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Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/4 - Schlockmeister

Last night MeTV, 33 on Cablevision in NYC, ran an obscure horror film that has a great pedigree on its Svengoolie program. The Night Walker (1964), shot in glorious black and white, is a psychological thriller about a woman suffering nightmares. Two of Hollywood's all-time greats, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, who were once married to each other, star. It was the former Ruby Stevens', a Brooklyn girl, last big screen role before she turned to TV full time. The screenplay was by Robert Block, the author of Psycho, the novel on which the classic 1960 film is based. He wrote 17 episodes of the two series produced by Alfred Hitchcock, 10 of the Boris Karloff-hosted Thriller and three of Star Trek, among many others. The creepy score of The Night Walker was done by a Brooklyn boy, Vic Mizzy, who made a mint in royalties as the composer of the theme for The Addams Family. The producers of that wacky series didn't want to pay for singers to record the song, so Mizzy overdubbed his own voice three times to make it sound like a group! Finally, the flick was directed by schlockmeister William Castle, who crammed a lot in his 63 years on planet Earth. His previous effort, Straight-Jacket (1964), also features a Tinseltown legend, Joan Crawford. Castle was acting on Broadway at 15 and in the movies in 1937. IMDb has 65 titles listed under his name as director, 24 as producer, 18 as actor and seven as writer. His most notable work is probably Rosemary's Baby (1964), for which he served as producer. The studio heads would not allow him to direct because of his reputation as a B movie hack. Here's a quote attributed to him: "We all have a common interest: bigger and more horrible monsters--and I'm just the monster to bring them to you."

The college football playoff is set, and for the first time in its brief history there is no real controversy of a deserving team being left out in the cold. Alabama will play Washington, and Ohio St. will play Clemson. Given the Crimson Tide's dominance during the regular season, I would be very surprised if they do not win another national championship.

Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf this weekend. He had two good rounds and two bad, finishing four under, 15th in a field of 18. I wonder if he chose this tournament for his return because there was no chance of the embarrassment of missing the cut. I doubt he'll recapture his former excellence, but I'd bet he'll win again, perhaps even a major.

My thanks to Dan, a young man two years sober, who bought Killing, and also to the couple who purchased a cook book and to the woman who bought a romance by Barbara Taylor Bradford.
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