Vintage Pulp Apr 7 2023
Belita always gets her man.

The poster above was made to promote the crime thriller The Hunted, which premiered today in 1948 starring Preston Foster and Belita, the British ice skater who carved out a film career after her 1936 Olympic appearance. Playing to type, Belita is a former ice skater paroled four years after being arrested by her cop boyfriend Foster, who refused to believe she wasn't involved in a diamond heist. In fury she promised to kill both him and her defense attorney, who she claimed betrayed her. Now freed, she goes back to Foster—literally sneaking through his apartment window—and tries to convince him of her innocence.

Foster is hard-boiled at first, but slowly begins to have doubts, then begins to fall in love again. Is Belita an innocent woman, or is she a psychopath who'll make good on her promise to kill her enemies? Our advice: never trust anyone who'll slither through your window. For that matter never trust anyone who threatens to kill you. But Belita seems to adjust well to being free, taking an ice skating job and behaving in exemplary fashion. Maybe the threat was a bluff, and she's innocent after all. Meanwhile Foster does that cop thing and digs into the old heist.

The Hunted is not a top effort. It's somewhat limply scripted, and Foster isn't exactly a furnace of charisma. The movie also plays on the tired trope (even then) of the slimy defense attorney. The movie's most serious flaw, for us, is Belita's attraction to one of the more undeserving lead males in cinema history. But we vintage movie buffs are used to that, right? The question that truly matters is whether the plotline keeps the viewer engaged, and on that score the movie succeeds, nudging it ever so slightly onto the positive side of the ledger.
As a side note, film noir fans with sharp eyes will notice that the movie borrows the coin flipping gimmick from Johnny O'Clock, though Foster is not nearly as good at it as Dick Powell. That goes for his acting too. But The Hunted has Belita, and moreover, it has her skating. She's graceful, fun to watch, and turns in a decent performance opposite her empty suit of a love interest. That isn't a ringing endorsement, but it's the best we can offer.

Vintage Pulp May 1 2016
The mystery happens on an island, alright. But the island is Manhattan.

We thought Bermuda Mystery would be an island adventure, a copycat To Have and Have Not, but not a single exterior scene takes place in Bermuda. The film is actually set in New York City. The mystery of the title refers to an offshore investment fund based in Bermuda and shared by six war vets. If any of the six die before the account comes to maturity the others split the extra, which in a modern storyteller's hands would be a recipe for a Tarantinoesque six-sided gun battle, but which in this film leads to the investors being bumped off one by one. Ann Rutherford plays the classic mid-century ditz role as the niece of the first victim who drags a private dick into the mystery to help her unmask the killer. Of course, romance eventually develops between ditz and dick, though he's engaged to another woman. “I told you I'd get him before this was over,” Rutherford says directly to the audience, winking. But it was obvious from the get-go. Marginally enjoyable if low budget. Bermuda Mystery premiered in the U.S. today in 1944. 


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 25
1939—Batman Debuts
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
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