I spent my teenage years in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles or so from Johnstown, where on May 31, 1889 a poorly engineered dam broke above the valley town and a Great Flood swept through the city killing hundreds and destroying much of the town. Johnstown is situated in the Laurel Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains in a deep valley with mountains on both sides, and once in a while Dad would take us to Johnstown to ride the Incline train that ran up the side of the mountain, and tell us about the Great Flood of 1889. In this crime adventure centered in a nightclub in New York City, Jean Rogers is dancer Judy King from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and when her boyfriend from back home visits the nightclub he orders a 'Johnstown Jolt.' William Demarest is Red Miller the bartender and he has no idea what a 'Johnstown Jolt' is, and Chick Chandler, a newspaper photographer guesses that it might be a glass of water . . . But our leading man, hot-shot reporter Barney, played by Michael Whalen, suggests to the bartender that the drink includes three parts of ipecac! Now, for you youngsters who don't have any idea what ipecac is, you should first know that this fellow is also in love with the nightclub dancer, and is very jealous of her boyfriend from Johnstown . . . then you should know that ipecac is a drug that when swallowed will induce severe vomiting . . . kind of like the poor man's stomach pump . . . and that isn't the only corny gag in this very serious murder thriller. Nightclub owner Joe Marco, played by Harold Huber, loves gags . . . exploding cigars . . . firecrackers in the piano . . . hand buzzers . . . . heh, I remember seeing an ad for an electrical shock hand buzzer for 99 cents in the back of one of my comic books as a youngster. I sent in the money expecting to get some electrified gadget that would positively shock the daylights out of anyone that I would use it on. It turned out to be a small wind-up toy that would vibrate a bit and buzz loudly as a spring unwound . . . it didn't even scare my big sister Carol . . . I still remember how disappointed I was . . . but in this movie the same kind of hand buzzer features prominently in the clues leading to the killer. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter drizzled over it and be careful not to smoke any exploding cigars as you enjoy the show.
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Stars: Michael Whalen, Jean Rogers, Chick Chandler