Sunday, March 02, 2003


A solid RKO B-picture with a familiar plot which transcends its roots through good acting and some interesting characterizations. A small planeload of people crash in a South American jungle; like on Gilligan's Island, the survivors make do until the plane is fixed as little psychodramas occur among them. Chester Morris is the solid, square-jawed pilot and Kent Taylor is his co-pilot. Allen Jenkins does a nice turn against type as a gangster's confidant who has been entrusted with taking care of the gangster's young son; though he has some comic moments, his part is mostly played straight. Lucille Ball is a whore whose motherly heart of gold is brought out by Jenkins' situation. John Carradine is escorting an anarchist, Joseph Calleia, to prison and execution. In a neat twist, Carradine unravels to become the weak link in the group, and Calleia develops and grows as a character. I think he also serves as a mouthpiece for screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's socialist views--the group bonds together like a commune to survive. Trumbo was blacklisted in the 50's for his ties to the Communist party and this movie's plotline probably wound up as evidence against him. C. Aubrey Smith is an older man who bonds with Calleia. Patric Knowles is an alcoholic asshole who becomes the thorn in everyone's side. When it develops that the crippled plane will only be able to take off with five people, and the rest will have to stay on the ground at the mercy of torturing headhunters, it's pretty clear that Knowles won't be one of the five! An interesting and compelling movie.

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