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Movies

Rack, The (MGM 1956, Paul Newman, Wendell Corey)

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Dark courtroom drama The Rack was based on a Rod Serling teleplay, and proved to be (along with “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, 1956) young Paul Newman’s breakthrough role. Newman plays an officer accused of collaborating with enemy interrogators during the Korean War. As his defenders attempt to show that his mental state exposed him to tortures as extreme as the medieval rack, Newman’s buttoned-up father (Pidgeon), an army colonel, must come to terms with his own role in his son’s collapse.

The movie version of The Rack was written by Stewart Stern. When Newman made his directorial debut in 1968 with Rachel, Rachel, he was once again working from a screenplay by Stern.

cast
Paul Newman as Capt. Edward Worthington Hall, Jr.
Wendell Corey as Maj. Sam Moulton
Walter Pidgeon as Col. Edward W. Hall, Sr.
Edmond O’Brien as Lt. Col. Frank Wasnick
Anne Francis as Aggie Hall
Lee Marvin as Capt. John R. Miller
Cloris Leachman as Caroline
Robert Burton as Col. Ira Hansen
Robert F. Simon as Law Officer
Trevor Bardette as Court President
Adam Williams as Sgt. Otto Pahnke
James Best as Millard Chilson Cassidy
Fay Roope as Col. Dudley Smith
Barry Atwater as Maj. Byron Phillips

crew details
Director: Arnold Laven
Producer: Arthur M. Loew
Director of Photography: Paul Vogel
Editors: Harold F. Kress, Marshall Neilan
Composer: Adolph Deutsch
Script: Rod Serling, Stewart Stern
Production Design: Cedric Gibbons, Merrill Pye

production details
Country: USA
Studio: MGM
Year of Release: 1956
Duration: 100 minutes

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Hell Below Zero (Warwick 1954, Alan Ladd Stanley Baker)

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Alan Ladd tracks killer Stanley Baker through the ice-flows of the Antarctic in fast-paced action thriller Hell Below Zero based on Hammond Innes’ novel The White South.

After his business goes belly-up, thrill-seeking Duncan Craig (Ladd) joins the crew of a whaling ship skippered by Judy Nordahl (Joan Tetzel). He’s attracted to the job because an air of mystery hangs over the vessel. Judy took over the helm after her father was murdered. Word is that Erik Bland (Baker), Judy’s ex-boyfriend and son of her father’s partner (Basil Sydney), was responsible for daddy’s demise. And the suspicions seem to be confirmed when, on a fateful fishing trip, Erik leaves Judy and Duncan for dead in the icy Antarctic waters. They survive, however, and, commandeering another boat, set off to catch the dastardly Erik.

This was one of a number of British films that Ladd made during the 1950s. He was on a high following his success in the previous year’s western classic Shane. His stoic machismo lends a welcome human element to the film’s exciting action sequences, which zip along thanks to Mark Robson’s crisp direction. Ladd finds the perfect foil in Stanley Baker, as reliably sinister as ever. Joan Tetzel may not be well-known nowadays, but back in the ’50s she was a celebrated Broadway actress, having been on the front cover of Life Magazine in 1948. The talent shows in her feisty performance.

Hell Below Zero Stanley Baker

cast
Alan Ladd as Duncan Craig
Joan Tetzel as Judie Nordhal
Basil Sydney as Bland
Stanley Baker as Erik Bland
Joseph Tomelty as Capt. McPhee
Niall MacGinnis as Dr. Howe
Jill Bennett as Gerda Petersen
Peter Dyneley as Miller
Susan Rayne as Kathleen
Philo Hauser as Sandeborg
Ivan Craig as Larsen
Paddy Ryan as Manders
Cyril Chamberlain as Factory Ship Radio Operator
Paul Homer as Kista Dan Radio Operator
Edward Hardwicke as Ulvik

crew details
Director: Mark Robson
Writers: Alec Coppel, Richard Maibaum, Max Trell, Hammond Innes, from his novel The White South

production details
Country: UK
Studio: Warwick
Duration: 90 minutes
Year of Release: 1954

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Woman’s World (TCF 1954, June Allyson, Lauren Bacall)

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Woman's World 1954

In Woman’s World each of three women (Lauren Bacall, June Allyson, and Arlene Dahl) uses a different facet of feminine wiles and graces to help their husbands when an auto executive searching for a general manager makes his decision based on his impression of their wives. The right man gets the job despite being with the wrong woman. Interesting glimpse at social roles of the mid-’50s, with smart direction by Jean Negulesco.

Alan Reed, who plays Tomaso the restaurant owner in the movie is best known for his voice work as patriarch Fred in the animated series The Flintstones.

cast
Clifton Webb as Ernest Gifford
June Allyson as Katie Baxter
Van Heflin as Jerry Talbot
Lauren Bacall as Elizabeth Burns
Fred MacMurray as Sid Burns
Arlene Dahl as Carol Talbot
Cornel Wilde as Bill Baxter
Elliott Reid as Tony Andrews
Margalo Gillmore as Mrs. Evelyn Andrews
Alan Reed as Tomaso
David Hoffman as Jabernowski

crew details
Director: Jean Negulesco
Producer: Charles Brackett
Original Story: Mona Williams
Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald
Editor: Louis R. Loeffler
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge
Script: Claude Binyon, Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay, Mary Loos, Richard Sale
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler

production details
Country: USA
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year of Release: 1954
Duration: 94 minutes

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Desert Rats, The (TCF 1953, Richard Burton, James Mason)

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The Desert Rats Richard Burton

In The Desert Rats British commando captain Richard Burton takes charge of a hopelessly outnumbered but stubbornly defiant Australian division in their heroic stand against Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa. Their new leader wastes no time in alienating his men, but the Australians prove themselves both plucky and amusing. Another sweeping evocation of the North Africa campaign (an undeniably photogenic setting), with James Mason’s Rommel once again lurking over the next dune.

Following The Desert Fox (1951), Fox Studios quickly assembled The Desert Rats to capitalize on the success of the earlier film. It made almost as much money as The Desert Fox, largely due to the re-appearance of James Mason as Rommel.

cast
Richard Burton as Capt. ‘Tammy’ MacRoberts
James Mason as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Robert Newton as Tom Bartlett
Robert Douglas as General
Torin Thatcher as Col. Barney White
Chips Rafferty as Sgt. ‘Blue’ Smith
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as Lt. Harry Carstairs
Charles Davis as Pete
Ben Wright as Mick

crew details
Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Robert L. Jacks
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Editor: Barbara McLean
Music: Leigh Harline
Script: Richard Murphy
Production Design: Addison Hehr, Lyle Wheeler

production details
Country: UK
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year of Release: 1953
Duration: 88 minutes

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