Sunday, December 3, 2017

"A Chiller Diller" - JK in "The Night Holds Terror"

Hello Everyone!

Over the past few months, nearly a dozen stills plus other ephemera from Jack Kelly's feature film The Night Holds Terror have joined the Kellection. So, let's have a look at this 1955 thriller.

In June 1955, an item in Hedda Hopper's newspaper column announced, "Hollywood budgets its productions in the millions, but now and then an enterprising young producer comes along with a shoestring show that proves to be a sleeper. The town's talking this week about The Night Holds Terror, which Andrew Stone wrote, directed and produced with Jack Kelly, John Cassavetes, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards and David Cross [starring]. Stone used a true story which broke within the shadow of the Valley studios--the tale of a civilian electronics employee at Edwards Air Force Base who was kidnapped by three men near Lancaster [CA] as he was driving home from a shopping expedition in Hollywood--and turned out a chiller diller that will rock the audience back on its heels."

Independent filmmakers Andrew Stone and his wife Virginia made The Night Holds Terror (originally titled Terror in the Night) for just $71,000. According to an article in the Oakland [CA] Tribune, the film's plot was actually inspired by two factual incidents, the 1954 kidnapping of realtor Leonard Moskovitz in

San Francisco and a 1953 Southern California abduction/home invasion case involving the Gene Courtier family.

A 1955 story about the Courtiers in the Long Beach Independent revealed that they were paid $500 for the use of their names in The Night Holds Terror. JK played Gene Courtier and stage/TV actress Hildy Parks (making her feature film debut) played his wife, Doris.

The real-life Mr. and Mrs. Courtier--whose photo (shown below) appears in the film's intro--made radio and TV appearances to plug the movie during a personal appearance tour.

The Gene Courtier family

The Independent article also explained that the first part of the film, detailing the abduction of Gene Courtier by a trio of punks in the desert, closely followed the actual events. However, the last part of the film, where the kidnappers demand a six-figure ransom from Courtier's father, actually mirrors the Moscovitz case. Gene Courtier's father, Virgil, told the Independent, "We never had that kind of money".

Newspaper ads for the film played up the chilling "This could happen to you!" aspect of the Courtier case. "HORROR IN YOUR HOME", shouted an ad in the LB Independent. "You have to watch what they're doing to your wife...because there's a cold gun against your skull! But now you know you've got to do matter what happens to you...or anyone else!"

A different ad screamed, "THEY'RE GOING TO KILL ME! I'm begging for my life...begging these vicious killers with their empty eyes and hate-loaded I never saw until now!"

The Stones also emphasized realism in The Night Holds Terror by filming it in authentic Southern California locations rather than using artificial sets. The homes, cars, businesses and even phone booths seen in the film are the real deal.

Please stay tuned for much more about The Night Holds Terror in TDS!

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