April 27: Until You Call on the Dark — Pick a movie from the approved movies list of the Church of Satan. Here’s the list.
Banned in Ohio because it was “a sordid, sadistic presentation of brutality and an extreme presentation of crime with explicit steps in commission,” the first $500,000 of this movie went to paying off James Cagney’s debts as a movie producer.
In this, he’s Ralph Cotter, who is a mean enough man that he sacrifices his escape partner and then shacks up with the dead man’s sister Holiday (Barbara Payton) and then blackmails her, all because she came up with the plan that got him out of the big house. But you know, it seems like she likes it, because even when he whips her with a wet towel, she embraces him.
It can’t last because as bad as Ralph is, the cops are worse. And when he falls for a wealthy woman named Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter), he casts aside Holiday who just so happens to figure out just who killed her brother.
Cagney was coming off the noir film White Heat, which this gets compared to often. I discovered it not just from the Church of Satan list but because it’s on the marquee in Messiah of Evil when Toni decides to escape reality and go to the movies.
Beyond two women out to play our hero, this also has a church based on Cosmic Consciousness where the priest tells his congregation to bow their heads and not pray.
Director Gordon Douglas also made one of my favorite movies ever, In Like Flint, and Them!