armed with an oak club, tackles the black hats with extreme force, despite their violent efforts to put him down. Helmed by “B” movie great Phil Karlson (Scandal Sheet, Kansas City Confidential), it’s a vigilante fantasy that keeps on delivering the goods, “suggested by some events in the life of Buford Pusser.” Whatever. The Pusser character lived on in other screen incarnations, including Walking Tall Part II (1975), in which 6’5” Swedish martial arts champ Bo Svenson took over the role. (Plans to cast the real Pusser in the lead ended upon his death in a suspicious car accident.) Here, Pusser tries to head off a group of pesky bootleggers. Svenson returned in Final Chapter: Walking Tall (1977), in which the death of Pusser is reenacted and analyzed, speculating how his fatal accident (in a car bought by money he earned from Hollywood) was masterminded by one of his underworld foes. All three films can be found in Walking Tall: The Trilogy. For those of you who are Buford completists, there is a loose theatrical remake of Walking Tall with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, two made-for-DVD movies starring Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo (Walking Tall: Lone Justice and Walking Tall: Payback), and a short-lived Svenson-starring TV series from the early 1980s.
Kid Trouble: Rarely seen since the early years of VHS (when it was available on the long-defunct Electric Video label) , Massacre At Central High is one of those odd efforts that remains a cult film, even though few people have been able to see it for decades. Even when it was around, the movie’s exposure was limited. The 1973 film from enigmatic Dutch filmmaker Rene Daalder is truly unique, a film that can easily be seen as an influence on Heathers, Class of 1984, The Basketball Diaries, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. In the film, David, a transfer to a new high school, discovers that a group of bullies, including an old friend, are using strong-armed methods to run the student population. When he stops their tactics, then gets rid of them, the victimized students look to David to help them rule the school. Robert Carradine and Andrew Stevens star in this unusual survey of youthful rebellion and politics.