Comfortable and Furious

Shack Out on 101 (1955)

Directed by: Edward Dein (if you can call that direction)
Written by: Mrs Dein
With: Terry Moore as Kotty (The Tamata)
Frank Lovejoy as Prof. Sam Bastion
Keenan Wynn as George
Lee Marvin as Slob / Mr. Gregory
Whit Bissell as Eddie, a D Day veteran with PDSD.

This is no John le Carré spy adventure.

In 1955 the state of war between the Soviet Union and Germany officially ended.  Elvis Presley appeared on television for the first time, and Kermit the Frog was introduced to the world by the young Jim Henson.  Yes, Kermit’s a Boomer.

In Hollywood, the Holy War against communism continued with the Black List, and a slew of commie-under-the-bed feature films. John Wayne’s contribution to American freedom, after having sat out the World War II, was Big Jim McLain , where the Duke, aka Singin’ Sandy, hunted down commies as an agent of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, searching in the Sands of Honolulu.  (He’d bring Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr. to their knees if it was the last thing he ever did!!!).

A low budget contribution was noir attempts like Shack Out on 101.

George, modeled apparently after the Greek in The Postman Always Rings Twice, owns an unnamed diner known only as the shack.  He has the hots for the sole waitress, known as the “Tamata” (Tomato). She is studying for the Civil Service exam so she might make something of herself. Then there is the Slob, a type of short-order cook that should have a bounty on ’em.  He also has the hots for the Tamata.

In his spare time the Slob collects seashells from the seashore to sell to Prof. Sam Bastion, an “atom smasher” type of physicist who collects them.  Prof. Sam also has the hots for the Tamata, and is the only yeg what’s gotten to first base. In addition, he’s the only snappy dresser.

I don’t want to rush to judgement here, but it appears that the Slob is a traitor to his country, selling nuclear atom-smashing secrets to a foreign enemy. The Tamata finds out but don’t tell nobody as she is studying for the civil service exam and don’t want to queer it.  She does, however, give Prof. Sam the cold shoulder when she thinks he is involved.

Meanwhile, George and Eddie are planning a skin-diving expedition to Baja to spear some viscous fish like El Paco (I think that is what he called him).  They bought a speargun, hint, hint.

They even use the stuffed sailfish hanging on the wall as a practice target.  No Boogie Bass this, it is a surveillance fish placed by the feds who are on to the Slob’s treason!

The stage is set on a dark and stormy night.  Out the front door of the diner the storm rages.  Right out back on the beach, all is calm for the shootout between the feds and Slob’s henchman, played by the youthful Len Lesser (came to fame as Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo) as Perch, a commie rat for pay fishmonger.

Spoiler Alert! Spymaster Mr. Gregory gets speared, the Prof. gets the Tamata, and George and Eddie buy cane poles and go fishing in a 55-gallon drum filled with oily rainwater. Safer.

Shack Out on 101 is like a spy adventure written for the Three Stooges.  The cast tagged it for what it was and played it straight. The story is so haphazard I would not be surprised if Tarantino found inspiration in it.



2 responses to “Shack Out on 101 (1955)”

  1. Matt Avatar

    I was inspired! I’ll be watching it tonight.

  2. Goat Avatar

    I’m inspired by Matt’s inspiration, and John’s review. I’m also watching it tonight. Free on YouTube.

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