The Lost Career of Richard Cromwell

 DATELINE: Baby Face Curse

Cromwell holding clock 

Cromwell Holding Clock in Tom Brown of Culver!

Baby-faced Richard Cromwell was a shoo-in to play the panty-waist Baby-Face Morgan for a poverty-row movie production. He was always professional on the set.

Cromwell’s character is the unlikely son of Machine Gun Morgan, notorious crime boss in the syndicate. With all the FBI overwhelmed with World War II Nazis and saboteurs at home, the mob needs a front man and fall guy. Cromwell’s looks bring disparaging remarks and innuendo as he is propped up as a fake mob boss.

In case you hadn’t caught on, this was meant to be a comedy, featuring dumb blonde secretaries and mugs who are morons.

Cromwell’s career was already in the toilet, owing to the closed shop from the studios. After the pinnacle years of the 1930s when Cromwell appeared with Gary Cooper, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, and other stars, he was in rapid descent.

He married Angela Lansbury when he was 35 and looked like a teenager at the altar. Their marriage lasted only a few months and later rumors came forth that he was gay.

Cromwell remained on the periphery of Hollywood, having many friends in the industry. When he tried to make a comeback at age 50 in 1960, he became ill and did not survive, replaced in the movie.

In Baby Face Morgan, he is referred to as a kid when he was 33. A few years later, the same fate of looking young befell Audie Murphy for his entire career.

Cromwell’s movie is only passable to watch with flat yokel humor. It’s one of the forgotten tragedies.

 

 

 

Please Murder Me! TV Titans in Film Noir!

DATELINE: Perry Mason Meets Murder, She Wrote!

TV titans

When Perry Mason meets Jessica Fletcher, we have a murder mystery donnybrook, she wrote. Murder Me Please is a surprise of the first magnitude. Who knew?

In 1956, fresh off Godzilla, Raymond Burr took on another role in which he spoke into a tape recorder while murderous film history was made around him. It was likely this movie role, heroic and protagonistic, that won him the lifetime achievement as lawyer Perry Mason. This is his first true Perry Mason role.

Here, he must defend a woman he knows is guilty of murder—and live with the consequence of exonerating a danger and menace.

His nemesis is Angela Lansbury, looking all too femme fatale before moving into matron roles. Here she gives one of her last great villain acting jobs (culminating in Manchurian Candidate).

This film noir is so dark during the first 15 minutes that you want to scream at the screen to turn on a light.

It is classic 50s nighttime in Los Angeles among the upper-classes. The supporting cast is gem-laden:  Dick Foran is the cuckold husband, and John Dehner is the Ham Burger to Burr. Young Lamont Johnson is the callow artist in his final acting job before going on to direct movies.

This is a Peter Godfrey picture, meaning it is stylish and professional, before he slipped into directing routine television anthology shows.

The fireworks between Burr and Lansbury are worth your time. It was a forgotten B-picture in its era of 1956, with far more interest today as a sign of great actors having a field day.

One problem is the print of the movie, clearly abused by time with scratches, lines, and other distractions coming from careless handling of the prints. Yet, the film itself transcends with its harsh, hard-knocks, noir crime thrills.

Lansbury and Burr would become TV icons as Fletcher and Mason, but that is mere promise in this movie. This is acting war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Lauer: Latest Sexual Outlaw

DATELINE: Boys will be Dogs

Lauer Rabbit Lauer, Lauer, Pants on Fire

Whatever are we to make of NBC firing Matt Lauer for his sexual peccadillo?

We may start to see “Wanted” posters in the Post Office that depict men who are dogs. Come to think of it: most Post Offices already carry pictures of President Trump, the Commander-in-Chief of P***y Grabbers.

Lauer’s crime is singular. Only one accuser has come forward.  We now wonder about all those women co-anchors that Lauer had fired for being difficult.

However, he has gone where others like Moore, Trump, and John Conyers, survived with multiple allegations. Last count had Judge Moore up to 8, Trump up to 13, and Bill Cosby in the stratosphere.

What surprises us is that we always thought of Lauer as rather neutered, like one of the boy-band types like Menudo, for pre-pubescent girls.

If you had asked us to put money down on the chances of Lauer going sex mad, we’d have cruised down the gay side to say he’d be caught with a boy.

It just goes to show that we don’t know who or what we have invited into our living rooms through cable TV. We know the FCC airwaves are polluted and the GOP wants to keep it that way.

Lately we hear that Trump now thinks the tape on which he sexually attacked women’s genitals in his heart is a fake. Tell that to Billy Green Bush who was fired over the contretemps that catapulted Trump into the presidency. Or President Bush, #1, who has two charges against him lately.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows: and most of those are women voters who have no problems with being enticing and seductive. Of course, when Angela Lansbury laments women bringing on their own fate, she is pilloried. Make no accommodations for anyone over 90.

We have pointed out that, once you begin to shoot dogs with fleas, you will have a genocide on your hands.