Man of Conflict
Cast & Crew
Hal R. Makelim
J. R. Compton, a powerful industrialist, welcomes his son Ray home from college by bringing him to his company headquarters, as he expects Ray to join the family business. When he sees that the company sign has not been changed as he had ordered, J. R. immediately fires the longtime employee who was responsible, despite the fact that there were legal complications preventing the alteration. J. R. assigns his second-in-command, Evans, to train Ray, and the young man is given documentation and catalogs to study in order to learn about the business. Ray instead asks his father to allow him to learn by starting at the bottom as a machinist, as J. R. once did. A reluctant J. R. then assigns Ray to the machine shop and, at Ray's insistence, promises not to arrange for special treatment. Later that day, J. R. gives Ray a chauffeur-driven tour of the employee tract housing, proudly pointing out that homeowners are only allowed to grow petunias in their yards because that is his preference. Ray begins training on a lathe with veteran machinist Ed Jenks, but keeps his true identity a secret. After six months, Ray informs his father that he plans to continue working as a machinist until he is proficient, even if it takes years. One afternoon during a lunch break, Ray comments that the factory does not seem to run efficiently. Ed responds that because of J. R.'s inhumane treatment of workers, people work for a paycheck rather than a sense of accomplishment. Within the year, Ray's blueblood former girl friend, Betty Coughlin, returns from Europe and, upon reuniting with Ray, fails to understand why he has chosen manual labor. Betty, who resents Ray's work interfering with her pleasure, abruptly breaks off their date when Ray insists he will have to retire early because he is working the next day. Ed, meanwhile, has learned Ray's true identity from a co-worker, and the next day, renounces their friendship because Ray lied to him. Ray believes that Ed is allowing class to come between them and tries to engage Ed in a conversation, but Ed speaks only to warn Ray to don his safety goggles. Ray fails to heed Ed's warning and is injured when a metal shaving flies into his eye. Although the wound is only superficial, J. R. fires Ed and docks the shop manager's pay. Ray admits that the error was his alone, but J. R. insists that infallibility is a mark of success. Ray goes to Ed's house to apologize, but Ed has not yet returned from the factory so Ray is met by Ed's beautiful daughter Jane, a local bank employee. Jane is unaware that Ray is J. R.'s son and, during their conversation, reveals that local residents loathe his father. When Ed finally arrives, he refuses to accept Ray's apology, particularly after Jane learns that she, too, has been fired. Ray then visits Jane's bank manager, Murdock, and learns that Evans ordered him to dismiss Jane. Ray quits after confronting his resolute father and later that evening, takes a long drive. Ray's car is forced off the road by two thugs, who then beat him unconscious in retribution for Ed's dismissal. Ray recuperates in the hospital, and is pleased when Jane visits and assures him that Ed had nothing to do with the attack. J. R. inaugurates a plan to fire ten factory workers per day until the culprits are turned in. When Ray recovers his father asks him to return to work, but Ray resists until he learns that J. R. has re-hired Ed and had Jane reinstated at the bank. Jane and Ray, meanwhile, have fallen in love. True to his ideals as a worker, Ray announces his support of the local labor union at their meeting. When Ray proposes to Jane, and she reveals that she is reluctant to marry him because she believes that both J. R. and their differing social classes will ultimately interfere with their marriage. Ray insists that she accept, and returns home to announce his engagement. He is forestalled, however, because his father is irate over his public support of the labor union. Ray then accuses his father of destroying his employees' motivation, and informs him of his plans to offer security, dignity and advancement when he takes over the company. The argument explodes into physical violence until J. R. comes close to striking his son with a fireplace poker. Ray stalks out, leaving his father bereft. Late that night, J. R. goes to the factory and becomes enthralled with working on the lathe until morning, when he proudly shows his work to the night watchman. At the same time, Ray visits Ed and Jane to tell them he plans to disavow his inheritance. Ray and the Jenkses are surprised when a phone call from J. R. puts a smile on Ray's face. Having rediscovered the joy of honest labor, J. R. introduces new policies during a board meeting, and gleefully agrees with Ray that employees should grow whatever kind of flower they wish at their homes. Factory police then bring in the two thugs responsible for attacking Ray, and after the leader of the labor union reveals that they are Communists and not affiliated with his organization, they arrange to have the men arrested. Years later, a much older J. R. gives Jane his wife's diamond necklace to celebrate Ray and Jane's anniversary. As Ray is now taking over leadership of the company, J. R. also presents his son with a piece of a lathe encased in glass, as a symbolic reminder that he should never forget the joy of worthwhile labor.
Hal R. Makelim
Hal R. Makelim
Hal R. Makelim
Jean L. Speaks
TCM Remembers - John Agar
Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.
Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.
Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.
By Lang Thompson
DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002
Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.
Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)
Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.
However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - John Agar
The working title of this film was My Dad, J. R.. Although the onscreen credits contain a copyright statement, the film is not listed in the Copyright Catalog. Ryder Sound Services, Inc. is credited only as Ryder Services onscreen. The Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest review incorrectly gives the picture's running time as 88 minutes. The film marked Hal R. Makelim's producing and directorial debut. A New York Times article noted the following about the production: The film was shot in twelve days, and Makelim funded the production with his own money. Due to the low operating budget, Makelim reportedly gave "profit participation interests in the film to some of the players, to Harold Stine, the cinematographer, and envelopes to all the crew containing ten-dollar bills."
In addition, Makelim placed a December 15, 1952 advertisement in local trade papers thanking his cast and crew for their work, and listing the following crew members, most of whom did not receive onscreen credits: Lester Shorr, Fred Kuhn, H. Levy, Seymour Hofberg, Polly Craus, Jack Welch, Dick Kline, Ralph Clement, C. C. Ackerman, Robert Lawrence, Pete Cologne, Jane Romeyn, Louie Van Den Ecker, Ernie King, Dick Salyer, Joe Farquhar, Max Miller, Arlie Paul, Jean L. Speaks, David Newell, Jack Lannan, Art Smith, Al Boie, Earl Martin, Bob Quick, Wm. Simbro, James J. Vaiana, Kenny Wessen, Ray Ammons, Florence Maher, George Marquenie, Wayne Neff, Mildred Duncan, R. L. Buddie, O. Beckett, Vernon Keays, Henry Ogilvie, A. Caldwell, John Vaiana, James Almond, Louis Germonprez, Frank Green, Bert Cornelius, Harry Peale, Bill Croft, F. Milliken, Bessie Epstein, Alex P. Kahle, A. Pettebone, Rex Brown, Clarence Steensen, Theo Marshall, Ralph Berger, Levi Williams, Les Schoenhiet and William Shea.
Although a Daily Variety news item noted that Arnsworth Distributing Corp. was slated to distribute Man of Conflict, the Variety review indicated that distribution was handled through producer Makelim's distribution company, Atlas Pictures Co. A Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Makelim arranged for screenings at sixty-eight U.S. Army installations prior to the general theatrical release.