Saturday, January 25, 2014
Shack Out on 101 (1955)
George (Keenan Wynn) runs a beach-side diner. He employs a cook who is known simply as Slob (Lee Marvin) and an attractive blonde waitress named Kotty (Terry Moore). George is in love with Kotty. Kotty is in love with nuclear physicist Professor Sam Bastion (Frank Lovejoy). George’s diner just happens to be a short distance away from a university involved in top-secret nuclear research.
In fact George’s shack is the focus of a great deal of espionage and counter-espionage activity. It seems like at least half the people who patronise the diner are spies or counter-spies. Kotty is the one caught in the middle. She doesn’t yet realise what is going on, or who is involved, and if she finds out she may be in a good deal of danger.
The acting is generally very good but the acting styles are all over the place. It’s as if different cast members were under very different impressions as to the type of movie they were making. Frank Lovejoy and Terry Moore plays things fairly straight while Keenan Wynn and Lee Marvin seem to be making it up as they go along and playing things mostly for comedy.
Despite all the oddness there is still a spy thriller plot in there somewhere, and it’s entertaining enough in a trashy B-movie way.
Lovejoy and Moore get top billing but while they’re both solid enough they are completely overshadowed by the bravura performances of Marvin and Wynn. One of the movie’s more amusing features is that Marvin, the toughest of Hollywood tough-guy actors, plays Slob as a mixture of wimp and hug, of villain and buffoon. Or perhaps that’s not so surprising; Marvin was always a delightfully unpredictable actor.
Shack Out on 101 ends up being immensely enjoyable. It has plenty of energy and anyone with a taste for high camp could not fail to be pleased by this one. It’s a movie that is not quite like any other movie I’ve ever seen but it’s fun. Highly recommended.