Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tonight's Movie: FBI Code 98 (1963)

My participation in the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge sponsored by Raquel at Out of the Past turned out to have a very nice side benefit -- I won a prize!

I had the pleasure of choosing any Warner Archive disc and picked out FBI CODE 98 (1963), a remastered title from the Archive's Film Noir collection. It's been on my wish list for a while now, and it arrived very quickly. I watched it today, and it proved to be great fun.

FBI CODE 98 is an early '60s docu-noir, a story of sabotage which turns into an FBI procedural, complete with a deep-voiced narrator (William Woodson).

Jack Kelly, Ray Danton, and Andrew Duggan play three California computer company executives who do a great deal of work for NASA. On a private plane flying from the Bay Area to Cape Canaveral, Kelly needs to open his suitcase and discovers it's unexpectedly locked. When he finally manages to get it open, he finds something even more unexpected inside -- a bomb.

Danton disables the bomb and the plane lands safely in Las Vegas. The FBI is soon on the case, led by Inspector Gifford (Phil Carey), whose team includes Special Agent Fox (William Reynolds).

Initial suspects include two of the men's wives (Peggy McCay and Kathleen Crowley) and Walter Macklin (Jack Cassidy), a company employee who's having an affair with Crowley.

FBI CODE 98 is entertaining viewing for anyone who likes Warner Bros. TV casts of the era or for anyone who enjoys law enforcement procedurals.  The movie includes documentary footage of FBI employees at work and concludes with a shot of J. Edgar Hoover.  Some of the deadpan exchanges among the FBI agents made me smile, but that's part of the fun.

I also smiled at the first shots of Carey at target practice at Quantico. Carey, recently seen by me as a cute young police detective in PUSHOVER (1954), plays the role ultra-straight and serious, with the movie's lighter moments provided by Reynolds as a young agent with a crush on a stenographer (Laura Shelton).

A bit of trivia regarding narrator William Woodson: Woodson narrated the epic WWII miniseries THE WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE in the '80s, starring Robert Mitchum.

The movie runs 104 minutes; it should be noted that the 94-minute time currently listed at IMDb is incorrect.

I've read that this movie was originally intended as a TV pilot but instead released theatrically; I'm not sure when during the production timeline the decision for a theatrical release was made. The disc presented the movie in a very nice widescreen print, filmed by Robert Hoffman.

The movie was directed by Warner Bros. TV veteran Leslie H. Martinson, whose work at the studio included many episodes of Jack Kelly's MAVERICK series.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Very nice! I'm glad the reading challenge had the added bonus for you for acquiring this film. It sounds really great! I think I'll add it to my Classicflix Queue. Great review Laura!

6:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Raquel! This movie had a lot of people I like in it, especially Jack Kelly, and I thought it was a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy checking it out! And thanks again very much! :)

Best wishes,

6:33 PM  

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