Another night, and time to try out another of the Hammer Noir films! Having enjoyed TERROR STREET (1953) last evening, tonight I watched the 73-minute WINGS OF DANGER (1953) starring Zachary Scott.
In this film shot in the UK, Scott plays Richard "Van" Van Ness, an American employee of a British airline. Van's friend Nick (Robert Beatty) insists on flying in bad weather and his plane disappears.
Van and his girlfriend, Nick's sister Avril (Naomi Chance), both suspect Nick was involved in smuggling. Inspector Maxwell (Colin Tapley) wonders if Van is involved as well. Van tries to solve the mystery of Nick's disappearance and clear his own name, and airline boss Spencer (Arthur Lane) and Spencer's girlfriend Alexia (Kay Kendall) seem to be involved...
Also like the other Hammer films, the plot doesn't always make perfect sense, but I enjoyed the ride anyway. The film's main flaw is the unexplained subplot about Van being subject to unexpected blackouts, and the related abrupt ending. So why does Van keep flying, anyway? He seems a responsible sort, and surely he must realize that if he's "scraped out of someone's backyard" someday, as he puts it, he might take out innocent people at the same time.
Van refuses to marry his girlfriend because of this malady, and instead of seeking a cure or a way to cope with it, he's oddly fatalistic. At the end, he seems about to jump into a plane, presumably prepared to go ahead and just crack up due to his unexplained blackouts; then the film changes course at the last moment. It's all a little odd.
In fact, his sparring relationship with Inspector Maxwell is a bit strange, too, given that Van's really on the up and up. However, I simply forgave the plot weaknesses and, as I mentioned, enjoyed the ride. So far these Hammer movies are for me the equivalent of curling up with a novel on a rainy afternoon, a pleasant way to pass the time.
WINGS OF DANGER was based on a novel titled DEAD ON COURSE, which was also the U.S. title of the film. (The print I watched used the British title.) It was directed by Terence Fisher.
The supporting cast includes Diane Cilento, who was later Mrs. Sean Connery for a number of years.
The movie is available on DVD as part of the Hammer Film Noir Double Feature Vol. 4 from VCI. The other film on the disc is TERROR STREET (1953) starring Dan Duryea.
For more on this film, Sergio has reviewed it at Tipping My Fedora.
Previously reviewed Hammer Noir titles: Cesar Romero in SCOTLAND YARD INSPECTOR (1952), George Brent in MAN BAIT (1952), and Dan Duryea in TERROR STREET (1953).