VHS Vednesday: Shack Out on 101
SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955). Directed by Edward Dein. Starring Terry Moore, Lee Marvin, and Frank Lovejoy.
In a cheap roadside diner, tempers flare between the long-suffering owner George (Keenan Wynn), his moody short-order cook "Slob" (Lee Marvin), and Kotty (Terry Moore), the waitress studying for a civil-service exam in hopes of leaving this sordid world behind. The movie begins as a character study of these bickering small-timers, as if director/co-writer Edward Dein were trying to make another Marty or Come Back, Little Sheba. However, the movie veers off wildly with the introduction of Kotty's boyfriend Sam (Frank Lovejoy), a nuclear physicist at a nearby laboratory, and the revelation that Slob is involved in a spy ring after his secrets. And yet, Dein never fully embraces the cold-war thriller aspect of the movie, continually going onto odd tangents such as Slob's habit of losing his wristwatch in the food, a discussion on bodybuilding between George and Slob, or George's planned scuba-diving trip with an old army buddy (Whit Bissell). As a result, the film is a strangely compelling patchwork quilt, filled with individual scenes that are entertaining in themselves, yet never seem to belong in the same story.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Shack Out on 101 benefits immensely from its charismatic cast, with Lee Marvin dominating the film with his distinctive combination of menace and humor. Apart from the major players, the cast is also filled with familiar faces in small parts, including Frank DeKova (of F-Troop and the MST3K fodder Teenage Caveman) as a drunken-exposition-spouting colleague of Sam's, and Len Lesser ("Uncle Leo" from Seinfeld) as one of Slob's contacts.
Labels: vhs vednesday