Jail Bait (May 12, 1954)

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Steve Reeves in the movie Jail Bait
 

Released on May 12, 1954: Classic 'so bad it is good' Ed Wood crime caper with a surprise ending.

Directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.

The Actors: Lyle Talbot (Inspector Johns), Dolores Fuller (Marilyn Gregor), Herbert Rawlinson (Doctor Boris Gregor), Steve Reeves (Lieutenant Bob Lawrence), Clancy Malone (Don Gregor), Timothy Farrell (Vic Brady), Theodora Thurman (Loretta), Bud Osborne (Paul McKenna, night watchman), Mona McKinnon (Miss Willis), Don Nagel (Detective Davis), John Robert Martin (Detective McCall), La Vada Simmons (Dorothy Lytell), Regina Claire (newspaper woman), John Avery (police doctor), Henry Bederski (suspect in police station), Conrad Brooks (medical attendant and photographer), Ted Brooks (policeman), Chick Watts (Vaudeville performer), Cotton Watts (Vaudeville performer), Edward D. Wood Jr. (radio news announcer).

 

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Do you make a noise when you sit in a chair, or get to your feet when sitting down? I swear on a stack of Bibles . . . if I have any strength in me at all, I will never make noise when I sit down or stand up. I believe that this is an indication of old age and I will never display this sign. Why do I say this as I begin writing about this early Ed Wood masterpiece? Herbert Rawlinson, who acted in almost 400 movies is elderly plastic surgeon Dr. Gregor. When he makes his first appearance in this thriller he sits down in his living room to a huge sound that I cannot describe with letters or words. Not an unusual sound, just one of those noises that old folk make when they sit or get out of a chair. You know what I mean . . . or at least you will know about 9 minutes in.

If you are not familiar with writer/director Ed Wood, I will tell you why you should really watch this early classic from the prodigious director, but first let me tell you a bit about some of the other actors. Movies are just stories, and stories are a dime a dozen - it is the actors, the real people standing in front of a camera and putting their bodies and words on film for the world to see that make movies rare and priceless treasures. Forever into the future they will live on the screen, sharing their 'being' with untold people that weren't even alive when they performed for us. What a rare legacy! Besides Herbert Rawlinson, who passed soon after completing this film, we will meet Dolores Fuller, who plays the part of the Doctor's daughter. She will not strike you as a giant film presence like actors such as Lauren Bacall or Bette Davis, so why did author and director Ed Wood cast her in this part? She was his girlfriend . . . duh! If you want to see real beauty though, watch for the stunning Theodora 'Tedi' Thurman, the gangster's girlfriend, in her only movie role. She had a famous career as a high fashion model and famous radio voice, and just recently passed on September 17, 2012 at the age of 89. Then there is Lyle Talbot, character actor extraordinaire, who I best remember as the neighbor on the Ozzie and Harriet television show, but also appeared in so many movies and tv shows that there isn't room to name them all. But the one to watch is Steve Reeves, who plays Lyle Talbot's police partner, in his first speaking part in a movie. He had 'walk on' parts in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and the 'Topper' television show but this was his first real role. A few years after this movie he was the highest paid actor in Europe, and some of those movies will appear on this web site soon. Steve Reeves was one of the first body builders who attained fame and became the role model and inspiration for the sport of body building - he made body building 'cool.' After high school he enlisted in the Army and served in the Pacific during WWII - later he got into acting, and the rest is history.

Now, if you are familiar with Ed Wood movies, you know that they all have a cult following, but not because they are so masterfully created . . . rather because they are 'so bad that they are good.' This story is no different - I acted more realistically in my high school play than most of these actors do. But why should you watch this movie? First, watch it to remember or see for the first time the 1950's cars, furniture, clothing and hairs styles. By the way, can anyone tell me what kind of car the Doctor had? . . . . Update: John (from Texas) Parthun tells me that the gorgeous car is a 1951 Nash Rambler Custom Convertible. It looks really cool, and I wish I was of driving age in 1951 and could drive one. But most importantly, watch for the very surprising ending . . . it isn't what you think. One of the reasons I like the Ed Wood movies is that he had a bit of a twisted mind . . . making a left turn when you expected a right turn. Now don't jump ahead and watch the last five minutes without seeing the build-up, or you won't get the full effect. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter and enjoy this classic from beginning to end.

Steve Reeves
Steve Reeves exposes his magnificent 1954 physique
Bud Osborne
Bud Osborne in Jail Bait
Clancy Malone, Timothy Farrell and Bud Osborne
Clancy Malone and Timothy Farrell hold up the security guard, played by Bud Osborne
Clancy Malone and Timothy Farrell
Clancy Malone and Timothy Farrell get ready to hold up the movie theatre
Clancy Malone
Clancy Malone as Don Gregor, son of a famous plastic surgeon
Clancy Malone, Timothy Farrell and Theodora Thurman
Timothy Farrell and Theodora Thurman look over the dead body of Clancy Malone
Clancy Malone
Clancy Malone gets his tie back as he is sprung from jail
Dolores Fuller and Steve Reeves
Dolores Fuller and Steve Reeves at the police station
Dolores Fuller
Dolores Fuller, girlfriend of director Ed Wood, in Jail Bait
Herbert Rawlinson and Dolores Fuller
Herbert Rawlinson and Dolores Fuller
Herbert Rawlinson and Timothy Farrell
Herbert Rawlinson prepares to perform full plastic surgery on Timothy Farrell on the living room couch!
Herbert Rawlinson
Herbert Rawlinson as Doctor Boris Gregor
John Avery
John Avery as the police doctor in Jail Bait
John Robert Martin and Don Nagel
John Robert Martin and Don Nagel in Jail Bait
John Robert Martin and Lyle Talbot
John Robert Martin and Lyle Talbot
La Vada Simmons
La Vada Simmons is the nurse in Jail Bait
Lyle Talbot
Lyle Talbot as Inspector Johns in the movie Jail Bait
Lyle Talbot
Lyle Talbot with a really cool hat
Mona McKinnon
Mona McKinnon in the movie Jail Bait
plastic surgery on the couch
Herbert Rawlinson finishes the plastic surgery that he performed on Timothy Farrell's living room couch
Steve Reeves, Lyle Talbot and Dolores Fuller
Steve Reeves, Lyle Talbot and Dolores Fuller talk as she is bailing out her brother from the local jail
Steve Reeves
Steve Reeves in the movie Jail Bait
the face
Everyone gets the first look at the new face provided by the plastic surgeon
Theodora Thurman and Dolores Fuller
Theodora 'Tedi' Thurman and Dolores Fuller
Theodora Thurman and Timothy Farrell
Theodora Thurman and Timothy Farrell
Theodora Thurman and Timothy Farrell
Theodora Thurman and Timothy Farrell after his plastic surgery operation
Theodora Thurman
Theodora 'Tedi' Thurman in the movie Jail Bait
Theodora Thurman
Theodora Thurman
Timothy Farrell and Theodora Thurman
Timothy Farrell and Theodora Thurman
Timothy Farrell
Timothy Farrell as gangster Vic Brady in the movie Jail Bait