Harry Lewis

Busses Roar (1942, D. Ross Lederman)

Busses Roar is a slight propaganda film. It doesn’t fully commit to any of its subplots, not even the patriotism. With the exception of the establishing the villainous Japanese, German and the gangster at the opening and the flag-waving speech at the end, it’s not too heavy on it.

Most of the film’s almost an hour runtime takes place in a bus terminal. The gangster (Rex Williams, who isn’t any good, but isn’t as bad as the film’s worst) has to take a bus to deliver a bomb to some oil fields. There’s the whole range of bus passengers to put in danger, but the actual bus in crisis sequence is hurried. Director Lederman does a lot better establishing all the characters.

Most of that action is Julie Bishop trying to get someone to buy her a ticket. Her character is the smartest part of George Bilson and Anthony Coldeway’s script, just because they can introduce so many supporting cast members through her storyline.

Ignoring its overtly bigoted elements, the film has some decent performances and moments. For example, the storyline with newlyweds Harry Lewis and Elisabeth Fraser isn’t bad at all.

The most hilariously awful performance is probably Peter Whitney as the German spy.

Richard Travis gets top-billing–and is Bishop’s eventual love interest–and he manages to be both weak as a leading man, but somewhat likable.

Unfortunately the big action finale is ineptly and cheaply executed; the bus depot scenes look perfectly good.

Roar it doesn’t. More like gurgle.



Directed by D. Ross Lederman; screenplay by George Bilson and Anthony Coldeway, based on a story by Coldeway; director of photography, James Van Trees; edited by James Gibbon; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Richard Travis (Sergeant Ryan), Julie Bishop (Reba Richards), Charles Drake (Eddie Sloan), Eleanor Parker (Norma), Elisabeth Fraser (Betty), Richard Fraser (Dick Remick), Peter Whitney (Frederick Hoff), Frank Wilcox (Detective Quinn), Willie Best (Sunshine), Rex Williams (Jerry Silva), Harry Lewis (Danny), Bill Kennedy (The Moocher), George Meeker (Nick Stoddard), Vera Lewis (Mrs. Dipper), Harry C. Bradley (Henry Dipper), Lottie Williams (First Old Maid), Leah Baird (Second Old Maid) and Chester Gan (Yamanito).

The Last Ride (1944, D. Ross Lederman)

I’m a fan of Warner Bros.’s old hour-long b-movies, so I found The Last Ride particularly distressing. It’s not poorly directed–Lederman even has one or two really good shots–and the writing, at least scenically, isn’t bad. There are some funny moments and the teaser is excellent. It all falls apart pretty quickly, however (it is only fifty-six minutes). The film’s continuity editing is real sloppy, like they shot scenes based on one script, didn’t shoot the rest of the scenes, and let everything sort of clash. The first time, it’s annoying, but by the second… it’s a significant strike against the film.

There’s also the problem with the script in terms of the characters’ stupidity. They’re real dumb, missing the most obvious things. Makes it real hard to care about them. There’s also the case of the disappearing character–Eleanor Parker disappears after two scenes, Mary Gordon is gone by the twenty minute mark (she has the really good comedic scene)–and these aren’t characters the movie, given how the story develops, can do without. They’re needed to react and to interact and they’re gone (probably off shooting other Warner Bros. pictures, but whatever). Richard Travis manages to hold the film up on his own longer than I thought one person could, but even he buckles under the poor handling of the script’s developments.

Besides Travis (and Tod Andrews in a small role), most of the performances are wobbly. Cy Kendall is good in parts, too much in others. Same with Charles Lang. Parker’s barely in it, Gordon’s expositional introduction of her doing more to establish the character than Parker has time to do. The opening setup is better acted than the rest of the film, by actors who don’t stick around long, only because their story is more interesting–if a lot more sensational–than what follows.

My favorite part is the end, when there are all these leftover lines from when The Last Ride was going to run ninety minutes. The way it ends, it’s like at least fifteen was lopped off… it just stops at the earliest convenient point.



Directed by D. Ross Lederman; written by Raymond L. Schrock; director of photography, James Van Trees; edited by Harold McLernon; music by William Lava; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Richard Travis (Detective Lt. Pat Harrigan), Charles Lang (Mike Harrigan), Eleanor Parker (Kitty Kelly), Jack La Rue (Joe Genna), Cy Kendall (Capt. Butler), Wade Boteler (Police Chief Delaney), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Mary Kelly), Harry Lewis (Harry Bronson) and Tod Andrews (Fritz Hummel).

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