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A Fever in the Blood - interesting political film


FredCDobbs
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Hmm, even with the murder at the beginning, this film started out very slow. But gradually it began to build up as a political film, then it turned into a murder trial, then it turned into both a murder trial AND a political film. By then, then it became a tense courtroom drama.

 

Wow, this was a very interesting unknown film from 1961.

 

Did anyone else like it?

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054873/

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I've been curious to see it again - I saw it way back in 1961. It's the kind of thing that was relatively ignored in 1961, being a WB film with the cast consisting mostly of actors from their TV shows of the period.

 

Were it Henry Fonda in the Efrem Zimbalist part and Richard Widmark in the Jack Kelly role, maybe it would have been revived more often. There's quite a few of these WB films with similar TV casts, such as WALL OF NOISE, PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER and GOLD OF THE SEVEN SAINTS that I saw as a kid that have rarely aired since the 70s.

 

Universal is another studio hiding so many of its potboilers from the 50s and 60s and so many stars went from the Big U to WB. Jack Kelly, Ray Danton, Richard Long, Grant Williams, Troy Donahue, Rex Reason and William Reynolds come to mind immediately. I guess it was worth it for Warners, picking up trained and exposed talent, probably at distress prices. ;)

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Yes, you are right. I would like the film better with a bigger-name cast of classic actors. These guys were good but they all looked like TV actors of that era.

 

But I think the script was very interesting.

 

One thing that was interesting was that we get to see the killer in the beginning, but since he is an unknown actor at that time, and he looks very average, he looks like one or two other unknown actors who are also in the movie, and I couldn't figure out which one did it until the end, even though I saw the guy who did it. :)

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I agree this was a very interesting film, with an intelligent script and Vincent Sherman's competent direction to keep it moving right along. It does have some major movie stars, like Herbert Marshall and Don Ameche, though they are in supporting roles. I thought the rest of the cast, character actors like Jesse White, Parley Baer and Carroll O'Connor, were fabulous.

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{font:Times New Roman}I liked the movie’s story but it was obvious than it was not made as an “A” picture. It was b&w, and the writers and actors were, as you say, all from TV. It was not a big success so the studio had an excuse for keeping these folks on the TV rather than movie sets. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman}I did like Efrem Zambalist, Jr. as Judge Hoffman; along with Dom Ameche he was the most believable of the actors. He always had an air of dignity in this kind of role that made you forget he was acting. You knew the Judge had to be nominated by the end; the fun was waiting to see how and watching Callahan have done to him what he’d been doing to everyone else. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman}The supporting actors were good and as we all know White, Baer and O’Connor would go on to bigger things as the decade progressed. And of course there was Angie Dickinson who did her best with what she had to work with. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman}FredC, I immediately recognized Robert Colbert, who was doing a lot of work for WB then, as the murderer but didn’t see anybody else who resembled him in the film. I thought his playing the man as a fearful neurotic rather than a swaggering bluffer was different and made the story more realistic.

{font}{font:Times New Roman}

I'd wanted to see this movie for a long time; now that I have it’s on to the next one on my wish list. {font}

 

 

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I immediately recognized Robert Colbert, who was doing a lot of work for WB then, as the murderer but didn’t see anybody else who resembled him in the film.

 

Well, the man on trial, Rhodes Reason, was of similar height and coloring. What would have been great would be if Rex Reason played the killer, one can barely tell those two guys apart but they weren't twins.

 

I remember that back in those days, Robert Colbert seemed to be on 77 SUNSET STRIP and HAWAIIAN EYE fairly often as a suspect. There was a fair amount of press when he was signed on to play Brent Maverick, with his resemblance to James Garner noted in a few NYC papers, but he made but two episodes and the show was canned. If he's known for anything these days, it's THE TIME TUNNEL.

 

 

I agree about Efrem Zimbalist, there was something inherently decent about him and he had a nice run of over a decade on WB-produced shows. He even got to play Audrey Hepburn's husband in WAIT UNTIL DARK, so in that regard, he had a better career than most of those WB TV stars, except for James Garner.

 

 

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Zimbalist has a strong supporting role as Richard Conte's brother in 1949's HOUSE OF STRANGERS at Fox. So he was making movies long before his television career was underway. His successes on TV probably overshadow his accomplishments in feature films, but on some level and for some time, he was a movie star.

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I'd say that Zimbalist was an actor, but hardly a "star." That's not a knock, I stayed up to watch HOUSE OF STRANGERS on WNTA in 1960 because he was in it and 77 SUNSET STRIP was my favorite show. But then and now, I can't say that it was a "strong" supporting role.

 

It took him another eight years after STRANGERS (not until 1957) to land another movie role, which coincided with the start of his TV career and when was he ever given top billing in a theatrical feature?

 

 

Thus, he made *one* movie "long before his television career was underway." That's not my definition of a movie star.

 

 

 

 

 

Yet I do have an autographed photo of him from 1961.

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I really enjoyed this movie and had never heard of it before. Nice performances

by everyone, especially Angie Dickinson (and I don't think I have ever said that

before!!) What a cast of soon-to-be TV stars!

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I wonder how much of an affect it had on these actors' abbreviated movie careers that this film was released at just about the time of the demise of the old studio system and their lack of finances and clout by then to "make movie stars" out of actors...WB in this case?!

 

I'd guess that this might be one reason for the somewhat lackluster career of Jack Kelly, who as evidenced in this film was a pretty darn good actor(and far more "natural" than the somewhat wooden Zimbalist in every scene) but who within a decade of this film's release would be doing gameshow hosting duties on TV.

 

(...btw...I liked this film overall...and yep, it kinda reminded me of the films THE BEST MAN and ADVICE AND CONSENT)

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Gotta say, Zimbalist was one good lookin' young man, alright. Too bad however, like I said right below there, the guy was also usually pretty darn "wooden" as an actor, which probably served him well during those mid-to-late 1960s years when he was starring in Quinn Martin's TV series "The F.B.I.".

 

(...them there federal agents always have to be of the "stoic" and "just the facts, ma'm" type, ya know) ;)

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To get a different perspective of the man, you would have to see an episode of 77 SUNSET STRIP titled "Once upon a Caper."

 

Somewhat influenced by RASHOMON, the story has the newest member of the team, Richard Long, inquire as to the origins of the partnership. As he asks fellow cast members, each one - Zimbalist, Roger Smith and Edd Byrnes, spins a yarn that places himself as the key factor in solving a big case.

 

The one that Roger Smith tells has Zimbalist as a real Casper Milquetoast type, and he's surprisingly good in it. That one, and "Reserved For Mr. Bailey" in which Zimbalist is the only on-screen character, just might broaden your opinion of the guy.

 

I'd go into hock if ever that show were to come out on DVD. They were running episodes on The American Life Channel up until about 2007, and they are in pretty good shape, although the channel was editing them to add more commercial time.

 

Regardless, the guy has been blessed - he's almost 94 and was working as a voice-over actor until only a few years ago, playing Alfred the Butler on the animated BATMAN series. I know what you mean though about the FBI series. I saw most of the first season shows and I think they managed to spread two or three plot lines over 32 episodes. It was a crime show, but the biggest crime was that it was so redundant.

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I think I do vaguely remember that "Reserved for Mr. Bailey" episode of "77 Sunset Strip", clore. That's the one where Zimbalist is all by himself in some kind of ghost town, and there's some unseen person attempting to kill him, right?!

 

Btw, and speakin' of Roger Smith(another of these late-50s/early

-60s WB contract actors)...it is only me, or did you also think that there was a resemblance between him and Jeffrey Hunter?

 

(...and I wonder if Ann-Margret ever noticed this too?) ;)

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Look who is on your TCM screen as we exchange posts - it's Efrem!

 

You got it, that's the episode of 77 SUNSET STRIP that I was referring to - you're my age, huh? I'll be 61 in October.

 

I'd agree about Smith resembling Jeff Hunter, although my sister thinks he and the young Larry Hagman look alike. Smith was ahead of his time, long before Michael Landon and Alan Alda, Smith was writing scripts for 77 SUNSET STRIP and the one I cited earlier - "Once Upon a Caper" as well as his "The Silent Caper" (no dialogue at all) are two of the best episodes from a show that had close to 200 of them.

 

I can remember when the gossip columnists said that the marriage of Smith and Ann-Margret wouldn't last.

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Yep clore. I turned "The Big Six-O" this past March, and still in pretty good darn shape for an "old guy", I might add. ;)

 

(...though time seems to be catchin' up with me, slowly but surely...the back went out on me while hittin' a backhand-overhead shot at the tennis courts yesterday...OOOOOUCH!!!...and still VERY tender today)

 

And yeah, I know. I think Roger and Ann-Margret might presently hold the record for the longest marriage goin' now.

 

I put them on a flight once out of LAX, and they were both very nice.

 

Edited by: Dargo2 on Jul 13, 2012 6:30 PM

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Tell me about it, trying to stay in some kind of shape is tough. I just finished my every-other-day weightlifting - nothing heavy, just dumbbells, which some say suit me.

 

It's the plague of dampness upon old knee injuries that reminds me most of the passing years. I'm accurate to within 36 hours and they've been telling me since this morning that it's going to rain.

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Oh, and yeah. I spotted Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in WAIT UNTIL DARK there.

 

(...which btw, as you may recall, is the name Charley Weaver would invariably give to the "who was it" questions posed by Peter Marshall to him during the old "Hollywood Squares" game show...I guess he must've felt it had a certain comic cadence to it...which I suppose it does)

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I saw WAIT UNTIL DARK on stage in October 1966. It had Lee Remick and Robert Duvall, plus Mitchell Ryan in the Richard Crenna role. Directed by Arthur Penn. That was quite impressive for someone not quite 15 at the time.

 

Duvall was preferable, when I see Alan Arkin in here, I think of Jerry Lewis. That final "shock" moment was also a lot more effective in a theater where they had turned down the house lights also. There are probably claw marks on the chair arms.

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Yeah, I gotta say Arkin IS pretty much over-the-top in it, alright. However, by him portraying the killer in that manner, he DID make quite an impression upon the public and was the role which put him on the map, as you know.

 

I'll bet Duvall's performance was great. He did tend to play many of the "creepier" roles in his younger days very very well.

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