Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 2.27 “The Clown” (dir by John Newland)

For tonight’s excursion into televised horror, I want to change things up.  Tales From The Crypt will return on Monday but, for the next three days, I want to take a look at some different show.

Like One Step Beyond, for example!

Now, I have to admit that I don’t know much about One Step Beyond.  I came across several episodes on YouTube while I was searching for any Twilight Zone episodes.  Apparently, One Step Beyond was an anthology series that aired from 1957 to 1960.  (It actually predated the Twilight Zone.)  One Step Beyond often claimed that its stories were meant to be dramatizations of actual events.

The episode below is from the 2nd season.  It originally aired on March 22nd, 1960.  The title of this episode?

The Clown.

Scared yet?

You should be.  Clowns are creepy!

Watch the episode below and find out just how creepy!



Fabulous Forties #32: Outpost in Morocco (dir by Robert Florey)


After watching the excellent The Last Chance, I was really hoping that the 32nd film in the Fabulous Forties box set would turn out be a classic as well.  Sadly, that was not the case.  1949’s Outpost in Morocco is a generally forgettable adventure film about the French Foreign Legion.

George Raft plays Capt. Paul Gerard, a captain in the French Foreign Legion.  Now, I happen to like George Raft.  He may not have been the greatest actor of Hollywood’s Golden Age but he did have a roguish charm and he was a great dancer.  Unfortunately, while the role of Paul Gerard did call for a bit of charm, it didn’t call for much dancing.  Instead, Paul Gerard is rather stolid and dependable and a little bit boring.  Needless to say, George Raft was more than a little miscast in the role.

Speaking of miscast, the beautiful but very American Marie Windsor plays Cara, the daughter of the Emir of the Moroccan city of Bel-Rashad.  The French are not allowed to enter the city and there are rumors that the Emir has been using this situation as an opportunity to plot against France.  Since Cara has spent the last few years studying in France, she is willing to go into Bel-Rashad and report on whether or not the rumors are true.  Gerard is assigned to escort her to the city.  Gerard’s superiors suspect that Cara might even fall in love with Gerard and, as a result, will be willing to turn against her father.

And that’s exactly what happens!  It takes exactly 10 days for Cara and Gerard to fall in love.  (We know this because the film is full of excerpts from a journal that Gerard keeps as he escorts Cara across the desert.)  However, once they reach Bel-Rashad, Cara does discover that her father is indeed conspiring against the French.  It is up to Gerard to put down the revolution and defeat the Emir, even if it means potentially sacrificing his love for Cara.

It’s interesting to note that there’s a few scenes where Raft sounds like he’s trying to imitate Humphrey Bogart, which immediately reminded me of how so many of Bogart’s great roles were initially offered to Raft.  I found myself wondering if Raft agreed to do Outpost in Morocco to make up for refusing Bogart’s role in a certain other film that was set in Morocco.

Unfortunately, Outpost in Morocco is no Casablanca.  Whereas Casablanca is a classic that holds up to this day, Outpost in Morocco is best described as being … well, dull.

How boring in Outpost in Morocco?  George Raft looks bored.  Marie Windsor looks bored.  Even the great character actor Akim Tamiroff looks bored!  Portions of the film were shot on location in Morocco so there are a few nice shots of the desert (if that’s your thing) and the ending is a bit darker than you might normally expect for a 1949 adventure film but otherwise, Outpost in Morocco is a fairly forgettable film.

Netflix Noir #2: The Big Caper (dir by Robert Stevens)

The Big Caper Poster

For our next Netflix Noir, we take a look at a heist film from 1957, The Big Caper.

Frank (Rory Calhoun) is a small time criminal with a plan.  He knows that there’s a Marine base near the small town of San Felipe, California and he also knows that, during the weekend before payday, the San Felipe bank will be holding a million dollar payroll for those Marines.  He proposes  to Flood (James Gregory), a wealthy crime boss whom Frank idolizes, that they should find a way rob that bank over the weekend.  Flood agrees to the plan.

While Flood recruits some help for the robbery, Frank and Flood’s girlfriend, Kay (Mary Costa), move into the town and set themselves up as a part of the community.  Using Flood’s money, Frank buys a gas station and he and Kay move into a nice suburban house.  At first, Frank resents being forced to live like a “square.”  He bitterly complains that the local San Felipe newspaper doesn’t even tell him “how the horses did.”

But then something odd happens.  Frank starts to enjoy being a member of the community.  Soon, the gas station is making a profit and Frank is even thinking about buying a second one.  Oddly enough, his becomes best friends with the local cop.

As for Kay, she transitions to respectability even before Frank does.  As she eventually confesses to Frank, she’s tired of being treated like Flood’s property.  She wants to stay in San Felipe and make a life for herself.  Wearily, Frank tells her that she better hope that Flood doesn’t find out…

Meanwhile, Flood has recruited together his gang and they’re not exactly the most impressive bunch of criminal masterminds.  There’s Roy (Corey Allen), a physical fitness fanatic who is almost childlike in his devotion to Flood.  There’s Harry (Paul Picerni), who demands that his girlfriend Doll (Roxanne Arlen) be a part of the scheme.

And then there’s Zimmer (Robert H. Harris), a bald, sweating pyromaniac who spends most of his time begging for alcohol and lighting matches.  Zimmer arrives at Frank’s house unannounced and Frank is forced to pretend that Zimmer is his uncle.

Once Flood and the rest of the gang arrive, Frank starts to prepare for the robbery but he soon discovers that he’d rather be barbecuing with the neighbors.

The Big Caper is a clever little film, one that features excellent performances (especially from Gregory, Calhoun, Allen, and Harris) and tons of hard-boiled dialogue.  What makes this film especially memorable is the way that it contrasts the fake respectability of the wealthy Flood with the newfound, but genuine, respectability of Frank and Kay.

If The Big Caper was made today, it would probably be directed by the Coen Brothers and Ben Affleck and Ray Liotta would play Frank and Flood respectively.  However, the film works just as well with Rory Calhoun and James Gregory and is totally worth seeing.

The Big Caper