Saturday, April 1, 2017

FLIGHT TO NOWHERE (1946)


When the Golden Gate Pictures trademark logo appears on screen my knuckles start to sweat, on the outside, in anticipation. The film starts on a fast pace but soon settles into a talky, mundane script, stifling interest. The over abundance of abrupt edits may give you whiplash as few scenes ever seem to finish a thought before cutting to another character’s scene then back to where the whirlwind began. Music accompanies one scene then abruptly cuts to another without music. One scene may be at a bar then a restaurant. They are outside with martinis. Inside with martinis. The camera filter making it hard to distinguish night from day.


FBI agent, Jack Holt, needs to retrieve a map containing the location of uranium deposits which was stolen from a Korean national who was subsequently murdered after leaving a dinner party. Certain guests at the party are all suspects and Holt arranges for them to be on a flight piloted by his trusted friend and former FBI agent, handsome Alan Curtis. The washroom scene where they reunite provides some witty comments by Curtis. Their dialogue simply supplies background of their espionage days during World War II. Holt pops up throughout the film to keep the viewer and Curtis abreast as the story drags on. Curtis’ witty comments are the only spark to an otherwise droll script to nowhere. He gets hit over the head more than the average charter pilot, each time accounting for his loss of the map. If the map is stolen there is a music cue from a harp to confirm it. 


Women seem attracted to Curtis and one gets the feeling he is not a bit surprised. He is attractive to Micheline Cheirel and Evelyn Ankers, both of whom are in a hat war of grand proportions upon their screen entrances. Cheirel’s headwear gives her a “MST3000” Crow T. Robot look while Ankers went with a breakfast-themed, fifteen inch, ten dollar pancake. There are more than enough characters bouncing from scene to scene in disjointed fashion so why not add another. Inez Cooper, playing Curtis’ ex-wife, arrives to complete the character maze which include Ankers’ brother, two other male suspects, plus a few other males that muddy the story. Cooper’s purpose in the film appears to highlight her trade secret, that of a professional pickpocket. This might explain Curtis' divorce. She is so good, a large, valuable ring disappears from Ankers’ finger, who is none the wiser. 

All the filming was done on location in Chatsworth, California and Iverson Ranch, reflecting a budget reminiscent of the films which made Hoot Gibson famous. His minuscule appearance as the sheriff is notable for his cowboy hat and a cue-perfect performance. The ending is precisely nineteen minutes later than it should have been as the atomic secrets are secured and the murderer is apprehended.

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