Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1959 American International Pictures film “A Bucket of Blood,” produced and directed by Roger Corman. Please see the comments for Eric Yarber’s excellent analysis of the film. It is widely available on DVD.

Aug. 1, 2016, mystery photo

For Monday, we have an intense mystery gent.



 Aug. 2, 2016, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mystery woman.

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (mystery movie and mystery actor), E. Yarber (mystery movie and mystery actor) and Patrick (mystery movie and mystery actor).

Aug. 3, 2016, mystery photo
For Wednesday, we have a mystery gent on the telephone.

Brain Trust roll call: E. Yarber (wait until Saturday, when you see the accompanying commentary on the mystery film. It’s delightful!), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery woman), Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery woman) and Patrick (Tuesday’s mystery woman).

Aug. 4, 2016, Mystery Photo

For Thursday, we have two real gone cats. Or one square and one real gone cat. Hey, daddy-o, dig the ancient pay phone! It’s the most.

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery cowboy), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery cowboy), Jenny M. (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery cowboy), Sarah (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery cowboy), Patrick (Wednesday’s mystery cowboy), E. Yarber (Wednesday’s mystery cowboy) and B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery guest).

Note: Be sure to check back Saturday to read E. Yarber’s commentary on our mystery film.

Aug. 5, 2016, Mystery Photo

Here’s an early look at Friday’s mystery guests.

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Patrick (Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), E. Yarber (Thursday’s mystery guests with a fascinating essay about the mystery movie) and LC (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery gents).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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62 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. A very young, fresh-faced Theodore Bikel.


  2. Charles Kjelland says:

    A young Peter Ustinov?


  3. stanhope1929 says:

    Is it Theodore Bikel?


  4. B.J.Merholz says:

    This is not Laird Cregar, of course, but a circa 1960s actor who was cast for that similar quality. Don’t consider this an entry comment, Larry; just an aside while I try to jog my frustrating memory..


  5. Mike Hawks says:

    Julian Burton in A BUCKET OF BLOOD.


  6. Anne Papineau says:

    Not “is it” it IS Theodore Bikel.


  7. Anne Papineau says:

    George Becwar?


  8. Benito says:

    Alan King playing Fidel Castro?


  9. E. Yarber says:

    So THAT’s how to ace the weekly quiz… write a book that includes an analysis of the film in question! If I’d missed this one, I’d really feel silly. I smugly recognize Julian Burton as Maxwell Brock in Roger Corman’s 1959 A Bucket of Blood, and just behind him to his left out of the frame is jazzman Paul Horn.


  10. Sheila T says:

    Roger Livesay?


  11. Patrick says:

    Julian Burton in A Bucket of Blood from 1959.


  12. E. Yarber says:

    You may be accidentally defining your career when granting young relatives cameos. Today we see Myrtle Vail, grandmother of the film’s writer Charles Griffith. Vail spent most of the 1930s writing and starring in her own daytime soap opera, Myrt and Marge, but she’s probably best remembered today for her over-the-top appearances in Bucket of Blood and Corman/Griffith’s even more popular follow-up Little Shop of Horrors.


  13. Mel Welles in A BUCKET OF BLOOD. Today, Myrtle Vail.


  14. Anne Papineau says:

    Lila Kedrova?


  15. Mike Hawks says:

    Myrtle Vail.


  16. Patrick says:

    Tuesday = Myrtle Vail


  17. stanhope1929 says:

    Could Monday’s Mystery man be PETER USTINOV?


  18. Mike Hawks says:

    Ed Nelson.


  19. Jenny M says:

    Ed Nelson in A Bucket of Blood.


  20. Sarah says:

    The movie is “A Bucket of Blood.” Ed Nelson gave it away today!


  21. Patrick says:

    Wednesday = Ed Nelson


  22. E. Yarber says:

    A really fun aspect of the drive-in movies and television of this period is that you never know who will be popping up. Yesterday we had a former radio performer/writer, and today it’s future TV star Ed Nelson, an early Corman regular who guested on practically every episodic series before finding a roost at Peyton Place.

    I like to think Nelson arrived on the Bucket of Blood set straight from filming an episode of Have Gun — Will Travel and found everyone was so goofily dressed there was no need for him to change out of his western outfit to play a cop. One also wonders if Clint Eastwood got any costume hints from the character when packing for Italy. (This is pre-Yojimbo, but Nelson scratches himself under the poncho in a distinctly Toshiro Mifune manner).


  23. Candy Cassell says:

    Wednesday’s scruffy guy is Pernell Roberts, the oldest Cartright son, Adam, on Bonanza, but talking on a more 1950s-1960s wall phone. Love his hat.


    • lmharnisch says:

      Interesting guess, but Adam it is not. 🙂


    • mandymarie20 says:

      I just have to say I’m anti-Bonanza in general. It’s definitely personal. Nearly every person I meet mispronounces my last name because of it – and the show hasn’t been on television in decades! It doesn’t matter if it’s in print or spoken, nearly every person I meet is convinced it’s Cartright – contrary to centuries of historical documentation to the contrary.


  24. B.J.Merholz says:

    It just hit me Julian Burton, Was it Bucket of Blood? I don’t like to look things up.


  25. mandymarie20 says:

    Tuesday looks a bit Marie Dressler like, but the film itself seems from a later era than she would have appeared in.


  26. David Inman says:

    Don’t know any of the people, but I’m guessing the movie is called “Sweaters, Sweaters, Sweaters.”


  27. Mike Hawks says:

    Antony Carbone and Bruno VeSota discuss the world of art and culture.


  28. Patrick says:

    Thursday = Anthony Carbone and Bruno Ve Soto.


  29. Monday: Julian Burton
    Thursday: Anthony Carbone, Bruno VeSota


  30. stanhope1929 says:

    For Thursday’s Mystery Men…are they RAGS RAGLAND (with the beret) and HOWARD FREEMAN (with the mustache)?


  31. E. Yarber says:

    Quite a bit to explain here. Hope I don’t break anybody’s bandwidth with too much information.

    Thursday’s pic could easily be captioned “Corman at the Crossroads.” On the left is Antony Carbone, making his first appearance in a Corman film, while on the right is Bruno VeSota, a regular member of the director’s stock company in the 1950s. Seeing them together in 1959 really brings home what a pivotal film this was for RC, whose work would take a dramatically different turn the next year.

    American International Pictures, a niche studio, built up a steady market by aiming their product at teenage boys, figuring teenage girls and younger kids would follow their lead. Today, of course, this is the default strategy of mainstream Hollywood, but in their day AIP seemed to be speaking directly to their audience as no one at the big studios could manage. As part of that strategy, Corman and Griffith alternated their science-fiction pictures with a whole string of adolescent melodramas like “Rock All Night,” “Carnival Rock,” and the early Jack Nicholson vehicle “The Cry-Baby Killer” (penned by Leo Gordon).

    Given the focus given to Corman’s horror work, it’s easy to regard “Bucket of Blood” in that genre. Unlike the follow-up “Little Shop of Horrors,” however, the closest “Bucket” comes to supernatural material is when the guilt-stricken Walter thinks he hears the voices of his victims. If one is of a taxonomic frame of mind, the film has much more in common with the teen melodramas, featuring the same screenwriter and much of the acting company established in that cycle of pictures. You can regard it as either a wild farewell to that genre or a parody of the series they’d just completed, but things would never be the same afterward.

    Three films after this, Corman got the funds to make “House of Usher,” a wide-screen Technicolor epic. Richard Matheson became his go-to writer, while Hollywood stars like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Ray Milland began topping the bill instead of Corman’s young unknowns. Members of the fifties ensemble turned up in some of the later films, but were no longer on an equal footing. For example, Barboura Morris, the charming female lead of “Bucket,” appears briefly as a nurse in “X – The Man With X-Ray Eyes.” It’s just enough time to be glad to see her again, then miss her.

    Carbone had major roles in three more Corman films before becoming a busy TV actor. At one point, VeSota seemed happy to act for any independent filmmaker in LA with a camera and no money, but managed to find a recurring role on Bonanza.

    Speaking of westerns, Ed Nelson isn’t wearing a poncho after all. It’s a large baggy sweater. I’ll have to figure out some way to blame Clint Eastwood for my mistake.


  32. LC says:

    Oh wow! This is A Bucket of Blood w/Dick Miller, Ed Nelson, & Antony Carbone.


  33. Barboura Morris and Dick Miller.


  34. Mike Hawks says:

    Barboura Morris and Dick Miller.


  35. Patrick says:

    Friday = Barboura Morris and Dick Miller. Honorable mention to Alex Hassilev who played the singer-guitarist. A Bucket of Blood was made in 1959, the same year Alex co-founded the The Limeliters with Glenn Yarbrough and Lou Gottlieb.


  36. Benito says:

    The ubiquitous Dick Miller and Barboura Morris in A BUCKET OF BLOOD, daddy o.


  37. E. Yarber says:

    Who are these people? I’ve never seen them before! Oh my God, I’ve been talking about the wrong movie all week.

    Back to business. Friday we see the aforementioned Barboura Morris and Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, a character (or at least name) he’d revive for director Joe Dante years later.

    Miller was a good fit for Corman’s teen dramas of the 50s, conveying a wise-guy persona that any high school student would love to pull off. In fact, for his bit part in “X – the Man With X-Ray Eyes,” Miller managed to successfully heckle Don Rickles. While Jonathan Haze’s character Seymour is a pawn of his talking plant in the companion film “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Bucket of Blood” centers on Walter’s actions, which in turn are pushed by a fatal misperception that turns everything wrong.

    Walter wants to be accepted by the hip set, which is a reasonable goal, but makes the mistake of thinking he can achieve that result by becoming an artist despite no discernible talent. Like most wannabes, he doesn’t realize that a serious artist gains acclaim through years of application to the craft. With no idea of the inner understanding a creator needs in order to express themselves, Walter sees the role as a persona that is real as long as he can convince people that’s who he really is. In order to maintain this false pose, however, he’s forced to betray the core purpose of art and winds up destroying instead of creating. In the end, he’s swallowed by the ersatz body of work he’s passed off as evidence of the talent he doesn’t have, ironically providing its sole touch of honesty by finally giving himself over to it.

    So though we have two films with very similar structures, “Bucket of Blood” is really a character-based story, while “Little Shop of Horrors” is plot-driven. Morris and Antony Carbone’s characters are played straight in “Bucket,” while Jackie Joseph and Mel Welles go for broad laughs with their equivalent roles in “Little Shop.” Since the latter film features cartoonish figures who don’t really connect with anyone, we’d never be able to take Walter’s needs seriously among them. “Bucket” still has one foot in the teenage dramas where issues of identity and relationships still mattered. It’s not that one approach is necessarily better than another, but that in each case it has been consistently applied. Considering that both films were made in incredible haste (“Little Shop” in two days), they hold up amazingly well.

    I’ll just add that on Monday I mentioned having examined these films (among many many other subjects) in a book of my own. Poor Larry wore himself out trying to find a copy of the damn thing until I admitted in an email that the tome has been written but not yet published. I wouldn’t blame you for considering that on a level with some pathetic guy claiming to have a long-distance girlfriend in Ontario no one else has ever seen, but I’ve actually signed a contract for the volume and delivered the complete text last month. Right now I’m preparing to begin work with the editor. The whole business may still collapse in this volatile publishing marketplace, but we’ve cleared the hurdles so far and may yet go the distance. I’ll continue to haunt the comment section and may have news of a release some time. For now I’m preparing to check back next week and return to my comfortable routine of having no clue whatsoever regarding the mystery movie. Thanks to Larry for giving me a place to doodle while waiting to get back to my manuscript. Hope my rambling held your interest.


  38. Diane Ely says:

    Ralph Dumke on Thursday (the square cat on the right)?


  39. dewetwebb says:

    dick miller/


  40. Alan Warren says:

    The man with the beard is Julian Burton. The man on the phone is Ed Nelson. The film is A Bucket of Blood.


  41. Alan Warren says:

    The bearded man is Julian Burton. The man on the phone is Ed Nelson. The film is A Bucket of Blood.


  42. dewetwebb says:

    Bruno VeSota


  43. mandymarie20 says:

    It’s gotta be ‘Bucket of Blood’. Friday is Dick Miller and Barboura Morris. This is a funny, odd film. Definitely worth seeing at least once for the campiness.


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