1960s, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Classic Hollywood, documentary, dvd, FILM HISTORY, Laurel & Hardy, rare, review, reviews, Silent, SILENTS, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

When Comedy Was King

when comedy was king

WHEN COMEDY WAS KING (VCI) DVD $19.99 DVD | 1 DISC | 81 minutes | 1960 | B&W | NR | English language | 1.37:1 | Dolby Digital Mono | All REGION /

http://www.vcientertainment.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1096

Back before the easy availability of YouTube, Turner Classic Movies, and Home Video, it was not always easy to see classic films. You had to scour the television guides and hopefully a classic film would be airing on one of the smaller channels. If you lived in a larger city, you might have a revival movie house that would for one or two days show a film made long before you birth.

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Robert Youngson was a documentary film producer who loved bringing the past to movie goers. From 1948 to 1956, he produced a series of nostalgia laden short subjects for Warner Brothers, most often using old silent movie clips. They were popular enough to win Youngson Six Academy Award Nominations for Best Live Action Short Films (One Reel), winning two in the process.

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Youngson made a feature length historical documentary in 1950 for Warner Brothers called FIFTY YEARS BEFORE YOUR EYES. Rumored to have taken three years to make, the look back over the first half of the Twentieth Century was narrated by Arthur Godfrey and came and went with little fanfare.

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When Warner Brothers and the other studios began shutting down their short subject departments, Youngson decided to chance another full-length feature. With his contract with Warner Brothers over, he at first contracted with a small distributor, Distributors Corporation of America (DCA). DCA existed from 1952-59, beginning as a releasing company for foreign films like ALRAUNE (1952) and ANIMAL FARM (1954). The company folded after it released PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959). Before that happened, they released Robert Youngson’s  THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY  (1957). The compilation was later picked up and got a wider distribution from Twentieth Century Fox.

The film was successful enough that it brought a renewed popularity for Laurel & Hardy who featured strongly in the documentary. Sadly, Oliver Hardy died in August of that year, and Stan Laurel retired, so they didn’t personally get to take advantage of this renewed interest, though their films were now being shown regularly on television.

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Three years later, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING was released (by Twentieth Century Fox) and was again a popular success. Once again, the film opened with Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 3 that was used under Youngson’s credit on his films from 1957. Many feel that this is the best of his compilation films , though I would say that this and DAYS OF THRILLS & LAUGHTER (Fox,1961,also available from VCI on DVD http://www.vcientertainment.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=507 ) which covers a wider range of films are tied for  his best , but it is nit picking on my part.

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Once again, Youngson put together a wonderful collection of clips from the golden age of silent comedy. While there are clips of Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, the film also brought Ben Turpin, Harry Langdon, and Mabel Normand among others back into the public view. The movie was well reviewed (“Here’s a toast to this sort of comedy !”-Bosley Crowther, NY Times, March 30,1960) and financially successful.

Youngson made six more feature compilations before his untimely passing at age 54 in 1974. His wife Jeanne Keyes Youngson, by the way, has had an interesting career of her own. An animator and documentarian, she produced a short called “MY NAME IS DEBBIE” about a post-operative male to female as well as helping to found The Count Dracula Fan Club in 1965.In 2000 they changed their name to The Vampire Empire.

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V.C.I. has done a marvelous job on this release. Sprocket Vault and Kit Parker Films went out and retimed and corrected footage from the original 35 mm negative (which had been in a series of mislabeled film cans. Having worked in a film storage house, I saw firsthand how common this problem was and how easy it was for films to get lost or dissolving Nitrate films).

I know that Kit has a lot more classic films coming down the pike, so I just want to make sure he gets the credit, where credit is due.

Best regards,

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The picture quality of this DVD is as perfect as one could hope (some film deterioration had already started happening from the original silent elements that Youngson had used, and so this compilation is also important as film PRESERVATION as well).

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A nice new addition is a very informative running commentary by Richard M Roberts, a collector and silent film historian who I first heard of as programmer for Slapsticon, where many a rare two reeler was unspooled. Not only does he speak about the films shown, but also about director Youngson. I kept smiling at our common reference points like Blackhawk Films, where many a collector could buy many a classic film on 8mm and 16mm. I also chuckled at how his detestation of collector Raymond Rohauer is palpable. Rohauer (or as my friends referred to him*** You Raymond Rohauer”) was falsely claiming to own rights to certain classics, which kept many like Universal’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) out of the public eye, as well as nuisance lawsuits on films like BIRTH OF A NATION (D.W. Griffith/Epoch,1914).

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If that was not enough, Richard M Roberts has added three rare bonus short silent, with a piano score by Donald Sosin, who has been providing music for silent films for 45 years! Roberts provides more informative commentary on these shorts.

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AN ELEPHANT ON HIS HANDS (Security ,1920) Hughey Mack gets a letter that he is getting an inheritance which turns out to be TWO elephants. The title card is different from the rest of the titles, making me think that it was from a 16mm home collector release. His wife is not amused. This film is not restored, but is such a rarity I am grateful that it exists at all. Dot Farley plays a comic maid.

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FAST & FURIOUS (Educational,1924) seems to be complete with original titles. Director Norman Taurog had a long film career, including directing several Elvis movies! Star Lige Conley somewhat resembles Chaplin when he was out of his Tramp makeup and does some amazing physical work, including a high fall from a ladder onto a countertop. . Nothing to do with later Vin Diesel films, Conley works in a store and his misadventures. There is a cute bit of stop motion in the short. The films second half earn the film its title with chase by motorbike, car and even atop a moving train (so maybe it did inspire Vin Diesel =)). It reminded me of the short PLAY SAFE (Pathe,1927) starring Monte Banks that appears in DAYS OF THRILLS & LAUGHTER.

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Finally, A TON OF FUN in HEAVY LOVE (Standard,1926), a Joe Rock produced comedy. Joe Rock, a former stunt man/comedian, he had produced several of the early Stan Laurel solo comedies. The Three Fatties (as they were referred to) Frank Alexander, Hilliard Karr and Kewpie Ross are carpenters. The big men do some very physical comedy that belies their size, though their weight is often the catalyst for much of their comedy. This film seems to be in the best shape of the three (some frame jitter appears). It reminded me of the Buster Keaton comedy ONE WEEK(Metro,1920).

 

You must play the three shorts in order, without the option of picking and choosing. A minor problem, as you will want to see them all.

If you are a lover of classic silent comedies, or want to introduce someone to them, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING is the film you need.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

-Kevin G Shinnick

March 8,2017 UPDATE :  I gave VCI most of the credit for this new release. However, I was informed that most of the credit for this new DVD release should go to Kit Parker’s new DVD LABEL : THE SPROCKET VAULT . 

 VCI did work with Kit to digitally restore the new HD master and authored the DVD, but this is a Sprocket Vault release. Thank you to those involved for the correction .

VCI is the releasing company of DAYS OF THRILLS AND LAUGHTER though.

Kit Parker, I am also told,  has a lot more classic films coming ,and I look forward to seeing.

PSThe 2017 Rondo Awards were just announced .

http://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS (https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/) was somehow overlooked.

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When you vote, would you write in SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS ( https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/)
under the category #17 BEST WEBSITE OR BLOG ?

Thank you .

Deadline to vote April 17,2017.

*REST IN PEACE ROBERT OSBORNE *

rest

 

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2000s, cult, documentary, dvd, film, FILM HISTORY, genre, Horror, review, SCIENCE FICTION, SEVERIN, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, William Cameron Menzies

LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAU

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS BLU RAY

LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAUSeverin BLU RAY $20.00 -2014 – 100 Min.

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Order direct at https://severin-films.com/product-category/blu-ray/

This documentary rates up there with LOST IN LA MANCHA (2003) on the horrors and misadventures of filmmaking and what might have been.

 

 
Director David Gregory (the underrated PLAGUE TOWN,Severin 2008) has tracked down many of the players in the production that became a John Frankenheimer (SECONDS, 1966) movie and in Rashomon fashion, we hear of the genesis of the project to what was finally released.

 

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Gregory also explores the history of the 1896 H.G. Wells novel ‘Island Of Doctor Moreau “, which even in itself was surrounded by controversy and Wells’ accusing Joseph Conrad of plagiarism for his 1899 work “Hearts of Darkness”.

 

 

Coming off the relative success of HARDWARE (1990, available from DVD from Severin) and the studio interference on DUST DEVIL (1992, seek out Subversive Cinema Director’s cut which is the most extant version), Richard Stanley was a relatively hot property.14

 
Stanley, then in his 30s, was excited when New Line Cinema greenlit Stanley’s proposed remake. The film that he had proposed from existing drawings would have been a hellish present day reflection on God and Religious ideals (one sketch has Moreau holding a new born creation with the operating light forming a halo around his head as in the background his creatures in surgical gear lick the blood off the instruments.).

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(Doc says no to  AIP version-nom nom nom nom)

The director hated the 1977 version that AIP had released (no footage is used from this version) and his version seemed to want to create the entire world that the creatures lived in.

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Problems began when the studio attached big name stars like Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, whose egos ballooned as fast as the budget for the film. Due to them, other actors left (James Wood, replaced by David Thewlis, and Rob Morrow, who saw the train wreck about to happen).

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Nature seemed to conspire against them too, as the locale chosen and weather conditions threatened several times to shut the production down. Finally, the studio decided to remove Richard Stanley as director, and desperately sought out a replacement. With only a week prep, John Frankenheimer who had stayed away from the genre since the disastrous mutant bear horror PROPHECY (Paramount ,1979), took over with a new cinematographer and rewrites happening constantly during the course of the remaining filming.

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(I’m sure John Frankenheimer wasn’t smiling often on this set)

This documentary is actually longer than the released ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (New Line 1996) but has a much more involving story to tell.

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(Director Richard Stanley before the purge)

16Several of the participants had passed on before this documentary was shot (Brando ,Frankenheimer, the 2’4” Nelson de la Rosa(the inspiration for the later Mini Me in The Austin Powers films )) while Val Kilmer seemingly declined defending the myriad comments that showed him to be a “dick” .Also M.I.A.  is Mike Thewlis, but almost everyone else in front and before the camera still with us ,from background Aborigine performers, to the makeup team to the production office to stars ,the charming Marco Hofschneider (EUROPA EUROPA,Orion,U.S.release 1990) and Fairuza Balk, (RETURN TO OZ,Disney 1986) .

 

 
Also on this must have disc is  a lot of amazing behind the scenes video footage shot at the time during production captures the madness and creativity that went on for the six month gestation of the beast that was ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU.

 
Director Stanley seems to have gone into seclusion in France since the madness and frustrations of that film, working on some shorts and screenplays in the interim. Let us hope that he might be tempted back to make an independent production.13
Extras on the blu ray include extended interviews , Graham Humphreys concept drawings, an archive John Frankenheimer interview, a Barbara Steele interview(yes at one time she was involved),and more.

 

 
This is a must have item for general film fans and horror collectors. I have been cautious not to give away many of the surprises in the production as you should discover them for yourselves and shake your head in disbelief that films get made at all!

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Two hoofs turning into thumbs up!!HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

-Kevin G Shinnick

Other versions of ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU:
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) CRITERION Blu ray and DVD .
TERROR IS A MAN (1959) Alpha dvd
TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) VCI DVD
ISLAND OF DR MOREAU (1977) MGM DVD
ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (1996) New Line DVD

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED https://www.facebook.com/SCARLETreviews/posts/1605625319676422

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1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, ALPHA NEW CINEMA, CAMP, cult, diy filmmaking, documentary, dvd, fantasy, genre, George Stover, Horror, humor, obscure, OLDIES.COM, rare, review, SCIENCE FICTION, thriller, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

NO STOPPING THE STOVER

NO STOPPING THE STOVER – (ALPHA NEW CINEMA,2016). Color /B&W. 91 minutes. Documentary /DVD. $7.98
Available at

http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1100D.html

 

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2016 is shaping up to be the year of the Stover. Retromedia just released a limited edition of THE ALIEN FACTOR (reviewed recently https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/the-alien-factor-1978-limited-edition-blu-ray-1000-copies-only/ )

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and he has at least nine (!) films that he appears in awaiting release or currently filming, including MANOS RETURNS, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: GENESIS (which stars Judith O’Dea from the original N.O.T.L.D (Continental,1968)) and RETURN OF THE DEVIL BAT (which co-stars Lynn Lowry (THE CRAZIES, Cambist Films1973), Ruby LaRocca (FLESH FOR THE BEAST, Media Blasters,2003), and Conrad Brooks (Ed Wood star). Now for his 70th birthday, we have a documentary of the life of the Baltimore Maryland cult film actor.

MANOSRETURNS

One of the nicest and modest people whom you might ever wish to meet, George was in the forefront of self-publishing genre fanzines, publishing the tiny wonder BLACK ORACLE.BLACK O                                           For ten issues, this ¼ size fanzine sold bloody hair hunksBloodyHunksRev                     as well as wonderful articles overlooked by a lot of the larger genre magazines. cinemacabre7Later he followed it up with another slicker fanzine called CINEMACABRE that published at least seven issues.

Having acted in a college school authorized production of a STAR TREK play called ‘One Cube or Two?”, wherein he played an alien in heavy makeup, Star-TrekStover continues to appear in off beat film roles. His first was in John Waters classic FEMALE TROUBLE (Saliva Films,1974) and he soon became a staple in Maryland Indie filmmaking, while supporting himself working in a regular 9 to 5 job.

He endeared himself to genre fans when he began appearing in films by fellow fanzine publisher(CINEMAGIC) Don Dohler. He appeared in Don’s first feature length film THE ALIEN FACTOR (Cinemagic Visual Effects, 1978) and appeared in all of Dohler’s films in roles of various sizes throughout.

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  (I think my favorite Stover performermance in a Dohler produced film ,STAKES ,2002 Timewarp Films)

In February,2012, George was attacked and robbed in his own home by a career criminal who rather than just leaving, shot George and left him for dead. Even though he was in hospital, he made sure that he called the director of a film that he was working on (DANGEROUS DECEPTION, Lee Doll ,2012) to apologize that he would not be on set! Hearing the actual phone message is quite chilling and yet also shows the professionalism of Stover. Luckily, George survived this real life horror, and is still with us, still sharing his joy of appearing in films.

(You can read local coverage after the event here: 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-george-stover-1128-20121127-story.html   )

 

Several filmmakers and fellow performers are interviewed to talk about working with The Stover, including director Fred Olen Ray (ATTACK OF THE SIXTY FOOT CENTERFOLD, Concorde ,1995), writer director Mark Redfield (THE DEATH OF POE (Alpha New Cinema ,2006) and many others who have had the pleasure of knowing and working with the man himself.

jj northCenterfold(  George and the charming  J.J. North on set of 60 FT CENTERFOLD )

If you’d like to have a good idea of what it is like to work in low budget films, find out why there is NO STOPPING THE STOVER.

Recommended.9848bf_2c5af2d3381a4f409d509b65ec1873e8

-Kevin G Shinnick

(Full disclosure -I have known of George since subscribing to his original fanzine Black Oracle, and have had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions.).

If you have a completed  film seeking distribution, contact BRIAN KREY at  briank@oldies.com .Alpha New Cinema has released films by cult directors such as Brett Piper  Mark Redfield to great success.

 

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John Carradine Goes Fishing

089218777591JOHN CARRADINE GOES FISHING (1947) (Alpha Video/Oldies.com) $7.98 color /B&W http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7775D.html

Definitely one of the most unique titles that I have ever reviewed, the title basically tells all.

FISH STORY (1947 F.B. Mannon) color-
Carradine and reporter “Tubby” Toms and “wizard of the casting rod” “Stu” Pritchard go off into the Wisconsin woods and we see every detail of their trip set to jaunty cartoony stock music.

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1947 was the year John’s son Christopher was born to Carradine and his second wife Sonia. He appeared in only one film that year, THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (U.A.). In late December he would appear on Broadway for six performances as the Inquisitor in the Charles Laughton starring vehicle, GALILEO. He also appeared in his first television role as Ebenezer Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Dumont Network, December 25th). Along the way he supplemented his income by doing road company theatre tours.

 

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This oddity has to be one of the most unique in the Carradine oeuvre. See John Fly Fishing. Hear him sing. See him in Kodachrome color in a red and black checkered shirt. Have him respond to his fellow fishermen who mouth such inanities as “I never thought of actors as people. Tell me how it feels to be a movie star.” Have him thrill in Mock Shakespearean tones and then switch to a cockney accent? See John in huge rubber waders. See him give his SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card over to one of the fishermen. Carradine seems to be having fun, but the other two are very stiff on camera.

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If you are a fisher person, this film will probably thrill you, but as a fan of Carradine, it is an interesting (if staged) part of his private life that you would rarely get a chance to see. FISH STORY is so rare that IMDB does not even list it so kudos to ALPHA on rescuing this film. I could find nothing on the distributor F.B. Mannon and so do not know how widely this piece was ever shown.

 

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CRUNCH & DES: “Spare The Rod” – B&W
Next up is CRUNCH & DES starring Forrest Tucker as Crunch Adams and Sandy Kenyon as Des Smith. This was a 39 episode half hour NBC -TV series that was shot on location in Bermuda and at the RKO-PATHE studios in California. Crunch and Des have adventures aboard their sail fishing craft the Poseidon. In this episode, a young boy (Pud Flanagan) who feels neglected by his businessman dad (Alan Heath) becomes friends with the two stars and they take him aboard and teach him to fish. However, the young man steals then loses Crunch’s prized fishing rod. Lots of great location shots mixed with rear screen and very cramp studio sets. This was Tucker’s first television series, and he takes the show seriously. Des is his sad sack Gilligan, who seems to have little to with the story or its outcome. Another interesting rarity that I had not heard of until now.

Three further documentaries then fill up the rest of the disc:

BATTLING SILVER KINGS (Van Buren Corporation,1931) B&W -is an early sound film that continues the fishing theme of the disc. Sound is a bit muffled and the print scratchy but considering its rarity (Van Buren was best known for his animation studio, but also released travelogues like Frank Buck’s BRING EM BACK ALIVE ,1932). His films
were released through RKO until the studio dropped him to distribute animation rival Walt Disney.

DEMONS OF THE DEEP(Pictoreel,1944) B&W- Such “exotic” species as turtles, reptiles (pronounced “reptill” by the narrator), sting rays, moray eels, and the like are shown. Pictoreel seems to have been a home movie film distribution company, but I could find no info on their history.

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DEEP SEA ADVENTURE (Castle Films /United World Films,1953) killer clams, skin diving, and fishing. See humans stalk and destroy aquatic life. Print is quite scratchy but again rare. This was created for the 16mm home movie collector.

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This is an indeed an offbeat though rare collection of short subjects. I feel that many of these scream out for the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000/RIFFTRAX treatment but it is indeed nice that ALPHA/OLDIES.COM have saved these films for a new generation.

the-face-of-marble-movie-poster-1946                                                           Carradine’s last Monogram film, made a year before FISH STORY

-Kevin G Shinnick

check out the other reviews here including
THE GIRL FROM RIO/ THE MILLION EYES OF SU MURU
FANTASTIC FILMS OF THE DECADE VOL 1 THE SILENT ERA
CITY OF THE DEAD
10 RILLINGTON PLACE
COUNT YORGA VAMPIRE
BROKEN HERO
COMIN’ AT YA!
AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT

and many more

plus articles like
Boris “Frankenstein” Karloff lives on in KARLOFF The Play!
and
JOAN FONTAINE :THE LIONESS IN WINTER

and interviews like
STILL ROCKIN’ ON MUSCLE BEACH! A Conversation with the First Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott By Rod Labbe

 

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                   SON OF FURY (1942) Tyrone Power-John Carradine

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