Bad to the Bone
This summer, Professor Fred tutors us with a series of oddball films focused on a stratum of society’s remorseless and recitative. First up, Door-to-Door Maniac! (AKA Five Minutes to Live) (1961) features the “Man in Black” himself, Johnny Cash alongside Hollywood aristocrat Ronnie Howard in a thriller about a psycho (Cash) using his musical talents to terrorize a dysfunctional family while his accomplice (Vic Tayback) robs a nearby bank. Next, we will attempt to resist Revolt of the Zombies (1936). Dean Jagger (Twelve O’Clock High) is a research scientist who, upon being jilted by his girlfriend, uses his knowledge of voodoo to create “a ravaging army of zombies!” Talk about your fragile male egos. Then we explore an early film by renowned auteur Alfred Hitchcock, Sabotage (AKA The Woman Alone) (1936). Oskar Homolka stars as a terrorist hiding his secret life behind the façade of a mild-mannered movie theatre owner. With a Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score of 100%, Sabotage is ranked as the 44th best British film ever made. Yes, but is it Schlock? Bomb’s the word. Then comes The Damned Don’t Cry! (1950) Thanks to a wealthy mobster, impoverished Joan Crawford breaks into high society. Alas, a “free lunch” is never free and she winds up pinned with a murder rap. Things go very, very bad for Joan after that. Made at the height of Crawford’s fame, this film is joyless, nasty, mean-spirited and sure to be a kick. Finally, Christopher Lee stars as the world’s greatest detective in Sherlock Holmes and The Deadly Necklace (1962). A German/French/Italian co-production, the film was shot in English and poorly re-dubbed in English with American actors as cost-cutting effort. Clearly, something was lost in translation.