Cast & Crew
Ray Brighton, a young, unemployed farm worker, meets Marko, an eccentric older man who years earlier discovered a gold mine in the mountains, which he and his partner did not chart. Marko's partner froze in a blizzard and after the storm cleared, Marko was unable to locate the mine again. Obsessed with rediscovering the mine, Marko has long sought help for his search, but rumors that he murdered his partner have kept local people away. Ray agrees to help Marko, despite warnings from the townspeople. Marko and Ray decide to split any gold they find and, with Ray's dog, Mike, begin the long ride into the mountains. Along the way, the men stop at Foley's, a small supply store, where Ray meets Peggy, a socially ostracized single mother who can only find work with the aging Foley at his remote store. When Marko notices Ray's interest in Peggy, he tells Ray about Peggy's bad reputation and cautions him to keep away from her. Marko takes Ray to a small, weather-beaten cabin, and soon the men begin their search for the mine shaft. Days pass with no results and Marko grows despondent, while Ray wonders if he is on a fool's errand. Peggy visits the men with more supplies and Ray asks her for a date, but she refuses. Several weeks later, Ray at last locates a boarded-up shaft, which Marko identifies as his gold mine. With the threat of winter looming, the men hasten the grueling work of mining the gold, and despite Ray's exhaustive efforts, Marko resents having agreed to split the gold with him and wonders how to get around it. Later, on a visit to Foley's, Marko helps Peggy fend off the unwanted advances of a man, and apologizes for having spoken badly about her. Back at the cabin, Marko hatches an idea to rid himself of Ray by using Peggy as bait. On the next visit to the supply store, Marko discovers Foley and Peggy quarreling about Foley's advances. Marko offers Peggy protection and over dinner proposes, explaining that he wants to give her a name and the opportunity to get her young son out of the children's home. Peggy agrees, and when she and Marko return to the cabin, Ray is stunned to learn they have married, but agrees to continue mining. As more weeks pass, Ray grows increasingly agitated about the cabin's close living quarters and Peggy's presence. Marko goads Ray about Peggy, suggesting that the younger man is in love with her. Winter comes and a heavy snow falls, delighting Ray and Peggy but leaving Marko anxious. When Marko chafes about Peggy's obvious affection for Ray, she assures both men that she intends to respect her wedding vows. Nevertheless, Peggy privately admits later her attraction to Ray, but insists that neither can act upon their feelings. Marko tries spying on the couple, hoping to catch them in a compromising situation, but when the dog, Mike, gives away his hiding place, he poisons the animal and makes it look like an accident. Over Christmas dinner, Ray suggests that the men rearrange their fifty-fifty split to include Peggy, but Marko balks. Sensing the rising tension between Ray and Peggy, Marko hides the salt supply in order to make a solitary trip to Foley's. Alone with Ray that evening, Peggy tells him about her son Charlie, and how rumors spread that she was unmarried because she wed a stranger, a soldier on furlough who was later killed. When Ray kisses her, Peggy insists they must restrain themselves. Ray reluctantly agrees, then while searching for tobacco to roll a cigarette, discovers the sack of salt and realizes Marko has lied. Ray also notices a spot of melted ice on the outside window and suspects that Marko is watching them. Ray orders Peggy to pretend to seduce him, and when Ray turns out the lamp, Marko bursts into the cabin with a gun. Marko jumps the older man and accuses him of setting a trap that would allow Marko to kill Ray and keep all of the gold. Peggy is stunned and agrees to leave with Ray the next day. The following morning, Ray divides the gold dust into three parts, but as he departs Marko attacks him. Ray throws Marko onto the floor, and he and Peggy depart as a snowstorm threatens. The stunned Marko comes to and, realizing that his leg is broken, calls for help, but Ray and Peggy are far away climbing toward the pass. Clutching the can of gold dust, Marko crawls outside into the storm calling for Peggy, then collapses and freezes to death just as Ray and Peggy reach the highway.
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Robert S. Eisen
Edward P. Fitzgerald
Nathan G. Scott
Samuel W. Taylor
Bait - Bait
Hugo Haas had been a comedy star in Czechoslovakia but was forced to flee when the Nazis invaded. After the war, he became a character actor and used his own money to finance his films, each with the similar theme of the middle-aged man tempted by the blonde bombshell. None of the films was very well received, and Haas was later dubbed "the foreign Ed Wood." Like Haas' other films, Bait is quasi-morality tale about a middle-aged man's fatal attraction for a blonde temptress. In it, Haas stars as Marko, a former miner who wants to locate the gold mine he and his late partner found, but did not put on a map. A young man named Ray (Agar) goes along with Haas to find the mine, despite warnings from people in town who believe Marko killed his partner. On route, the two stop at Foley's supply store and meet Peggy (Moore), a single mother with a bad reputation. Ray is attracted to Peggy, but Marko tells him that she's bad news. When the men discover the gold, the greedy Marko begins to regret offering to split it with Ray, and comes up with a plan to get rid of him for good, using Peggy as the bait.
The story for Bait was by Samuel W. Taylor, with Haas credited for additional dialogue. As it was a low-budget film, production only lasted from early to mid-June, 1953. Location work was done in Bronson Canyon, located in Griffith Park, just north of Hollywood. Haas and Moore had worked together in One Girl's Confession (1953) and Thy Neighbor's Wife (1953) under Haas' own production company, and distributed by Columbia Pictures, where Moore had been under contract since 1952. She had been brought to the studio in the hopes of becoming another Marilyn Monroe or another Rita Hayworth, who had been Columbia's brightest star of the 1940s. Moore's career lasted a few years without making much of an impact, beyond her turn as a gun moll in Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1951). When the studio signed Kim Novak as their "Great Blonde Hope", Moore found herself stuck making "B" pictures, and her contract was dropped in 1956.
When Bait was released in February 1954, it was trashed by the critics. "B.C." (likely veteran film critic Bosley Crowther) of The New York Times wrote a very short review of the film, in which he eviscerated it. "The brevity of the title of Bait [...] is a fair indication of the brevity of everything else in this film." The story was "pitifully meager", and the acting "leanly and laughingly done by Hugo Haas, who produced and directed, John Agar, and Cleo Moore. And it is charitably completed by the comparative brevity of the film, which is the one shining virtue of it. We return the favor with this review."
Cleo Moore ended up retiring from films in 1957 and became a successful businesswoman and mother before her untimely death from a heart attack at the age of only 48 in 1973. Hugo Haas returned to character acting until a few years before his death in 1968.
By Lorraine LoBianco
B.C. "Bait: The Screen in Review" The New York Times 24 Feb 55
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Bait - Bait
TCM Remembers - John Agar
Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.
Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.
Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.
By Lang Thompson
DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002
Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.
Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)
Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.
However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - John Agar
The working title for this film was Fever. Before the opening credits, actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke appears in a suit and bowler hat in a dark room, lit only by a spotlight, and signs autographs for a small crowd. Introducing himself as the Devil, he explains that he will demonstrate how he operates, then goes into a projection booth and begins the main part of the film. Hardwicke provides sporadic voice-over narration throughout the picture, goading "Marko" on.