Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tonight's Movie: Flight to Tangier (1953)

I was intrigued by the brief description of FLIGHT TO TANGIER which I read last month at Olivia and Joan: Sisters of the Silver Screen, so I added it to my Netflix streaming queue, and I had the chance to catch up with it today. FLIGHT TO TANGIER stars Joan Fontaine, Jack Palance, and Corinne Calvet.

As the movie begins, several people await the arrival of a private plane at the Tangier airport, including lovely Susan Lane (Fontaine), pilot Gil Walker (Palance), and the flashy Nicki (Calvet). The plane crash lands near the airport...but mysteriously, no bodies are found at the crash site.

The chase is on as a number of people, including Susan, Gil, and Nicki, are interested in the plane's pilot and cargo. The trio are chased by the police, who erroneously believe Gil killed a fellow officer, and they're also followed by some very bad men. The plot gets a bit murky at times, keeping track of all the characters and their motivations, but I found it an entertaining movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The film is somewhat hampered by poor sets and location choices. The actors occasionally walk from a location shot filmed outdoors into an obviously fake soundstage set meant to be at the same location, which is a little distracting. The fields where many scenes were filmed look like somewhere in rural Southern California, rather than some place exotic like Morocco. I'd love to know where the field and airport sequences were shot; we were carefully studying the screen for clues but didn't figure it out, and thus far Google has provided no answers.

Fortunately the film's weaknesses are offset by the fast-paced story and attractive cast. Fontaine and Calvet have only one costume change for the entire movie, but never look less than lovely. (I loved Fontaine's pink and white ensemble.) Some of the supporting acting is a bit creaky at times, but fans of the lead actors should find the film worthwhile.

The movie was originally filmed in 3-D, but I didn't notice any shots calling attention to that fact. As it happens, in 1953 Palance starred in another chase movie filmed in 3-D, which is somewhat reminiscent of FLIGHT TO TANGIER: SECOND CHANCE, which starred Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell. In that case, however, the film's 3-D origins were much more apparent.

The film was written and directed by Charles Marquis Warren and filmed by Ray Rennahan, one of the great Technicolor photographers.

The cast also includes Robert Douglas, Marcel Dalio, Jeff Morrow, and John Pickard.

Gotta love the odd tagline on the FLIGHT TO TANGIER poster: "That 'Shane' Killer Excites Again!" There's something a little disturbing about that slogan...

This movie has not had a DVD or VHS release, but you can see it on Netflix via their "Watch Instantly" service. The Netflix print I watched via our Roku was excellent, with vivid colors.


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