I Hate The Yankees

twins-alds
Photo credit: CBS Sports

In the followup to the wonderful 1994 documentary series Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns, Baseball: The Tenth Inning (2010) features Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell stating, words to the effect, “The natural state of things in baseball is to hate the New York Yankees.” I couldn’t find the exact quote, but it’s close. And I agree with Mr. Boswell.

His reasons for hating the Yankees may not be the same as mine, not all of them anyway, but hate them I do. 27 World Series Championships is enough. Let someone else win (and, to be honest, in recent years they have). They’ve lucked out by being in a massive market, so they have all the money in the world to get the best players. And their fans seem to have the attitude that once the team makes the postseason the World Series trophy should just be given to them.

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 2.55.54 PM
Lifelong Yankees fan.

In fact, the late, great scientist Stephen Jay Gould, who was a contributor to Burns’ first baseball documentary series, still held a grudge, 30 plus years on, toward the Pittsburgh Pirates who had beaten his beloved Yankees in the 1960 fall classic. Seriously? Uh, Steve. Of the 14 prior World Series, your Yankees had won eight! And they would go on to win then next two. Let it go!

Minnesota Twins fans have six more reasons to hate the New York Yankees:

2003 – Lost the American League Division Series to the Yankees three games to one.

2004 – Lost the American League Division Series to the Yankees three games to one.

2009 – Lost the American League Division Series to the Yankees three games to none.

2010 – Lost the American League Division Series to the Yankees three games to none.

2017 – Lost the American League Wildcard Game to the Yankees.

And just added:

2019 – Lost the American League Division Series to the Yankees three games to none.

If there is such a thing as “Pinstripe Fever” the 21st century Minnesota Twins got it!

71069965_10215472022770493_4958525050148880384_n
Well, kid, if you had done more homework you might have learned how to spell vegetables.

With the exception of the 2006 postseason appearance, in which they lost the ALDS to the Oakland A’s, since 2003 every time the Twins made it to the postseason their first opponent has been the New York Yankees. And, as you can see, every time the Hated Yankees sent the good guys packing. Those damn Yankees must think of these postseason meetings with the Twins as warmup games for the real playoffs.

(The video at this link pretty much sums it up.)

Many here in the Great Northwest believed this was going to be the year. The boys were finally going to beat the Yankees. I was not among them. My eternal pessimism had me predicting the Twins would be swept. And I was right. (Of course, you’ll just have to take my word on that.)

If the Twins had continued to play at the same level through the entire season as they had during the first half, I would have been more optimistic. In that first half the boys never lost more than two games in a row, and rarely that many. For a time, they had the best record in the majors. But, after the All Star Break, they began to falter. First, their bullpen got a bit iffy. They might still win games due to their powerful offense, they do hold the record for most home runs in a season (307!), but when I’d look at the line score I would see 3 or 4 runs given up in the late innings. It was getting to be very consistent and very troubling. And some of those games would turn into losses.

Well, the bullpen did get better, but then the starting pitching began to go wonky. Our ace Jose Berrios had a lousy August. Next Michael Pineda, who had been pitching very well, got popped for using a banned substance. Bang! He’s gone. And then the injuries to our powerful offense began to pile up.

If it weren’t for the soft schedule the last three weeks of the season (games against the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers all of whom were having a terrible year), the Twins might have lost the division to the Cleveland Indians.

So, you can understand why I wasn’t very optimistic when it came to the Twins having to play the Yankees first up in the playoffs.

PodresJohnny-NYTHistorically, though, the Minnesota Twins haven’t been the Yankees’ only patsy. There were also the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers were (and still are) in the National League, while the Yankees are in the American League, so the two teams would only meet in the World Series. From 1941 until 1956, these two teams from the Empire State would meet seven times. The Dodgers were only able to beat the Bronx Bastards once in 1955. That must have been a glorious year for the Brooklyn faithful.

We Twins fans of today can’t imagine what that must have been like.

Well, there’s always next year.

Unless you were a Brooklyn Dodger fan in 1957. In 1958, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, California, breaking Brooklyn’s heart. However, the LA Dodgers would meet the Evil Empire in the 1963 World Series. The Dodgers won.

I love L.A.!

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

 

Advertisements

A Great Creature Comic Book Cover For October

34809

Well, look at that. The year has gone and gotten itself into another October already. It’s my tradition to turn the month’s blogs over to the macabre (and maybe some baseball.) This means this month’s great cover should be macabre in nature or at least it should have a monster. Maybe have a baseball on it.

Well, there is a monster. It’s a sort of a frog thing covered in moss and water. The illustration picks up on the old trope of a monster carrying an unconscious woman to who knows where to do who knows what. What is it with monsters carrying women off?

The pose is great. It’s reminiscent of the old pulp magazine covers.

The artist is Tom Sutton and the cover is to Charlton’s Monster Hunters #8 (November 1976). And, just as in the great cover post I wrote on one of John Byrne’s covers for Charlton in this time period, a big part of what makes this cover so good is the coloring.

In the mid-70s Charlton seemed to have a leg up on the big boys (Marvel and DC) at least when it came to color. I love the coloring. There’s a sophistication to it that those other companies didn’t employ. Not that their coloring was bad, it just tended to make the covers look flatter.

Sutton did the pencils, inks, and color for this cover. And he really nailed it.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Great Album Retro Review: A Different Kind Of Tension By Buzzcocks

A_Different_Kind_of_Tension_(Buzzcocks_album_-_cover_art)Years and years ago, a friend and I were sifting through a bargain bin of cheaply priced cassettes at one of the long since extinct record stores. We were looking for new music. Cool stuff. My friend found Gary Numan’s The Pleasure Principle and I found an album titled A Different Kind Of Tension by a band called Buzzcocks.

We were both aware of Numan from his hit song Cars, which is great. But neither of us had heard of Buzzcocks. I bought it mainly because I liked the cover and the name of the band. Buzzcocks was first to get into my friend’s car stereo as we drove off with our bargain purchases and my friend said something along the lines that he thought I got the better album.

Buzzcocks were one of the seminal bands of the UK’s Punk scene. They produced a brand of punk pop that would influence future acts Husker Du, Naked Raygun, Green Day, and others. Their songs were tight and very catchy with terrific melodies and plenty of hooks. I like a good hook. And yet they still had that punk attitude.

A Different Kind Of Tension was the band’s third album and it’s my favorite. Incidentally, both this album and Pleasure Principle were released in September 1979.

The Tracks:

Paradise – Kicking right into it. No build up. Just a blast of guitars and drums and lead singer Pete Shelley asking, “Where in the world are we?!” It’s an excellent opening track.

Sitting ‘Round At Home – The first of three tracks written by Steve Diggle (the rest were written by Shelley) and with him taking the lead vocals. I believe the song is about being inactive, passively watching television.

You Say You Don’t Love Me – This is my favorite track and it is a love song, of sorts. Lyrically it follows the protagonist through the stages of unrequited love. At first, there is the acknowledgement of the unshared love, but it’s OK because the protagonist wouldn’t want the person they love to pretend to love them, then it’s OK they can wait. The person might change their mind. Finally, they realize they’re not really in love either.

You Know You Can’t Help It – There was a theme to many of the Buzzcocks’ songs: An obsession with sex. This Diggle written and sung tunes is all about that hormonal urge. You just can’t help it!

Mad, Mad Judy – Steve Diggle’s third song written for the album is a tension filled, aggressive, angry song about Judy, a woman mad at all the world. It’s my favorite of Diggle’s songs on the record and it leads to what may be the greatest transition from one song to the next ever. When you listen to the album be sure to catch that transition.

Raison D’Etre – The way Mad, Mad Judy ends and then this song starts is so good. Another love song, of sorts. Buzzcocks did that a lot. They wrote many love songs, of sorts. And this is a very good one ending with a trading of guitar riffs, something not very common in punk.

I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life – This song opened most of the Buzzcocks shows I’ve been to (I think I’ve seen them five times – four for sure). Its sentiment is something I still feel at age 54.

Money – This may be the weakest track on the album, but it’s still pretty good. It starts the experimental feel the takes over the remainder of the record. This song also leads to a good transition into the following song.

Hollow Inside – Nice bass on this one. The experimentation continues as Shelley explores the reasons why he and the rest of us feel so hollow inside. Is there an answer? I don’t know.

A Different Kind Of Tension – The album’s title song does some fun stuff lyrical. It suggests the duality of humanity, holding conflicting ideas and feelings at the same time. The way the song constantly feels like it is building up and up with overlapping lyrics certainly makes for a different of tension.

I Believe – The longest track of the album was also the closer for many of their live shows. It lists the notions believed by the song’s protagonist, but it closes on the idea that the world has lost all its love. I can remember singing along with the crowd as their main set was coming to a close: “There. Is. No. Love. In. This. World. Any. Mooooooorrrre!

Radio Nine – Just a brief coda to the record of a radio playing with someone turning through the radio dial and hearing snippets of earlier Buzzcocks tunes.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Of Ice And Old Ladies

Once again, guest blogger Michael Noble returns with a tale of an elderly woman and her need for old ice.

 

Old Ice

About 5 years ago I refinished a backyard deck for a little old lady in downtown Placerville, CA, a job I acquired through an on-line exchange while actively hunting for permanent employment when I moved from the Los Angeles area.

Ever since – up to and including the present day – I continue to work for her at least once a week, mainly as her gardener.

“Doris” (not her real name) is an older lady, rock solidly set in her antiquated ways, particular about her specific methodologies and opinionated to a fault. But she’s (sometimes) open to suggestion and willing to listen to reason over “the way she’s done it for years and years and it’s worked out just fine for me.” Oh… and she’s feisty as all get out, too, which keeps things entertaining.

But I’m convinced: There are days when the old woman is trying to kill me. Or at least test the limits of my patience.

On this particular day she asked for a favor before I got going with the yard.

“I’m having trouble with my refrigerator. It’s not making ice. It hasn’t been working for the last few weeks. I wonder if you could take a look at it, please…”

I took off the ice maker door and Doris pulled out the ice receptacle tray. Frozen packages of bacon, hot dogs and various other items came tumbling out the freezer. The freezer was stuffed to the gills. Why a little old lady needed to have enough frozen food to last well after a nuclear holocaust was beyond my comprehension, but I left well enough alone and decided not to comment.

Upon inspection, I discovered the ice maker shut off bar had been knocked out of place, rendering it non-functional. The reason it wasn’t working was because, not only the abundance of items located in the freezer, but of those stored within the inner workings of the ice maker itself. At the rear of the contraption, there was a quart cottage cheese container packed full to the brim with ice. Doris had filled the container with water and stored it in the ice maker compartment to freeze. And beside it, were two additional cottage cheese container-shaped hunks of ice. And they appeared older than dirt. There could have been fossils embedded in them for all I knew. I had little doubt they had contributed to the shut off bar being disengaged from its slot.

“Doris … what are these huge blocks of ice doing inside the ice maker? It looks like they’ve jammed it up. That’s why your ice maker isn’t working…”

“Oh, those” she said. “I have those in there in case I need them later. There are a couple more on the bottom shelf.”

“They look pretty old. When was the last time you used any of them?” I asked.

“I haven’t yet. And they’re not that old. They’ve only been in there a year or so…”

“You mean… they’ve been in here since last year?”

“Yes. I think I put them in there last summer.”

“Well… you can’t have them inside the ice maker, Doris. It’s not a storage area. They’re messing with the ice maker…”

After removing and handing them to her, I fixed the shut off bar and verified it was functioning properly before replacing the receptacle and door.

Now where am I going to put them?” Doris asked. ” There’s no room in the freezer…”

“I know. You have too much in there as it is. If you haven’t used them in a year, you may want to reconsider their usefulness, Doris.”

She sighed and thought about it for a moment. Flustered, she grouched, “I guess I’ll just have to get rid of them then.” She trudged out her back door, ice in tow, and deposited them in her planters. “At least I can use them to water my plants.” You could see the defeat in her eyes as she came back in the house.

“Hokay… your ice maker is back up and running. We just need to put the receptacle back in,” I noted.

She handed it to me. It had been sitting on her kitchen counter during the entire repair process. But there was still ice inside it. Old ice, I realized. Really old ice. Ice fused together over weeks and probably months. Melted, shapeless globs of ice chunks that had clouded into frozen masses. I considered them for a moment and questioned her.

“Doris… do you really want to keep this ice? It’s been sitting out for some time. Wouldn’t it be better if you just let the ice maker make some new stuff?”

“But I just made that ice, Michael.” she explained. “There’s nothing wrong with it…”

“Doris, it’s old. And melting. I don’t think you really want to use this stuff…”

“But I just made it.”

“Didn’t you tell me your ice maker hasn’t been working for a few weeks? There’s no way you just made this ice…”

That’s when the compromise started. “Well, I’m sure it’s still good. It can be used.”

I poked at it because I saw something strange within the translucent globs. “I’m going to call you on that, Doris. Look… there’s blue and green stuff in this ice! What is that… ???” I started digging to the bottom of the container. There were exploded freezer treat wrappers twisted at the bottom of the thing. “Look… you have frozen pop things in here! They’ve have broken open and contaminated the entire tray! You don’t want to use this, Doris… believe me.”

“But… I just made that ice,” she insisted.

I threw a stern look her way. “Doris… seriously. I think you have an attachment to this ice for some reason. Is there something you’re not telling me? I mean, it’s not like this is the last ice on Earth. It’s not made with rare Artesian water. It doesn’t have any mystical properties. It comes from a common waterline at the back of the fridge. Are you going to get all nostalgic on me if this ice gets tossed out to make room for new stuff? I bet it doesn’t even taste good with those ice pops mixed in. Come on, let’s get rid of this stuff. You like fresh ice, don’t you? I know I do. Do me a favor: Chuck this stuff. It’s seen better days…”

Doris looked at me with her best puppy dog eyes but it didn’t do any good. My lips tightened and caused her to sigh once again. My demeanor worked. She gave in.

“Oh, all right. Have it your way. But put it in my plants so it doesn’t go to waste. That’s still good ice… I just made it, you know.”

That old woman… she’s trying to kill me…

Thanks, Michael! You can read more by Michael Noble at Hotchka.com.

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

I Used To Be Cool

9589ac90b37bb3912ddec13cac31b0a9It was sometime in late summer 1984. I walked into Hot Licks Records on White Bear Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was just a couple blocks from where I was living then. Hot Licks was an honest-to-goodness record store, complete with incense, posters, concert t-shirts, and those special devices for smoking… tobacco, ahem. It was my regular habit to go in each week to look through the new and used records and listen to what the store employees were playing.

The employees were actually pretty cool. They knew I was interested in expanding my musical horizons and tried to help me discover the good stuff. They also knew I was a huge fan of The Who (still am), so one fellow suggested I check out The Jam and played their first album In The City for me. I was intrigued and later became a big fan of that band. One time a store manager was checking in some used records and I saw that the vinyl version of The Who’s Quadrophenia came with a picture book. Only having the album on cheap cassette, I didn’t have that special item. She gave it to me on the spot. Score!

47689271_2480244758658504_7833029997165019136_n
That’s me. And you can see the Cheap Trick display just poking up over my drawing table. The display is lost, but, don’t worry, I still have the Farrah poster.

One weekend afternoon in the fall of 1983 I was working at Wendy’s Restaurant, when a different manager of Hot Licks came in for lunch. He spotted me and called me over. “Hey, Jim! You’re a fan of Cheap Trick, aren’t you?” I was (still am). “Come by the store later. We have a band promo display of them. It’s yours if you want it.”

I did and I scarfed it up. I wish I still had it, but, sadly, a flooded basement destroyed it.

So, 1984 was at the beginning of my pursuing cool music phase. I had completed my first year of art school, at which I learned there was more (and better) music out there than just what was offered on Top 40 radio. Cool stuff. I had really only heard of punk while I was in high school, even though I did know the two hits by The Clash (Should I Stay Or Should I Go and Rock The Casbah) and some Talking Heads. It was at art school where I discovered punk, post punk, goth, industrial, and pretty much what would later be labeled as alternative music. And Hot Licks was helping me find more.

R-374372-1258973844.jpegBut my visit to the store that late summer’s day in 1984 was different. There was a band playing an in-store show. They were a local punk band and they were promoting this big album they had just released. The album was the critically-acclaimed Zen Arcade and the band was St. Paul’s Husker Du. (Yes, I know. They’re nearly always credited to Minneapolis, but the band members met, formed, and rehearsed, at least in the beginning, in St. Paul. So, I’m giving credit where credit is due.)

I walked in just as the band was… putting their equipment away. I had missed it. Store employee Marty greeted me with a disappointed, “Oh, Jim. You should have gotten here earlier. Husker Du just played!”

“Really? Oh, gosh, my timing was off. Dang it.”

If you think that reaction sounds a little unenthused, well, it was. You see, at that time I was only vaguely aware of a local band called Husker Du. But I didn’t want to appear uncool, so I acted disappointed.

Within weeks my friend John, a partner of mine in the pursuit of the music of the cool, had picked up a copy of Zen Arcade and the two of us were digging it as we drove around the Twin Cities with it blaring from John’s car stereo. We agreed that this band kicked ass! And we must see them in concert. As soon as possible.

It turned out that possible was January 30, 1985 at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry.

Husker-Du-First-Ave-release-flyer

John and I were still pretty early in our attending punk rock shows and we hadn’t quite gotten a handle on the whole slam-dancing thing, so we figured it would be safer to hang back for this first experience with the Huskers. Future viewings of the band would find the two of us slamming and skanking our way through the scrum in front of the stage, but that night we preferred to take it all in from the relative safety of the back of the main floor.

We had met up with some friends of mine from art school. They were at the other end of the main floor when the show started and we lost sight of them. Well, that was until art schooler Gene got up on stage and began skanking around. First Avenue frowned on concert-goers getting onstage and they downright scowled at the notion of doing a stage dive. Gene was not onstage for long, because he hurled himself off in what was the most beautiful stage dive I had ever witnessed. Why even the daily newspaper of the University of Minnesota, in its review of the show, called the dive “Louganis-like”.

I didn’t see Gene again until the next day at school. Upon completing his aerial feat, he was immediately ejected from the club. Well, liability insurance is kind of a big deal.

hqdefault
That could be a silhouette of my head.

The band was loud, fast, and aggressive. Guitarist and vocalist Bob Mould with his low slung Flying V guitar would do a sort of hop/run in circles and back and forth when he wasn’t growling and bellowing into the mic. Drummer and vocalist Grant Hart would play about as fast as I had ever seen a drummer play and he would sing. I always found it most impressive when a drummer sings while playing. And bassist Greg Norton was a pogo master. I swear he never stopped jumping. Husker Du could put on a hell of a great show.

There is video footage of the band playing Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill at First Avenue on that date. The handbill posted above has reminded me that there were two shows that day. I was at the later show. Since the time I discovered this video from an unreleased documentary about the world famous music club, I had assumed I was there. Well, I was there but there’s a 50/50 chance the footage is from the earlier show. I’m going to say it’s from the show I saw and leave it at that.

Incidentally, the documentary is called First Avenue: Hay Day 1985-1992. It has only had a handful of showings, but I hear it won’t be widely released due to the high cost of music licensing. I would think a Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign could easily raise the money needed. I would give money and would love to own a copy. 1985-1992 is exactly the same time period I did most my hanging at the club. Coincidence? Yes. (Here’s the trailer for the documentary.)

There was a time. A time when I would seek out cool music and go to concerts. It seems as though I was taking in at least one show every week. To look at me now, kids probably think I might be nice, but I’m awfully square. It doesn’t show, but there was a time when I was cool.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Jim Steranko Equals Great Covers

26259

Has legendary artist Jim Steranko ever produced a bad comic book cover? The answer is an emphatic no. Steranko may not have drawn the sheer volume of comic books and covers that other legends such as Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, or Gil Kane had, but what he did do was uniformly innovative, graphically striking, and downright incredible.

I was tempted to post the first seven issues of Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. which began hitting the newsstands in 1968. Each is a fine display of the exciting and new art Steranko brought to the world of comic books. His work truly exemplified the aesthetic of pop art. The artists that followed on that series attempted to keep the Steranko look for the covers, but they couldn’t quite pull it off.

I decided to go with issue #4 (September 1968) for this month’s great cover example. The heavy use of black and white is what made me single this one out. However, I may just have to profile one or two of the other of his covers for this series in future great cover write-ups.

Steranko’s use of the trippy, psychedelic, wavy lines and circles became a signature of the S.H.I.E.L.D. series. This cover appears to wobble and spin. It’s hypnotic. And tell me he didn’t actually draw out all those patterns. If he did. YIKES!

He did the pencils, inks, coloring, and lettering. He may not have been prolific, but he was thorough. His figuring drawing shows the influence of Jack Kirby, but in those days which artist’s didn’t? It is also similar to the early work of Barry Windsor-Smith, who would make his own attempt to capture the Steranko feel on issue #12. It didn’t quite nail it.

No doubt about it – Jim Steranko rocked!

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

You Know What’s A Really OK Movie About Two Rugged Truck Driving Brothers That Ends Up In A Murder Trial?

They Drive By Night 1I know I normally go with a really good movie in these retro reviews, but this one is OK. It just goes places that are unexpected. Well, I didn’t expect it. Being unpredictable is usually a good thing in a movie. In this movie it’s OK.

I recently borrowed the DVD box set Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection. It’s a collection of 24 Warner Brothers films that feature Bogart, one of my all time favorite actors. There is a slight drawback to the collection in that most of the first 12 movies have Bogie playing second, third, or even fourth billed characters. Seeing him in those lesser roles does give viewers a chance to see him grow as an actor. And something I noticed is how he used his eyes. He would really look into a person. There was an intelligence behind those eyes.

The second half of the set starts with High Sierra (1941). And it’s his portrayal of Roy Earle, a hardened, savvy, and no nonsense criminal just out of prison and on to his next big job that began to cement the Bogie persona: Tough, resourceful, independent, cynical but with a soft side. However, he was still second billed behind costar Ida Lupino.

lfIt’s the film in the collection just before High Sierra that I’m writing about this week. It’s called They Drive By Night (1940). Bogart receives fourth billing, behind the film’s star George Raft, Ann Sheridan, and Ida Lupino. He plays Paul, the brother of Raft’s Joe Fabrini. The Fabrini boys are “wildcat” truckers who are away from home for days, sometimes weeks, at a time working long hours hauling freight for disreputable warehouse owners. Owners who don’t always pay what they promise.

It’s a hard life, but Joe is confident they will get their truck paid off and make a real go of it. Paul, who is weary of this hard way of making a living and would rather be home with his wife, supports his brother. So, despite his misgivings, he stays by Joe’s side. While they know there is an easier way of being truckers – work for one of the trucking outfits – that would mean they would lose their independence. No, Joe is going to stick with the wildcat way, getting whatever load they can haul, get paid when they can, and try to stay two steps ahead of their creditor.

We are shown how dangerous the life of a trucker can be, when the brothers, along with Cassie a waitress Joe is sweet on who had just quit her job, are driving behind another trucker who starts driving erratically. With all those long hours on the road, sleep is an occupational hazard. The brothers try to get the driver’s attention. Paul even attempts to jump into the cab, but to no avail. The driver awakens too late and his truck crashes and is engulfed in flames.

Fed up with not getting paid and angry that the crooked man who owed them money had also set the creditor on their trail, the Fabrini boys burst into his warehouse office. They shake him down for the $300 he owes them. They get their pay and take their leave.

With some money in his pocket and an empty truck, Joe is looking for a haul.

He gets in a fight with another trucker, as one would do in those days, in the street outside one of those trucking outfits. During the fight, Joe is called into the building by his old friend Ed Carlson, played by Alan Hale. Carlson used to be a wildcat trucker like Joe, until he was able to start his own trucking business, which was doing very well. Carlson wants Joe to work for him, but Joe refuses. Carlson understands and offers his old friend a tip on where he could pick up a load of lemons for cheap and sell it for a big profit. And that profit would be Joe’s!

Let me talk a little about Ed Carlson. This guy. Possibly the most affable character in Hollywood history. He laughs and chuckles his way through every scene he’s in, except the one in which he is passed out drunk. On the one hand, he wishes he was still driving a big rig; on the other, he’s loving the lavish lifestyle all that money affords him.

They-Drive-By-Night-Hale
“I can tell you’re having a great time, aintcha, Lana-baby?”

He’s also one of the most oblivious characters in Hollywood history. His wife Lana, played by Ida Lupino, absolutely despises him. And she’s so obvious about. The only way she could be more obvious would be if she said straight out “I despise you” every time she spoke him. Actually, she practically does, but good old affable Ed just chuckles away remarking on what a great wit his loving wife has.

Lana also has the hots for Joe. Joe sees right through her and never gives in to her advances.

Well, the lemon tip pays off and the Fabrini brothers earn enough money to pay the rest of what they own on the truck and still have money to pick up another load. They are on their way! They’re working for themselves and it’s gonna be big.

Then tragedy strikes. Joe’s big dreams are dashed.

Joe has no choice. He accepts a job offer from Carlson. Lana made certain Joe gets a more important position than a mere trucker. One that would keep the elder Fabrini in the office, where she could work on breaking down his resistance.

Life is good. There’s a wedding anniversary party at the Carlson’s. Good old affable Ed is plenty liquored up and doesn’t want the party to end, so several revelers head to a nightclub where Ed gets even more drunk. Later, Lana drives the passed out lunkhead home. She pulls into the garage and she has an idea…

I won’t go into any more detail. I don’t want to spoil the whole movie. But, as the headline indicates there was a murder, but it was ruled an accident. Despite the accident, in some ways because of it, things were again really looking up for the Fabrini boys, when petty jealousy took hold and Joe ends up on trial for murder.

they-drive-by-night-1940-humphrey-bogart-ann-sheridan-george-raft-truckers-pit-stop
“Go on. Be the tenth loser tonight to tell me about my great chassis, ya mug!”

The last bit of the movie is a little ludicrous the way it plays out. I mean, that’s not how trials are conducted. Still it’s an enjoyable movie. Raft plays a tough but honorable man, who is very likeable. Ann Sheridan as the take-no-guff waitress is fun to watch. (By the way, Sheridan bears more that just a passing resemblance to Lucille Ball.) Lupino is good as the venomously jealous Mrs. Carlson, but during the trial she doesn’t quite pull off the entire scene. Some of it she hits, some she doesn’t.

And Bogie? Well, he’s a bit underused, but he has a nice comic moment in the scene where Joe is haggling for a better purchase price for the lemons they’re selling.

It’s not great, but it’s ok.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.