Saturday, December 18, 2010

FOREIGN AGENT (1942)

A Hollywood studio electrician is found hung in his apartment. Suicide seems the obvious cause, but actually he was killed by some Nazi and Japanese spies who were after the blueprints for an anti-aircraft searchlight filter he was working on for the government. Hiding behind a front group, the North American Peace Organization, the spies spread isolationist propaganda and continue hunting for the filter plans, certain that the electrician's daughter (Gale Storm), a nightclub singer, has them. Meanwhile, her boyfriend (John Shelton) gets a job spying on the spies for a radio commentator, and her roommate and her boyfriend get held up by the spies who think the filter is in her car. And those are just some of the plotlines that get worked into this short, fast-paced B-thriller. There's wiretapping and reverse tapping, fisticuffs, and a song called "Taps for the Japs" before all is said and done. For a low-budget Monogram production, the plethora of plot strands and characters are easy to follow, and even the McGuffin, the light filter, is explained clearly, not that it really needs to be. Aside from Storm, who went on to become a big TV star in the 50's, I didn't recognize many other players here, but Patsy Moran and Lyle Latell are fun as a sidekick couple. An enjoyable wartime spy film that, for the most part, wears its propaganda lightly. [TCM]

1 comment:

Fang Shih-yu said...

This one seems like one worth setting the DVR for, if and when it comes around on TCM! The pre-'50s version of Gale Storm is always worth a look!

Good review!