Friday, September 27, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Highly Dangerous (1950)

HIGHLY DANGEROUS is an enjoyable Cold War espionage drama starring the appealing team of Margaret Lockwood and Dane Clark.

Lockwood plays Frances Gray, a British entomologist drafted into serving her country in an unusual capacity; she's sent behind the Iron Curtain on a mission to uncover plans for germ warfare which will be conducted using bugs.

When her initial plans go awry, Frances is aided in her mission by an American newspaperman, Bill Casey (Clark).

It struck me as rather preposterous that an untrained civilian like Frances would be sent alone on such a dangerous mission, rather than having experienced agents obtain the bugs and smuggle them out of the country to be studied in safety, but if one accepts the plot as is, it's entertaining and just a bit chilling at times.

An extended sequence where Frances, under the influence of some drugs, discovers her inner secret agent persona is quite amusing, as she unknowingly adopts language and ideas from a favorite radio serial.

The last section of the film, as Frances and Bill undertake a dangerous mission and brief "road trip" of sorts, is also fun to watch. Those sorts of storylines tend to provide a nice opportunity to watch characters getting to know one another, why is doubtless why the theme appears in so many movies!

HIGHLY DANGEROUS reunited Lockwood with Naunton Wayne, one of her costars from THE LADY VANISHES (1938) and NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940). For that matter, an extended sequence on a train early on in the film definitely gives a Lockwood fan a feeling of deja vu; Lockwood and trains seem to go together!

Wilfrid Hyde-White has a nice turn as the British consul; he's particularly good in his last couple scenes, as he enjoys outsmarting a nasty commandant. A heavily made up Marius Goring, who plays the commandant, is almost unrecognizable from other UK-set thrillers he appeared in in the early '50s such as CIRCLE OF DANGER (1951) and SHOOT FIRST (1953).

HIGHLY DANGEROUS, like the aforementioned SHOOT FIRST, has a screenplay by novelist Eric Ambler. Ambler's wife was longtime Hitchcock associate Joan Harrison, a fine producer in her own right.

The director of HIGHLY DANGEROUS was Roy Ward Baker, who passed on in 2010. I recently saw Baker's INFERNO (1953) at the World 3-D Film Expo, and I also very much admire his I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU (1951), starring Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth.

HIGHLY DANGEROUS was filmed in black and white by Reginald Wyer at Pinewood Studios in the UK. It runs 89 minutes.

The movie is available on a nice DVD as part of the Rank Collection from VCI. It can be rented from ClassicFlix.

HIGHLY DANGEROUS can also be streamed on Netflix Instant.

HIGHLY DANGEROUS will be shown by Turner Classic Movies as part of a day-long, seven-film tribute to Margaret Lockwood on October 22, 2013.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I'm intrigued. Love a Cold War story. You introduce me to so many titles. Thanks.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's so nice of you to mention, nothing makes me happier than helping others find movies to enjoy! :)

Hope you get a chance to check it out before too long!

Best wishes,

7:56 PM  

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