Raiders of Ghost City #11: Trail to Torture

Last week on Raiders of Ghost City! A kidnapped Cathy is rescued by Steve! Idaho Jones wanders off for a while, chasing Bull Bats! Bill, the Wells Fargo stage driver and secret Prussian mole, is felled by poison food! Every single good guy left in the serial rifles through the dead Bill’s stuff! The native Modoc Indians are threatening to attack the town! The raiders fake robbing the Golden Eagle saloon to give Alex and Trina an alibi and protect their secret identities! Steve jumps on the heads of not one but two henchmen! Then Trina shoots both Rawhide (on her side) and Steve (not on her side) and glares at their presumed corpses! Follow along on YouTube here! Or don’t! See if I care! *** We return to our serial during the shootout where the raiders pretend to rob the Golden Eagle, while Rawhide runs off with a suitcase — this serial is very concerned with luggage — and Idaho Jones shoots as many raiders as he can. In the melee, Hank the bartender, either a cohort of the Prussians or a secret Prussian himself, is killed. None of you will care because Hank was not a character that was necessary in the serial, so he and his ridiculous sideburns will not be missed. Yet the rate at which we are losing henchmen is alarming, and a clear indicator that we are getting close to the end of this fershlugginer thing. Steve and Rawhide lay spent in the dust. … Continue reading

Raiders of Ghost City #10: Showdown

Last week on Raiders of Ghost City! Steve follows a trail that leads to Rackerby, a coffee company owner in San Francisco who is also a member of the nefarious gold raiders. After falling into a trapdoor and letting someone else defeat Rackerby, Steve rifles through the dead guy’s stuff and finally discovers — finally — that the gold raiders are actually Prussians. When Steve returns to Oro Grande, he sets up a trap to uncover the mole he suspects is hanging around the Wells Fargo office, feeding info to the Prussians. The trap doesn’t work at first but then does, and Bill, the stage driver, is caught. The baddies want to get to Bill before Steve tortures him with blandness and forces him to talk, so they kidnap Cathy and propose a prisoner exchange. Steve goes to rescue Cathy, but while he tries to untie her, a henchman sneaks up on him with a knife! Stabby-stabby motions are made! Did Steve survive? Let’s find out. You can follow along with Raiders of Ghost City for free thanks to the Interhole, just click here. *** Bill is being questioned by Col. Sewell and another guy we’ve never seen before, the deputy sheriff, whose name I didn’t catch but I can only assume is Dirk Downtrodden. Bill insists he’s not a traitor, he’s a Prussian, therefore can’t technically betray the United States. It’s presented as a warning to all in the audience who may not know just how sneaky and low-down … Continue reading

Raiders of Ghost City #9: Cold Steel

Last week on Raiders of Ghost City! Both the secret Prussians and our ostensible heroes are on a search for luggage! Specfically, the bags belonging to head bad guy and now dead guy Von Rinkton, known far and wide as Der Dinkerplatz ¹, which they believe contains vital information about the gold raiders. The Prussians are afraid Der Dinkerplatz had documents that will reveal them as, er, Prussians, while Capt. Steve and Idaho Joe are looking for any information at all about the gang. The luggage turns out to reveal nothing, but a business card for a coffee company in San Francisco was on Der Dinkerplatz’s person, so Steve decides to take a trip. Meanwhile, someone has been feeding info to the Prussians, and when they learn Steve is off to San Fran, Trina rushes to get there before him and inform Rackerby at the coffee company of what’s going on. When Steve arrives, we learn through his attempt to fool Rackerby that these 1752 European coins we keep finding on corpses can be opened to reveal a short code which matches up with names in a code book, thus identifying the holder. Unfortunately, Steve has already been identified as a good guy, so Steve obligingly walks onto an obvious trap door that Coffee Man springs open. Steve falls! What will happen next? Thanks to the magic known as the intertubes, you can follow along with Raiders of Ghost City here. *** Sure, this episode has the same title as … Continue reading

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Summertime (1955)

This week’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot feature for The Film Experience is the Katharine Hepburn classic Summertime (1955), directed by David Lean and also starring Rossanno Brazzi, Isa Miranda and Darren McGavin in a small part that gets disproportionately high billing. Summertime is part of their Katharine Hepburn theme week, culminating on Sunday on the anniversary of what would be her 106th birthday. Legendary cinematographer Jack Hildyard filmed Summertime and the gorgeous Venetian scenes throughout. Many of the scenes are rather pedestrian, almost like a travelogue rather than pure cinema: rarely adventurous but always gorgeous. Hildyard is responsible for some of my favorite cinematography, especially in iffy films like Casino Royale (1967) and Modesty Blaise (1966). There is a strange feel to the framing in Summertime I haven’t seen in other Hildyard films. At first I thought it was just because I’m not used to seeing a 1950s film in Academy ratio as the Criterion Collection disc I rented is in, but then I learned Summertime was probably filmed in 1.85:1. As Bob Furmanek said in that thread last year, director Lean composed in 1.87:1 but protected for 1.37:1. It’s obvious once you see it (not as obvious as in the Plan 9 example they also talk about; that one is so obvious even I noticed it back when I blogged about it); however, the only copy of Summertime I had available was the 1.37:1 Criterion version, so I hope my screencap is acceptable. Summertime is a bit … Continue reading

The Mary Astor Blogathon: Holiday (1930)

This is the official SBBN entry for The Mary Astor Blogathon, hosted by Tales of the Easily Distracted and Silver Screenings. Check out all the entries here! *** Holiday began life in 1929 as a successful Broadway production. Written by Philip Barry, whose work tended to focus on the upper classes and their isolation from the real, modern world, the play was originally written under the title The Dollar. It was Barry’s second big stage hit, his first being just two years earlier, and helped cement Barry’s reputation in New York. When Barry was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1932, the accompanying article noted that a new Barry play was a social event, one that would clog streets around theaters from hours thanks to the excess traffic and crowds of fans waiting to catch glimpses of their favorite stars and politicians in the audience. His plays were often comedies of manners, positing that wealth could not provide the true necessities of life, and featured female leads who eschewed their riches, instead looking for a deeper meaning to the world; Holiday and The Philadelphia Story (written a decade later) both follow this formula and are his most famous plays. Hope Williams played older sister Linda in Holiday on Broadway, and Katharine Hepburn was her understudy. Hepburn would go on to play Linda in the better-known 1938 film version of the play, as well as the lead in both the play and film versions of Philadelphia Story. Hepburn and … Continue reading

Raiders of Ghost City #8: Death Laughs Last

Last week on Raiders of Ghost City! The lead bad guy, Count Manfried von Rinkton, gets killed dead by Idaho Jones, and after the dude only had a half dozen lines and four minutes of screen time, tops. I’m pretty upset that von Rinkton died so quickly, not because it’s indicative of the half-assed screenwriting on this fershlugginer serial, but because I had come up with the great new nickname “Der Dinkerplatz,” and now I won’t get a chance to use it. After Der Dinkerplatz (ha!) dies in a humiliating crumple on the cold cave floor, Idaho fishes Captain Steve “Bland” Clark out of the torture tub, who immediately rifles through some pockets and finds another 1752 coin (the same one used in previous episodes, but we’re not supposed to notice) and a business card leading to San Francisco. Meanwhile, the race is on to get Der Dinkerplatz’s (hahaha!) luggage and all the super amazing secrets everyone assumes are held within. Idaho and Steve get the luggage, but are pursued by Braddock and Rawhide, fresh after 26 hours of rest thanks to the doctor — on the side of the good guys, mind you — tricking him into swallowing a family size bottle of sleeping pills. When we last left our heroes and villains, they were holed up on one of the picturesque movie ranches of the California plains, shooting blanks at each other and peeking up over rocks like curious, sun-lazy lizards. As always, feel free to follow along … Continue reading