“Well, not exactly dinner, but a hamburger might be a good idea.”
We all know that Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter) was NOT in Catalina Caper, right? Oh the pre-internet days of IDing actors. Guess and speculation, it was a lot more fun then. Casey Adams though was the original Ward Cleaver In the pilot episode of Leave it to Beaver. Think how that would have changed TV History.
Dick Chasen, that’s the best they could come up with?
I’m always leery of narrators in my movies. It is usually the sign of really lazy scriptwriting. I was always taught to show, not tell in my writing. The narration is a sign to me the writer had no idea how to show us his world, no idea how to do his ‘job’. There are time a narrator can be used and enhance the film, but in those moments it has to go beyond exposition, beyond tell you what is happening before your eyes.
But even worse than normal exposition is how Lt. Dick narrates events he couldn’t know anything about! It seems like he keeps switching tense through the movie. It is framed as a flashback story, but at times the narration is too in the moment.
It is Joe Flynn, not a look alike.
Getting past the narration issue, this is not a bad little take on the Frankenstein story. The Scientist (Robert Shayne) reasonably won’t accept he brought a man back to life until Benton (Lon Chaney Jr) actually starts moving. The interaction between Benton and the Scientist is not bad, panicked calm assurances—he just shouldn’t have mentioned surgery in front of a killer.
I had always thought Chaney Jr was dying of cancer during the filming of this movie, when he actually lived another 17 years after making this film. His role was mostly silent due to cancer treatments, but I think that helps the character. Some of the close ups remind me of the end of Bride of the Monster though. There must be a better way to frame someone’s face for emotions, I shouldn’t be able to see the pores.
The date scene is another sign of the issues with the script. There isn’t really any personal connection between Eva (Marion Carr) Martin and Lt. Dick. Yeah it is nice ‘background’ I suppose, but I’d rather have some magic in my romances.
Are there/were there saloons with bottles on the table like that? That seems like it would be a bad business model. Not to mention unsanitary.
The carny and the girl scene is so out of place. Can’t have a simple carjack or theft, but this strange interlude. Nowadays, we’d get to see the mangled carny corpse.
He has enough of his ‘self’ to keep from killing Eva. The rage he has is applied to getting revenge, I think the carny is the only ‘innocent’ who buys it. Granted, Benton probably killed a few people before he was executed, why else would he be nicknamed Butcher? I suppose Benton isn’t ‘sympathetic’ but he is at least understandable as a monster. He craves revenge and has the ability to carry it out.
The film really is stronger when there isn’t any narration. For a movie of this style there was some thought to having music that does fit with the action on the screen.
The girl giving the testimony about Joe Marcellia’s death has crazy eyes.
I do like the scheme Lt. Dick comes up with to force Lowe to talk. One of the actual better police plans in these movies.
Finally, someone thinks to bring the biggest guns they got the FIRST time the face a monster.
Watchability: 4 of 5. Are there problems with this movie, yes there are. Our lead is a bit too smarmy, the narration is forced and the ‘romance’ is really just creepy; but there is a decently told and acted story in this movie.
Missing the Riffs: 3 of 5. Decent movie, but some of the dead spots (the date for example) really needs some riffing.