9. DEATH OF A SALESMAN (1951) ^ Arthur Miller’s classic drama on the decline and fall of Willy Loman may have been brought to the screen at the wrong time. Even though he was not involved in the creation of the film, Miller was under a heavy political cloud during this period for his alleged left-wing politics and some McCarthyist elements of the day attacked the film as anti-American. Clearly its story of a salesman’s inability to find the American dream via the bounty of a capitalist society seemed out of place during the height of the Red Scare. Despite stunning, Oscar-nominated performances by Fredric March and Mildred Dunnock and imaginative direction by Laslo Benedek, “Death of a Salesman” was a box office failure. ^ WHY IS THIS FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Reportedly, Arthur Miller now controls the rights to this film version. However, the celebrated playwright always expressed his hatred for the film, claiming it skewered his vision of Willy Loman by depicting him strictly as crazy, and he has thus kept the film from being officially released on video.
10. GOLD RAIDERS (1951) ^ The Three Stooges (Moe, Larry and Shemp) are shady traveling salesman in the Old West who clean up their dishonest ways and heroically come to the aid of a white-hatted cowboy (George O’Brien) who is actually an insurance agent with a mission to bring the comfort and security of insurance policies to decent ranchers and farmers despite the machinations of anti-insurance outlaws. Clearly one of the oddest subjects for a Western, this 60-minute B-Movie was shot in a blazing four days and was the last film for longtime cowboy star O’Brien (who many cinephiles may recall as the star of the silent masterpiece “Sunrise”). The Three Stooges are strictly here as supporting comedy relief, although many Stooges fans feel there was too little of trademark knockabout to make this film worthwhile. The film also has the distinction of being the only feature with Shemp as the third Stooge following his replacement of the ailing Curly in 1946. ^ WHY IS THIS FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Originally released by United Artists, “Gold Raiders” now belongs to Warner Bros. However, the distributor has seen little commercial value in a 60-minute B-Western and thus the film remains officially unreleased.
11. M (1951) ^ Fritz Lang’s 1931 German classic was remade by Joseph Losey, who moved the location from Berlin to San Francisco but virtually reproduced the Lang film shot by shot. A mysterious killer who preys on children is the subject of a police manhunt, but the pedophile is eventually captured by the criminal underworld who is sickened by his crime wave. Unfortunately, Joseph Losey’s “M” miscast David Wayne in the role of the killer first played by Peter Lorre 20 years earlier. Whereas Lorre went full-force in capturing the torment and dementia of his killer, Wayne never tapped into the emotional or psychological forces fueling his character and thus came across as a somewhat creepy cipher. Critics unanimously panned the film and “M” suffered a further setback when director Losey and second-lead Howard da Silva were blacklisted, thus killing the film’s commercial potential. ^ WHY IS THE FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Although Losey emigrated to England and gained an international reputation as one of the finest directors of his time, “M” has yet to be rediscovered and it remains as a barely-remembered curio from the early stage of his career.
Get more of the list in the next part of NEVER ON VIDEO: THE TOP 20 “MISSING” MOVIES>>>