THE HOUSTON STORY
1956, Columbia [Sony Repertory], 79 min, USA, Dir: William Castle

Gene Barry stars as an amoral and ambitious wildcatter who presents Midwest gangster Edward Arnold with a plan for siphoning off millions of dollars worth of Gulf oil and selling it at a huge profit on the black market. Will Barry survive to see the spoils of his pre-Enron scheme? Spicing things up is Barry’s affair with Arnold’s chanteuse moll, played by a platinum-tressed Barbara Hale, pre-“Perry Mason.” Director William Castle brings visual virtuosity to the cut-rate Sam Katzman production. Not on DVD!


BEWARE, MY LOVELY
1952, RKO [Warner Bros.], 77 min, USA, Dir: Harry Horner

The incredible Ida Lupino plays a lonely war widow who employs a penniless drifter (Robert Ryan) as a household handyman, only to learn - too late - precisely why he has no references on his résumé. As the film’s original tagline puts it: “Trapped by a man beyond control!” Lupino and Ryan, a pair of noir heavyweights, battle through a “day without end” (the film’s original title) to an unexpected climax. Mel Dinelli’s suspenseful script is adapted from his hit stage play “The Man.” Not on DVD!


CAUGHT
1949, MGM [Warner Bros.], 88 min, USA, Dir: Max Ophuls

Robert Ryan gives a towering performance as psychotic billionaire Smith Ohlrig, who gives impressionable young Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes) everything she ever wanted. Leonora suffocates from the security, and soon falls for an altruistic doctor (James Mason), leading her husband to devise a scheme to permanently lock the bonds of matrimony. Superbly directed by Max Ophuls, with cinematography by the great Lee Garmes. Not on DVD!


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