Movie Diary 6/7/2020

Four Boys and a Gun (William Berke, 1957). Another one from B-picture-generator Berke, shot in New York, about four juvenile delinquents involved in a robbery at a boxing match. A cop gets shot, and the rest of the movie flashes back to how the boys got there, plus a curious extended sequence – sort of a police station Breakfast Club – with the quartet arguing over who’s going to take the fall. The four are played by Frank Sutton (future Gomer Pyle drill sergeant), James Franciscus (his debut), Tarry Green, and William Hinnant (a diminutive chap, he played Snoopy in the original You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown production). The movie has a fairly cornball tone, along the lines of a social exposé, but some of the lingo is good (“When you’re out with me, you’re in,” says Sutton to a date). The screenwriters were Philip Yordan and Leo Townsend. There are a few scenes that catch a whiff of real crumminess, like when Sutton goes home with a barfly he picks up, and they quarrel about how much booze she has; we’re not too far away from the seedy world of Hubert Selby, Jr., albeit cleaned-up. There are brief bits for David Burns and Ned Glass, and future author Patricia Bosworth plays one of the boys’ girls. You wait for the big reveal at the end, but there’s a surprise in store, and the movie’s abrupt finish is actually pretty strong.

The Lost Missile (Lester Wm. Berke, 1958). IMDb credits this film to the above Berke, but apparently he died on the first day of shooting, and the onscreen directing credit goes to his son, Lester. All of which could account for how bad this one is. A rocket comes screaming into Earth’s atmosphere, apparently from outer space, headed for New York City. Can scientist Robert Loggia stop it, despite the conflict with his own wedding (to Ellen Parker, from Cop Hater). Almost half the running time is made up with dull stock footage of various military actions, and it gets interesting only at the climax, which includes an interlude with some young punks stealing a radioactive bomb. So don’t count this one against the average for William Berke’s 90+ other credited films.

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