[21 June 2013]
In the 1950s, Richard Thorpe directed several vehicles for erstwhile matinee idol Robert Taylor. This one, among the less colorful, is freshly available on demand from Warner Archive. Taylor plays an American captain of a commercial fishing boat operating in England. His character falls squarely in the Humphrey Bogart/John Garfield tradition in the two film versions of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not—someone who’ll bend the law for a buck but has his own personal ethics.
When a client with a suitcase full of money dies on an illegal trip to Denmark, the captain pockets only what’s coming to him. That summarizes him, aside from the fact that he conceals several crucial bits of information from the Dutch police until he can work the situation out for himself. You see, if he told all he knew, the story would be over, and then he wouldn’t get to plunge into a web of sinister double-crossing characters—from good and/or bad dames to other shady foreigners who all speak English—and fulfill his (and our) fantasies of manly adventure. With that contrivance in mind, all the running around doesn’t add up to much, even if it’s colorfully played.
Classic tough-guy scripter Jo Eisinger (Night and the City), soon to write for TV’s The Lawless Years and Danger Man, adapted a novel by Victor Canning (The House of the Seven Flies, which doesn’t sound as dangerous), proudly trumpeted by the trailer as having appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. With Nicole Maury, Linda Christian, Donald Wolfit, David Kossoff, and Eric Pohlmann.