Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


THE FEARMAKERS (1958). Director: Jacques Tourneur.

Alan Eaton (Dana Andrews) comes back from a POW camp in Korea to find out that the partner in his polling firm has been killed and that he apparently sold out to a man, Jim McGinnis (Dick Foran), who uses shady methods and who seems to have a communist agenda. Although it's not the main point of the film, The Fearmakers examines how polls can be influenced by loaded questions, poor research, etc. to say whatever the pollster wants them to say -- an "unamerican" practice that has, sadly, been going on in America for decades now. Eaton agrees to join the firm only to investigate it for a concerned Senator friend, and winds up threatened and victimized by McGinnis and his cronies just as he was by the Koreans. The film has interesting casting, especially singer Mel Torme who plays an employee of the firm -- the "velvet fog" is quite good as the man who turns against his bosses out of love for a pretty secretary (Marileee Earle) whose life is endangered. Veda Ann Borg and Kelly Thordson are vivid as a battling married couple with whom Eaton boards for a hectic night. Senator Walder is played by Roy Gordon, who was the doctor in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. When Eaton sees the Senator's picture on the cover of Time, you almost expect Eaton to open the magazine to find pictures of a giant Allison Hayes in her underwear with Gordon pontificating on her in a sidebar. Dennis Moore, who plays an Army doctor, also appeared in serials The Mysterious Mr. M and The Purple Monster Strikes, not to mention The Mummy's Curse. The main problem with this movie is that it has few thrills.

Verdict: Not fearful enough. **.

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