Sunday, August 23, 2009

Zero Hour! (1957)

Today's review is of ZERO HOUR! It was directed by Hall Bartlett, who co-wrote the screenplay with Arthur Hailey (AIRPORT) and John C. Champion. The movie was shot in black and white and runs 81 minutes. If the plot of this movie sounds familiar it should. The makers of Airplane! (1980) bought the rights to Zero Hour! (1957) to remake it. This suspenseful air-borne adventure can rightfully lay claim to being the Mother of All subsequent in-flight disaster films of the '70s.

Dana Andrews -Ted Stryker
Linda Darnell -Ellen Stryker
Sterling Hayden -Treleaven
Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch- Capt. Wilson
Geoffrey Toone- Dr. Baird
Jerry Paris- Tony Decker
Peggy King- Stewardess
Charles Quinlivan- Burdick
Carole Eden -Mrs. Wilson
Steve London -Copilot Stewart
Russell Thorson -Flight Dispatcher
David Thursby- Whitmond
Raymond Farrell- Joey Strycker
Willis B. Bouchey -RCAF Doctor

Richard Keith -Station Manager

Hall Bartlett-Director, Producer, Screenwriter
John C. Champion-Producer, Screenwriter
Ted Dale-Composer (Music Score)
John F. Warren-Cinematographer

John C. Fuller-Editor
Arthur Hailey-Short Story Author


This suspenseful air-borne adventure can rightfully lay claim to being the Mother of All subsequent in-flight disaster films of the '70s.  Zero Hour! tells the tense story of a Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews), a former Canadian WWII fighter pilot and squadron leader who's battling horrific memories of his war experience. Having indirectly killed six of his men due to an error in judgement (going for a primary target, Stryker leads his men too low in a fog bank, where they crash into the ground), Stryker has been unable to shake this devastating memory, which has caused him no end of trouble in his post-war personal life. Unable to hold onto a steady job, Stryker's marriage is now about to end. Coming home after finally winning another chance at a job, Stryker finds a note from his wife, Ellen (Linda Darnell), telling him that's she's leaving him and taking their young son Joey (Raymond Ferrell). Stryker catches up with the plane before it departs, and rides along, hoping to convince Ellen to come back with him now that "things will be different."

Unfortunately, disaster strikes when passengers start to come down with severe food poisoning from tainted fish. Ted and his wife are fine, having ordered the lamb, but young Joey is critically ill, as are many on board - including the pilot, Captain Bill Wilson (Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch) and First Officer Walt Stewart (Steve London). Although there's a doctor on board, Dr. Baird (Geoffrey Toone), there's little he can do but instruct Stewardess Janet Turner (Peggy King) to find anyone who can fly the plane. But when Stryker is brought into the cockpit, he's terrified of the challenge before him - as well as riddled with self-doubt after years of personal failure. Pressured and convinced there's no other option, he takes control of the plane, with his wife helping out on the radio. As a vicious rain and ice storm rages outside (preventing them from landing in Calgary and forcing them over the mountains to Vancouver), Captain Martin Treleaven (Sterling Hayden), a former colleague of Stryker's during the war, tries to hide his contempt and defeatism as he attempts to talk Stryker down through the difficult flight and almost impossible landing. 


Nothing worth mentioning!

Problems with Movie:

*Even though the plane is banking and dipping nothing is flying around the interior of the  plane. The overhead bins are full of luggage. They should have had a beverage cart rolling up and down the aisle.

*Static-suspended airplane models wobbled by off-screen fans

*When Ted Stryker is flashing back to his men crashing their planes into the ground, the scenes show planes with German insignia on their wings. Stryker was in the Canadian Air Force.

 Memorable Quotes:

Treleaven: I guess I picked the wrong week to give up smoking.

Dr. Baird: Our survival hinges on one thing - finding someone who not only can fly this plane, but didn't have fish for dinner.


Former pro football star Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch plays the captain of the airliner


This is a funny B Movie. Probably not Sterling Hayden's best work. Linda Darnell and Dana Andrews do a good job with what they are given to work with.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Next Movie Review-"Zero Hour (1957)"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cary Grant Cocktail Lounge

Cary Grant wants to send you a cocktail. Try one of the drink specialties that were in his movies.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Character Actor Corner

This is part of the blog that will shine light on character actors. Today's spotlight shines on

Alan Hale Sr.

Alan Hale Sr. Alan Hale Jr.

Alan Hale, Sr. (born Rufus Edward Mackahan, February 10, 1892 - January 22, 1950) was an American movie actor and director, best known for his many supporting character roles, in particular as frequent sidekick of Errol Flynn. Hale directed eight movies during the 1920s and 1930s and acted in 235 theatrical films. He appeared in 13 films that starred Erroll Flynn. He also holds the record for appearing as Little John in 3 separate productions: he played the part in Robin Hood (1922), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950), filmed just a year before he died.

His wife of over thirty years was Gretchen Hartmann (1897–1979), a child actress and silent film player and mother of their three children.
He was the father of actor Alan Hale, Jr., best known as "the Skipper" on television's Gilligan's Island. One look at Alan Hale Jr. and no one could ever assume he was adopted; Hale Jr. so closely resembled his father, that at times it appeared that the older fellow had returned to the land of the living.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Clock (1945)

Today's review is of The Clock . The movie is based on a short story by Paul Gallico. Arthur Freed was the producer. This production had several directors. During pre-production Jack Conway started shooting urbane scenes in New York but became ill and was replaced by Fred Zimmemann. Eventually, Fred Zimmemann was replaced by Vincente Minnelli,at the request of Judy Garland.

Vincente Minnelli was a Hollywood film director and Theatre director. His skilled integration of story, music, lighting, and design elements in a film made him the most critically respected crafter of musical film..... This was Garland's first dramatic role as well as the first motion picture made by her in which she did not sing. She also did not sing in Judgment at Nuremberg or A Child is Waiting.


Judy Garland- Alice Mayberry
Robert Walker -Cpl. Joe Allen
James Gleason- Al Henry
Keenan Wynn- The Drunk
Marshall Thompson -Bill
Lucille Gleason- Mrs. Al Henry
Ruth Brady -Helen
Paul E. Burns -Bartender
Chester Clute- Michael Henry
Dick Elliott- Friendly Man
Robert E. Homans- Official
Moyna MacGill- Luncheonette Lady
Arthur Space -Blood Tester
Ray Teal- Cop

Crew :

Vincente Minnelli-Director
Arthur Freed-Producer
Joseph Schrank-Screenwriter
Robert Nathan-Screenwriter
George Bassman-Composer (Music Score)
George Folsey-Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons-Art Director
William Ferrari-Art Director
Irene-Costume Designer
George White-Editor
Edwin B. Willis-Set Designer
Mac Alper-Set Designer
Paul Gallico-Short Story Author
Pauline Gallico-Short Story Author
Arnold A. Gillespie-Special Effects
Warren Newcombe-Special Effects


Joe (Walker) meets Alice (Garland) in Pennsylvania Station (New York City). Alice trips over Joe's foot and the heel of her shoe breaks off. Joe makes puppy dog eyes at Alice and they end up spending hours at a museum before Alice has to go home. Later that evening, she breaks a date to meet Joe. They agree to meet under the clock at The Astor Hotel. After diner they walk around central park they try to hail a cab but end up hitching a ride with a milkman (Gleason). They will meet additional (funny) characters on their journey to the alter.

Walker's charm in this movie is his innocence. Joe is supposed to be an innocent midwesterner that has never been to NYC. I am not sure if any of the other popular actors would have been suited for this role. I have seen him in other dramas and he does a good job of portraying the wimpy, nerdy guy. Garland does a great job in this dramatic role. I think she is in the best shape of her life in this movie. Minnelli really captures Judy at best. He shows that she can carry a dramatic film.

We're not disappointed by the little roles, either - James and Lucille Gleason play a friendly milkman and his wife. James Gleason almost steals the film from Walker and Garland as the romantic minded milkman who gives them a lift and then when he gets injured, they finish his deliveries. Walker and Garland then join Gleason for breakfast at his home where his wife is played by his real life wife Lucille Gleason. The Gleasons would suffer a horrific tragedy that year when their son Russell Gleason was killed in a fall from a window, circumstances still unknown. In fact this was a tragic film all around because both Walker and Garland died way too young.,

Keenan Wynn plays a drunk in a diner, Ruth Brady plays Alice's housemate Ruth, and Marshall Thompson gathers many laughs all to himself as Ruth's silent boyfriend Bill, never allowed to say anything in response to her constant questioning, gossiping, and nagging.

The lady at the luncheonette counter in the diner is Moyna MacGill, Angela Landsbury's mother.

Irene does a good job of portraying the clothing of the period. There are not any glamour gowns in this movie.

Problems with the Movie:
Filming on location was not considered cost-effective or easy. Plus, World War II was still underway. Consequently, the Penn Station set was built inside one of the large sound stages at MGM Studios in Culver City, California. You can tell that some of the street scenes are process shots.

Clock Trivia:

The clocks in the film, the main timepiece is located in the Astor Hotel, Times Square. The famous hotel was once located at 1515 Broadway. Built in the Beaux Arts style in 1904, the Astor was demolished in 1967 and replaced by One Astor Plaza, a tall office-tower structure.

When Joe and Alice are accidentally separated, they find each other again at the set of Pennsylvania Station near the information desk. Another clock is depicted hanging there, closely resembling the one prominently displayed in Grand Central Station.

Additional Trivia:

In the opening scene, Robert Walker bums a light from a commuter played by none other than Arthur Freed (the producer).

The wistful piano player at the Italian restaurant is Roger Edens. Edens was the director of music at MGM and a close friend of Judy Garland.

The wife of the milkman, played by James Gleason is Gleason's real-life wife Lucile Gleason,
In the scene where
Judy Garland and Robert Walker are riding in the milk truck, the song being
played over the radio is "Our Love Affair" which was a hit song from Judy's movie Strike Up the Band (1940) with Mickey Rooney.


I think this is a good movie overall. It is pure fluff. It will put you in a good mood.