Monday, July 23, 2012


A research scientist working for the Army is shot dead while demonstrating his new explosive; his brother (Eric Linden), an Army officer, falls under a cloud of suspicion when a secret list of people working on the project turns up missing and Linden admits he was the last person to see it. Linden is jailed briefly but breaks out and sneaks around the base trying to clear his name with some help from an enterprising reporter (Ann Doran). They stumble on a spy ring involving the rec hall hostess (Constance Worth) who smuggles secrets (inside a false heel in her high heels shoes!) to a German cobbler. It begins to look like a soldier is helping the spies; could it be Linden's buddy (Ben Alexander), who helped him break out of jail? 

I'm usually in hog heaven with WWII grade-B spy thrillers, though certainly they're not to everyone's taste; this one, from Poverty Row studio PRC, has a particularly weak script full of loopholes and junky looking sets. Still, I found enough pleasures to make the hour-long film worth my time. Linden, a favorite juvenile of mine in the 1930s (AH WILDERNESS!, FLYING DEVILS), makes his final film appearance here. In his early 30s, he was aging well, and he does a fine job in the B-lead role; actually, he's by far the best actor in the movie, though the entire cast tries harder than the slapdash script probably deserves. Two other standouts are the black orderly (Dudley Dickerson) and his girlfriend (Bernice Pilot), who happens to be Doran's maid. They come off less offensively than many other servant figures of the Hollywood 40s. I especially like Dickerson's expletive, "Death and destruction!" which he uses like he's saying, "Holy cow!" This is technically a "war preparedness" film, as it was made in 1941, before the U.S. entered the war; some sources say it wasn't released until '43, but at least one source gives a release date of June 1941. [DVD]

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