From Paramount studios comes another Alan Ladd thriller where he tangles with foreign police, a beautiful club singer, his old pal William Bendix and a lovely but possibly lethal leading lady in beautiful Gail Russell. Ladd was pretty much at the height of his popularity around the time of this production and would remain a leading man to the end of his career in 1964. Many of his films are forgotten today other than Shane and that’s unfortunate as they are usually quite enjoyable and the studio always seemed to team him with a respectable leading lady and was in the habit of throwing scene stealer Bendix into the cast as well.
This time out Ladd and Bendix are cargo pilots who have a third buddy murdered in Calcutta. This calls for an immediate leave of absence as our two hero’s begin tracking the guilty party. Before they know it Russell turns up as the murdered man’s fiance who might have ties to the local casino and it’s owner played by Lowell Gilmore. Ladd is a frequent visitor as the clubhouse singer played by sultry June Deprez is kind of his steady when the need arises. Between another murder and a smuggling ring, Ladd finds himself in deep and isn’t quite sure he likes where the trail is leading him.
The film is directed by John Farrow who worked with many of the heroic actors of the day from Robert Taylor to John Wayne on films like Ride Vaquero and Hondo. He also gave us one of the most enjoyable Noirs, His Kind of Woman. I find the plot borrows a couple points from earlier Bogart successes. We have Edith King as a female version of Greenstreet’s The Fatman and an ending very close to a Bogart classic which I won’t spoil. As always Bendix is engaging in his supporting role. He appeared in a total of 8 films with Alan Ladd and there is a curious exchange between the two that I am surprised got by the sensors of the day if I heard it correctly. Bendix mentions he has a date tonight and seconds later asks Ladd to hold on to what he’s got in his pockets as “They always go thru my pockets when I sleep.” Maybe it’s just me but it sure sounds like he’s about to employ the oldest profession in the world.
It sure would be nice if Paramount would restore some of Ladd’s pictures and put out a nice box collection of his films. I for one would be adding them to my library.