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Saturday, May 23, 2015

CHAIN LIGHTNING (1950)

Unlike most Golden Age Hollywood stars, Humphrey Bogart hasn’t got a cache of forgotten gems waiting to be rediscovered. Whereas a Clark Gable might be just as well served with a retrospective of rarities than with his best known stuff, for Bogie, the films to see are generally the films you do see.* That’s certainly the case on this also-ran programmer (last on his old Warners’ contract?) about a WWII fighter pilot who finds his post-war feet testing newfangled jets for airplane mogul Raymond Massey. The main conflict finds Bogie hustling up speed & distance records while his wartime engineer pal Richard Whorf works behind the scenes on a more important, but less glamorous emergency safety pod unit for the plane. And there’s competition off the job, too, for plush, smoky-voiced Eleanor Parker. But journeyman megger Stuart Heisler can’t make the romantic triangle ring, and the special effects are as unimaginative as they are unconvincing. It’s another deservedly forgotten Bogart vehicle.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *One little known Bogart pic very much worth reviving is BLACK LEGION, an eye-popping KKK takedown in Warners’ best muckraking manner.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: On the Warner Archive DVD, the audio-synch is slightly off all thru the penultimate reel (probably three or four frames off). Just enough to drive you a little nuts.

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