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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dan Duryea shines in a double bill of unexceptional noirs, 29 May 2007
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hammer Film Noir 4 [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Terror Street:

Dan Duryea looked his age (46) when he made this Brit noir in 1953. The bags under the eyes aren't disguised. There are wrinkles on his forehead and creases around his mouth. Those wrinkles and creases, and his skill as an actor, are among the best things about this workmanlike film. Duryea was a fine, interesting actor, with in some movies a kind of sleazy menace and in others a puzzled sincerity. In Terror Street he raises our expectations every time he's on camera. As Major Bill Rogers, a U. S. Air Force pilot, he's hitched a ride from the States on a military plane so he can talk to his unhappy wife, Katie. When he shows up at their apartment in London, she's missing. Finally he locates her new apartment. She shows up but before they can talk he's knocked unconscious. When he comes to he finds her lying beside him dead, shot with bullets from his gun. He has 36 hours to find the killer; he must be back at the air-base for his return flight. The conclusion is strictly standard fare for cheaply produced noirs, but getting there is surprisingly rewarding.

In Terror Street, Dan Duryea isn't just one more B-noir tough guy hero. He's distraught that his wife apparently left him while he was gone for a year. For most of the movie he's unsure of himself, unsure of what his wife was doing, unsure of why she would have been killed and unsure if in fact she had ever loved him. Only until the last quarter of the movie, when the script requires him to do tough guy things, does his performance begin to look routine.

Unusual in these low-grade noirs, there are several other performances where the quality shines. Ann Gudrin plays Jenny Miller, the smart young woman who runs a mission and who helps Bill. Very subtly, Gudrin let's us see that Miller's feelings, carefully proper, may be moving in ways that surprise her. Eric Pohlman plays a suave antiques dealer with debonaire assurance.

But at least at the end the bad guys have paid the price, Katie's reputation is restored even if she isn't and, while Bill heads back to the States, we find a hint that he plans to stay in contact with Jenny. She smiles. So do we. They'd make a good match.

Wings of Danger:

You know there's a problem when half way through a movie that only lasts an hour and thirteen minutes it seems as if two hours have dragged by. Wings of Danger is another of those Brit noirs where a fading Hollywood name was cast in the lead in hopes of getting some play for the film in America. In this case, the problem with the film is the screenplay; there appears to be no motivation for Richard Van Ness' actions. It doesn't help that Zachary Scott as Van Ness is not too believable when he acts as a tough guy.

Van Ness is a pilot working for Boyd Spencer Airlines, a freight-hauling outfit. Nick Talbot (Robert Beatty), a fellow pilot and friend he doesn't seem too friendly with, disappears in a storm over the ocean. Hints of corruption, smuggling, blackmailing and counterfeiting start to show up. But why should we care about any of this? Richard suffers from blackouts and knows at any time he could wind up in the drink or in pieces on the ground. Why does he keep flying? Not only don't we know, the black-out question never turns into a serious plot issue. It just disappears after a big thing is made of it at the start. Why doesn't Richard help the police when they first come to him? There's no reason except to give the screenwriters the chance to show that Richard doesn't take guff from anyone. Why does Richard decide to investigate for himself without telling the police? Who knows?. Since there's no believable motivation, we know we're watching a movie contrived on the assumption that the viewers will be too dull to notice.

A major problem is Zachary Scott. Tough guys to be believable need to seem as comfortable doing violence with their fists as well as with their words. Scott's trademark as an actor, however, wasn't his physical presence. Scott's distinctiveness was his way of delivering lines that came across as either suave and sleazy (in his best roles, such as The Mask of Dimitrios and Mildred Pierce) or off-handedly condescending (in most of his other films). In nearly every role he had, he was a hard man to warm up to.

If you can picture this in Scott's delivery, you'll have an idea of how the picture doesn't work, both in Scott's believability and in the screenwriting: "Nick had taken a sock at the gale and it had socked him back and broken his neck. It was as simple as that. And yet there was a lot of loose ends and ideas that jabbed at my brain and fizzled out to the edge of nowhere..."

Terror Street and Wings of Danger are the double bill on volume four of the Hammer Film Noir Double Feature series. Terror Street's DVD transfer is very good. The DVD transfer for Wings of Danger is in reasonably good shape.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terror Street (1953) Reviewed Only., 7 Sep 2012
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hammer Film Noir 4 [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
36 hours for Major William Rogers to save his bacon.

Terror Street (AKA: 36 Hours) is directed by Montgomery Tully and written by Steve Fisher. It stars Dan Duryea, Elsy Albiin, Ann Gudrun, John Chandos and Eric Pohlmann. Music is by Ivor Slaney and cinematography by Walter Harvey. Plot finds Duryea as Major William Rogers, who is in London to see his estranged wife. When he arrives at her apartment, he is attacked and knocked unconscious. Upon awakening he finds that his wife has been shot and killed with his own gun. Taking to the streets, Rogers must find the real culprits before the police find and charge him with the murder.

Simple and effective little B crime picture out of Hammer Productions that plays on the wrong man on the run theme. There's the odd little film noir touch here and there on the production side of things (night time wet cobbled streets/Duryea under a street lamp/finale in swinging shadow), which somehow warrants it being part of the Hammer Film Noir Collection, but really it's best to approach this one as purely a race against time drama that is competently acted (though the script rarely allows Duryea chance to brood and be emotionally battered), well paced and a film that retains a good mystery element throughout. Safe viewing and film making really. 6/10
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Hammer Film Noir 4 [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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