Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Desperate Journey (1942)

I've watched a number of films recently starring Errol Flynn or Ronald Reagan, and DESPERATE JOURNEY (1942) gave me a two for one deal, with Flynn and Reagan as costars.

Flynn plays an Aussie and Reagan an American who fly for the RAF, along with a Canadian (Arthur Kennedy), a Scotsman (Alan Hale Sr.), and a young British airman (Ronald Sinclair). This group are the sole survivors of the crash of their Flying Fortress after a mission to take out a rail line deep in German territory.

Though they're initially captured by a German major (Raymond Massey), the men manage to escape, after which they embark on a series of perilous adventures as they attempt to make their way back to England.

While not as realistic as the similarly themed British film ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942), which was released in the U.S. just a couple of weeks later, DESPERATE JOURNEY entertains thanks to the strong cast.

Flynn and Reagan make a fine bantering team as they attempt to make it back to England with some stolen German documents in hand. (Reagan has a particularly good scene where he bamboozles Massey.) Kennedy has a more serious role as the bookkeeper-turned-navigator who tries to keep the men on course both literally and figuratively.

Nancy Coleman has a few scenes in the second half of the film as a member of an underground group who helps the men in Germany. This part of the story made me curious as to whether anything like that actually existed in Germany or it was pure fantasy.

The Germans are mostly cartoonish; one is played by Sig Ruman of TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) and another is played by John Banner of HOGAN'S HEROES, so that gives the idea. Massey spends a lot of time impotently shouting.

DESPERATE JOURNEY was intended as an exciting adventure film and morale booster, and it succeeds on that level. I think I may have liked another recently reviewed film in the set, NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943), a little better, but this was an entertaining film.

DESPERATE JOURNEY was directed by Raoul Walsh. It was shot in black and white by Bert Glennon. The running time is 107 minutes.

DESPERATE JOURNEY is part of the TCM Spotlight Errol Flynn Adventures set.

DESPERATE JOURNEY also had a VHS release. It can be rented for streaming on Amazon, and it's also shown on Turner Classic Movies.

There's a trailer on TCM.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I haven't seen this in a very long time and tend to get its details mixed up with other movies. You have piqued my curiosity to see that Reagan - Flynn bantering.

7:43 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

This was a fun romp of a movie. I remember watching it when I was running through all of Arthur Kennedy's movies, and he was my favorite part about it because if I recall, he was the only serious character, the one who was practical and logical. That scene with Massey and Reagan was priceless!

7:25 AM  

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