The Killer Is Loose (1956)

71 or 73 mins | Drama | February 1956

Director:

Budd Boetticher

Writer:

Harold Medford

Cinematographer:

Lucien Ballard

Editor:

George Gittens

Production Designer:

Leslie Thomas

Production Company:

Crown Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Prior to the 13 Jun 1953 publication of the novelette The Killer Is Loose in The Saturday Evening Post , HR had reported, in Feb 1953, that the story had been purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox. LAT soon noted, on 3 Mar 1953, that the studio sought Orson Welles to play the role of "Leon Poole," with Victure Mature set for the role of "Sam Wagner." Robert Bassler was assigned to produce the film, and according to a 3 Mar 1953 HR news item, planned to shoot it that October in CinemaScope.
       By 30 Nov 1954, HR stated that Robert Goldstein and Robert L. Jacks, part-owners of new independent production company Crown Productions, Inc., had purchased the story from Fox and assigned Danny Fuchs to write the screenplay. They intended the film to begin shooting in Mar 1955, and in Feb 1955 announced in HR that Maurice Suess would act as the production manager. On 10 Mar 1955, however, HR reported that the start date had been delayed, causing Suess to leave the production. The bank robbery sequence at the beginning of the film was shot in and around the intersection of Roxbury Dr. and Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles.
       Although mid-Aug 1955 news items add Karolee Kelly, Steve Mitchell and Rudi Dana to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add the following actors: Frank Gerstle ( Bank robber ); William Hudson ( Detective on Stakeout ); Stafford Repp ( State Police Capt. Lyle Snow ) and Charles ... More Less

Prior to the 13 Jun 1953 publication of the novelette The Killer Is Loose in The Saturday Evening Post , HR had reported, in Feb 1953, that the story had been purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox. LAT soon noted, on 3 Mar 1953, that the studio sought Orson Welles to play the role of "Leon Poole," with Victure Mature set for the role of "Sam Wagner." Robert Bassler was assigned to produce the film, and according to a 3 Mar 1953 HR news item, planned to shoot it that October in CinemaScope.
       By 30 Nov 1954, HR stated that Robert Goldstein and Robert L. Jacks, part-owners of new independent production company Crown Productions, Inc., had purchased the story from Fox and assigned Danny Fuchs to write the screenplay. They intended the film to begin shooting in Mar 1955, and in Feb 1955 announced in HR that Maurice Suess would act as the production manager. On 10 Mar 1955, however, HR reported that the start date had been delayed, causing Suess to leave the production. The bank robbery sequence at the beginning of the film was shot in and around the intersection of Roxbury Dr. and Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles.
       Although mid-Aug 1955 news items add Karolee Kelly, Steve Mitchell and Rudi Dana to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add the following actors: Frank Gerstle ( Bank robber ); William Hudson ( Detective on Stakeout ); Stafford Repp ( State Police Capt. Lyle Snow ) and Charles Wagenheim. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Feb 1956.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jan 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Jan 56
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1955
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1955
pp. 3- 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Sep 1955
p. 13, 16.
Los Angeles Times
3 Mar 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Feb 56
p. 787.
New York Times
3 Mar 56
p. 17.
Variety
1 Feb 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Re-rec
Sd ed
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
Casting dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novelette The Killer Is Loose by John and Ward Hawkins in The Saturday Evening Post (13 Jun 1953).
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1956
Production Date:
12 August--late September 1955 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Crown Productions
Copyright Date:
19 February 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6304
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71 or 73
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17445
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Upon encountering Leon Poole in his current position as bank loan manager, Otto Flanders recognizes him as the corporal from his war unit whom he used to call “Foggy” because of Poole’s bumbling mannerisms. Poole, who is not pleased to see his old sergeant, is distracted by a robbery taking place at the back of the bank. When the thief pulls a gun and runs out the front door, Poole tries to stop him and is knocked out. While Flanders is questioned by detective Sam Wagner and his partner, Chris Gillespie at the police station, he now praises Poole’s courage. Later, Sam, Chris and Sgt. “Denny” Denning monitor a wiretap, on which they hear the robber calling his accomplice. They trace the call to Poole’s apartment and attempt to enter. Poole has barricaded the door, however, and shoots at them, prompting Sam to break down the door and enter shooting. When Mrs. Poole steps out, Sam, and who had been told she was not in the apartment, accidentally kills her, and Poole cradles his beloved wife in his arms. At the trial, Poole is sentenced to three, concurrent, ten-year prison terms, and upon being led out, glares at Sam’s wife Lila, and vows to get revenge. A few years later, the jail warden rewards Poole’s exceptional good behavior by transferring him to a state honor farm, where he works in the fields. After a short time there, a guard, believing Poole to be a model prisoner, assigns Poole to accompany him on a special trip into the city, not realizing that Poole has smuggled a handmade weapon into his uniform. Poole kills the guard as they drive on a ... +


Upon encountering Leon Poole in his current position as bank loan manager, Otto Flanders recognizes him as the corporal from his war unit whom he used to call “Foggy” because of Poole’s bumbling mannerisms. Poole, who is not pleased to see his old sergeant, is distracted by a robbery taking place at the back of the bank. When the thief pulls a gun and runs out the front door, Poole tries to stop him and is knocked out. While Flanders is questioned by detective Sam Wagner and his partner, Chris Gillespie at the police station, he now praises Poole’s courage. Later, Sam, Chris and Sgt. “Denny” Denning monitor a wiretap, on which they hear the robber calling his accomplice. They trace the call to Poole’s apartment and attempt to enter. Poole has barricaded the door, however, and shoots at them, prompting Sam to break down the door and enter shooting. When Mrs. Poole steps out, Sam, and who had been told she was not in the apartment, accidentally kills her, and Poole cradles his beloved wife in his arms. At the trial, Poole is sentenced to three, concurrent, ten-year prison terms, and upon being led out, glares at Sam’s wife Lila, and vows to get revenge. A few years later, the jail warden rewards Poole’s exceptional good behavior by transferring him to a state honor farm, where he works in the fields. After a short time there, a guard, believing Poole to be a model prisoner, assigns Poole to accompany him on a special trip into the city, not realizing that Poole has smuggled a handmade weapon into his uniform. Poole kills the guard as they drive on a deserted road, then finds a nearby farmhouse, where he murders the inhabitant and steals his clothes and truck. Soon, Sam, who has recently taken a desk job at Lila’s insistence, learns of Poole’s escape, but scoffs when the police consider him a prime target for Poole’s vengeance. He tries to shield his pregnant wife from the truth of Poole’s disappearance, but she guesses, and once again urges him to quit police work for his own safety. As soon as Denny and another officer arrive to guard Lila, Sam goes to the office, where Chris fills him in on the details of the manhunt, which is now focusing on the store from which Poole stole a gun the night before. Despite a city-wide roadblock, Poole gets through using false identification, and later in the day, Sam learns that Poole’s first cellmate has revealed that the convict used to talk incessantly about killing Lila. Now convinced that his wife is Poole’s target, Sam suggests that he serve as “bait” to lure Poole into the open. Sam proposes that they hide Lila at the Gillespie’s house while he remains home alone with only a covert contingent of police watching the house. Sam’s superior is proud of him for suggesting the plan, but Sam is worried about getting Lila out of the house without arousing her suspicion that she is in particular danger. To that end, he proposes that they take a vacation and asks her to pack bags for them. Once in the car, however, she deduces that they are headed to the Gillespies', and there, despite the warm ministrations of Chris’s wife Mary, Lila realizes that Sam is returning to the house alone. Frustrated, she gives him an ultimatum: leave town with her now or she will abandon him. After failing to convince her that he cannot leave the most dangerous work to other men, Sam departs sadly. Meanwhile, Poole, exhausted and hungry, buys a raincoat to cover his farming clothes and wanders to Flanders’ house. There, he finds Flanders’ wife Grace, who recognizes him and tries to run, but he forces her to prepare him food. While waiting for Flanders to return, Poole recalls how the sergeant humiliated him during their assignment in the South Pacific. Flanders comes home soon after, and upon noting Poole’s fatigue, tries to persuade the convict that he is too weak to continue. Poole, declaring that his wife was the only person ever to believe in him, shoots Flanders, causing Grace to collapse. Poole then takes Grace’s raincoat and the family car and drives toward Sam’s. At the same time, Mary finds Lila packing to leave and, angered, reveals that Sam is only trying to protect her from Poole. After Mary reprimands Lila for thinking she is better than any other policeman’s wife, Lila rushes to return to Sam’s side. Unable to find a taxi, she boards a bus, but is frightened by all the men onboard. Sam, who is communicating via radio with Denny and Chris’s nearby surveillance teams, soon hears that Lila has disappeared and Poole has killed Flanders. The police update him on every pedestrian and car that passes by. When Poole, whom they believe to be a woman, walks down Sam’s street but then disappears around a corner, Sam is suspicious, especially after Lila gets off the bus and is spotted approaching on foot. Denny cannot tell if the second woman is Lila, but soon the first “woman” begins tailing her, and Sam is sure that Poole is stalking his wife. However, if the police shoot at Poole and miss, he will have a clean shot a Lila, so Sam orders them to do nothing until she reaches his house. He prays that she will walk by the house so Poole will come in alone, and Lila does pass the front door, but when she then runs into the driveway, Poole jumps forward, and Chris’s men come out of hiding with guns blazing. Moments later, Poole is dead, and Sam leads Lila back into their home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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