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Cloris Leachman Channels Garfield; Peter Graves Arm Wrestles Clint Walker

This post of part of the Cafe's Movie of the Week Blogathon. Please check out the other awesome reviews by visiting the blogathon schedule.

The hotel at the Portals of Eden.
Haunts of the Very Rich (1972). The opening scene introduces seven people who are en route to a paradise resort known as the Portals of Eden. The guests consists of: a bitter businessman (Ed Asner); a philanderer (Lloyd Bridges); a timid woman (Cloris Leachman); newlyweds (Donna Mills and Tony Bill); a priest who has lost his faith (Robert Reed); and a housewife recovering from a nervous breakdown (Anne Francis). When these seven people reach their destination, they are greeted by their host Mr. Seacrist (dressed in a white suit like Mr. Roarke). For a moment, I wondered if I was watching an early pilot of Fantasy Island.

Moses Gunn as the mysterious host.
However, things turn peculiar when the guests learn that there are no other vacationers and the staff understands but doesn't speak English. Mr. Seacrist (Moses Gunn) explains away these oddities--they are the first guests of a new season and a non-English speaking staff "works better that way." Still, when a tropical storm cuts off all communication with civilization, the Portals of Eden becomes downright ominous.

If you're familiar with Leslie Howard and John Garfield movies, then you've probably recognized this plot by now. Still, Haunts of the Very Rich keeps its big revelation in check for most of its 73-minute running time. It falters, though, near the end with a rambling speech by the otherwise fine Robert Reed and an esoteric jaunt through the woods by Bridges and Leachman.

Cloris Leachman and Lloyd Bridges.
As made-for-TV movies go, it's a strong cast with Bridges and Leachman the standouts as an unlikely duo who find love in the oddest of places. Leachman's character is the first to realize what has happened and the actress excels at slowly, hesitantly coming to grips with the reality of the situation.

Haunts of the Very Rich doesn't rank in the upper echelon of the ABC Movies of the Week, but it's worthy of 73 minutes of your time and you can watch it for free on YouTube.

Peter Graves as a former hunter.
Scream of the Wolf (1974). It's never good to get out of your car on an isolated road on a foggy night, so it's no surprise when something brutally kills a Los Angeles businessman. The sheriff of a nearby seaside community enlists the aid of writer John Wetherby (Peter Graves), a former big game hunter. They find wolf-like tracks around the corpse, but here's what's weird: the tracks change from a four-legged to a two-legged creature and then disappear!

When there's a second killing within a two-mile radius, John goes to see his old friend--and hunter extraordinaire--Byron Douglas (Clint Walker). Byron is an eccentric who specializes in making dramatic statements like: "Once an animal starts killing humans, it never stops" and "A good hunter is never sure of anything except that his prey will do the unexpected." Byron shows open disdain for John, whom he thinks has become weak ("You're only alive when you're in mortal danger").

Clint Walker arm wrestles Peter Graves.
The film's highlight is when Byron agrees to help hunt the animal if John, who once lasted seven minutes in an arm wrestling contest, can last just one minute this time. Peter Graves and Clint Walker in an arm wrestling contest? It just doesn't get much better than that, people!

Scream of the Wolf has an impressive pedigree with a script by Richard Matheson and Dan Curtis in the director's chair. The two were responsible for such enjoyable made-for-TV horror films such as The Night Strangler (1973) and the classic Trilogy of Terror (1975). Alas, Scream of the Wolf is not one of their better efforts.

Clint's impressive sideburns.
Yet, it does provide Clint Walker with one of his best roles. The success of his Cheyenne TV series typecast Walker as an understanding hero for most of his career (a notable exception was his convict in The Dirty Dozen). Scream of the Wolf provides him with a bizarre character and Walker has a grand time threatening wussies, spouting philosophy, and, of course, arm wrestling.

Plus, Clint sports some of the coolest triangular sideburns this side of Pythagoras. You can check them out because Scream of the Wolf is also available on YouTube.

This post first appeared on Classic Film And TV Café, please read the originial post: here

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Cloris Leachman Channels Garfield; Peter Graves Arm Wrestles Clint Walker


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