Saturday, July 31, 2010

To Hell and Back-wards

A movie so dark and perverse
to sweetness and light it's averse
Its cynical "hero"
is lower than zero
and credits are run in reverse

Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955). Barely escaping annihilation are private detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) and girl Friday, Velda (Maxine Cooper). Here's an earlier Deadly limerick. Photo source: Only the Cinema

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Private Eye-line

Phil Marlowe, a private detective
sees life from a Guy Noir perspective
Director and crew
share Phil's point-of-view
by making the cam'ra subjective

Audrey Totter stares at the camera in Lady in the Lake (Robert Montgomery, 1947). Above: The film is shot almost entirely from the subjective view of its director and star, Robert Montgomery, so we only see him reflected in mirrors. Below: A conventional, non-subjective promo still. Photo source: DVD Beaver, Ride the High Country and Classic Mongomery.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Trail of the Loathsome Pine

I loved her, she gave me the air
I call her, she's not ever there
We still go out walking
(the cops call it stalking):
I follow and give her a scare

Thanks to Backthrow for the title.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Frame and Fortune

A drifter is fit for a frame
by doll-faced, duplicitous dame
She's smitten by murder
(committing it stirred her)
but money's this kitten's old flame

Glenn Ford, Janis Carter and Barry Sullivan star in Framed (Richard Wallace, 1947). This is low-budget James M. Cain territory, with Carter playing the treacherous, two-faced femme fatale. Just as in Night Editor, Carter seems to get an unhealthy thrill out of murder. Some of Carter's other films are Lady of Burlesque, The Mark of the Whistler, One Mysterious Night, I Love Trouble, The Missing Juror, and Flying Leathernecks. Here's a earlier limerick about another Carter film, The Woman on Pier 13, aka I Married a Communist.

Framed insert416063.1010.A

Friday, July 23, 2010

Perverse Verse

A thrill-seeking, vixenish chick
A killing just gives her a kick
She ogles a beating
and starts overheating
This filly is sexy but sick

Bad blonde Janis Carter and William Gargan star in Night Editor (Henry Levin, 1946). Witnessing a murder gets sleazy society dame Carter so hot and bothered that she starts dating the killer. What a broad! Night Editor was the only entry in an aborted film series, and was based on a radio show of the same name. One of the movie's taglines was: In the middle of a kiss...Murder!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Have Gun, Kill Travel

I drive with a gun to my head
Through stop signs and red lights I've sped
I'll crash from the speeding
or shot, die from bleeding...
and both ways I end up as dead

James Craig forces Farley Granger down a Side Street (Anthony Mann, 1950). Here's an earlier lim on Side Street.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dial "M" for Auntie Em

Instructed by guild and committee
she hit yellow bricks to green city
In ruby toned shoes
she ogled the hues
and sang Harold Arlen penned ditty

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming and others, 1939). The music was by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Growing up with a black and white television set I thought the entire film was in black-and-white. It wasn't until sometime in my twenties when I was startled by the dramatic transition to color.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dial "M" for Murgatroyd

When threatened this cat would take flight
and exit "Stage left!" on the right

But couldn't get far
with voice like Bert Lahr

who sued in a copyright fight

The voice of Hanna-Barbera's animated mountain lion Snagglepuss was created by Daws Butler. It is reminiscent of certain characterizations of comedic actor Bert Lahr, especially his Cowardly Lion for The Wizard of Oz. Along with "Exit, stage left!", another of Snagglepuss's catch phrases is "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" - a line first uttered by Lahr in the 1944 film Meet the People. Here's the story from Wikipedia: "When the character of Snagglepuss was used for a series of Kellog's cereal television commercials in the 1960s, Lahr filed a lawsuit, claiming that the similarity of the Snagglepuss voice to his own might cause viewers to falsely conclude that Lahr was endorsing the product. As part of the settlement, the disclaimer "Snagglepuss voice by Daws Butler" was required to appear on each commercial, thus making Butler one of the few voice artists to receive a screen credit in a TV commercial."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dial "M" for...M

The back of his jacket was "M"d
'tween crooks and the cops he was hemmed
In criminal style
they put him on trial
For biz he was bad, and condemned

Like the "A" in The Scarlet Letter, Peter Lorre's child murderer is marked with an M (Fritz Lang, 1931). The story was based on a true case in Germany, where the underworld helped the police to stop a serial killer because his heinous crimes were bad for business as usual. Here's an earlier M limerick.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dial "M" for Marvin

With Marvin as violent cop
the M Squad shot over the top
It's murder and gore
with hot, jazzy score
Chicago, from penthouse to flop

Lee Marvin starred as Lt. Frank Ballinger in M Squad (1957-60), bringing his usual thick lipped, loose limbed insolence and bravado to the role. The crime-ridden TV series was set in Chicago, and was hated by the city's image-conscious mayor, Richard J. Daley. The Chicago footage consists of stock and pick-up shots of Marvin cut into the studio-based material. (Though in a recently aired episode the snow and ice was clearly not in L.A.) You can listen to clips from M Squad's soundtrack (by Count Basie, Benny Carter, John Williams and Stan Wilson) here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvey Pekar, R.I.P.

Lonnie Timmons III, The Plain Dealer

His demons and faults he'd reveal
There's nothing he'd ever conceal
The aches and the pains
the stress and the strains
His art was depicting the real

The first time I saw comics writer Harver Pekar was at a Chicago comics convention. I was sitting in the Ramada O'hare, and I watched Harvey walk across the lobby, a finger stuck in his nose the entire time. Harvey was a true character. Thanks for everything, Harvey.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dial "M" for Midget

It isn't that people are taller
it's just that their phone's getting smaller
With i phone or cell
a girl cannot tell
the size of a gentleman caller

Photo: John Agar and cast anxiously await a call from their agent in Attack of the Puppet People (Bert I. Gordon, 1958).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dial "M" for Limericks

Spoiler alert! The limericks that follow heedlessly give away much of the film's plot, and murder its big moment of suspense.

His wife, who is very well-heeled
he finds has been playing the field
He hires a bloke
to give her a choke
and keep his involvement concealed

She reaches for something to grab
Finds scissors and gives him a stab
I think I should mentio
that in 3 dimensio
Grace Kelly in nightie looks fab

Ray Milland and Anthony Dawson plan to do in gorgeous Grace Kelly in Dial "M" for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954), originally released in 3D. Images purloined from and

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


A Mack with a natural tan
he's back kicking ass 'cause he can
This super soul brother
is doing your mother
and goin' upside of the man

Afrodisiac is a super fly 1970s comics/Blaxploitation styled blasterpiece by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca. Visit for details. Art © copyright 2010 Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca

Monday, July 5, 2010

Faux Joe

In suit, tie and snap-brim fedora
he looked like a cop out of Laura
But to "Java--and black"when waitress turned back
he added a pack of Cremora

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Crystal Meth-od

She's giddy at news she foresees
'cause with her her future agrees
Revealed in the glass
is what soon will pass:
A trust fund approved by trustees

June Collier has a ball in this pic from Starlet Showcase. There are more Crystal Balls in your future, here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wallace Dreary

What happened to old Wallace Beery
Did Wally commit hara-kiri?
What shortened his life?
His battle-ax wife?
It's called the Marie Dressler theory

Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler were partnered in several films. Top:
Tugboat Annie (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933); Above: Min and Bill (George Hill, 1930).