Friday, January 29, 2016

Year of the Monkey Pt 1

Monday, Feb 8, is the start of the Chinese New Year.  For those of you not acquainted with the Chinese New Year,  it follows a lunar calendar and has a 12 year cycle with each of the 12 years named after an animal.  Ex: 2005 was The Year of the Rooster, so next year the cycle will start all over again with the Rooster.  It cycles through from Rooster to Monkey (or any variation depending on which year you start counting), and includes, among others, the Year of the Dog, Ox, Tiger, Dragon etc.

2016 is the Year of the Monkey.  By strange coincidence, 1968 was also the Year of the Monkey. I say "strange coicidence" because 1968 was also the year that the first Planet of the Apes appeared in theaters.  Yes, the start of a franchise that included 5 original movies, a short-lived live action TV series, and a cartoon show, also short-lived, indeed began in the Year of the Monkey.  I think that it's just kismet, therefore, that , having just bought the DVD set of the TV series, and, already having the original 5 movies, that I should celebrate the new Chinese New Year with a series of blog postings on that incredible franchise.  So over the next week, I will review the franchise from beginning to end.  (Not the reboot, just the originals).

It's a madhouse!  A madhouse!
The origin of the idea for the first movie came from a book by French author Pierre Boulle, Le Planète des Singes, printed in English as Planet of the Apes and Monkey Planet.  Many people had their hands in the pie over the years, but initially studio execs thought it was not feasible because the apes would look to ridiculous, thus turning a serious film into a comedy.  A screen test was made with some early attempts at ape makeup, including one with Edward G. Robinson, who was to have played Dr. Zaius.

Although the makeup was primitive by the standards eventually used in the movie, it convinced execs that it could be done seriously.  The green light was given and filming began in 1967.  As to why Maurice Evans, as opposed to Robinson, eventually played Dr. Zaius, there are two stories.  The traditional story, one that Heston told, was that Robinson felt he was too sick to go through the rigors the makeup would have required.  Another source I read said he was booted out because he refused to shave off his beard, and the beard was interfering with a good makeup.

As stated earlier, the first movie eventually premiered on February 8, 1968, and the rest is history.

The Planet of the Apes (1968)

The movie begins with astronauts Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton) and Stewart (Dianne Stanley) in deep space, having been in suspended hibernation after 18 months.  The spaceship, due to some unseen problem, crash lands in a lake in the middle of a desert-like area.  A malfunction in the life-support system kills Stewart, but Taylor Landon and Dodge escape, just before the spaceship sinks into the lake.

L-R: Charlton Heston, Robert Gunner, Jeff Burton

The three wander across the desert, and eventually find greenery, and some very primitive humans.  They barely have time to digest this event before apes on horses attack the humans, shooting some and capturing others alive.  Dodge is killed, and Taylor is shot in the neck and captured.  He is taken to the ape city where he encounters Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter).  He tries to communicate with her, but at first she is only intrigued by the uniqueness of his actions.  See, in this world, humans are mute and caveman-like, so an intelligent human is not something with which the apes have any experience.  She eventually discovers he can write and brings it to the attention of her colleague and boyfriend, Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowell).  Both are chimpanzees, who are the scientists of the ape world.

Roddy McDowell as Cornelius and Kim Hunter as Zira
Cornelius and Zira have a nemesis of sorts in their superior, Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans).  Zaius has the position of both head of the scientific community as well as keeper of the faith.  Ape scriptures, paralleling those of the Catholic church in the Renaissance, state that apes were created by a superior being, not evolved.  Despite evidence to the contrary that Cornelius, who is an archaeologist, has discovered of an ancient civilization that predates the scriptures, Zaius insists that there is no such thing as an intelligent man. Zaius is an orangutan.  The orangutans are the political and social leaders in the ape community.

Maurice Evans as Zaius
Taylor escapes from captivity and runs amuck in the city, scaring the bejesus out of women and children apes, and being chased by gorillas, who are the military force of this ape world.  But he is eventually caught.  By this time, his throat has healed, and one of the most iconic lines in a movie is spoken...

"Get your stinking paws off me. you damned dirty ape!"
The rest of the movie deals with how the ape community will deal with this threat to their treasured beliefs and experiences, that there could be such a thing as an intelligent speaking man.  Eventually things come to a head, and Taylor finds himself, along with his doctor friends (of which, by now Zira and Cornelius are), in the Forbidden Zone where Cornelius found his evidence of a pre-ape civilization.

Spoiler Alert!!!  If you are one of the ½ dozen people in the world who don't know how this movie ends, stop reading now.

Cornelius shows Zaius the artifacts he found which prove his theory, but Zaius refuses to believe the evidence.   After a brief skirmish with Zaius and his gorilla entourage, who had come to the site to  recapture the three, Taylor eventually is free.  He rides along the beach with his female friend Nova (Linda Harrison) and rounds a bend to discover the truth of how this planet came to be.

Damning them all to Hell
Politically speaking all of the POTA movies had some underlying, or even overt political messages within the context of the films.  In the case of the first one, it was clearly an allegory directed at the racial prejudice prevalent at the time in the southern United States.  This was, after all, the era of the Civil Rights movement and the resistance by the authorities in the government there to desegregation.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

The movie picks up where the original left off, with Taylor riding off into the unknown.  After seeing the destroyed Statue of Liberty, he continues on with Nova, and encounters some strange phenomena that are revealed to be illusions.  He disappears in front of Nova, and the scene cuts to a crashed spaceship which only has two survivors.  The captain dies, but Brent (James Franciscus) survives.  He encounters Nova, who of course, is still mute, but she is wearing Taylor's dogtags.  Brent  convinces Nova to take him to Taylor.  She takes him to the outskirts of Ape City.

Brent sees monkeys
They manage to sneak into the city and find Zira and Cornelius (now being played by David Watson , in the absence of Roddy McDowell).  They mistake Brent for Taylor, but he reveals that he is another astronaut sent in search of Taylor.  They tell him he went to the Forbidden Zone, and give him some help to get him along.  They also warn him not to speak, because he will be identified as a threat, since all humans are mute.

Cornelius, Brent and Zira

There is, at this same time, a war fomenting.  General Ursus (James Gregory) is spouting vicious war propaganda, identifying some threat that exists in the Forbidden Zone.  He has, as a witness, one soldier (out of a dozen) who has returned with outstanding stories of what he saw in the Forbidden Zone.

Ursus urges WAR!

Brent leaves the city but is caught along with some other humans and brought back to Ape City.  He and Nova are identified as being designated for "target practice" and taken to a cage being carted to a different site.  I'm not sure why they had to be transported to a different area, but at least as far as the plot is concerned, it gives them an avenue to escape, which they do.  They ride the horses that were pulling the cart, chased by gorillas who have spotted them.  They hide in an underground cavern.

They eventually find an underground human civilization that has developed post nuclear war.  The humans have developed psychic abilities, and worship a nuclear bomb as a god.

They know of the impending war from the apes above ground and are preparing for it.  But they claim to be peaceful.  Instead of killing their enemies, they use their psychic abilities to get their enemies to kill each other.  But this doesn't seem to work on the apes.  The ensuing battle seems to be going the apes way until Taylor releases the god from his captive shell.

It should be obvious at this point what the underlying political message was in Beneath.  The anti-war Vietnam protests were raging at the time.  There is even a parallel scene within the movie of some young chimpanzees protesting the war as the gorillas march out to war.  There is also a rather overt message against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Well that's it for today, kiddies.  Be sure to come back later for more exciting monkey stuff. Drive safely.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Valiant Few

This is my entry to Cinemaven's Essays from the Couch's Symbiotic Collaboration Blogathon

Howard Hawks was a prolific director who made many great iconic movies. Leonard Maltin has been quoted as saying that Hawks was "the greatest American director who is not a household name."  His credits include war movies (The Dawn Patrol, Sergeant York), slapstick comedies (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday), dramas like the Bogart-Bacall classic To Have and To Have Not, and even a sci-fi classic, The Thing (from Another World).  He also made a number of westerns, 5 of which starred John Wayne (Red River, Hatari!, Rio Lobo and the subjects of this blog entry Rio Bravo and El Dorado)

John Wayne made some 142 movies over a career that spanned hundreds of years... seriously only 50 years, but it seemed like he was around forever and we'd have him forever.  Unfortunately cancer did the job on him that hundreds of gunmen in the movies couldn't do.  But before that untimely event, The Duke gave us many, many movies, most of them westerns, that remain indelible on the landscape of cinema.  His favorite director was John Ford, of course, but I'd guess he also liked Howard Hawks, having made, as I mentioned before, 5 movies with him.

I chose to contrast the two here, Rio Bravo  and El Dorado, because, unlike the majority of my fellow John Wayne fans, I think El Dorado is a far more entertaining film, and is better executed than Rio Bravo,  despite a few flaws.  The incongruous sing-a-long in the middle of Rio Bravo was one of the major sticking points for me.  There are a dozen or more bad guys outside the jail, all gunning for the sheriff and his men, and they take time out to have a leisurely sing-a-long?  Of course, we all know the only reason this part was in the movie was because Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson had singing careers on the other side of the camera, but that doesn't excuse the incongruity.

Red River, although not included in this review, is a really excellent Hawks/Wayne movie.  I have yet to see Hatari! so I can't recommend it as yet.  See the end of this review for a brief comment on Rio Lobo which is another remake of sorts of Rio Bravo and El Dorado.

Rio Bravo (1959)

Rio Bravo had it's genesis as a counterpoint to Fred Zimmerman's High Noon, which both Hawks and Wayne hated.  Hawks didn't like the decidedly un-macho character of a sheriff who runs around "like a chicken with it's head cut off asking for help".  Wayne disliked it because he saw it as anti-American, an allegory against blacklisting and McCarthyism by liberals in Hollywood who were  against the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Together they conspired to make a movie about a man who shows no fear and is determined to follow through on his principles.  A man who does not beg for help from the townspeople and even rejects the help of friends.

We are immediately immersed into the story as "Dude" (Dean Martin) stumbles into a bar, looking for a free drink.
Dean Martin as "Dude"

Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) throws a silver dollar towards Dude, but deliberately makes it land in a spittoon.  As Dude tries to retrieve the dollar, the sheriff, John Chance (John Wayne) kicks the spittoon away.  Dude takes out his frustration by hitting the sheriff on the head and knocking him out.  Meanwhile a scuffle occurs and Joe shoots and kills an unarmed man.  He then leaves, but is caught at a nearby bar by the revived sheriff and arrested for murder.

John Wayne as Sheriff Chance (with Claude Akins, back to the camera, as Joe Burdette)

This entire opening sequence up until the arrest of Joe is done without dialogue.  It is an homage to Hawks' early days of directing silent movies.  The sheriff takes Joe into custody after a brief show of force.  Chance reinstates his deputy, "Dude".  The next day, a wagon train arrives into town with a friend of Chance's, Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond) in charge.  He has a young gunslinger Colorado (Ricky Nelson) with him.  The wagon is full of oil and dynamite.  Wheeler offers to help the sheriff but he declines the offer.  This is in direct conflict with the plot of High Noon in which Gary Cooper's character begs for help but can't get any.

Chance goes to the bar where he observes a new girl in town "Feathers" (Angie Dickinson) at a table gambling and winning.  After she leaves the table he examines the cards and then later approaches her in her room and intimates that the deck was missing cards. He accuses her of being an accomplice noted on a wanted poster he has.  She says it is her on the poster, but she wasn't cheating and insists that he search her.  Chance is flustered and embarrassed and declines to search her.  (Side note:  If Angie offered to let me search her, I'd have had no qualms at all...)

Angie Dickinson as "Feathers"

Colorado comes in and tells Chance that he was watching the game and that it was another guy at the table who was cheating.  The two go down and confront him, and he attempts to draw on them but fails.  Chance goes back up to Feathers to apologize, but won't admit to full guilt in his mistake.  He tells her to get out of town on the next stage, though.  A short time later Chance's friend Pat is shot and killed.  Dude and Chance go looking for the man and find him hiding in ambush at a bar and Dude shoots him.

The situation between Chance and Feathers becomes a little more interesting when Feathers says she is staying in town, as she now has legitimately been hired by Carlos ( Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez) to tend his bar.

Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez (with Dickinson)

Joe Burdette's brother, Nathan, shows up to try to get his brother out of jail, but Chance says it's no go; he is going to have to stand trial.  Nathan hangs around in the meantime with some unsavory characters, and convinces the mariachi bar band to play "Deguello" which is the same tune the Mexicans played while trying to sweat out the defenders of The Alamo.  Colorado tells Chance it means "No Quarter" which is a message that Nathan is sending saying there will be no more negotiations.

John Russell as Nathan Burdette (with Claude Akins)

As mentioned earlier, it is around this time that Colorado, Dude and the rest are in the jail and they break into the sing-a-long.  In retrospect, I guess it fits, as they are attempting to drown out the mariachi band, but I still have trouble with the concept.

Ricky Nelson sings as Colorado

Now I will admit that the last quarter of this movie is very suspenseful, and well worth having put up with any disagreements with it I may have had in the previous three quarters of it.  The parallels of the two movies reviewed here are intriguingly similar.  Both have you thinking that just when the odds seemed to be somewhat equal, a twist in the plan lowers the odds for the good guys.  How they resolve the issues, you have to watch to find out.

El Dorado (1966)

In this one Wayne is not a lawman.  Instead he is a hired gunman, Cole Thornton, who has come to the Texas town of El Dorado to talk to a rancher about hiring out as a gunman.  But at the beginning of the movie he encounters an old friend, J. P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum) who tells Thornton details about the feud between his prospective boss, Bart Jason (Ed Asner), and his rival Kevin MacDonald (R. G. Armstrong).  Harrah is, at this point in the film, a sober and aware man.

John Wayne as Cole Thorton and Robert Mitchum as J. P. Harrah

Thornton rides out to Jason's ranch to decline his offer.

Ed Asner as Bart Jason

But in the meantime MacDonald has been forewarned about the coming of Thornton and is prepared for the worst.  He has his son Luke (Johnny Crawford, known to millions as Mark McCain, the son on the TV series The Rifleman) set up to give a warning shot when Thornton passes by his watch post.  Thornton mistakes the rifle shot as someone shooting at him and shoots Luke.  Still alive, Luke tells him who he is, but kills himself before Thornton can help. Thornton takes the boy's body to the MacDonald farm, convinces MacDonald of the truth and leaves.  But MacDonald's headstrong daughter doesn't believe his story and ambushes him.  Thornton survives but he has an injury which causes him trouble throughout the rest of the movie.

A few months later Thornton is in an unnamed town encounters two more significant characters of the film.  "Mississippi" (James Caan) {whose real name is "Alan Bedillion Trahearne", which is why they call him "Mississippi"}, who has been following Nelson MacLeod (Christopher George), because one of his hired gunmen was instrumental in the death of his father figure a year earlier.  Mississippi kills the gang member with a thrown knife, and Thornton prevents him from being shot in the back by a fellow gang member.  MacLeod  attempts to get Thornton to join him, but after hearing that he, MacLeod, is going to take on the job Thornton already turned down, he refuses.

James Cann as "Mississippi"

Christopher George as Nelse MacLeod
Having heard that Harrah is still the sheriff but is now also a drunk, Thornton heads of to El Dorado.  He is reluctant to be accompanied by, but is eventually joined by Mississippi.  Mississippi is fond of quoting lines from a poem his father figure taught him (not actually stated in the movie but it is the Edgar Allan Poe poem "El Dorado").  They arrive in El Dorado where, sure enough, Harrah is passed out drunk.  His second in command, a deputy by the name of Bull Harris (Arthur Hunnicut) is helping him keep the peace.  Mississippi uses a concoction that makes the sheriff ill, but keeps him from being able to hold his liquor.

Arthur Hunnicut as Bull (middle; with Wayne and Caan)

An attack on the MacDonald clan when they come to town eventually leads to the arrest of Bart Jason.  Jason makes an offer to MacLeod to get him out of jail in whatever way possible.  Finally sobering up, Harrah tells MacLeod if he does try that, Jason will be the first one shot.  The final act of the movie involves a nail-biting standoff between the four men (Thornton, Harrah, Bull and Mississippi) against the entire o0utfit that MacLeod has with which to combat them.  Hindering this is that old wound of Thornton's of which I spoke earlier, that prevents him from using his gun hand.

Although this is, as I stated earlier, a remake of the movie Rio Bravo, I still insist that this one, as opposed to many of my fellow Wayne aficionados, is the better of the two.  Not just because of the aforementioned sing-a-long, but also because I consider Mitchum to be an astoundingly much better actor than Dean Martin. Besides, I often joke, who knows for sure whether Dean Martin is acting drunk, or really is drunk?

Wayne and Hawks pulled together to do the "one small group against a whole gang" theme once more with Rio Lobo in 1970.  It is extremely unfortunate that this was the last film that Howard Hawks directed because I feel that most of the actors in it, including Wayne at times, are just going through the motions.  Perhaps Hawks was no longer at the top of his game.  Then again, it may have just had to be what he had on hand in the rest of the cast.  Jennifer O'Neill could have been replaced by a mannequin and gotten a better acting job by the trade.  Christopher Mitchum was definitely not the equal of his father.  And Jorge Rivero, while possibly a good actor in his native Mexico, was not only miscast (a Mexican was a Confederate officer, I don't THINK so...), but not able to convince me of his sincerity.
In addition, a remake of sorts was done by John Carpenter (my personal favorite film director) in 1976 as Assault on Precinct 13, which took place in modern times, but Carpenter admits he was influenced by the story.  One could also say that Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars was influenced by the Hawks films.

Well, it's off to the ranch for me.  That's it from the back seat this week, folks.  Drive safely home.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Barbara Stanwyck; Ruthless Woman

My entry for In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood's Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon

Barbara Stanwyck could pretty much do it all. She was a Ziegfield dancer in the early 20's.  She was cast as a romantic lead a number of times.  She was a comedic foil.  She played the tough, no-nonsense matriarch of a ranch in the television series The Big Valley.  But she was by far at her best playing a woman who knew what she wanted and had no qualms about using her wiles to get it.  As Martha Ivers and Phyllis Dietrichson she held men in the palm of her hands and manipulated them like a master puppeteer.

Stanwyck (née Ruby Stevens) was orphaned at an early age and raised in foster homes, from which she constantly running away.  She was a high school dropout, and worked a number of jobs before she was 16.  At that age she auditioned for and won a job in the Ziegfield Follies, and heracting career was off. In a few years she was a star on Broadway and the talk of the town.  Following her first marriage, to fellow actor Frank Fay, she was off to Hollywood, where the rest as they say was history.

Stanwyck was cast as the star of her movies almost from the very start.  She was impressive enough that he likes of Frank Capra and Cecil B. DeMille both loved to use her in their movies.  From 1930 to 1962 she was a prolific actress, starring in over 75 movies, and garnered 4 Academy award nominations, albeit not winning one until an honorary Oscar presented to her in 1982.  Later on in life she was recognized by winning 3 Emmys (one for the aforementioned role on The Big Valley.)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

There are so many things about this movie that are astounding, not the least of which is my copy of the DVD came as one of 9 film noir movies on a collector set, most of which were obviously second rate, and easily forgettable.  How could a movie which not only boasts Stanwyck, but Van Heflin as a co-star, and the first movie by a fellow named Kirk Douglas, as well as directed by the renowned Lewis Milestone and written by Richard Rossen, all familiar names to old time movie buffs, be kitted with such less than memorable movies?

In the fictional town of Iverstown, a little girl, Martha, is trying to run away with her boy friend Sam.  They are hiding out on a train but are discovered by a detective sent to find her by her aunt, Mrs. Ivers (played by Judith Anderson, before she was given the DBE by the Queen and became Dame Judith Anderson).  Little Martha Ivers hates her aunt, which is why she has tried to run away several times before.

She is betrayed by the son of her tutor, Walter O'Neill.  Mr. O'Neill wants badly for a scholarship for his son and kowtows to the harridan aunt.  The aunt at one point starts beating Martha's pet kitten, which causes her to take the cane way from her aunt and kill her.  With only Walter as a witness, she convinces Walter's father an intruder came in and did it.  Mr O'neill obviously doesn't believe the story but tells her to tell the police exactly what she said.  Meanwhile we see the young Sam hide away on a circus train.

Flas forward 17 years. The grown Sam Masterson (Van Heflin)  is driving with a sailor along a road and sees a billboard welcoming people to Iverstown.  He crashes the car while trying to check out the sign.  The car is banged up so he has to stay in town.  He observes signs saying Walter O'Neill (Kirk Douglas) is running for office.   He finds out that this is the same Walter O'Neill from his childhood and also that he, Walter, was married to the former Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck).

Sam calls on his old friends.  It turns out that Walter is an alcoholic and a hen-pecked husband.  Martha has used her wealth and manipulative ways to get him his office.  Sam's sudden appearance does nothing to elate the two.  Both think he has showed up to somehow blackmail them for the murder of the aunt, despite the fact that Walter as a DA had tried and convicted an innocent vagabond for the crime.

Sam, meanwhile has found a woman, Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), who appears to be running away.  The two hit off a romance, but Toni is a convicted felon who has violated her probation.  She is arrested and sent back to prison.

Sam tries to get Walter to use his influence to get her released, but Walter still thinks blackmail is the true goal of Sam.  He hires some thugs to beat him up and deliver him out of town.  This only makes Sam more determined to find out what is going on.  When he finds out the truth, he tries to go along with the blackmail story, but the truth comes out that he was long gone by the time Martha murdered her aunt, and had only just discovered the truth.

The final playing out of this story is one that shows Stanwyck's character  for the manipulative witch she is.  She shows that all she really cares about is herself and what she can get.  Not surprisingly, she gets exactly what's coming to her in the end.

Double Indemnity (1944)  

This is the one that tops some people's lists of the greatest film noir movie of all time.  I have to admit it is up there on my list, definitely in the top 5.  (I include only movies filmed in black & white and filmed in the 40's and 50's on that list, FYI.  Chinatown and the like are more accurately termed neo-noir, not true film noir.)

The movie starts out with Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) returning to his office significantly injured.  (Side note:  Was anybody else besides me not expecting Fred MacMurray to be a romantic lead role or for that matter, a less than scrupulous guy?  I mean this is Professor Brainerd of Flubber movies and Steve Douglas from My Three Sons.  Yes, he played a few more dramatic roles, but when I first saw this movie, that's all I knew of him.  Back to the review:)

Neff, dictating in his dictaphone informs his boss that the peviously assumed accident that he, Keyes, was suspicious of was indeed murder and that he, Neff, was the one who killed Dietrichson with Dietrichson's wife.  The film then ensues in a flashback.  Neff had gone to discuss insurance options with Mr. Dietrichson, but he was not there.  his wife, Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) was.  She appears on screen the first time in a towel, enticing to any red-blooded male, of which we can assume Neff is.

Walter and Phyllis discuss options of insurance, as well as some pretty steamy (for 1944, anyway) flirting.  Phyllis tells him to come back the next evening to talk to her husband.  Later she calls him and changes the appointment.  He goes, her husband is still not there but she wants to talk about insurance options odf her own,  including accident insurance.  Phyllis asks about insuring her husband against an accident and wonders if it's possible to have him insured without his knowledge.  Neff figures out that she has ulterior motives and tries to turn her away from the idea but leaves.

Later that evening Phyllis shows up at Neff's apartment, dressed in a tight knit sweater.  Needless to say, she has showed up with all the right equipment to entice Neff to be complicit in insuring her husband then committing a murder to make it look like an accident, with the "double indemnity" clause in it to pay off double.  Stanwyck at many times during this movie is given a closeup of her face and you can just see the scheming in her eyes.  She is manipulating Walter Neff with every wile she has in stock and he is falling for it hook, line and sinker.

Together that hatch out a plan to first, get the husband to sign up for accident insurance without his knowing about it and second to somehow stage the accident that will be his death warrant.  But planning and executing part are easy.  The hard part is getting away with it. Baton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), Neff's boss, becomes suspicious of the "accident".  He constantly refers to a "little man" that resides in his gut that tells him when some insurance scam is fishy, and this one is doing it in spades to him.

Neff and Phyllis meet in secrecy to discuss their options.  They have to meet incognito because Neff is sure that Keyes is having Phyllis followed.

Things continue to escalate after Phyllis' stepdaughter Lola (Jean Heather)  intimates to Neff that she suspects foul play from her stepmother, and someone else who helped her, but she is not sure whom.

This is one taut thriller, the more so because despite the dirty deed, you are drawn into the story and somehow rooting for Neff to get away with it, even though at the beginning of the movie you already know he is admitting his guilt to his boss.  Stanwyck pulls off an Academy Award performance for which she was nominated but lost.  MacMurray  and Robinson also pull off great Oscar performances, but neither was nominated.  As a matter of fact, Double Indemnity garnered 7 Oscar noms, but failed to take any of the statuettes home.  When the Best Director award went to Leo McCarey for Going My Way, Bill Wilder tripped him as he was going down the aisle.  Bravo, Billy!

Well, that's it from the back seat this time, kiddies.  Gotta put the old Plymouth in for the night.  Drive safely.