Mystery Collection Disc 48

July 12th, 2017

With four movies to a disc, how does Mill Creek get 50 movies on 12 discs—or, in this case, 250 on 60? By having the occasional disc with more, usually shorter, movies. Like this one, with six relatively short mysteries.

 

Rogue’s Gallery, 1944, b&w. Albert Herman (dir.), Robin Raymond, Frank Jenks, H.B. Warner, Ray Walker, Bob Homans. 1:00 [0:58]

The title makes no sense at all, but this is a wacky little story of the wisecracking woman reporter (the smartest one in the flick) and her slightly dim photographer sidekick as they encounter a wonderful (and wonderfully dangerous) invention and a couple of murders.

The plot moves quickly and maybe isn’t worth recounting. (The invention allows you to listen to anybody, anywhere, if you know the “unique frequency” their location has. It has one very prominent vacuum tube. Hey, it was 1944.) There’s also a corpse that keeps getting moved and a couple of car chases. That the cameraman had the bad guy’s picture all along and didn’t realize it may not be too important, since all the action seems to take place in one night. Fast-moving and pretty enjoyable. That Frank Jenks (the sidekick) gets first billing over Robin Raymond is typical Hollywood sexism: she’s the star player. Given its length, I’ll say $1.25.

The Black Raven, 1943, b&w. Sam Newfield (dir.), George Zucco, Wanta McKay, Noel Madison, Robert Livingston, Glenn Strange, Byron Foulger. 1:01 [0:59]

It was a dark and stormy night…

That’s the weather and the mood of this movie, which is so dark that the action’s invisible much of the time (the print doesn’t help). The action takes place in The Black Raven, a hotel near the Canadian border whose host (Amos Bradford, also known as the Black Raven) makes a few extra bucks by smuggling criminals across the border—and probably through other means. As the picture begins, his old partner in crime (busted out of prison with ten years left to serve) shows up and, in the usual manner of Movie Bad Guys With Scores To Settle, stands there talking at him instead of using that gun—so that when his tall, oafish assistant Andy, the comic relief of the movie, walks in, Bradford can wrestle the gun away and tie the guy up in his office. He gets out at some point.

I’m probably missing some of the plot, but basically the bridge across the border is washed out, as are other ways across, so the guy turning people back directs them to the Black Raven. Thus, in addition to a wanted criminal mastermind awaiting the cross-border smuggle, we have a bank clerk who’s embezzled $50,000; a young couple planning to get married in Canada because her father, a crooked politician, opposes the marriage; the father in question; and eventually a sheriff. (I may have missed someone.) The politician winds up dead; the bumbling sheriff immediately assumes that the young man must have done it; and, as time goes on, we get [I think] three more deaths.

Between the dark print and the muddled plot, I can’t see much to recommend this. Charitably, $0.50.

Seven Doors to Death, 1944, b&w. Elmer Clifton (dir.), Chick Chandler, June Clyde, George Meeker. 1:04 [1:00]

While this flick also suffers from goings-on-in-the-dark print problems, the main problem is that it’s 100 minutes of plot in a 60-minute film. It starts out with a sequence that never quite makes sense, and I’m not sure I ever did figure out the full cast of characters and who did what to whom when why…

The title’s easy enough. Most of the film takes place in an odd community of seven shops (and apartments for the shopkeepers?) arranged around a courtyard. There’s a photographer, a milliner (the heroine, who also may or may not be heir to the whole operation), a furrier/taxidermist (primary villain) and…well, others. There’s a jewelry heist, two murders, a disappearing corpse, and an interesting gimmick. Oh, and the wisecracking…architect, apparently, with a jalopy named Genevieve. He winds up with the beautiful milliner. Cops are also involved. There’s even a dance number.

It’s not terrible, but it’s not all that great either. Maybe $0.75.

Five Minutes to Live, 1961, b&w. Bill Karn (dir.), Johnny Cash, Donald Woods, Cay Forester, Vic Tayback, Ron (Ronnie) Howard, Merle Travis. 1:20 [1:14]

An unusual cast and an improbable bank-robbery plot, adding up to an OK movie. The cast features Johnny Cash as a gun-happy thief with a sadistic streak (he’s only too happy to shoot his girlfriend, but he’d rather not shoot kids) and Ronnie Howard (later Ron, but this is at Opie age), along with Vic Tayback as the hardbitten criminal mastermind whose plot really doesn’t work out very well. (At least he’s alive at the end, albeit in the hands of the cops: Cash doesn’t fare as well.) Merle Travis has a brief role as a bowling alley owner (and plays a guitar solo on the theme song and guitar through much of the soundtrack).

A lot hangs on a banker who was about ready to run off with his girlfriend and divorce his wife, but in the end turns out to love his wife after all. Maybe. I’d spell out the rest of the plot, but why bother? (The title, which is also a Johnny Cash song over the titles, alludes to a key plot point: if Cash, holding a gun on the wife, doesn’t get called every five minutes she gets it—except that it doesn’t quite work out that way.) Clearly a low-budget flick, so-so print, but some interesting acting (esp. Cay Forester, the wife and hostage, a little over the top—and why not, since she also wrote the screenplay?). All in all, not memorable, but not bad. $1.25.

Lady Gangster, 1942, b&w. Robert Florey (dir.), Faye Emerson, Julie Bishop, Frank Wilcox. 1:02.

The basic plot is that a would-be actress, in the same rooming house as three would-be bank robbers, facilitates the robbery…and is sent to prison. She’s also an old friend of a sort-of crusading radio station owner. After lots of scenes in a women’s prison (which seems to let inmates wear the clothes they arrived with), she escapes to help apprehend the others (although she’d actually hidden the $40K loot anyway). Somehow, despite multiple killings and her unquestionable involvement, it has a Cute Ending with Probable Nuptials. Apparently, a young Jackie Gleason was one of the robbers.

Even charitably, and mostly for Faye Emerson fans, make it $0.75.

The Sphinx, 1933, b&w. Phil Rosen (dir.), Lionel Atwill, Sheila Terry, Theodore Newton, Paul Hurst. 1:04 [1:02]

This time, it’s a wisecracking male reporter—with a society/features writer girlfriend who he wants to marry. He works the crime beat, and the crime’s a stockbroker strangled in his office, as were three other stockbrokers previously. There’s a witness of sorts, a janitor who sees a guy come out of the office, ask him for a light and ask him the time.

The murderer, obviously—except that he’s a deaf-mute, as tests by both defendant’s and state’s doctors attest. The woman thinks he’s also a Great Man, a benefactor to charities, and starts going to his mansion to interview hum (sometimes with the help of an assistant/interpreter, sometimes with the use of a notepad.

I won’t go through the rest of the plot, but it has to do with identical twins and secret chambers and piano playing. Oh, and the old suicide-through-poison-ring bit.

A bit low on plausibility—the killer’s excuse is that the other stockbrokers disagreed with him on a deal, but he’s been doing the deaf/dumb routine for years and obviously expected to be caught eventually (otherwise why the poison ring?). Still, not bad. $1.00.

Cites & Insights 17:6 (July 2017) available

July 1st, 2017

The July 2017 Cites & Insights (17:6) is now available for downloading at https://citesandinsights.info/civ17i6.pdf

This 60-page (6″ x 9″) issue consists of one essay:

Intersections: Economics and Access 2017  pp. 1-60

A roundup of various items relating to the cost, price, fees and other aspects of scholarly journals, with an emphasis on open access.

GOAJ2: June update

June 30th, 2017

Here’s how things are going for GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016 and The Countries of OAWorld 2011-2016 and related stuff (all linked to from the project home page), through June 30, 2017 [noting that most of May 31 and June 30 are missing because of how statistics are done):

  • The dataset: 123 views, 25 downloads.
  • GOAJ2: 523 PDF ebooks (no paperbacks), plus 127 copies of chapters 1-7 (C&I 17.4)
  • Countries: 224 PDF ebooks (no paperbacks)
  • Subject supplement (C&I 17.5): 431 copies

 

How many times?

June 21st, 2017

I see yet another OA conference is happening (I’ve never been to one, probably never will be, and that’s OK.) My question, after seeing some tweeted photos: How many times during the conference will gold OA be equated with APCs? Dozens? Hundreds?

Maybe a better question: How often will somebody mention gold OA and explicitly note that most gold OA journals (and 43% of articles in 2016) do NOT involve APCs?

Dear Martin…

June 21st, 2017

NOTE: (second update, 6/23/17): I’m now satisfied that I was misreading Eve’s commentary. In the interest of openness, I’ll leave the post [which follows the horizontal line]. Since Eve’s response was for some reason rejected by the commenting system, here’s a link to it.

Original post (between the lines):


I’ve disagreed with Martin Paul Eve in the past but find myself much happier with what he’s trying to do lately. OLH isn’t the model for OA in the humanities, but it’s one promising initiative.

However…

Just encountered “Open Access Publishing Models and How OA Can Work in the Humanities” and, while it’s an interesting piece, I believe Eve oversells the idea that OA just wasn’t happening in the humanities until he came along. And that’s just not true and unfair to some of the pioneers in the field. [See update below the line.]

Here’s the key number: 109,420. Gold OA articles in serious OA journals in the humanities and social sciences in 2016. (80% of those articles in journals that don’t charge APCs.)

I don’t know how many humanities and social sciences articles get published every year, but I’m fairly certain that 109,420 is a substantial portion of them–quite possibly as large a percentage as the 225,591 articles in STEM (excluding biology) albeit probably not the 188,194 articles in biomed.

Those aren’t all in the social sciences by any means. Arts & architecture, 5,019 articles. Education, 15,234. History, 8,289. Language & literature, 11,967. Law, 5,292. Library science, 2,276. Media & communications, 3,884. Philosophy, 3,045. Religion, 3,639.

Maybe I’m misreading Eve’s article; maybe he’s not actually suggesting that there hadn’t been much OA activity in the humanities. Because there has, starting from the very beginning (quite a few of the earliest OA journals were in the humanities, including PACS-L Review, Postmodern Culture, EJournal and New Horizons in Adult Education. I guess it bothers me to see all the work that’s been done to date somewhat minimized–and, again, I may be unfair in reading Eve that way. I’d much rather see a celebration of the enormous amount of work that’s been done in OA by humanities people (certainly including librarians) along with a call to do more and a recounting of innovations. But that’s just me, someone who’s been nattering on about “free electronic journals” for at least 20+ years now.

[OA monographs are a different and fiendishly difficult area. I’m not going there.]

If you’re wondering where those figures came from, go check out GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016. It’s an open access monograph, freely available in ebook form and priced at 20 cents above the cost of production in paperback form. More info on it and its predecessor and companions at the GOAJ site.


*Updated 6/23/17: A number of people in Twitter–including Martin Paul Eve–saying this just isn’t so. They may be right. Not the first time that I’ve felt Eve tended to understate the work that had gone before, but I certainly accept the possibility that “tight word counts” are to blame. Since I don’t get invited to do pieces that much, maybe I’m just ignorant of the realities of being a high-profile OA person.

50 Classic Features Warriors, Disc 2

June 14th, 2017

Two Gladiators (orig I due gladiatori), 1964, color. Mario Caiano (dir.), Richard Harrison, Moira Orfei, Alberto Farnese, Mimmo Palmara. 1:40 (1:33)

A mix of good and bad. Good: It’s widescreen (but not Enhanced for DVD, so your player has to do the zooming). Bad: It’s sort-of color: reds, blacks, occasionally a bit of blue-green, but rarely a full spectrum. Good: lots of mass swordfights. Bad: Really badly done swordfights with three heroes overcoming ridiculous odds on a regular basis.

It’s about the twin sons of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, one supposedly dead at birth but actually, well, supposed to have been killed but we all know how that goes. The supposed only son, Commodus, engages in gladiatorial matches (really?) until he learns of his father’s death, at which point he becomes emperor and looks to rival Caligula for evil. As you might expect, the other son (Lucius) wins out in the end (in the arena, with the two sons both dressed alike and wearing identical helmets, making it effectively impossible to tell them apart). Who knew that a hundred peasants armed mostly with torches could defeat whole hordes of Roman centurions?

Not terrible. $1.

Ursus in the Land of Fire (orig. Ursus nella terra di fuoco), color, 1963. Giorgio Simonelli (dir.), Ed Fury, Luciana Gilli, Adriano Micantoni, Claudia Mori. 1:27.

This flick falls into that special category of Paper Bag Flicks—one where it’s fortunate that man-size paper bags didn’t exist in the times being portrayed, since Ed Fury certainly could not have acted his way out of one. He can, however, defeat (and usually kill) any number of enemies at once, except when it suits the “plot” for him to be captured. (Apparently reviewers like the fact that he smiles more than most Hercules-style heroes, but to me he comes off as insipid. Diana is pretty good.)Another problem: this was a wide-screen picture (very wide screen, 2.35:1) converted to TV size by, apparently, just taking the center of the print: the credits are unreadable and during certain conversations you can only see part of the heroine’s face.

The plot? The sleeve has it wrong, at least in part: Ursus, leader of a village of peaceful shepherds on one side of a lake, doesn’t battle monsters except for the human kind. The setup is that a more military tribe lives on the other side of the lake and its evil general claims that for any shepherd to cross the lake is punishable by death. The beautiful Princess Diana, out riding near the lake, has her horse spooked by a rattlesnake; the horse throws her into the lake—and she seems unable to swim but can call for help. (Noteworthy because in two later scenes she’s a champion swimmer in the same lake.) Ursus, wandering nearby (half-naked as usual), saves her…and is, of course, then arrested and accused of trying to seize power (Diana was unconscious at the time, apparently fainting as soon as he’s saved her). Anyway…he escapes, but the not-so-bad king is convinced by the evil general (aided by Diana’s evil female cousin, who vouches for the general’s story) to let him go after Ursus and, what the heck, set the village to flames, kill all the women and children and take the men as slaves.

Beyond that, the general kills the king and seizes the throne, with Diana somehow fleeing (and meeting upwith Ursus, the two of course instantly falling in love) and the cousin marrying the general. But the people hate him, so he arranges a tournament to win their love. It’s an interesting tournament: any challenger in danger of beating the general/king’s champion gets an arrow in the back from the sidelines. Ursus shows up disguised, wins the competition against absurd odds and is immediately enslaved to help turn one honking big gristmill.

More stuff and nonsense having to do with the Land of Fire, a volcanic region with its own priesthood that the general defiled. The climax involves, in addition to more feats of strength and One Good Man Against Any Number of Bad Ones fights, the mountain’s revenge for that defilement and the people finally rising up against their evil ruler. I’ve skipped lots of plot, but all ends happily. Lots of action, zero plausibility, volcano erupting, a painfully bad actor as hero and, well, I’ll give it $1.

Cleopatra’s Daughter (orig. Il sepolcro dei re), 1960, color. Fernando Cerchio (dir.), Debra Paget, Ettore Manni, Erno Crisa. 1:49 (1:29).

The perils of Shila, daughter of Cleopatra, captured and forced into a dynastic marriage with Pharaoh Nemarat—under the vengeful eye of his mother and with the court physician desirous of Shila. That’s about as coherent as the “plot” gets, and the Big Dramatic Action seems mostly limited to a grave robbery and peculiar partial revolt. Let’s see: there’s also a poisoning, induced deathlike coma, several stabbings (rarely quite sure who’s stabbed or doing the stabbing)…and mostly lots of moping around.

The good? Halfway-decent print, although you’re getting just the center of a very widescreen “Ultrascope” movie. (That is: 1.33:1 of a 2.35:1 flick.) The bad? Pretty much everything else. Maybe the missing 20 minutes would help. This came off as a mediocre soap opera, but more confused, and with a few minutes of dramatic special effects. $0.50.

David and Goliath (orig. David e Golia), 1960, color. Ferdinando Baldi and Richard Pottier (dirs.), Orson Welles, Ivica Pajer, Eleojora Rossi Drago, Massimo Serato. 1:53 [1:32]

Orson Welles? Really? Yes, albeit an old, overly-large, shambling version of Welles as King Saul, the voice is intact. (Welles directed his own scenes—and he’s in quite a few.) Otherwise, this story, “freely adapted from the Bible” (as the credits say) is to some extent a typical tale of betrayal (Abner wants King Saul’s throne and is scheming with one of Saul’s daughters to get it), heroism (David, because David) and lots of action—except that in this case nearly all the action is in the last 15 minutes.

Slow and talky, but great scenery and a pretty decent print. If you can buy the premise that the Philistine army, ten times the size of the Isrealite guards, would actually give up (after its king breaks his promise to fall back if David slays Goliath, because what good Evil King wouldn’t immediately renege on a promise?) just because the king is slain…well, never mind. The extra 21 minutes would probably help. As pans & scans of very widescreen flicks go, this one isn’t terrible. All things considered, $1.25.

Cites & Insights 17.5 available: GOAJ Subject Supplement

June 6th, 2017

Cites & Insights 17.5 (June 2017) is now available for downloading at https://citesandinsights.info/civ17i5.pdf

The 84-page issue (6″ x 9″ pages designed for online/device reading) includes:

The Front: The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016  pp. 1-11

Announcing The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 (links at the usual place) and adding some comments on the cover–specifically, a copy of the heatmap, a table with the data used for the heatmap (combined 2015-2016 OAWorld articles per 100,000 population of each country), and another heatmap and table including APCLand articles (which mostly boosts Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to three of the top four spots).

Intersections: Subject Supplement to GOAJ2  pp. 11-84

There won’t be a separate paperback and PDF for subjects this year; this long article expands the one-page-per-subject coverage in GOAJ2 itself, adding up to six more tables and two graphs for each subject.

Now! with HTTPS (but not fully secure yet)

June 4th, 2017

Thanks to Blake Carver’s assistance, I’m pleased to note that all three of my sites–

Walt at Random

Cites & Insights

WaltCrawford.name

–now support secure (https) connections.

At least for now, and possibly for some time to come, these sites will connect via https: but be flagged as having insecure content, because some links within the sites are http: links.

On Firefox, that means a little orange warning sign in front of the secure-site lock.

On Chrome, you get an info icon rather than the “Secure” message. I can assure youthat none of these sites care about your location, try to use your camera or microphone or any of the other things Chromewarns about.

On Edge, you just don’t get the lock icon.

I have no idea when (or whether) all links will be changed to https. Ifthat includes links within these blog posts, “never” may be the answer.

GOAJ2: Slow start

June 4th, 2017

OOPS: I failed to take this out of draft status on May 31, when it was written. Better late than never…


Now that GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016 is out (go to waltcrawford.name/goaj.html for links, as usual), I’ll stop tracking Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 and pick up the new one instead.

It’s been a slow first two weeks.

  • Ebook/pdf: 117 downloads
  • Trade paperbacks: None other than my own
  • C&I 17.4 [chapters 1-7]: 51 downloads
  • Dataset: 94 views, 15 downloads

Next steps

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 will be out very early in June (came out on June 1 if all goes well), as a free PDF or $7 trade paperback. Links in the usual place.

GOAJ2 includes single pages on each subject, with three key tables. Additional tables and graphs on the 28 subjects will make up most of the next Cites & Insights, when that appears. There won’t be a separate subject-oriented book.

As always, thanks to SPARC for sponsoring this project. By the way, if you haven’t downloaded the book or read C&I 17.4 yet, you really should. Lots of good stuff–including a discussion on page 10, “The Biggest Numbers,” that offers a one-time-only view of as much of gold OA as anybody’s likely to gather together. How does 962,170 strike you?

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 now available

June 1st, 2017

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 is now available as a free PDF ebook or a nominally-priced* ($7) trade paperback.

The 269-page book includes a full set of tables and graphs for every country with at least 25 fully-analyzed OAWorld journals and a slightly less complete set for countries with ten to 24 journals: 64 in all. For the six regions that have them, countries with one to nine OAWorld journals are summarized briefly.

Links to the free PDF and to purchase the book from Lulu (as usual, printed on high-quality 60# cream paper) are at the Gold Open Access project page, https://waltcrawford.name/goaj.html

[*Why is this book a dollar more expensive than GOAJ2? Because it’s 81 pages longer. In both cases, the price is rounded up to the nearest $0.50 from Lulu’s production costs. My “profit” is $0.14 on each copy sold. Lulu frequently has sales of 10% to 20%, which can be used for either book.]