The Devil's Sleep(May 18, 1949)
Released on May 18, 1949: Juvenile delinquents are popping bennies, goofies and other pills as a gangster uses a women's health spa as cover for his pill pushing racket.
Directed by W. Merle Connell
Written by Danny Arnold and Richard S. McMahan.
The Actors: Lita Grey Chaplin (Judge Rosalind Ballentine), William Thomason (Detective Sergeant Dave Kerrigan), Tracy Lynne (Margie Ballentine), George Eiferman (George Eiferman), Timothy Farrell (Humberto Scalli), Laura Travers (Jerry Winter), Bob Lenihan (Frankie Clinton), Fred Smith (Tony Donardi, henchman), Jim Tyde (Bob Winter), Stan Freed (Hal Holmes), John Mitchum (interne), Peggy Roach (nurse), Will Charles (Inspector Darnell), Muriel Gardner (Ruby McKenzie, exercise leader), Stan Modic (Pug, gym floor manager), Mildred Davies (Tessie Tallula Tessie), Bebe Berto (Zee Zee, girl with towel around her shoulders), Pat Lawless (police officer).
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This motion picture is a fascinating window into some of the things that worried Americans in 1949. Producer George Weiss made several motion pictures intended to shock the audience with scandal, and this was his second shocker, after the 1948 movie 'Test Tube Babies.' World War II was over in 1949 and America started working to build a vibrant country and help re-build a devastated Europe. Jobs were easy to get and families had more money than their parents ever dreamed about. This meant that their children no longer needed to get jobs when they were young teens to help support the larger family. The teens could spend time leisurely with each other, filling their idle time with parties and play.
The plot is interesting but simple - a gangster is leading the town teens into pill-popping dangers from his health club for women wishing to lose weight. After an hour of action and adventure a medical intern will explain to the police Sergeant and the audience the horrible danger of the pills that are being pushed onto our unsuspecting teens. Now, to get American audiences to flock to this Weiss put plenty of scantily clad girls and buff bare-chested boys into the scenes to keep us glued to the screen as we munch our white kernel buttered popcorn. Part of the man-candy you will see is the real George Eiferman, crowned Mr. America in 1948. The producer also hired silent screen star and part of one of the great scandals of early Hollywood, Lita Grey Chaplin. Born Lillita Louise MacMurray, Lita acted in the Charlie Chaplin movie 'The Kid' in 1921 at the age of 12, and four years later he hired her to be the leading lady in 'The Gold Rush,' but soon after filming began Lita became pregnant with Chaplin's son Charles Jr. and was replaced. Lita and Charles had a shotgun wedding in Mexico, and two years later were divorced in scandalous fashion. This was Lita's final motion picture role. Lita Grey Chaplin spent her off-screen years singing and performing in nightclubs, and finally working in a Beverly Hills department store before her death in 1995.
This movie was the first writing credit for Danny Arnold, better known ad Arnold Danny Rothman, who went on to write for and produce such classic television shows as The Real McCoys, Bewitched, That Girl, Barney Miller and the spinoff Fish. Whatever I may think of the writing and acting in this one, I certainly know that in the case of writer Danny Arnold, giant oaks from little acorns grow.
William Thomason questions Bob Lenihan about popping pills
Fred Smith and Timothy Farrell
Fred Smith has his camera ready to take incriminating photos of the Judge's daughter
Fred Smith as henchman Tony Donardi
George Eiferman, Mr. America of 1948, leading an exercise class at the health club.
George Eiferman, Mr. America of 1948
Jim Tyde and Stan Freed
Jim Tide as Bob Winter in The Devil's Sleep
John Mitchum and William Thomason discuss the evils of teens popping pills to get high
John Mitchum as the intern caring for the Judge's daughter
Laura Travers and William Thomason in The Devil's Sleep
Laura Travers meets George Eiferman at the health club
Linda Grey Chaplin and Laura Travers
Timothy Farrell meets Lita Grey Chaplin in her office and gives her the incriminating photo of her daughter
Lita Grey Chaplin and Will Charles discuss the evils of drug dealers pushing pills to teens
Lita Grey Chaplin as Judge Rosalind Ballentine
Lita Grey Chaplin as Judge Ballentine, without her black rimmed glasses
Mildred Davis and George Eiferman
Muriel Gardner gets Mildred Davis' measurements
Muriel Gardner puts Bebe Berto into the steam cabinet
Stan Freed as Hal Holmes, pill pusher in The Devil's Sleep
Stan Modic and Muriel Gardner talk as a girl works out on the stationary bike
Stan Modic is Pug, the gym manager
Timothy Farrell as Umberto Scalli, the gangster who is pushing pills to the teen kids
Tracy Lynne as Margie Ballantine, the Judge's daughter
Will Charles and William Thomason
Will Charles as Inspector Darnell