Jerry Entract does not run his own blog or have any involvement in the film industry but is an English lifelongmovie fan and amateur student of classic cinema (American and British). Main passions are the western and detective/mystery/film noir. Enjoys seeking out lesser-known (even downright obscure) old movies.
1) “THE LADYKILLERS” (1955) directed by Alexander Mackendrick
STARS: Alec Guiness, Cecil Parker, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom
I don’t really know whether this film qualifies as ‘under-rated’ because I don’t know how well-known it is outside the UK. But if my listing it provokes a few readers out there to go and discover it, then job done!
The last great “classic” comedy from iconic Ealing Studios, this was a terrific black comedy heist movie. A group of crooks move into the boarding house of a meek little old lady while they plan a daring London heist. As the plot unfolds the crooks are gradually “wiped out” unwittingly by the old lady. The cast is classic and Alec Guiness in particular shows his total grasp of wonderful characterisation.
Laugh-out-loud hilarious and not to missed!!
Readily available on DVD as part of “The Ealing Collection”.
2) “LOST” (1955) directed by Guy Green
STARS: David Farrar, David Knight & Julia Arnall
A fast-moving suspense thriller from the Rank Organisation and filmed in glorious Eastman Colour. A well-heeled young couple’s baby is snatched from her pram in a London street. The hunt is on! A race against time for the police (headed by David Farrar) and the young parents as the film reaches its climax on Beachy Head atop the white cliffs of Dover.
Quite a classy film actually with good playing by the cast and some nice London location shooting.
Unfortunately the film is not available on DVD. Well worth looking-out for if it turns up on TV.
3) “FINGER MAN” (1955) directed by Harold D. Schuster
STARS: Frank Lovejoy, Forrest Tucker & Peggie Castle
The cast alone would sell this film to me. Two fine tough guys sandwiching the luminously beautiful Peggie Castle.
Lovejoy plays an ex-con who goes undercover for the feds to “finger” the crime czar (Tucker) who turned his sister into a drug addict. The film is tough and gritty ,especially for the time, and thoroughly recommended IF you can find a way of catching it. Sadly, like many great little movies put out by Allied Artists it is not available on DVD.
4) “THE FAR COUNTRY” (1955) directed by Anthony Mann
STARS: James Stewart, Corinne Calvet, Ruth Roman, Walter Brennan
OK – this western is “under-rated”? No Way, I hear you say!! Mann’s great series of classic westerns with Stewart are, of course, highly-rated. BUT I am making a personal point here. Of the films made this one is generally considered the least of them, it seems. I would heartily disagree (I rate it over “The Naked Spur” certainly) and think it deserves a place near the top of the list.
The story, like many of the best westerns of the time, is one of redemption set in the Klondike gold rush. Stewart’s character is pretty self-serving to start with until the shock of losing his best friend makes him see the light.
William H. Daniels Technicolor photography of the Athabasca Glacier in Canada is breathtaking and the film, for me certainly, one of my favourite westerns. Happily this one is readily available on DVD. No western fan should not know it intimately!
5) “SHOTGUN” (1955) directed by Lesley Selander
STARS: Sterling Hayden, Yvonne De Carlo & Zachary Scott
When it came to tough action westerns made the way they should be, Allied Artists delivered and the director, Lesley Selander was the maestro.
Sterling Hayden made a series of low-budget westerns in the 50s, this one being a higher budget than someand one of the best. The film is no classic but will entertain most hardened western fans. It is tough and violent and De Carlo’s character not treated with kid gloves exactly.
Another Allied Artists film not available on DVD on its own in the USA sadly.