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As studio financing dwindled away for Hugo Haas, his last film as a writer-director-producer has certain autobiographical elements, a cast featuring several film veterans from the silent era, and a storyline containing a metaphoric commentary on Hollywood. When former European film director Agnus (Haas) witnesses bickering in a boarding house, he sets out to prove the innate goodness of people. Casting neighbors and the boarding house tenants in his new film, titled "The Chosen and the Condemned," he succeeds in creating peace, unity and harmony in the neighborhood. However, it's all a deception, since Agnus has no film in his camera. When a studio head learns of the project, he bankrolls a budget that enables Agnus to actually complete the film.Written by
At about 43:30 into the movie, Mr. Nicholson, (played by Tom Fadden), is doing a crossword puzzle and asks his wife, played by Margaret Hamilton, what is a five letter word ending in "ch" for "woman". He then assures her that the answer is not "witch", but "wench". This is obviously a playful reference to Margaret Hamilton playing the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz (1939). See more »
Silent superstar Corinne Griffith plays a supporting role in this her last film appearance. After a handful of flops in talkies, Griffith retired from the screen in the early 30s. She returns in a smallish role in this effecting story about the people in a slum neighborhood.
Hugo Haas stars as a stranger who moves into the rundown neighborhood but sees more than bickering neighbors and delinquent kids. I was completely amazed at how this quirky little film grew as it went along and the story unfolded, making it a very nice film experience.
Griffith would have been mid-60s (filmed in 1958 but not released til 1962) but she looks decades younger. Odd casting has her married to Billy Gilbert (same age as Griffith). Their daughter (Carol Morris) was early 20s but playing a 16-year-old. In a "Romeo and Juliet" theme, she loves the boy next door, but Gilbert & Griffith are always fighting with his parents (Margaret Hamilton and Tom Fadden). They live in a "condemned" area in LA called Paradise Lane which is full of tenements, balconies, alleyways, etc. Into the neighborhood comes a mysterious stranger (Haas) who settles in and becomes friends with an old-time movie cameraman (Chester Conklin) who worked for D.W. Griffith. The kids and the adult neighbors are always fighting and making noise, so Haas and Conklin dream up this idea of making a movie and using the neighbors as actors. Haas theorizes that by having the people ACT as caring and loving humans they will BECOME what they are not. Sounds nutty but you get caught up in it, and the story takes a few twists that are pleasant surprises.
Among the other denizens are Don Sullivan as the boy, Jesslyn Fax as a battleaxe, Pat Goldin as Conklin's assistant, Almira Sessions as the landlady, Cyril Delevanti as the grandfather, William Schallert, and a bunch of very old-looking teenagers. Then there's Marie Windsor as a "show girl" in a nightclub.
Griffith has a short scene where she practices for the film using silent film gestures, but she admits that while she HAD been in show biz, she had been in burlesque, not silent movies. Griffith gets no special billing. A poster for the film lists Morris, Haas, Windsor, Griffith, Gilbert. The film itself lists Morris, Windsor, Griffith, Gilbert then supporting cast, and finally a "Written, Produced and Directed" credit for Haas and "who also appears as Mr. Agnus." Morris had a small career in films before and after being crowned Miss Universe in 1956. She's actually quite good. But most people will seek out this film to catch a glimpse of Corinne Griffith.
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