Dangerous Passage
CAPTAIN SCARFACE. 1953
Director: Paul Guilfoyle

DANGEROUS PASSAGE. 1947
Director: William A. Berke

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl





Captain ScarfaceLeif Erickson plays Sam Wilton, an adventurer in tropical South America trying to get home to America. He hops a ship on which mysterious doings are afoot.

The titular character Captain Scarface (1953), who isn't all that scarred, is played by Barton MacLane. He makes a decent villain, & was a fairly good stock player in his day. He played the bullying authority figure in so many juvenile delinquent films, that the youth culture of the late 1940s & 1950s used the phrase to "Barton MacLane" someone, meaning to push your weight around against a kid. Today, though, he is only apt to be recognized for his long-running role on I Dream of Jeannie as General Peterson.

Ilsa Yeager (Virginia Grey) has arrived in South America to rejoin her father, a German scientist, Dr. Yeager (Rudolph Anders), who she hadn't seen in eight years & hadn't even been sure if he was alive before being informed where to be in order to meet up with him.

One Mr. Kroll (John Mylong) has helped get the scientist to S.A. from Russia where he was held captive by the Soviets after the war with Germany. Historically speaking, Russia & the United States did indeed divvy up the top Nazi scientists after the fall of Berlin.

Captain ScarfaceDr. Yeager believes Kroll has been the good guy helping him to escape the Soviets, but really Kroll is just one more commy spy. By threatening to kill Elsa, he intends to force Dr. Yeager to help on the great plot to blow up the Panama Canal with an atom bomb.

A certain Mr. Clegg (fine character actor Paul Brinegar) has done a hideous criminal act for Captain Scarface in sinking the original S.S. Banos with all hands on board. The present S.S. Banos is a phony duplicate with the atomic warfare equipment in a secret room. Clegg is to collect $5,000 for his work from Mr. Kroll, but Kroll attempts to kill him instead. Clegg gets the upper hand, kills Kroll, but is himself killed by the police trying to escape.

Captain ScarfaceSam meanwhile needs to get out of the country fast since a powerful plantation owner wants him dead, because of Sam's affair with the plantation owner's wife. Taking Kroll's passport & identity, he boards the S.S. Banos, & attempts to maintain this new identity even when not yet knowing what this bunch of duplicitous spies are really up to & who among them may have met Kroll before.

There are additionally a small handful of American tourists on board the Banos. Between Sam the adventurer, Dr. Yeager the ex-nazi scientist, his brave daughter Ilsa, & the random inevitably heroic Americans, a way has got to be found to foil the evil commy plot & save the Panama Canal.

Apart from the awfully dated "we hate evil bastard commies" subtext, this is a pretty good B-grade adventure, & the same script might've been really exciting with a bigger cast. As a small movie with an average cast it's still entertaining.


Dangerous PassageDangerous Passage (1947) is a confused film noir set mostly on the foggy deck of a slow steamer from Brazil to Mexico to Texas. The leading man, Robert Lowery as Joe, had to get out of Brazil quick, after having killed a man who attacked him. On the ship there's an attempt to frame him for another murder, our anti-hero Joe knows not why.

He's making time with the beautiful Nita (Phyllis Brooks). Midway through the suspense they disembark in Mexico long enough for a romantic idyll, then it's back to the serious stuff at sea.

Turns out Nita has been working undercover with Dawson (Alec Craig). Dawson had posed as ship's steward but was killed. Nita must now rely on Joe for back-up while investigating a series of ship-scuttling insurance frauds.

Joe has an inheritance waiting for him when he reaches Texas. A couple thugs are planning to claim the inheritance, one of them pretending to be Joe, but first they've got to get Joe out of the way & steal the letter & identification he has on him.

Dangerous PassageSo there are two completely different sets of villains with coincidentally two murderous crimes in the making. Joe tries to stop Captain Saul (William Edmunds) from scuttling the ship, but is bonked on the head & locked unconscious in the cabin to go down with the ship. Nita saves him in a rare case of a film noir heroine taking the stronger initiative.

The captain & his mate (Victor Kilian) end up drowning. The others camp out on the ship's deck after it gets stuck on a reef. The two thugs after Joe's envelope naming him an heir are also among the survivors.

It looks dire for a while, but eventually everyone gets off the reef, saved by a sea plane. Now the story turns entirely goofy as Joe hurries to Galveston hoping to claim his inheritance, & the two thugs race to Galvaston to claim it first.

With a couple of uninteresting complications & a two-second shoot-out, the right guy finally gets his inheritance & the girl, as if it were ever in question.

Dangerous Passage has its moments of foggy mood & mystery, but is overall a weak example of film noir. Even so, for a director best remembered for nothing better than some of the Jungle Jim movies, he outdoes himself.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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