All Fall Down (1962)

All Fall Down
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Written by William Inge from a novel by James Leo Herlihy
John Houseman Productions
First viewing/Amazon Instant

Berry-Berry Willart: How do you know I’m not some dangerous maniac that goes around killing beautiful women like you?

Mrs. Mandel: [Slight pause, then chuckles coyly] Well, in that case, I won’t have to take a sleeping pill tonight.

I took quite a liking to this black comedy/coming-of-age story, largely because of the wonderful cast and acting.

As the film begins, teenager Clint Willart (Brandon de Wilde) is taking a bus to Florida with $200 of his hard-earned cash to set up his idol, brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty), up in business.  When he gets there, he needs the money to bail his brother out of jail, where he has landed for beating up a stripper.  Berry-Berry is a babe-magnet who has no difficulty quickly landing a rich woman with the cash to finance him for the foreseeable future and send Clint back to his parents .

Clint returns to Ohio to his very odd household.  Every member shares a kind of hero-worship for old Berry-Berry.  But parents Ralph (Karl Malden) and Annabell (Angela Lansbury) are also deluded in many, many other ways.  Shortly, they receive a visit from the quirky old-maid daughter of one of Annabell’s friends, Echo O’Brien (Eva-Marie Saint). It is love at first sight for Clinton.

Unfortunately for everybody concerned, Berry-Berry decides to make it a brief family reunion for Christmas.  Inevitably, Echo falls for him – hard.

I was enjoying this just to watch Lansbury and Malden’s fun performances as the Willarts but it grew in depth toward the end until it captured my heart.  The main draw is the writing and characters, though.  They are unlike anything I have really seen before.  The movie looks beautiful too.  Recommended.

Trailer – this is a promotion for Beatty but he has far less screen time than de Wilde

Premature Burial (1962)

Premature Burial
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles Beaumont and Ray Russell from the story by Edgar Allen Poe
Roger Corman Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Guy Carrell: Can you possibly conceive it? The unendurable oppression of the lungs, the stifling fumes of the earth, the rigid embrace of the coffin, the blackness of absolute night and the silence, like an overwhelming sea.

Took a horror film out of sequence in celebration of Halloween.  It could have been scarier.

As the movie starts, Guy Carrell (Ray Milland) witnesses a grave robbery.  The coffin has scratch marks from the inside.  This traumatic event causes Guy to obsess on the death of his own father from catalepsy and conviction that he was buried alive.  Sister Catherine (Heather Angel) assures him that this is not true but he is not comforted.  Guy begins a morbid quest to insure that he is not the victim of his father’s fate.

In the meantime, he marries the much younger Emily (Hazel Court).  When Guy starts seeing things, Emily gives him an ultimatum.  It’s his foolproof burial chamber or her …

This is Roger Corman in his gothic mode with Ray Milland subbing for Vincent Price.  I like Milland but I felt like he was over-acting, odd since I enjoy Price’s hamming.  There are quite a few built-in scares and jump shots toward the end but nothing that got to me. Corman does make an Ozu-like (well, sort of) use of the color red which I found interesting.

My favorite part was to see Milland and Heather Angel together again after 25 years.  She was Phyllis to his Bulldog Drummond in Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937).  Milland made one of the better Bulldogs in the series and she was always good as his long-suffering fiancee.