Desparate Cargo (1941) is based on Eustace L. Adams' serial novella Loot Below (Argosy Weekly, 11 December 1937 through 1 January 1938). The novella had a sequel Loot Lies Deep (Argosy Weekly 30 December 1939 through 30 February 1940), but so far as I know these were never collected in book form.
The setting for the bulk of the story is apt to look odd to modern viewers as most of the action takes place on a luxury airline cruiser without windows in the cabins, operated much like a cruise ship.
I presume such transportation really was available in the 1930s & 1940s, though the airplane fiction of the era frequently exaggerated to the point of science fiction what airplanes could do & were used for.
Tony Bronson (Ralph Byrd), a bit of a playboy & the new purser on the Carribean air cruiser, meets spunky beautiful gal Ann Howard (Julie Duncan) who inspires him to clean up his womanizing ways.
She & her girlfriend Peggy (Carol Hughes) are showgirls who are stuck in Puerto Nuevo trying to get back to New York. So they're being seductive toward naive Tony & his older wiser reporter chum Jim (Jack Mulhall) hoping to score free passage on the airliner. When Tony catches on to their act, he feels like a fool for having fallen in love, not believing she honestly reciprocates, though she does.
To this attempt at a sophisticated romance that verges onto screwball comedy is grafted a gangster tale. Piratical gangsters headed by Carter (I. Stanford Jolley) intend to hijack the airliner, land it in the Bermuda triangle, rob the wealthy folk on board, then when their own transportation arrives to take them away, set fire to the air liner & kill everyone on board.
The first half of the tale is the romance in Puerto Nuevo, the second half is the action-packed airliner heist, with Tony's heroics saving the day. The coda has Peggy & Ann both in the arms of the men they love, ready to give up the showgirl life.
The film is adequate for all its predictability, with reasonably good performances. But othing about it will prove particularly memorable.
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