Cast & Crew
Frank De Kova
Destitute Dora Garbin, who can no longer earn a living even as a prostitute, jumps off a bridge, and is dismayed to be rescued from the water by a passerby. She stumbles home, where a fortune-teller outside her apartment predicts that she will live a long life and find love. Before she enters the apartment, she overhears two women discussing the dawn hanging of murderer Joe Cardos. Joe has refused any legal representation, last rites or a visit by his sister Clara, who nevertheless waits in the warden's office. At the jail, the warden and the guard agree that most men break down the night before their execution, but Joe remains gruff and abusive to the prison staff. By midnight, however, Joe calls to the warden that he has changed his mind and now wants, as his last wish, a girl with whom to spend the night. By law, the warden must grant the wish, and so sends two detectives to find a woman. They visit the local brothels and dance houses, but no one will risk spending time with a murderer. Just as they are about to give up, one woman remembers that Dora is desperate for money and will probably comply. The detectives find her, still wet and despondent, in her apartment, where she has just received an eviction notice. Realizing that the $200 fee will pay for a decent funeral, Dora accepts the job and dons her old dance-hall gown. When they arrive at the jail, Joe reacts with disdain to the bedraggled, sad Dora, but requisitions her some soup to eat. With only five hours left before his execution, she offers to leave, but he brusquely orders her to stay. Joe asks Dora why she is not afraid of him, and in response she begs him to kill her. Disgusted, he insults her, but she remains implacable. Later, they eat together, and although Joe sneers when Dora informs him that she reads poetry, he listens quietly as she reads a poem aloud. Although it sustains her, she explains, she needs someone with whom to share its beauty. Joe states that Dora needs to smile, and she tells him that she has never smiled, and this gloominess has cost her friends, lovers and jobs. Joe leaves to use the rest room, and when he returns, Dora has straightened her hair, removed her coat and applied lipstick, and Joe is stunned by her prettiness. She urges him to dance, and after he spits at the offer, she deduces that his toughness is only a mask against fear. The more she analyzes and pities him, the more furious Joe grows, but under her ministrations, he finally admits that he believes his sentence to be unfair. He describes the events that led up to his arrest: Joe's best friend, charismatic Paolo, sets him up for jail sentences every time one of their schemes goes awry. One day, Paolo introduces Joe to Annie, and Joe falls deeply in love with her. When she and Paolo urge Joe to pull off a dangerous robbery, he complies, only to be caught. In jail, he discovers that Paolo and Annie have spurned him and are lovers. In a rage, Joe breaks out and strangles them both. He finishes his story by declaring to Dora that he has never once cried, not even when his mother died or his father beat him. Touched, Dora urges Joe to cry, revealing that she will cry when she leaves, because she wishes she had met him years earlier. Joe shouts at her, but she continues to push him to cry, and after he grows so incensed that he slaps her, he breaks down and sobs in her lap. When he looks up, she is smiling, and they embrace. Later, he describes a dream in which the gallows break, an occurrence which would by law grant him a reprieve, and prison bells ring to announce his survival. Now gentle and loving, Joe informs Dora that, with her love, he will not be afraid to die. They dance, but are interrupted by the warden and priest. Joe begs the priest to marry him and Dora, and although it is against church rules, the priest finally agrees. Clara enters the cell to act as a witness, and Joe kisses her forehead. The priest offers Joe forgiveness, and then marries the couple, but immediately after, the guards lead Joe to the gallows. Dora and Clara kneel at the nearby altar, and as they pray for a miracle, Dora hears the prison bells ring.
Frank De Kova
Sidney B. Cutner
Henry De Mond
Louis A. Phillippi
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 of this film was No Tomorrow. Hugo Haas's opening credit reads: "Written, produced and directed by Hugo Haas." In July 1955, Hollywood Reporter noted that Haas, who produced Hold Back Tomorrow in December 1954 without a distributor, had earned a Production Code seal "after five months of dickering." An August 1955 Los Angeles Times article reports that Universal bought the film outright. According to a December 1954 Daily Variety article, Haas borrowed John Agar from Universal for the production. A December 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Carolee Kelly, Marjorie Bennett and Joan Danton to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.