Thursday, July 27, 2006

It Came from Netflix! The Intruder (Forgotten Terrors!)

WARNING! FOR THE LAST TIME, IGNORE THE DECEPTIVE DVD BOX COVER ART!!

This is the third feature found on Retromedia’s recent “Forgotten Terrors” DVD. As with the first two features, The Intruder isn’t a horror movie, but rather a murder thriller. We open with a passenger liner bobbing on a stormy sea (portrayed with a model shot that, as is often the case from this era, somehow both cheesy and impressive at the same time). On board, a brutal murder has occurred, and a bag of diamonds—also the MacGuffin in the disc’s first movie, Tangled Destinies—is missing.

The plot gimmick here is that the ship sinks—I really didn’t get why—and the passengers and crew end up stranded on a nearby island. (It wasn’t until I saw the lifeboat that I figured out The Intruder was actually the name of the ship they were on.) The cast includes the normal array of stereotypes, including the blithe hero, the sweet heroine, the sassy dame, the comic drunk, the detective, the stalwart captain, etc.

The detective—none too bright, as is often the case in these things—suspects the wrong man, of course, and another murder or two occurs as things progress. Meanwhile, the island has a hairy, maddened castaway on it, along with a wandering gorilla. (!!) Several fully-articulated skeletons are also stumbled across, because, you know, that’s all spooky and stuff.

As silly as you’d expect, this is a typical programmer, but certainly watchable, at least for fans of old movies. If you are such, you're sure to recognize actor Arthur Housman—even if not you don’t know his name—who made a career out of playing the exact sort of humorous drunk he portrays here.

Housman got to play zillions of drunks because after he established himself as Hollywood's go-to inebriate because he generally only appeared in a scene or two. The star of the movie would enter a bar and bam, there was a blurry-eyed Arthur Housman. Aside from features, Mr. Housman also appeared in lots of short subjects, including some Laurel & Hardy comedies.

It is fun to look at his IMDB credits, though, and see "Drunk" appear about fifty times. After flirting with such roles as "First Communist" in 1938's Youth Takes a Fling, Mr. Housman came into his own the next year, appearing as, variously, "Drunk next to Grandma"; "The drunk"; "The Drunk"; "Jonathon, a drunk"; "Drunk in Barroom"; "Drunk on Train"; and, mostly tellingly, "Drunk".

Busy character actor Mischa Auer, meanwhile, plays the castaway, and actor William B. Davidson, who appeared in over two hundred movies (!), plays the detective.

None of it makes much sense, but hey, it moves, and at about 60 minutes there isn’t much time for it become boring. The sound quality is worse than the other movies on the disc, however, so you’ll probably have to really up the volume to make much of the dialogue out.

Thanks to Retromedia for putting out such obscure fare, and at a bargain price, with the four movie set widely available on the Web for under $15. Let’s hope sales justify further such collections.

[Note: Assuming anyone is keeping track (or even reading these reviews), they will note that this is the third movie of four in the Forgotten Terrors collection. I sent it back at that point, because the last feature is Dead Men Walk, a George Zucco vampire film. The print on the Forgotten Terrors DVD looked typically lame, and I own the old Roan DVD, which presumably offers a far better presentation. So I'll probably give it a look, but from that source.]

6 Comments:

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Henry Brennan said...

I'm reading these reviews. Actually, I find it a nice change of pace whereby I'm assimilating some interesting obscure information. Something I really enjoy. It's great to be entertained with a witty (and lengthy) Jabootu treatment of some hideously deserving flick. However, it's nice to take a break and just read a synopsis of a film from days gone by. I find a strange comfort in that (go figure)Thanks, Ken.

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Mischa Auer was usually fun to watch, even when the movie wasn't. I looked up Arthur Housman on IMDB and DAMN did he play a lot of drunks.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

I do think it's kind of cool to see movies like this being released. Would I want to watch dozens or hundreds of them? Probably not, but at an hour a throw, they go down pretty easy.

Odious Comic Relief aside, of course.

Housman got to play zillions of drunks because after he established himself as a profession inebriate he generally only appeared in a scene or two. The star of the movie would enter a bar and bam, there was a blurry-eyed Arthur Housman. It is fun to look at his IMDB credits, though, and see "Drunk" appear about fifty times.

After flirting with such roles as "First Communist" in 1938's Youth Takes a Fling, Mr. Housman came into his own the next year, appearing as, variously, "Drunk next to Grandma"; "The drunk"; "The Drunk"; "Jonathon, a drunk"; "Drunk in Barroom"; "Drunk on Train"; and, mostly telling, "Drunk".

Hmm, think I'll add that to the review.

 
At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Tork_110 said...

Spiders. Why does it have to be spiders? Even when it has nothing to do with the movies.

 
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