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SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955) TCM Fri 3/13


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One of Hollywood?s strangest concoctions finally makes its way onto the TCM lineup this Friday night (the 13th, no less): Edward Dein?s 1955 minimalist masterpiece of Cold War weirdness, *SHACK OUT ON 101*.

 

A dilapidated seaside diner just north of San Diego is the setting for this outr? noir tale about a group of disparate folks who become either directly or peripherally involved with Commie spies and stolen microfilm. The unforgettable cast includes *Keenan Wynn* as the diner?s proprietor, a man obsessed with his ?pecs? and always at odds with *Lee Marvin* as Slob, the animalistic short-order cook who?s obsessed with va-va-voom *Terry Moore* who drives all the guys wild as the put-upon waitress who seems to only have eyes for *Frank Lovejoy*, ?the professor? (of what we?re not exactly sure) and *Whit Bissell* as the annoyingly chatty salesman who wanders in and out of the picture whenever a couple of uninterrupted minutes of bizarre banter is required.

 

This is not a normal film in any true sense of the word. It doesn?t make a whole lot of sense and, apart from aligning itself with the then current trend of pseudo patriotic, anti-communist espionage films, it isn?t easy to guess what was really on the minds of those who produced this delirious little oddity. At times hilarious (possibly intentional, possibly not) and grimly somber, *SHACK OUT ON 101* defies rational description and should most definitely be experienced at least once, or in the case with some of us, as often as humanly possible.

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Maybe as an insurance salesman -- then it could have been the back story for The World's Greatest Sinner.

 

If only Carey and Marvin could have been in a movie together...maybe with Brando.

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Red mused: *Wonder how it was received when it first came out.*

 

Hey there, Red. You know, the vast majority of B films released by Hollywood in the 40s and 50s received little or no attention in the press, save some dismissive or condescending mention in less than one paragraph at the bottom of the column. I'm sure whatever scant acknowledgment it did get was probably negative; SHACK OUT certainly wasn't a "critics' movie" back in 1955. Today, film writers (not reviewers or self-proclaimed mainstream critics) fall all over themselves trying to anoint previously disparaged B films in an attempt to solidify their reputations as savvy cineastes. It's a funny world, isn't it?

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Nice lobby card of the Slob. I have one with Lovejoy and Moore hiding under the counter.

 

Such a special movie.

 

As to reception: Correct me if I'm wrong, Dewey, but weren't attendance records kept so that a ticket sold for a double feature was attributed to both movies? Whatever the case, it is hard for me to imagine that there were too many people going to the double feature because this was playing.

 

I recall reading somewhere (IMDb maybe) that the original title was Shack Up on 101, but Ms. Moore forced the change because she didn't want people to get the wrong impression of the content.

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Thank you, ChiO.

 

I wonder if there's any easy way to find out what the other film on such a double bill might have been. Would it have had to be another Allied Artists title? Or could it have been from any studio?

 

And wasn't Allied Artists just a new name for the old Monogram, or am I getting it mixed up with something else altogether?

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I stumbled across this thread while looking for what might have been previously posted about "Double Indemnity". Interesting stuff.

 

Red, for what it's worth, I looked up Monogram on wikipedia and it does appear that Monogram Pictures did, in fact, change its name to Allied Artists in the mid-50s.

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Hey there, redriver: That's an interesting correlation betwixt *SHACK OUT* and *BUS STOP.* Both pictures are pretty talky and a bit gamey. Of the two, though, I'll take *SHACK OUT.* I had no idea Wynn's son posted here.

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*I had no idea Wynn's son posted here.*

 

Dewey,

 

It was at least two years ago that Ned Wynn was here. It was great to have both him and LarryVecchio posting about growing up in old Hollywood. Sadly, both posters have left the board.

 

Here's a link to Ned's thread. Beware, if you are Van Johnson fan. For personal reasons he makes very clear, Ned does not have a high opinion of Van Johnson.

 

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?messageID=7830481

 

(Special thanks to Kyle in Hollywood for the tip on how to make the search function here work more effectively.)

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