And shout anxiety!

 

 

They could make this movie today. They have, a few times over. The premise is simple: an ordinary man is caught up in a web of intrigue. Fellow named Hitchcock could do wonders with the idea, but he wasn't alone. First, you need the Ordinary Guy, and we meet him in his workplace - which, to modern eyes, doesn't look like any sort of store we know. What is this?

 

 

It's a record store. In those days an adult could have a job in a record store, and make a living at it, too. Odd, when he could have been an actor, since he's James Mason.

 

 

He's listening to the TV in the other room tell a story about a bomb threat to an airplane, and I won't tell you why he cares. But he does. Very much. We go to the airfield, where the reporter is live on the scene:

 

 

imdb says it's this fellow:

 

Roy Neal, NBC correspondent who specialized in aerospace, and covered moon shots. Chet Huntley's in the movie, too. Brinkley was off having a scotch, perhaps. Anyway. The terror plot has something to do with James Mason, and thus his wife, Inger Stephens:

 

Gorgeous and strange, she had problems. Says imdb:

She cheated death three times. In her first suicide attempt, she swallowed sleeping pills and ammonia which left her with blood clots in her lungs, legs swelled up to twice their size, and temporary blindness (she miraculously recovered within weeks); one time, she was nearly asphyxiated by carbon monoxide fumes while filming a scene from Cry Terror! (1958) in a tunnel (her co-star said years later she initially refused medical treatment at the scene, she said she wanted to die); and once she leaped from a crash-landing jet liner minutes before it exploded.

That last one certainly gets your attention, doesn't it? How does one leap from a crashing jet? It's like the childhood question about whether you could survive a falling elevator if you jumped up at the last second. Apparently so.

I edited that entry slightly to hide the name of her co-star - he's the fellow who masterminded the terror-plot that somehow involves James Mason, and hence requires that Mason and his family be kidnapped. At first I didn't recognize him:

 

 

You just don't see Rod Steiger dressed up like this. He's absolutely chilling. Of course he has henchmen:

 

 

Jack Klugman, hangdog, sullen, stupid, a loser.

Every gang needs a thug:

 

 

Neville Brand, a highly decorated WW2 soldier: "e a Silver Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Ribbon, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon (with three Service Stars), Overseas Service Bar, one Service stripe, and the Combat Infantryman Badge." He had a fine career as a heavy, and here - as a pill-popping sex maniac who holds the family hostage - he's scary and pathetic.

Finally, every gang needs a moll:

 

 

She is bad. She is horrible and cold and selfish and doesn't care if a kid gets hurt, as long as she gets her cut. She is everything you need in a believable villainess. She is Angie Dickinson.

It's a great piece of work, and strikingly contemporary. They've made this movie over and over again, but this one got it right from the start. One strange detail I can't explain:

 

 

Travellers Premium Company. The 7 Dorfs. Who were they? We should know, because now they're immortal.