Movieland mystery photo ( Updated + + + + )


This week’s mystery movie was the 1965 film “Once a Thief,” written by Zekial Marko (our mystery man for Tuesday) and directed by Ralph Nelson, with longtime Alfred Hitchcock cinematographer Robert Burks (“North by Northwest” and “Vertigo” among many others).

The jazz score was by Lalo Schifrin in one of his first pictures, with editing by Fredric Steinkamp (“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”). The art direction was by George W. Davis and Paul Groesse (both of whom had worked on the TV show “Twilight Zone”) ; and set decoration by Henry Grace, another “Twilight Zone” veteran, and Jack Mills (“Attack of the Puppet People” and “One Step Beyond”).

“Once a Thief” appears to have been heavily influenced by foreign films of the era. All the dialogue is obviously and sometimes crudely dubbed (rather like “The Loved One”), which gives the film an air of unreality and artificiality. Perhaps that’s what Nelson was going for.

The opening credits were filmed in a small club, and this shot made me wonder. This would have been an ideal Steadicam shot, but it was long before the Steadicam was invented. Instead, we have a handheld camera following the actors through a crowd.

The frame has a little bounce. But in this case, it fits the gritty, downbeat story.


Here’s our mysterious chap for Monday.



And for Tuesday, another enigmatic gent. You will go to Google. It will be of no help.
Please congratulate Dewey Webb for identifying Monday’s mystery fellow.




And for Wednesday, we have “Oh. Him.”
Please congratulate William and Dewey Webb for identifying our mystery movie and cast.

The lighting in this scene is interesting. It’s supposed to be an office with flat lighting from overhead fluorescent fixtures, but there are sharp highlights and deep shadows in some of the shots, which makes me think it’s a set with studio lighting rather than an actual office. Unfortunately, I can’t show you how the scene is lit without revealing one of our stars, but it’s worth revisiting later.

Here’s the scene I was talking about on Wednesday.

The setting is an office with flat, fluorescent lighting. But look at this:

'Once a Thief'
Inspector Mike Vido (Van Heflin) is in deep shadow while the background characters are lit more normally.

'Once a Thief'
The deep shadows certainly contribute to the mood of the picture, much of which either occurs at night or in dimly lit places. But it’s a curious effect.

Some of Robert Burks’ cinematography for “Once a Thief.”  Eddie Pedak (Alain Delon) drives through San Francisco at night in his Model A roadster.  I’m guessing this was a post-production effect.

And this is obviously a process shot.

Walter Pedak (Jack Palance) and James Arthur Sargatanas (John Davis Chandler). You really don’t want these guys after you.

April 24, 2014, Mystery Photo

Here’s our leading man, but because this is a crime picture, he’s behind bars. Just to make it a bit more challenging.

Please congratulate Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/wrong movie), Julie Merholz (mystery movie and cast), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie and cast), Don Danard (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Jenny M (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Benito (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/second vote for the wrong movie),  Dewey Webb (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), Rick (Wednesday’s mystery fellow), David Inman (mystery movie and cast), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and cast), LC (mystery movie and cast), Roget-L.A. (Wednesday’s mystery fellow/third vote for the wrong movie), Rick Scott (Wednesday’s mystery fellow) and Barbara Klein (Wednesday’s mystery fellow).

If you would like a hint, email me.

April 25, 2014, Mystery Photo

And for Friday, Trixie Friganza.

Please congratulate Michael Ryerson (Thursday’s mystery fellow), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and cast), Jenny M (mystery movie and cast), Benito (mystery movie and cast) and Rick Scott (mystery movie and cast).


About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Movieland mystery photo ( Updated + + + + )

  1. Don Danard says:

    How ’bout Sir John Geilgud.


  2. Mary Mallory says:

    Norman Lloyd in Saboteur.


  3. deweywebb says:

    John Davis Chandler


  4. aryedirect says:

    A (relatively) youthful, Bert Mustin?


  5. Rogét-L.A. says:

    I don’t know who he is, but he looks like one of The Gentlemen from an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Hush”.


  6. DeweyWebb says:

    Tuesday guy is Zekial Marko (plaing a crook named Luke Marko) who wrote the novel ONCE A THIEF


  7. David Inman says:

    Stacy Keach for today?


  8. Mary Mallory says:

    Jeff Corey today.


  9. Well I think this is Once a Thief (1965) with a creepy John Chandler behind the shades and Jeff Corey on Wednesday. I think the newspaper shot is kind of an in-joke of Zekial Marko who played ‘Luke’ in the film.


  10. Don Danard says:

    Today’s “Mystery Man” in Jeff Corey.


  11. Jenny M says:

    Wednesday – Jeff Corey


  12. Benito says:

    Wednesday’s gent is good ol’ Jeff Corey. Guessing the movie is “Seconds”, with Rock Hudson.


  13. juliemerholz says:

    Once A Thief 1965… Monday is John Davis Chandler, Tuesday is the writer Zekial Marko, Staring Alain Delon, Ann-Margaret, Van Heflin, and Jack Palance.


  14. DeweyWebb says:

    Jeff Corey


  15. Rick says:

    Jeff Corey today


  16. David Inman says:

    Jeff Corey today, and the movie is “Once a Thief.” That makes Monday’s old man — Ann-Margret!


  17. Floyd Thursby says:

    Wednesday is Jeff Corey. The movie is “Once a Thief.”


  18. LC says:

    #1 is the ever creepy John David Chandler, #2 (newspaper guy) is Zekial Marko, who also wrote the screenplay, and #3 is Jeff Corey in Once a Thief (1965). Coming soon is Alain Delon, Van Heflin, Ann-Margaret and Jack Palance.


  19. Diane Ely says:

    Monday: Kim Fowley?


  20. Rogét-L.A. says:

    Wednesday: definitely Jeff Corey
    Mystery Movie: Seconds (1966)?


  21. Rick Scott says:

    Wednesday is Jeff Corey. The film, anybody’s guess is better than mine.


  22. LC says:

    Correction – That should be #1 is John Davis Chandler.


  23. Barbara Klein says:

    Wednesday – Jeff Corey


  24. Real life tough guy Alain Delon.


  25. Mary Mallory says:

    Alain Delon and ONCE A THIEF?


  26. Jenny M says:

    Alain Delon in Once a Thief


  27. Benito says:

    Today’s jailbird sure looks like Alain Delon, which would make the movie Once A Thief [1965].


  28. Rick Scott says:

    Alain Delon in “Once a Thief”?


  29. And for Friday, a wind-blown Ann-Margret Olsson.


  30. Gary Martin says:

    Dyan Cannon.


  31. Don Danard says:

    Today it’s Ann-Margret Olsson. (Show off!)


  32. Pat van Hartesveldt says:

    Friday, Ann-Margret?


  33. Rogét-L.A. says:

    Friday: Ann-Margret
    Mystery Movie: Once a Thief (1965)


  34. Mary Mallory says:

    I’ve done research into Mr. Nelson. He was an Air Force flying instructor during World War II who was also a playwright. He wrote 3 one-acts while in the service, and one, THE WIND IS NINETY, about a pilot who is shot down and sort of does an OUR TOWN visit to his family, opened on Broadway in May 1945 with Wendell Corey in the title role, along with Kirk Douglas, Dickie Van Patten as a kid, Bert Lytell, and another famous actress as the mother. Celeste Holm was Nelson’s first wife.


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