Paramount Pictures presents "APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER" (1951) (89 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Starring Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Paul Stewart, Jan Sterling, Jack Webb & Harry Morgan
Directed by Lewis Allen
Relentless postal inspector Al Goddard is sent to Gary, Indiana, when another officer is murdered. He must find the nun who witnessed the murder, then infiltrate the gang by convincing them he is a postal inspector gone bad. This is a great Alan Ladd crime drama with interesting support from Jack Webb & Harry Morgan as the villains!
Jack Webb and Harry Morgan (Sgt. Joe Friday and Officer Bill Gannon in a future life) are members of the gang. Webb's character is particularly vicious, and he kills Morgan with a pair of bronze baby shoes!
Appointment with Danger is a fast moving, entertaining, punch in the gut of a movie. In spite of its obscurity Appointment is a crime film of the first order. It's a textbook example of the visual aspects of the noir style.
1. Lewis Allen [Director]
Date of Birth: 25 December 1905 - Oakengates, Telford, Shropshire, UK
Date of Death: 3 May 2000, Santa Monica, California
2. Alan Ladd
Date of Birth: 3 September 1913 - Hot Springs, Arkansas
Date of Death: 29 January 1964 - Palm Springs, California
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars
Performance: 4 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 89 min on DVD ~ Paramount Pictures ~ (07/27/2010)
Appointment with Danger is directed by Lewis Allen and written by Richard L. Breen and Warren Duff. It stars Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Paul Stewart, Jan Sterling, Jack Webb, Stacy Harris and Harry Morgan. Music is by Victor Young and cinematography by John F. Seitz.
Al Goddard (Ladd) is a U.S. Postal Inspector sent to investigate the grim murder of one of his colleagues. There's a witness to locate and possibly protect, a nun, Sister Augustine (Calvert), and soon enough Al has to go undercover as a crook to infiltrate the gang responsible for the murder. Not only that, but they plan to steal one million dollars being transported by the U.S.P.S., clearly Al has a lot on his plate.
Alan Ladd's last film noir (though it barely qualifies as such) is good entertainment that relies on hardboiled speak more than it does action or mystery. A great opening involving the murder is kind of a false dawn, in that the mood and visual strengths on show here are rarely reproduced during rest of pic. However, that is a small complaint in truth because it's so much fun to be around Ladd's Al Goddard.
We quickly learn that he is basically a great cop but not much of a human being, since we know who did the murder from the off, we have to rely on Goddard's undercover operation for our suspense quota, which comes in spades. Goddard is constantly at threat of being exposed, he has to consistently think on his feet, have a quip or yarn to spin to deflect suspicion, so this keeps things spicy in the story.
The strand involving Calvert's nun is a weak one, it's clearly a narrative device to smooth out Goddard's rough edges, but it never really works and that the writers turn her into a dumb broad late in the play is annoying. Another irritant is that Sterling (wasted) as Paul Stewart's (good villain value as usual) moll really doesn't impact on proceedings, she wanders in and out of the film promising to be a femme fatale, but it never happens and after playing out as a weak red herring she exits with a whimper.
Some smart location work is on show, with the backdrop of pool halls and cheap hotels utilised to good effect by Allen and Seitz, and a couple of scenes really sock the jaw; literally in one case! But it never rises above being a routine cops and robbers based homage to the U.S.P.S. Inspectors. Thankfully Ladd is on form and delivers the best parts of the screenplay with a steely cold sharpness that positively tickles the fancy of noir lovers. 6.5/10