Robert Aldrich was shifting from tv to film production on this quickie feature with Dan Duryea as star, something of an extension of their CHINA SMITH series. Lousy stuff, it’s a poorly plotted espionage/kidnap story, supposedly set in Singapore, with atomic scientist Arthur Shields nabbed on his way to a conference and held for ransom by Gene Lockhart. The big gimmick has Lockhart (in Sydney Greenstreet mode) hoping to start a bidding war between nuclear powers for his release and Duryea racing to keep ahead of all parties. Very weak tea, yet just watchable thanks to a nifty action climax that shows Aldrich’s already considerable technical chops in a well managed raid sequence, and also from a fun cast of middle-aged ex-contract players finally able to play inter-league catch. From Warners: Gene Lockhart & Patrick Knowles; from 20th/Fox: Key Luke; from M-G-M: Douglass Dumbrille & Reginald Denny*; and Nigel Bruce from Universal. Too bad the pic isn’t up to snuff.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Of course, the Holy of Holies would be if Reginald Denny, Reginald Gardiner & Reginald Owen all showed up in a film together. Preferably under the combined direction of Henry King, King Vidor & Charles Vidor.