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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WORLD FOR RANSOM (1954)

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.

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