Max King for Monogram
directed by Harold Young
starring Richard Travis, Catherine Craig, Chick Chandler, Thelma White, Evelyn Brent, Warren Hymer, Paul McVey, Herbert Heyes, Stephen Roberts, Forrest Taylor, Dick Rush, Bill Hunter, Barbara Mace, Caroline Burke, Bruce Kellogg, George Bronson, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Napoleon Whiting
story by Scott Littlefield, screenplay by Leslie Swabacker, Bart Lytton
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Because Nazi spy Herman (Warren Hymer) has bungled up his job, a
timebomb gets onto a train across the USA, which isn't only bad for all
the Americans travelling on this plan but also a couple of Nazis, the
Moltes (Evelyn Brent, Paul McVey), who are not only going on the train but
think the bag the timebomb is in contains some important papers and now
desperately try to open it - which would of course set the bomb off.
Fortunately for everybody, all-American boy Bruce (Richard Travis), a
reporter, is also on the train, who tries to charm Jane Thornwall
(Catherine Craig) into getting her an audience with her father (Herbert
Heyes), and he's quick into realizing the Moltes desperately want
something out of the bomb-bag, which by some crazy coincidence has landed
in Jane's apartment.
After much to and fro, it is actually Bruce who is
arrested for murder and attempted murder (his very own sidekick Chick
Chandler) while the Moltes, despite all warnings, take off with the bomb
bag ... which goes off exactly when planned, taking care of the Moltes and
relieving Bruce of all charges in one single bang ...
two things I have to say about this movie:
- It's based on a pretty spirited story: The basic premise, a timebomb
on a train with nobody knowing it is just that, is great and suspense
at its purest. Add to this a few colourful characters and confined
locations and you've got all the right ingredients for something
- Why destroy your great premise by an incredibly and unnecessarily
stagey directorial effort? Sure, the less camera set-ups you've got
and the more basic they are, the easier and more important cheaper the
whole thing is to film ... but would a little bit of extra care really
have hurt that much?
Now I have to admit, I do like the Monogram cheapos by and large
exactly for their cheapness and lack of pretentiousness, but this time
around the studio really had a good (if clichéed) story to work with, a
story that could have resulted in more than just another Monogram
quickie for not all that much more money - and thus it's a shame the film
- which is not a total disaster even now - isn't any better than it is.