Waterfront (1944)

July 3, 2011


J. Carrol Naish, John Carradine, and Maris Wrixon star in the P.R.C. production directed by Steve Sekely. The eerie, creepy, foggy film opens in a San Francisco waterfront with a seemingly innocent optometrist being robbed but denies he was to the police. We learn later that Dr. Decker (Naish) and Victor Marlow (Carradine) are really German spies and what was stolen was a very important German code book that Marlow is willing to kill for to get it back. The creepy Marlow kills three people and reigns terror in a boarding house he is staying in. His drawing, a nervous habit, reveals his identity and he is captured in a shootout at the end of the film. What started out as something really good slipped into the ordinary category by the end of the picture. The picture quality is below average, the audio noisy, and the film score nothing to write home about. This was one is available for sale from Alpha Video (ALP 4297D) or you can watch on the Internet Archive. http://www.archive.org/details/waterfront  (**1/2)



With the success of The Devil Bat (1940) the budget minded PRC decided to remake it this time with a Quetzalcoatl, a rare reptilian bird from the ancient Aztec legend that would be attracted to one of his feathers.  I don’t have to tell you the severe consequences if you had one. George Zucco got top billing in this one as Professor Forbes who uses this feather knowledge to protect the Aztec treasure he found. Wheaton Chambers, Ralph Lewis, and Hope Kramer provided supporting roles. It was nice to see Zucco get a role with the majority of the lines in a picture even though the budget was even smaller than usual. He is a fine actor and I’ve enjoyed him the twenty years he acted, mainly in ‘B’ movies and a lot of them in the horror genre for Universal, Monogram, and PRC. He was a fine Professor Moriarity in the 20th Century Fox film “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” the first film which paired Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone. It featured a pretty awful monster, no special effects (you could see wires), and the suit and tie syndrome in the desert and ruins. There was a “doodle bug,” a gold finder that really put a smile on my face as well as comedy from a radio show owner and his employee who was sent out to investigate the strange happenings. Zucco gets caught with a feather in the end and we know what happened to him along with a happy ending. The soundtrack from Leo Erdody was quite generic and did little more than fill the holes when underscore was needed. I’ve included an audio clip of the main title and introduction. This film is available to watch for free on the internet archive and available for purchase at a reasonable cost from Alpha Video (IMG5370D). http://www.archive.org/details/THEFLYINGSERPENT1945_5 . If you’re a horror fan you want to see this strictly for George Zucco. (**1/2).