Monday, February 3, 2014

On DVD: Lady In Cement (1968)

Tony Rome is back and up to his neck in trouble in the 1968 thriller, "Lady In Cement".

Rome (Frank Sinatra) is hired by a fella named Walter Gronsky (Dan Blocker, Bonanza) to find a missing girl. Problem is, Rome's already found the poor girl, as she's the "Lady" in the title, having been stripped and given a cement boot for a watery grave. Oddly, when Rome tries to examine the victim, there's a couple of sharks happening along rather randomly. Mind you, this was 7 years before "Jaws". The victim is fished out of the water, and it only gets dicier from there.

Gronsky to me was just Hoss Cartwright in a modern day setting. During the course of his career, I can't recall too many instances where Blocker was cast in something other than a Western. In a nod to his regular gig, director Gordon Douglas has Gronsky watching an episode of----what else?----Bonanza later in the movie. It's not the only inside reference to be had. In another scene, a few minutes earlier, while Rome is on the run from his police pal (Richard Conte) after having been framed for murder, he runs through a hotel suite where Daniel Boone is playing on TV. The problem with this "cameo" was that we saw the opening sequence, but the closing theme played. Why Daniel Boone? Because that show's executive producer, Aaron Rosenberg, was a producer on "Lady In Cement" and another Sinatra crime drama, "The Detective", which came out the same year.

And, then, there's the alluring presence of Raquel Welch. Enough said there. Scope out the trailer, and you'll see what I mean.

It's funny how this works. While Sinatra was doing these films, Dean Martin was playing Matt Helm in another series that fell closer to James Coburn's "Flint" movies, and a few years later, Peter Lawford & Sammy Davis, Jr. tried their luck as gumshoes in a couple of flicks. Someone must've figured Joey Bishop wasn't detective material.......!

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I remember seeing this, and the movie pops up occasionally on cable. Too bad Matt Helm & Tony Rome couldn't have done a detective/spy movie together!

Dan Blocker got the short shrift IMO as an actor. He's forever remembered as well meaning but not too bright Hoss Cartwright, but Blocker the man was so much more!

I remember hearing an interview with a friend of his who said Blocker was very well educated - even had advanced college degrees! He mentioned that in his off hours, he's write sequels to Shakespere's plays! Truly a far cry from the Hoss character. If he had lived longer, he may still have been unable to live it down.

hobbyfan said...

He was taken from us too soon, stuck in typecasting, as you noted. This film could've helped him along if other producers weren't so short-sighted.