Die Laughing (1980)

“As a singer, he’s a killer. As a lover, he’s a killer. As a killer, he’s a lovely singer.” In this guilty pleasure directed by Jeff Werner, cabbie and aspiring singer “Pinsky” (Robby Benson) becomes involved in the murder of a nuclear scientist and tries to protect an organ-grinder monkey from “Mueller,” a “a sadistic crypto-fascist” portrayed by none other than Bud Cort (Harold & Maude). Oh yeah, the plot also includes a “Battle of the Bands” competition. No, I’m not kidding! The cast also features Linda Grovenor as “Amy,” Charles Durning as “Arnold” and Elsa Lanchester as “Sophie.” Benson sings several catchy tunes, including “Mr. Weinstein’s Barber Shop,” “All I Want is Love” and “Far Side of a Dream.” Die Laughing was Cort’s first film following a near-fatal car accident in 1979. Useless Trivia: Die Laughing was the last film of Elsa Lanchester (1902-86). Dillinger [1945]
Dillinger [1945] – Image
“His story is written in bullets, blood and blondes!” A low-budget, by-the-numbers gangster flick bolstered by a strong performance by legendary tough guy Lawrence Tierney in the title role, Dillinger moves briskly – clocking in at a running time of just 70 minutes. Directed by Max Nosseck and produced by Monogram Pictures, the film is very loosely based on the life and times of mythical gangster/folk hero John Dillinger. Highlights include Dillinger’s early awkward attempts to embark on a life of crime (he gets arrested for robbing a grocery store of $7.20), his escape from jail using a wooden gun and ultimate betrayal by the “Lady in Red” (Anne Jeffreys) at the Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934 (for trivia buffs: the movie playing that night was Manhattan Melodrama). The solid supporting cast includes Edmund Lowe as “Specs Green,” Elisha Cook Jr. as “Kirk Otto,” Marc Lawrence as “Doc Madison” and Eduardo Ciannelli as “Marco Minelli.” Philip Yordan’s script (assisted by an uncredited William Castle) was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay.”

Useless Trivia: Footage for one of the bank robbery scenes in Dillinger was lifted entirely from Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once (1937).

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