SHACK OUT ON 101
(director/writer: Edward Dein; screenwriter: Mildred Dein; cinematographer: Floyd Crosby; editor: George White; music: Paul Dunlap; cast: Terry Moore (Kotty), Frank Lovejoy (Prof. Sam Bastion), Keenan Wynn (George), Lee Marvin (Slob/Mr. Gregory), Whit Bissell (Eddie), Jess Barker (Artie), Donald Murphy (Pepe), Frank DeKova (Prof. Claude Dillon), Len Lesser (Perch); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mort Millman; Allied Artists; 1955)
“A snappy entry into those Red Scare movies from the Cold War paranoid period of the 1950s in America.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A snappy entry into those Red Scare movies from the Cold War paranoid period of the 1950s in America. Writer-director Edward Dein and his wife Mildred who is co-writer, provide a very funny take on those kind of superpatriotic films while at the same time preaching to the choir. It’s also helped by a fine cast, with Lee Marvin excelling in his role as a lecherous greasy-spoon short-order cook named “Slob” who also happens to be the secret Mr. Big in the Communist Party.
Army veteran George (Keenan Wynn) saved his money and followed his dream of owning a café after surviving “D-day,” as the wounded man was carried to safety by his close friend Eddie (Whit Bissell). The good-hearted Eddie was deeply affected by the brutality of the war and now cringes at any rough stuff. He is a steady patron, who works as a traveling salesman. The place is in a sparsely populated area located next to both a beach and highway 101; also, nearby is a nuclear research facility. One of the steady customers is a leading nuclear scientist Professor Sam Bastion (Frank Lovejoy), who is a government agent posing as a traitor selling secrets to Commie agent Slob. Sam’s mission is to crack the spy ring and find out who is the leader they call Mr. Gregory. To provide a reason for frequenting the café, Sam is romantically involved with the hot looking waitress Kotty (Terry Moore). She’s a good-hearted numbskull boning up to take a government civil service test because she thinks a job there would better impress her boyfriend professor. George loves her, but she likes him without feeling any romantic sparks. Slob offends her with his crudeness and sexual advances, and angers the boss when he refers to her as the Tomato.
Kotty one night while undetected stumbles upon the Professor, Slob and a drunken scientist, Professor Dillon, conversing in the darkened eatery after hours, and overhears a troubled Dillon say he wants to stop giving secrets to the enemy and go to the authorities but is dissuaded by Sam. A week later his body is discovered coming ashore with a knife in his back. Kotty threatens to inform the authorities about what she suspects, but things happen so fast that she’s held at gunpoint by Slob. But have no fear, the good guys come at the last minute to the rescue and Slob learns the hard way not to mess around with the government, hot chicks or the American way of life (Slob once had the audacity to put a watchband in Eddie’s hamburger–the symbol of the Yankee diet should not be trifled with by a dirty commie).
REVIEWED ON 4/15/2005 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/