Friday, April 30, 2010

The Devil Thumbs His Nose

Don't ever give Satan a ride
Whenever he's hitching, just hide
He's dumped by the road
the chumps that have slowed
Keep driving, don't pull to the side

Sociopath Lawrence Tierney is at it again in The Devil Thumbs a Ride (Felix Feist, 1947).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Born Identity

She likes it when fellas play rough
Of tough guys she can't get enough
When a wild man sees red
and piles up the dead
she finds that he's really hot stuff

Claire Trevor discovers that Lawrence Tierney, as Sam Wild, was Born To Kill (Robert Wise, 1947).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kill Thrill

A cave man who kills in a rage
This psycho belongs in a cage
But certain gals dig
a primitive pig
and have since Neanderthal age

All images from Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947), starring Lawrence Tierney (as the aptly named Sam Wild), Isabel Jewel, Claire Trevor, and Elisha Cook Jr. Read an appreciation of Kill at Sunset Gun as well as several other films by Robert Wise at Octopus Cinema.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Last Picture Woe

John Dillinger sits on the aisle
The gangster as cinema-phile
The woman in red
has tipped off the Feds,
so Dillinger's going in style

Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys in Dillinger (Max Nosseck, 1945), the film that put Tierney on the map of Crime City. Top: Tierney, as Dillinger in disguise, famously attending Chicago's Biograph Theater to see Myrna Loy in Manhattan Melodrama.
Here's a review of the film on
Only the Cinema.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scary Larry

He shot from a primitive source
and plotted a violent course
So vicious and vile
wore sneer for a smile
and lacked any jot of remorse

No other actor ever had a persona as bluntly hard-boiled as did Lawrence Tierney. With his scowl and clenched jaw, Tierney trademarked his surly, brutal thug in films like Dillinger, Born To Kill, The Devil Thumbs a Ride, Kill or be Killed and The Hoodlum. And Tierney played the same two-fisted part off-screen, too. Read noir writer Eddie Muller's vivid account of meeting the "living, breathing Noir Monster" in person, here. This is just the starting gun for Lawrence Tierney Week. Above: Tierney about to prove that he's Born to Kill. Below: Dillinger mugshot.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Blot Corner

An art snob's constructed the frame
An innocent man gets the blame
A corpse on his floor
the cops at his door
just how will the guy clear his name?

The Dark Corner (Henry Hathaway, 1946) stars Lucille Ball as girl Friday to private eye Mark Stevens, tangling with art dealer Clifton Webb and detective William Bendix. More noir is on the way, when Lawrence Tierney Week starts tomorrow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Murder My Sweet Embraceable You

Not sure if the guy is a thug
she tenses when getting a hug
He tightens his grip
she quivers her lip
prepared for a kiss or a slug

Pictured (Film Noir: Through a Lens Darkly): Nancy Guild and George Montgomery(as Phillip Marlowe) in The Brasher Doubloon (John Brahm, 1947). The limerick has nothing to do with the movie, as is often the case around here. Ads for the film urged viewers to "meet that Guild girl; she rhymes with wild." Based on The High Window by Raymond Chandler, the story was filmed before as Time To Kill, a 1942 Mike Shayne mystery starring Lloyd Nolan.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Red Hot and Bothered

Hey fella, don't bother to knock
It's open, I don't use a lock
In room 809
is where I recline
I'm lonely and ready to rock

Richard Widmark eyes unbalanced babysitter Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock (Roy Baker, 1952). Photo below from DVD Beaver. Not exactly a noir, but close enough for limericks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sheepless in Seattle

You're spending the night without sleep
You'd count them but can't find the sheep
You're poised on the brink
but can't catch a wink
It must be the hours you keep

Night Without Sleep (Roy Ward Baker, 1952) is a remake of the terrific noir, Black Angel, which was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich. Alas, Gary Merrill is no Dan Duryea, who starred in the earlier adaptation. Actress June Vincent appears in both films.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


A teller is short at the bank
On where it all went he's a blank
A blonde-haired attraction
provided distraction
and now the poor sap's in the tank

Dorothy Malone, Barry Sullivan and Charles McGraw find a Loophole (Harold Schuster, 1954). The "Blonde Bait" is Mary Beth Hughes, used to distract attention during a bank theft.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gritty Woman

Both pretty and pretty sadistic,
in noir no one's sick as is this chick
The gal is malicious
finds mayhem delicious
Just cross her and you're a statistic

Pictured (Lost in the Frame): Edward Norris, Jean Gillie and Herbert Rudley in Decoy (Jack Bernhard, 1946). Our earlier Decoy limerick is here. Jean Gillie's Margot Shelby is one twisted chick. Below is a clip of the film's opening scenes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Too Late Show

As housewife, she's lacking the skills
She'd rather be racking up thrills
This cold-hearted honey
finds a suitcase of money
And to keep it, she lies, cheats and kills

Dan Duryea and Lizabeth Scott are Too Late For Tears, aka Killer Bait (Byron Haskin, 1949), screenplay by Roy (The Fugitive) Huggins. Photo: Hollywood Pinups. Pick your poison, it's another Noir Week at Limerwrecks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jury Pool of Blood

Mike Hammer declared, "I, the jury"
dispensing hot lead in a hurry
The verdict attained
was eyeballs were strained
when 3-D projection was blurry

I, the Jury (Harry Essex, 1953) was shot by the great John Alton. It brings down the gavel on 3-D Week and leads into our latest week of Film Noir. Here's an article by 3-D expert Ray Zone on I, the Jury as well as other 3-D Film Noir.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Over Charged

The arrows and tomahawks flew
And streams of tobacco juice spew
This plus Vera Miles,
whose feminine wiles
were thrust from the screen into view

The Charge at Feather River (Gordon Douglas, 1953). This western is the zenith of fifties 3-D's flying-objects phase. This included such appetizing effects as expert tobacco-spitter Frank Lovejoy aiming at a rattlesnake, and squirting the stream right at the camera and out into the audience.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Living Dahl

Like nothing that's ever been seen
they burst from the cinema screen
Not special effects
but old-fashioned sex
The bounties of beauty Arlene

Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl get deep in Sangaree (Edward Ludwig, 1953), advertised as "The picture with the famed biting kiss." The couple married and produced their own special-effect, Lorenzo Lamas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wax Eloquence

Committing unspeakable acts
a sculptor dips victims in wax
Though shot by a guy
with only one eye
this pushed 3-D depth to the max

House of Wax (André de Toth, 1953) stars Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk and Charles Buchinsky (later Bronson). Having only one eye, director de Toth had no stereoscopic perception, yet produced what is considered by many to be the most effective use of 3-D photography of the 1950s.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


They cut all the "crime" from his brain
plus where he hid ill-gotten gain
His gang, in pursuit
of stashed stolen loot,
then chased him down memory lane

Edmund O'Brien and Audrey Totter star in Man in the Dark (Lew Landers, 1953), the second 3-D feature of the early fifties. In this remake of the 1936 film The Man Who Lived Twice, O'Brien plays a con who has brain surgery to remove his criminal tendencies, but suffers a side-effect of amnesia. The black-and-white crime drama started life with the standard two dimensions, but after the huge success of Bwana Devil, shooting was halted, and the script was quickly rewritten to include gimmicky 3-D effects. It was then rushed back into production and release--beating the premiere of the much larger-budgeted "depthie" House of Wax by a mere two days. Unfortunately, the climactic sequence at a carnival was shot using two-dimensional rear projection, which flattened any 3-D effect.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Devil's in the 3-Details

The movie that started the craze
is 3-D that fails to amaze
When Barbara Britton
by lions is bitten
you'll wish you'd averted your gaze

Bwana Devil (Arch Oboler, 1952) was the first American color 3-D feature film of the early 1950s. It was based on the true story of the Tsavo maneaters, which was also the basis for the 1996 film, Ghost and the Darkness. The film starred Robert Stack, Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce. Britton started in films in 1941, and worked in many Westerns including The Virginian, Gunfighters, and Sam Fuller's first film as director, I Shot Jesse James (see below). On television Britton starred in Mr. and Mrs. North and later played Laura Petrie in the original pilot to what became The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hocus Pocus, Out of Focus

The paddle-balls bounce and careen
and actresses scrub and come clean
In matters of taste
3-D was a waste
but who wants 3-D that's serene?

Don your red and blue glasses folks, because it's 3-D Week at Limerwrecks. A whole week on fifties "depthies" is comin' at ya! Top: Paddle-ball is the rage in House of Wax (1953); Above: Jane Russell blows her bubble bath in her 3-D musical, The French Line (1954). To find our earlier limericks on 3-D, click here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hatter Chatter

Just why the term "Mad as a hatter"?
Nonsensical milliner patter?
Or is it the bite
from a hat sized too tight
that's putting the squeeze on grey matter?

The expression derives from the fact that hats are made primarily from felt, in which fibers of wool or fur are pounded together. The felting process goes more quickly when treated with mercury, and hat makers, aka milliners, would be driven crazy from mercury poisoning. Just one of many such origins of language to be found in Loose Cannons and Red Herrings, a Book of Lost Metaphors by Robert Claiborne. Wood-engravings by Thomas Dalziel.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peking Duck and Cover

The city is going atomic
with bomb shelters most ergonomic
In La-Z-Boy chairs
they'll stomach three-squares
of canned goods that taste sub-gastronomic

I've heard that bomb shelters are making a comeback. Probably panic induced from having our first "socialist" president. Anyway, this is yet another limerick that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie title that inspired it. The real city in question is Los Alamos, where H-bomb scientist Gene Barry's son is kidnapped by Soviet spies in The Atomic City (Jerry Hopper, 1952). Limerwrecks has dropped the big one and Red Scare Week is kaput.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Red Plate Special

The short-order cook in a spoon
is really a communist goon
Providing the scenery
is gal in the beanery,
whose sweaters cause fellas to swoon

Terry Moore, Frank Lovejoy, Keenan Wynn and Lee Marvin as "Slob" in Shack Out on 101 (Edward Dein, 1955), a B movie that serves up commie spies and low comedy in a weird combo platter. In the following clip, Wynn and Marvin compare physiques and Moore delivers the punchline.