Friday, December 8, 2017

JK in "The Night Holds Terror" Pt. II

The ordeal of the Courtier family began when a hitchhiker was given a ride. Gene Courtier knew it was risky to pick up hitchhikers, but he figured everyone did it--what was the harm just this once? However, he didn't realize his passenger (Victor Gosset, played by Vince Edwards) would carjack him and have criminal cohorts lying in wait.

Gosset demands Gene's wallet and becomes angry when he finds only $10 inside. He forces Gene to pull off into the desert, where Gosset's fellow robbers Robert Batsford (John Cassavetes) and Luther Logan (David Cross) join them. Batsford upbraids Gosset for snatching a Mercury instead of a Lincoln.

Batsford wants to kill Gene but Logan doesn't, since they'll net only $10. Batsford doesn't care. He orders Gene to remove his jacket and shoes and lie face down on the sand.  

An original vintage linen-backed still. The snipe on the back reads: "ON THE SPOT - David Cross, John Cassevetas [sic] and Vince Edwards threaten to kill Jack Kelly in Columbia's Terror In the Night [working title]"
He fires a couple of shots near Gene's head to show him they mean business:

Then, Batsford realizes they might not have to kill Gene after all, if they can have his convertible. Gene anxiously agrees to sign the pink slip over to them so they can re-sell the car and keep the money. 

Gosset and Logan drive Gene to where he bought the car to see what they can get for it.

 While waiting for the car to be appraised, Gene spies an open side door inside the dealership and plots his escape. But, then he fears that other innocent people in the showroom may be harmed if he suddenly bolts from his trigger-happy captors.
Gosset and Logan are offered $2000 for the vehicle (the salesman in the center is played by Barney Phillips). However, the dealership has only $500 on hand and can't give them the rest of the money until the next day.
Batsford decides they will wait Gene's house.

Please stay tuned for Part III!

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!