Saturday 29 September 2007

Dangerous Mission (1954) Louis King

Produced by disaster maestro Irwin Allen and directed by Louis King, who I know from the Bulldog Drummond films, this one hasn't built up much of a reputation. It starts promisingly though, with a nicely shot mob hit in that muted fifties colour that I love so much. Louise Graham witnesses the shooting and runs, a long way too, all the way from New York City into Glacier National Park on the Canadian border. She works now in the gift shop at a hotel and feels pretty safe, but of course the mob send their men after her anyway.

Ex-marine Matt Hallett is looking for her for one. He's Victor Mature, and he looks here like he always does: a caricature of a film star in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It's not his acting, though that backs it up, it's how he's made, as if he was never born but moulded in a factory like a GI Joe action figure. Vincent Price is all over her too, as a photographer called Paul Adams, and he gets to dress in all sorts of outfits that you would never have believed you'd ever see Vincent Price in. Watch Vincent Price as Gene Autry at a hoedown, watch Vincent Price dressed up like Bing Crosby, watch Vincent Price obviously seek to do something very different from his previous film, the career defining House of Wax.

There are other people here too of note. The chief ranger is William Bendix, the lead is Piper Laurie, there's an early Dennis Weaver two years into his film career, as a clerk, there's even a couple of Native Americans played very obviously by non-Native Americans. Mary Tiller is Betta St John, blue eyed and beautiful in a very wholesome non-Native American way, and her father Katoonai, being sought for murder, is played by Steve Darrell.

The story is pretty nonsensical and it's as much fun laughing at the plot holes as actually enjoying the plot. Vincent Price is fun being someone other than Vincent Price, but acting is not one of the reasons to watch this movie. In fact there really aren't any reasons to watch the movie. It's one of those films that's just there: it fills in a spot on a filmography but that's about it. It isn't awful but it's certainly not good.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Another great early-career performance from Piper Laurie. I realized she has worked with just about everybody who is considered 'elite' in old-school Hollywood; Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, she was even in a film where James Dean made an uncredited appearance, Has Anybody Seen My Gal, and now VIctor Mature and Vincent Price. Can't wait to meet her, and hopefully ask her about it, at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Md., this September.