Archive for Eduardo Ciannelli

The People Against The Thing From Another World

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2019 by dcairns
Called to the bar.

Casting Spencer Tracy as an alcoholic is a bit nervy… a scene showing him engaging in a sketchy interaction with Eduardo Ciannelli in the men’s room may be dicier still. THE PEOPLE AGAINST O’HARA (1951) has moments of subversion and dissonance unusual in an MGM picture.

Tracy plays a retired criminal lawyer and reformed boozer driven back to the bottle by his struggle to win the case of a young man (James Arness, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD himself) accused of murder. John Sturges directs — his early thrillers aren’t as noirish as Anthony Mann’s, but he does have cinematographer John “single-source” Alton on his side so the movie is beautiful.

I must have looked away during the credits because I missed Alton’s name, but the suspicion gradually donned on me as the film went on that I was seeing his work. One of the few DoP’s with such a distinctive style.

This is the shot that made me first glimmer and glom.

“Spencer Tracy’s always good as a lawyer. He’s so solid,” said Fiona. “He’s an immovable force.”

“I think you can have an immovable object or an unstoppable force…” I suggest, but then come to think she’s right. Spence is an immovable force. Or possibly an unstoppable object.

The film is very well cast — Diana Lynn has one terrific scene, John Hodiak is fine in his natural environment as third lead, Pat O’Brien fades into the furniture, Ciannelli and William Campbell are great nasties, and if you enjoy the look, sound and feel of Emile Meyer as much as I do, you will enjoy seeing, hearing and touching him here.

This is sort of a noir — there is some surprising stuff, including the ending. But the ultimate message of just about any MGM film is that the system works, so you don’t get a real sense of subversion and malaise, but then, maybe you already have enough of that in your life.

THE PEOPLE AGAINST O’HARA stars Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Hildy Johnson; Emmy Kockenlocker; John Kovac; Dr. Satan; the Thing from Another World; Cimmaron Rose; Walking Coyote; Concho; Chief Quinn; Reverend Cyril Playfair; Mrs. Carol Stark; Lt. Harry Kello; Chief Inspector Bernie Ohls; Paul Kersey; Molly Molloy; Mr. Rafferty; and the voice of Colossus.

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Satan’s Little Helper

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , on July 24, 2012 by dcairns

Hilary Barta of Limerwrecks, busy converting the whole history of film noir and classic Hollywood horror into five-line doggerel form (safe against the heat death of the universe), remarked that the movie serial MYSTERIOUS DR SATAN has enjoyably lurid title art.

It does! Is that a myriad of desperate arms grasping for a test tube with the face of Homer Simpson? I’d say so.

But I got fascinated by the little bubblegum cards the serial uses as recaps. Rather than a quick “Previously in MYSTERIOUS DR SATAN” montage, or a longwinded scroll, we just get pics of the lead characters and captions stating what they’ve been up to. I thought it’d be fun to throw a bunch of these up in the air and make up our own story. Then I noticed that often, the name of the person rhymes with the statement that follows. Maybe this ought to become a stage musical? That seems to be all the rage these days.

If anybody wants to finance such an enterprise, I volunteer to write lyrics. The robot’s song (an internal combustion monologue) would be a particular pleasure to pen.

This last one doesn’t seem to rhyme that well, until you remember that Eduardo Ciannelli (Dr Satan) has a particularly interesting way of pronouncing “r’bot.”

Director William Witney is apparently a favourite of Quentin Tarantino — but it’s uncertain how seriously we are to take this.