Flight to Tangier (1953)
Flight to Tangier was the first film in the career of Jack Palance to cast him in a role that wasn’t an outright villain. It’s the type of role usually reserved for Robert Mitchum over at RKO. An ex-soldier with a past who doesn’t return to America after the war who is working his way around exotic countries and getting mixed up with both gunmen and beautiful women.
Top billed Joan Fontaine finds herself awaiting an incoming plane carrying her betrothed, John Pickard. The plane arrives late, overshoots the runway and explodes on impact. Shockingly there are no bodies found. It seems that before the plane crashed, Pickard bailed out with another man and three million dollars. It’s the money that will prove to be the motivating factor for Palance and company.
Palance quickly runs afoul of police officers Jeff Morrow and John Doucette and wants to know why his pal Pickard has taken a supposed powder with the money. Out of necessity he teams up with both Fontaine and Corinne Calvet in the search for the missing Pickard. Not only are the police on his tail but so is a ring of gangsters led by Robert Douglas.
Originally a 3-D release the chase is a very tame one that takes our trio on a cross country run to a planned rendezvous that Fontaine had previously arranged with Pickard. Along the way there will be a swimming hole scene allowing for Miss Calvet to shed her dress for the male members of the paying audience and take a dip in the hopes of luring Jack into a love making session. Jack doesn’t take the bait as he doesn’t trust her. She has too many ties to the head gangster Douglas and seems to be repeatedly slowing Jack and Joan’s progress on the journey.
Things are not all as they seem towards the finish line and perhaps Jack will be able to right some wrongs from his past and go home to a hero’s welcome state side.
This is strictly a B flick that despite it’s low budget is very colorful in its photography. The fact that’s it’s actually in color is somewhat of a surprise. It was directed by Charles Marquis Warren who also filmed Arrowhead the same year as this production which also featured Palance.
When it comes to plot points there really isn’t much to go over and the surprises that do turn up have been easily telegraphed along the way. The final shoot out offers little in the way of suspense either for the informed B film fan. For Joan Fontaine one might just assume her appearance here is for fulfilling a contract assignment.
What the film does offer is a chance to see a young Palance taking on his first anti-hero role opposite another leading lady who had already claimed an Oscar winning performance. Previously this same year Jack had co-starred opposite Joan Crawford in the superior Sudden Fear.
To the best of my knowledge this is a hard title to locate but thankfully it has turned up on youtube for fans of the leading actors that are featured for the 90 minute running time.