Mike keeps busy running errands and ferrying tourists in remote Alaska. His jobs including delivering the new schoolteacher, Martha (Lola Albright), to a remote Eskimo community and taking wealthy John Wetherby (Alan Hale Jr.) hunting for polar bears.
Mike's always careful, though, to stay away from the international date line, as there are Soviets on the other side; in fact, they shot Martha's predecessor, who was curious and got too close!
Mike's life takes an unexpected turn when Wetherby drops his identification and Mike realizes that Wetherby is actually a Communist spy. Mike, a WWII veteran, must figure out how to handle the volatile situation, which gets even more complicated when he's "accidentally" wounded by Wetherby.
How to explain ARCTIC FLIGHT? It's not an especially good movie, with a leisurely storyline and somewhat wooden acting. Lovely Albright has a hairstyle that's not particularly becoming, and there's also a goofy-looking scene where Albright and Hale appear to be dancing in front of a back projection of Eskimos.
The average movie-goer would probably watch this film and be unimpressed, so I don't feel I can give it an unqualified recommendation, yet despite that I have to say I rather liked it. Is it kind of lame at times? Yes. But it's also kinda cool, just the type of "B" film which I personally tend to appreciate.
Morris isn't a charismatic actor, but I have a soft spot for him due to his record as a WWII flying ace who earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals. Needless to say, he's very at home in his role as a pilot, and while he's not a dynamic performer, there's something appealing about how he comes across in this; he's a real guy just hangin' out with his pals. Morris is also credited as an associate of producer Lindsley Parsons.
The movie also appealed to my interest in northern climes, as a good bit of it was shot on location. There are terrific black and white shots of travel by dog sled and boats frozen in place for the winter, which give the film a unique authenticity. Jack Russell was the cinematographer.
I also found ARCTIC FLIGHT entertaining because of my longstanding interest in the Cold War, including how U.S.-Soviet relations were portrayed on film. The story concept of Americans living just a short hike away from gun-toting Red soldiers was fun. George Bricker and Robert Hill's screenplay was based on a story by Ewing Scott.
The cast also includes Carol Thurston, Phil Tead, Thomas Richards Sr., and Kenneth MacDonald.
The movie was directed by "B" stalwart Lew Landers. I've seen roughly two dozen Landers films and while they might not all be great, he keeps things moving and generally wrings the most entertainment possible from whatever he's given to work with. A long list of links to previous Landers reviews can be found at the end of last year's review of CANAL ZONE (1942).
As a postscript, Wayne Morris died suddenly in 1959; he was just 45 when he had a heart attack. He was married to actress Peggy Stewart's sister, Patricia, who lived until 2001; he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
I'll be reviewing more Wayne Morris releases by the Warner Archive in the near future. I really appreciate the Archive bringing obscure titles like this Monogram film back into circulation in beautiful prints. The movie looks and sounds terrific, and I'll be popping it in my player again when I want to spend time visiting beautiful Alaska. There are no extras.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.