In true B-programmer form, let's run through each with sterling efficiency:
Girl on the Run (1953)
This may be the only noir set at a carnival with a burlesque show featuring a tummy-rifiic dancer in a Catwoman mask. In fact, I'm counting on it. Cops are there searching for Bill Martin (Richard Coogan, TV's Captain Video), a reporter suspected of killing his boss. He didn't and gets help from his "best girl, Janet" (Rosemary Pettit). The carnival is not only a keen place to hide, but makes the ginchiest of backdrops for a crime tale, what with a cigar-smoking midget, then-saucy striptease sequences, an animatronic clown whose laughs will haunt your nightmares, and boxing footage featuring "Bat Milligan, the champion of Oklahoma."
The Naked Road (1959)
I think we're supposed to see the ad exec Bob Walker (Paul Judson, in his film debut and swan song) as some sort of hero for rescuing the heroine at the end, but he's soooo sleazy. In the beginning, he's paid homely model Gay Andrews (Jeanne Rainer, TV's Dr. Kildare) a whole $100 to appear in an ad for him, then expects her to put out. Well, she does kind of lead him on, judging from this exchange as they make out in the married man's car:
Bob: "Do you really like me? You know, uh, there are a lot less expensive places and somewhat more comfortable to neck than in this Cadillac."
Gay: "I … I like the feel of this leather upholstery."
Bob: "Yeah, it is nice … but it's not like a motel."
Gay: "A motel?"
Bob: "Yeah. Why, what are we? A couple of high school kids?"
Shortly thereafter, a blue-balled Bob is pulled over for speeding, taken to a justice of the peace, but doesn't haven't the dough on him to pay the fine, so he leaves Gay as collateral while he goes to get some cash. This allows her to be kidnapped by a pie-hungry man eager to enroll her in a sex-slavery ring. The virginal girl even agrees when he promises she only has to stay in it for a year. Lousy dames!
The 7th Commandment (1961)
Never ever get a B.A. in public speaking from Radburn Extension College, because you'll have a near-fatal car crash on the night of your graduation. That's what happens to Ted Mathews (Jonathan Kidd, Macabre), who wanders away as an amnesiac and becomes Rev. Tad Morgan, a fire-and-brimstone preacher and faith healer. Some time later, the hussy he inadvertently left at the scene (Lyn Statten) aims to gets revenge for being saddled with the drunk driving charge, tricks him into marriage and bosses him around: "Teddy, rub my feet." Lousy dames!
Fear No More (1961)
Never ever take a train from L.A. to San Fran, either, because odds are that a corpse will turn up in your choo-choo compartment, and you’ll be accused of committing the murder. Such is life for young Sharon (Mala Powers, 1950’s Cyrano de Bergerac), and no one believes her because she’s just been released from psychiatric care — no one except Paul (Jacques Bergerac, The Hypnotic Eye), and he almost doesn’t count, because his accent is so thick, he makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like an English tutor by comparison. Dig its Saul Bass wannabe credits!
Not to be confused with that 1980s TV show starring Lee Majors and the bikini-clad breasts of Heather Thomas, Fallguy is the chintziest of the bunch, primarily because so much of it appears to be dubbed. It’s the story of a teenage boy, Sonny (Ed Dugan), accused of slaying a crime lord, as so many young people are wont to do. In this case, the deceased is King Monarch, boss of underworld syndicate, and Sonny claims the doctor (Don Alderette) did it. Neither Dugar nor Alderette had acted before, and it shows, and neither acted again, and you won’t question it. Dig its proto-Mad Men credits — not to mention ladies wrasslin’ in swimwear and loungewear. Cat fight!
Stark Fear (1963)
Of the six flicks on Weird-Noir, this one enjoys the highest rating on IMDb. My fellow Oklahomans should see it for another reason, however: Most of it was shot in the Sooner State. And in case you need another, it stars B-movie queen Beverly Garland (It Conquered the World). We’ll have more on Stark Fear coming soon. In the meantime, just buy the damn disc, won’t you? —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This:
• The Hypnotic Eye DVD review
• Macabre DVD review