Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tonight's Movie: 5 Steps to Danger (1957) - A ClassicFlix Blu-ray Review

The Cold War chase film 5 STEPS TO DANGER (1947) was recently released in an attractive restored Blu-ray by ClassicFlix.

Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden star as Ann and John, who "meet cute" when his road trip to go fishing is stalled out after his car dies in a small town. She offers him a lift to Santa Fe if he'll share the driving.

Ann needs to reach Santa Fe urgently, and for a while we're not quite clear if she's a crook, a woman on the verge of an emotional breakdown, or a dedicated American patriot.

Before they've known each other long, John and Ann end up on the run while handcuffed! Along the way we're also introduced to a nasty psychiatrist (Werner Klemperer), a mysterious nurse (Jeanne Cooper), a lying professor (Richard Gaines), a CIA man (Charles Davis, seen below with Hayden and Roman), and a friendly FBI agent (Ken Curtis). The cast also includes Peter Hansen and John Mitchum.

I first saw 5 STEPS TO DANGER in 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it via this great-looking new release.

The film won't win any points for originality, borrowing from THE 39 STEPS (1935), THE BIG STEAL (1949), and other films, but it's great "movie comfort food," a fun mashup of road film, "couple on the run," and Cold War espionage.

The movie doesn't take itself very seriously, especially when John proposes marriage to a woman we're still not 100% sure isn't a little bit nuts, but the somewhat improbable plotting is part of its charm. It's simply an enjoyable, not-too-stressful adventure with a pair of appealing actors in Hayden and Roman. Fans of the actors and this type of film will find it worth checking out.

I also especially enjoy the very straight arrow performance of Davis as the CIA guy; Curtis is also fun in a brief role as the genial FBI man. Both Davis and Curtis's helpful characters reassure us by their very squareness that everything will be OK. (Their dry "oops!" comments on a near-miss in the final shootout make me chuckle.)

This 80-minute film was written and directed by Henry S. Kesler, based on the book THE STEEL MIRROR by Donald Hamilton. It was filmed by Kenneth Peach.

ClassicFlix restored the film from the original camera negative. The very nice widescreen print is in its original 1.85 aspect ratio. There are no extras.

I liked the case cover design, which includes a black and white still spanning the width of the interior of the case when it's opened.

In addition to the Blu-ray, 5 STEPS TO DANGER is also available from ClassicFlix on DVD.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

I only saw this film for the first time quite recently and found it very enjoyable as one who enjoys the work of both stars. I may have read Donald Hamilton's source novel 'The Steel Mirror' hundreds of years ago - I read a number of his books and liked them.
Good to enjoy seeing "GUNSMOKE"s Festus Haggen playing a square-jawed FBI man!!

12:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry,

So glad you discovered this film and found it as enjoyable as I did. You can't go wrong with these stars on a suspenseful road trip, shadowed by "Festus"!

How great you know the author's work -- I wasn't familiar with him.

Best wishes,

1:31 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

This sounds interesting. THanks for the review. How are you liking the ClassicFlix releases? I haven't checked them out yet.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquel! I was very impressed with the ClassicFlix releases of Anthony Mann's HE WALKED BY NIGHT, T-MEN, and RAW DEAL, which not only look great but have a nice assortment of extras including commentary tracks by Alan K. Rode and Jeremy Arnold. I purchased all three, as well as a couple other titles I've not yet seen.

5 STEPS TO DANGER doesn't have any extras but it sure looks great; I love having an entertaining "lesser" film like this available looking good! I hope to review DOWN THREE DARK STREETS here in the near future. Hope you get to check some of their releases out soon.

Best wishes,

2:16 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

I’m with you on this film. Roman and Hayden make a good team .

12:09 AM  

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