Answer Man

Tracking down old B-movies can be a challenge

Q: I am trying to track down some probably B movies from my younger days. First, a post-WWII (or Civil War) film about war buddies who upon discharge pledge to always help if one of them sends the others a card with the words “Come runnin’.” Probably 1950 to 1956. Second, a movie from the same time period about Sunday dinners together forever. Finally, a hurricane-themed movie about a hurricane hunter and the flight in and out of the eye, perhaps starring Richard Widmark or Alan Ladd.

Chuck Wallace, of O’Fallon

A: Well, as Meat Loaf likes to sing, I hope two out of three ain’t bad.

First, Richard Widmark was definitely at the center of the storm in the 1949 drama “Slattery’s Hurricane.” Co-written by Herman Wouk, who would win the Pulitzer for “The Caine Mutiny” two years later, the flick stars Widmark as Will Slattery, who leaves the Navy after being disciplined instead of decorated for his role in a dangerous mission.

His girlfriend, Dolores (Veronica Lake), urges him to hire on as a private pilot for candy magnate R.J. Milne (Walter Kingsford). He enjoys a comfortable life until he bumps into an old Navy flying pal (John Russell), who just happens to be married to an old flame of Slattery’s (Linda Darnell). Eventually, the movie turns into a soap opera of the highest magnitude complete with a love triangle, a smuggling ring, a pilot too pickled to fly when ordered to investigate a hurricane and a plane that develops engine problems.

Considering it’s a 1950s-era movie, you can probably guess the outcome. (During the pre-production phase, Dolores’ drug addiction was changed to a psychiatric condition and overt adultery scenes were tamed into innuendo and “suggestive” actions, per the Hollywood Production Code at the time.) In the end, critics found critical plot points to strain credulity but praised Widmark’s performance as better “than the role deserves.”

I am going to hazard a guess that film No. 2 might be “Chicken Every Sunday,” a slight comedic farce from 1949 starring Dan Dailey and Celeste Holm.

In Arizona of 1910, Emily Hefferen (Holm) is seeking a divorce from Jim (Dailey). When her lawyer asks why, she unloads a 20-year history of her husband’s moneymaking schemes, all of which eventually fail. To keep the family afloat, Emily has to continually add rooms to the family house so she take in more paying boarders. The final straw comes when Jim takes out a second mortgage to buy a copper mine, only to learn, of course, the only thing in the mine is lots of water. Again, it’s 1950 and it’s a comedy, so you can probably rely on a gushy, “It’s-A-Wonderful-Life” ending.

Critics loved the farce and the wholesome ma-loves-pa core, but that as a whole it was poorly directed and quickly becomes a bit monotonous. However, far be it from me to dissuade you from reliving a bit of your younger days, so you can easily buy copies of both at amazon.com

Alas, I haven’t a clue about the third. I’ve tried searching numerous combinations of plot descriptions and titles without the slightest success, so I’m hoping one of my cinematic mavens out there will come runnin’ with an answer.

Today’s trivia

What future national park was first noticed because it whistled?

Answer to Sunday’s trivia: When King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden invaded Bavaria in 1632 during the Thirty Years’ War, he threatened to sack and burn the entire city of Munich. But, as one popular story goes, he was a fan of the Malbock wheat beer produced by the Hofbräuhaus brewery in Munich. So, after much negotiation, he agreed to leave the city intact if the citizens released their hostages — and hand over some 600,000 barrels of Hofbräuhaus beer.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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