Viewing: I'm calling it a first for the whole movie
Director: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kenney
An interesting noir with a series of curious twists and a solid cast. Presented on TCM's Noir Alley, host Eddie Muller brought in author Christina Lane who recently released a book on the film's producer Joan Harrison, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock (which would make a welcome Christmas gift for us at Signal Watch HQ). Harrison is worth discussing for her path into the film business, sensibility she brought to Hitchcock's story-telling, and... frankly, some of the other movies she's produced - including Phantom Lady* and Ride the Pink Horse - are fantastic and owe a lot of their story strength and sensibility to Harrison.
They Won't Believe Me (1947) is framed with a murder trial. Young is the defendant, and he's telling his tale/ spilling his guts from the witness stand, trying to explain what really happened, and which looks, honestly, really, really bad for him.
I kinda like this goofy movie.
Hammer had the not-all-that-bad idea in a post-James Bond era to frame a new character as one of the disaffected antiheroes that had made their way into film. I am certain this was intended to be the first of several films starring Captain Kronos, but Hammer studios was on the verge of collapse and wsn't able to continue the adventures of the good Captain.
The movie is also - I learned - part of the Karnstein vampire saga which began with an adaptation of the 1872 novel Carmilla starring Ingrid Pitt and retitled The Vampire Lovers. As an alternative to the Dracula films, Hammer had found new angles on the Karnsteins across 3 films in 1970 - 71 before the incredibly iffy return of Drac in 1972.
This film sees a vampire that haunts the woods outside a remote village. The local doctor calls in a friend from "the war", an expert swordsman who pairs with a Van Helsing-like expert in vampire affairs to root out and eliminate the fiends (and in Hammer, especially, the vampires are not just misunderstood weirdos or X-Men with a blood addiction). Kronos is Hammer's version of a bad-motherf@#$er - chain smoking his way through the film, rescuing a grateful Caroline Munro from her small-minded fellow villagers and bringing her along for the inevitable sex scene and to fawn over him throughout the movie.
For their part, the vampire is draining young girls of their youth and essence. Meanwhile, clues start mounting up pointing at the wealthy rich family in town.
All in all, it's pretty straight-forward stuff. Hammer was looking to get a bit more action-adventure with their movies and maybe push their aging cast of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the leads for young film fans to enjoy. It's actually a good enough formula that a smattering of non-Dracula vampire movies of the past thirty years have borrowed the idea of cool vampire hunters, from Vampire Hunter D to Vampire$ and a bunch I'm not thinking of. But - Blade the Vampire Hunter appeared in Marvel comics a year before this movie arrived in theaters. Pretty wild. Something was in the air.
The movie does include some swordplay, but it never quite reaches Errol Flynn-ness. And maybe suggested a cantina scene to a certain Mr. Lucas.
There's no, like, deeper themes to the movie. It's pretty straightforward, sets up Kronos and his pal and what their adventures look like, and then mic drops. If you're looking for something that does some good genre bending and is clearly having a good time doing it, sure!