Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Crack-Up (1936)

CRACK-UP (1936) is a bizarre pre-World War II spy thriller from 20th Century-Fox.

CRACK-UP, which has no relationship to a Pat O'Brien film of the same name released in 1946, is the tale of pilot Ace Martin (Brian Donlevy).

Martin has been chosen by airplane manufacturer John Fleming (Ralph Morgan) to pilot a new plane, the Wild Goose, on its maiden trans-Atlantic flight.

Prior to the trip, Ace induces his gullible co-pilot Joe (Thomas Beck) to steal some important plans from the office where Joe's fiancee Ruth (Helen Wood) works. Ace convinces Joe that the plans were his, stolen by the company, but in reality Ace intends to sell the plans to a foreign spy (Peter Lorre) for $20,000.

That's only the start of the craziness, which includes an elaborate spy organization set-up fronted by Lorre, whose cover is acting like a trumpet-playing simpleton; double-crosses and murders galore; and Donlevy wing-walking on the Wild Goose while flying in a violent storm to...screw on a loose gas cap? That's followed by a climactic crash at sea, which rather reminded me of the crash in Hitchcock's WWII spy thriller FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) a few years later.

I really wasn't expecting the plot to go as it did with Donlevy, who one assumes would be the hero of the film, and let's just say the last minute of the film is a complete jaw-dropper which made me laugh at an ostensibly serious moment. It's that kind of a movie. It was weirdly entertaining but thank goodness it was only 65 minutes long as I don't think I could have lasted longer. I won't forget it, but once was enough.

Look for a young Lynn Bari as an office employee. Also in the cast: Kay Linaker, J. Carrol Naish, Lester Matthews, and Howard C. Hickman.

CRACK-UP was directed by Malcolm St. Clair and filmed in black and white by Barney McGill. It was written by Charles Kenyon and Sam Mintz, based on a story by John F. Goodrich.

CRACK-UP is available on DVD from Fox Cinema Archives. It's a pretty nice print with good sound.

I haven't gone into great detail here in order to preserve some of the surprising plot twists and turns. For more on this nutty film, visit Greenbriar Picture Shows, Justin Remer at DVD Talk, or Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.


Blogger Kristina said...

After reading this and Savant's review, I'm sold! Love a weird movie.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I thought of you watching it because I felt you would appreciate the quirkiness! You won't forget it! LOL. Every time I think of the last scene I can't help laughing, which isn't supposed to happen there...

Best wishes,

10:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older