Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Danger Patrol (1937)

There was only time for a short movie tonight, so I chose a 59-minute programmer directed by Lew Landers, DANGER PATROL.

DANGER PATROL focuses on "soup handlers," men who have the ultra-dangerous job of delivering nitroglycerin to oil fields.

Dan Loring (John Beal) is an aspiring medical student who needs to put away some good money; when he reports for his first day on the job delivering nitro, his supervisor (Frank M. Thomas) shows him an empty picture frame. He tells Dan it's a photograph of what was left of a man who was careless on the job.

Dan is trained by Easy (Harry Carey Sr.) and falls in love with Easy's daughter Cathy (Sally Eilers), but Sally won't have anything to do with a man who's likely to make her a widow soon after making her a wife. As it is, she's spent years worrying about her father and watching the anxiety of women like Nancy (Lee Patrick), who's constantly on edge about the safety of her husband (Edward Gargan).

This Landers film is so-so, not on a level with Landers' best "B" films, but worth a look. The unusual subject matter is interesting to learn about, and the film is helped along by good performances by pros like Patrick, Thomas, and Carey. The lead romance, however, is on the dull side. Poor Sally Eilers -- also seen in Landers' WITHOUT ORDERS (1936) -- doesn't get to do much more than worry and complain. She has good reason, but watching someone in constant "whine" mode is wearing after a while; it becomes a little difficult to see why Dan finds her so appealing!

Although the film is reasonably absorbing, it builds to a very abrupt conclusion which leaves the viewer shaking one's head and muttering a bit.  It could have used at least another five minutes to give viewers are more satisfying ending.

John Beal was previously seen by me in two other Landers films, THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937) and STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942). He's not an especially interesting actor, but he's believable as a potential med student trying to make a big income fast. The cast also includes Paul Guilfoyle, Crawford Weaver, and Solly Ward; way down in the cast you can find Bruce Bennett, then billed as Herman Brix.

DANGER PATROL has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. It's not available on DVD or VHS.

Films directed by Lew Landers which have previously been reviewed at this site: NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).


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