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SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

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Dewey1960
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SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Dewey1960 » March 12th, 2009, 9:29 am

One of Hollywood’s strangest concoctions finally makes its way onto the TCM lineup this Friday night (the 13th, no less): Edward Dein’s 1955 minimalist masterpiece of Cold War weirdness, SHACK OUT ON 101.

A dilapidated seaside diner just north of San Diego is the setting for this outré noir tale about a group of disparate folks who become either directly or peripherally involved with Commie spies and stolen microfilm. The unforgettable cast includes Keenan Wynn as the diner’s proprietor, a man obsessed with his “pecs” and always at odds with Lee Marvin as Slob, the animalistic short-order cook who’s obsessed with va-va-voom Terry Moore who drives all the guys wild as the put-upon waitress who seems to only have eyes for Frank Lovejoy, “the professor” (of what we’re not exactly sure) and Whit Bissell as the annoyingly chatty salesman who wanders in and out of the picture whenever a couple of uninterrupted minutes of bizarre banter is required.

This is not a normal film in any true sense of the word. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and, apart from aligning itself with the then current trend of pseudo patriotic, anti-communist espionage films, it isn’t easy to guess what was really on the minds of those who produced this delirious little oddity. At times hilarious (possibly intentional, possibly not) and grimly somber, SHACK OUT ON 101 defies rational description and should most definitely be experienced at least once, or in the case with some of us, as often as humanly possible.

Here’s a typical scene between Wynn and Marvin which should give you some
idea as to what these guys are up to:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLfmqzQeSsA[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 12th, 2009, 5:30 pm

I'll be recording this. Thanks for the heads up!

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby ChiO » March 13th, 2009, 8:59 am

Slob is on my schedule, too.

What about the movie that follows, NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON (1973)? Or, is the title better than the film?
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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Dewey1960 » March 13th, 2009, 9:17 am

NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON?
Don't know it, but am looking forward to an informal introduction.

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 16th, 2009, 7:09 am

Only my first viewing, but I thought Lee Marvin was amazing in this and all the other characters were lively and well fleshed out. The plot is a bit muddled and essentially only uses one set and a couple of rooms, but there's a lot of things on the stove. I need to watch this one a couple more times. My initial thought was a bit underwhelming, but the players and their persona's are still etched in my mind.

klondike

Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby klondike » March 16th, 2009, 9:27 am

Mr. Arkadin wrote:Only my first viewing, but I thought Lee Marvin was amazing in this and all the other characters were lively and well fleshed out. The plot is a bit muddled and essentially only uses one set and a couple of rooms, but there's a lot of things on the stove. I need to watch this one a couple more times. My initial thought was a bit underwhelming, but the players and their persona's are still etched in my mind.


I think you've scored an unforeseen "20" on this dartboard, Mr. A; though I missed this old fave last Friday, I've been fortunate enough to catch it on 4 other occasions spaced out about evenly over the past 11 years, and each time there's a little something more I notice about what's going on in every other scene, Marvin's lines get more loopy (and a wee bit more thompsonesque-purple), and I wind up feeling a slightly stronger sense of nostalgia for that shoddy little beanery by the time the end titles start rolling.
And I often find myself wondering if Ms. Moore (actually, Mrs. Hughes by then) was lonesome for a certain Mr. Joseph Young of Africa, by the time she got done with Lee & Keenan!
An old acquaintance whom I introduced to this little gem summed it up best, I think: "It's sort of like Tennessee Williams on a daiquiri bender, with a stomach flu, trying to write a Phil Marlowe novelet."

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Ollie » March 23rd, 2009, 4:20 pm

klondike wrote:"It's sort of like Tennessee Williams on a daiquiri bender, with a stomach flu, trying to write a Phil Marlowe novelet."

I enjoyed this film's performances more than the film itself. But I think THIS line is the best of all!. Thanks, K.

I've been trying to collect a lot of the '50s Red Scare-Red Menace films. THE FLYING SAUCER is one of those oddities, too, certainly billed as a Sci Fi but is pure Commie Pinko baiting. Just not as much fun as a cast with Lee Marvin, Whit Bissell, Lovejoy and Keenan in it. They would have helped a LOT of films, I suspect, even FLYING SAUCER.

klondike

Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby klondike » March 23rd, 2009, 6:30 pm

Ollie wrote:
I've been trying to collect a lot of the '50s Red Scare-Red Menace films. THE FLYING SAUCER is one of those oddities, too, certainly billed as a Sci Fi but is pure Commie Pinko baiting. Just not as much fun as a cast with Lee Marvin, Whit Bissell, Lovejoy and Keenan in it. They would have helped a LOT of films, I suspect, even FLYING SAUCER.


Good point, Ollie; first one of that genre that jumped to my mind as suffering from too limp a cast was the otherwise quite strong Red Planet Mars, from '52.
Have you ever caught it? It's very clever, and tends to use some of the best "known science" of the era, with some very thought-provoking scenarios, and willikers, what a whiz-bang premise: God is trying to communicate (apparently from Mars) with some cool Californian planetarium geniuses, but the boys in Moscow are employing an evil ex-Nazi lurking in the Andes to snafu everything for the virtuous Americans. Strong early role for Jimmy Arness' bro Peter Graves, who gets to voice a lot of smart, grown-up dialogue, but outside of stalwart Morris Ankrum, the rest of the cast are all C & D listers.

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby moira finnie » March 24th, 2009, 3:49 pm

Red Planet Mars was great! I love the religious-alien mix in that one, which is out on dvd. Can't wait to see them again. Let's not forget the weird Russian-sci-fi mix in the Paul Douglas movie The Gamma People (1956) either!

Ollie, for more earthbound red menace movies, did you see that I Was a Communist for the FBI with Frank Lovejoy is one of the movies coming out of the WB archive collection? I haven't seen that one or the bizarre My Son John in ages. Can't wait to see them again. The Iron Curtain (1948) with Dana Andrews is one of the first red menace movies and one of best of the breed too, btw. It shows up once in awhile on FMC.
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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby Ollie » March 24th, 2009, 7:09 pm

OH GREAT! You reminded me - RED PLANET MARS! YES! I couldn't remember the name of it, but it's another great film using a sci-fi moniker cloaking the red-menace theme. Great.

I don't know Paul Douglas' THE GAMMA PEOPLE. I gotta get it, though!

As for I WAS A COMMIE FOR FBI, I've never seen the film but I'm a huge fan of the Dana Andrews radio series. Are you familiar? It's great. If you don't have it, I can't recommend it enough - it's just terrific. Not great, but fun fun fun... Daddy won't even take the T-bird away! (If anyone wants a set of these 50-odd 30-minute MP3s, these are truly public domain and can - and SHOULD - be passed out to anyone interested. Just PM me.)

It's sort of formulaic, in the same way all murder mysteries are. For murder mysteries, there seems to be two avenues of story-telling: (1) the audience sees the crime and killer, and then we watch the cops to see if they can discover all this evidence; or (2) the killer's unknown and we're searching along with the cops.

In I WAS A COMMIE radio, the question is always, "How is Dana going to get this week's commie plotters arrested yet extricate himself so his 'controllers' don't suspect him and re-assign him for next week's plot?" This is usually a 'last few moments' solution - and quite funny at times. The series also makes me wonder, "Who's really the enemies - the commie pinkos or the drum-beaters pretending to be on the US Patriotic Side? Who's doing more real harm?"

jdb1

Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby jdb1 » October 3rd, 2009, 1:09 pm

I recorded it last night and just finished watching it for the first time. What a good movie.

You are all so right in saying that it is hard to characterize this one, but I'd say it's a terrific example of how the right direction, script and cast can turn a D List cheapie filler into a film worth watching. I thought the script was surprisingly literate, noirish, and very funny in places. No question that every actor concerned gave his all for this one, and they turned in performances that would have been right at home on the A List. I thought even Terry Moore, not a favorite of mine, was quite good here. There is really very little action in this movie, and most of it takes place in a single room, and yet there is the sensation of a brisk pace and a noir/thriller tempo. I'm glad I recorded it, because I have a feeling I'm going to want to watch it more than once.

Why, oh why did Keenan Wynn never win an Oscar?? His little scene declaring his love for Moore was absolutely wonderful. It made me sigh that sigh that ladies sigh.

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby CineMaven » October 3rd, 2009, 6:00 pm

I also saw "SHACK OUT ON 101" for the first time last night (10/2/2009). I didn't know WHAT the heck to expect and was thoroughly entertained. That barbell scene was hilariously gay-friendly. I mean, what did the director tell each actor was their characters' motivation or inner life in that scene. And I didn't know Keenan Wynn was so burly. (Yum-meee!) My favorite films of his are "Easy To Wed" and "The Hucksters." Love this guy. I don't think there was anyone more at ease or natural in front of the camera (or vaudeville trunk) than Keenan Wynn. And yes...when he expresses his love for Terry Moore that was truly touching.

Lee Marvin.

What can I say about Lee Marvin? He's...he's...he's just...Lee Marvin. I didn't know he had that bent of humor. (This is way before "Cat Ballou"). He's just so loosy goosy in this...in the beginning. But in the end...he really turned into the Lee Marvin I know and love: brutal. When he batted around l'il Terry Moore, it looked real and intense. She was pretty much a rag doll in his hands and when he smashed her against the window...my jaw dropped. Boy I'd love to see him face off against Robert Mitchum or Robert Ryan on their BEST day. I think Lee Marvin is still under-rated.

Terry Moore and Frank Lovejoy didn't ignite any sparks in my heart. Why didn't they go with two more compelling leads. Maybe Ralph Meeker and someone else. But Whit Bissell is always a fave of mine (love his voice). When I see him I smile and go: "Whit!"

For those of you who missed it last night...I hope you get a chance to see it whenever its next go round hits at TCM. It's really kind of in a class by itself.

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby JackFavell » October 3rd, 2009, 6:56 pm

I can't think of anyone I would more like to see get batted around by Lee Marvin, than Terry Moore....

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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby CineMaven » October 3rd, 2009, 7:29 pm

HA!!! Girl, you got jokes I see. :D
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Re: SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13

Postby jdb1 » October 4th, 2009, 6:48 pm

CM, I think your analysis is right on the money. I, too, was not very involved in the Lovejoy-Moore thing. In fact, I thought that Lovejoy was actually the weak link in this otherwise excellent cast. That being said, I suppose his was, after all, the weak link role in the story -- the mystery man whose loyalties are never known until the end, and who therefore couldn't really be himself. He was something of a cold fish throughout, even in those non-smoldering clinches. Moore would have been much better off with Wynn.

As for Marvin battering Moore: that to me was the weakest link of all. If this dame was so feisty, why was she just standing there letting this creep clobber, and eventually strangle her? And if he was such a dangerous brute, how come she got back up without a scratch? And why, in the first place, if she was such a smart cookie, did she confront Slob on her own, with no one to back her up? In 1956 we accepted such damsel-in-distress scenarios without a murmur. Now they look hopelessly wrongheaded and outdated to me.


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