Familiar Faces, Forgotten Author

vic fortezza
3 min readDec 10, 2021

WTF? headline from newsmax.com: “Rutgers Demands Students in Online Program Get Vaccinated.” I’m not anti-vax. I got the booster yesterday. I’m pro-freedom.

Headline from NM: “China Restricting Vasectomies as Birthrate Plunges.” What an interesting course reversal. I wonder how many people the country has lost to Covid. I doubt any numbers the government releases are accurate.

It would be nice if the verdict in the Jussie Smollett case put the matter to rest, but the left won’t let that happen. They’ll simply double down.

I was unable to find a list of films that have the most dialogue, at least one that wasn’t restricted to great ones, but was very surprised that Titanic (1997) is believed to have the most. What prompted the search? Twenty Plus Two (1961), which ran last night on Movies!, channel 5–2 on OTA in NYC. I was surprised I’d never heard of it, especially given its cast of notables: David Janssen, Jeanne Crain, Dina Merrill, Jacques Aubuchon, Robert Strauss, Brad Dexter, Mort Mills, William Demarest and Agnes Moorehead, all of whom had impressive Hollywood runs. The flick doesn’t quite fit the category of noir, although it’s in black and white. There isn’t nearly enough tension, although the basic plot is interesting. Janssen plays not a detective but someone who investigates heirs to fortunes. Several seemingly unrelated connections arise in a particular case. Man, it was talky. No wonder it wasn’t a mainstay of syndication. I have no idea what the title means and, to my chagrin, came up empty in a web search. As I assumed, the flick is based on a novel, same title, by Frank Gruber, who adapted it to the screen himself. It was directed by Joseph M. Newman, who has 53 titles under his name at IMDb. While none of his films rise above the B genre, he directed four episodes of The Twilight Zone and ten of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Although I hate to pass on pics of the lovely co-stars, Crain and Merrill, here are faces that should be familiar to boomers, Aubuchon and Mills:

Gruber began in journalism. He lost his job when the Great Depression hit. He moved to NYC in 1934 and wrote pulp fiction, so broke he hand-delivered his manuscripts to avoid paying postage. He wrote more than 300 stories for over 40 magazines, as well as more than 60 novels, which sold more than 90 million copies in 24 countries. He moved to Hollywood and did sixty five screenplays and a hundred television scripts. He created the TV series Tales of Wells Fargo, The Texan and Shotgun Slade. 25 of his novels became screenplays. Awesome, sir. He passed away at 65 in 1969.

Good return for the book shop on this pleasant day. My thanks to Mike, who overcompensated me for CDs by JLO, Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson, and the DVD of Ride Along (2014); and to the woman who did likewise for two works of non-fiction: Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna by Ramie Targoff and Queens of the Crusades: England’s Medieval Queens by Alison Weir; and to the woman who bought a paperback in Russian; and to the one who purchased two kids books.

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.