Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '55 - Jason Hyde ""

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Underrated '55 - Jason Hyde

Jason Hyde is a man whose tastes in cinema are quite trustworthy. He's been kind enough to do many lists for me in the past including one for my Underrated Comedy series:
and also my Underrated Dramas:
& Detective/Mysteries:

More than just the inspiration for maybe the best Roky Erickson song ever, CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN is a fine example of the all-too-rare horror/gangster hybrid (see also: THE WALKING DEAD, INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN, THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN). B-Movie staple Richard Denning (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) stars as a forensic scientist who gets mixed up in a plot involving dead men being re-animated by an ex-Nazi doctor (Gregory Gaye) to do the bidding of a vengeful gangster (Michael Granger). This is just about the perfect b-movie, from the pulp plot to the cast of familiar faces from other low budget films and serials. It's also probably the best Edward L. Cahn movie I've seen.

MR. ARKADIN (1955; Orson Welles)
Or CONFIDENTIAL REPORT, if you prefer. This film has one seriously complicated history and exists in a few different versions, but in any of them it's probably the most underrated of all the films directed by Orson Welles. It may not be up to the CITIZEN KANE or LADY FROM SHANGHAI standard, but there's still a lot of great stuff in it. It's got a great cast (including Akim Tamiroff and Peter Van Eyck, who will always be the guy from the later Dr. Mabuse films to me). It's definitely clearly an Welles film full of deep shadows and crazy angles in any version you see. Plus, it's got the absolute best fake Orson Welles beard, so there's that too.

GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955; Motoyoshi Oda)
Quckie sequel to the classic original always seems to get overlooked in the grand scheme of things Godzilla. It's definitely not as heavy as the first one, but still not as fun and light as the series would get once it switched to color with KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. It's somewhere in between. The thing I like most about this one is the human portion of the story. For once, we're not following scientists, reporters, and/or the military. Instead we're seeing how Godzilla's rampaging affects regular working people, in this case employees of a fishing company. It gives the film a more down-to-earth feel similar to other Japanese dramas of the period when the monsters aren't attacking. Sort of like an Ozu film but with Godzilla in it.

HOUSE OF BAMBOO (1955; Sam Fuller)
Fantastic shot-in-Japan crime film from Fuller. It might actually be the brightest and most colorful noir ever made. Robert Stack infiltrates a criminal gang of ex-GIs led by Robert Ryan (and including Cameron Mitchell and a young DeForest Kelley in their ranks), and ultimately they shoot it out on a very rickety-looking ride on top of a Japanese building. Along the way, Stack falls for shy Japanese girl Shirley Yamaguchi. Robert Ryan is incredible, as he pretty much always was. His crime boss is incredibly likable at first but gradually his ruthlessness starts to bubble to the surface. The great Sessue Hayakawa pops up in a supporting role, as well, and the Technicolor is just gorgeous.

CULT OF THE COBRA (1955; Francis D. Lyon)
Interestingly low-key Universal horror with a terrific cast. Somewhat in the Val Lewton mold with a monster that you never see and nice contemporary city setting. The great Faith Domergue stars as a snake woman sent to kill the GIs who violated the temple of a snake cult, which she does splendidly until falling for intended victim Marshall Thompson. This one tends to be a bit more overlooked than the other 50s Universal-International horror films, possibly because of its lack of a real monster, but it's nicely atmospheric and very well-acted. Plus, it's got what is probably Faith Domergue's second-best performance (after WHERE DANGER LIVES).

1 comment:

Silver Screenings said...

Oh boy. Not only have I never seen any of these films, I've never even HEARD of them! (And I call myself a classic movie blogger... sheesh!)