APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER (director/writer: Lewis Allen; screenwriter: Richard Breen/Warren Duff; cinematographer: John F. Seitz; editor: Leroy Stone; music: Victor Young; cast: Alan Ladd (Al Goddard), Phyllis Calvert (Sister Augustine), Paul Stewart (Earl Boettiger), Jan Sterling (Dodie), Jack Webb (Joe Regas), Stacy Harris (Paul Ferrar), Harry Morgan (George Soderquist), David Wolfe (David Goodman); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Fellows; Paramount; 1951)
“Routine hardboiled crime thriller about a postal heist and murder.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Lewis Allen (“Suddenly”/”The Uninvited”) directs this routine hardboiled crime thriller about a postal heist and murder. The screenplay by Richard Breen and Warren Duff is mostly crisp, with a tendency to be humorous rather than coherent, and comes with a silly tagged on alternate aim that the cold-blooded hero cop can learn to be human and less cynical through the efforts of a sweet and sincere nun. It also tells us that the Postal Inspection Service is the nation’s oldest police force. But there’s nothing much else to rave about this straightforward bland tale other than showing off star Alan Ladd’s chops as a tough guy. It’s Ladd’s last film noir and by having future Dragnet partners Jack Webb and Harry Morgan play goons with Webb knocking off Morgan, the film at least has some juice. There’s also a neat scene of tough undercover cop Ladd playing squash with nasty killer Webb and using the ball as a missile to floor him.
It opens on a rainy night in Gary, Indiana, and local thugs George Soderquist (Harry Morgan) and Joe Regas (Jack Webb) just strangled to death a postal inspector in a hotel owned by their mobster boss Earl B (Paul Stewart), and have dragged the body onto the street where they plan to dump it in an alley. They are spotted by a visiting nun, Sister Augustine (Phyllis Calvert), who sees only the face of George. Hardnosed postal inspector Al Goddard (Alan Ladd) from the Chicago office leads the investigation and gets the nun through mug shots to identify George. Al then gets wind that the motive for the killing has to do with a one million dollar postal mail truck robbery planned for the near future which involves these three hoods and the postal truck driver Paul Ferrar (Stacy Harris). Working with the local police as his backup, Al infiltrates the gang through highly unconvincing methods of being open to bribery and schemes to foil the robbery.
Jan Sterling has some funny lines as the dumb blonde who is Earl’s gun moll and who in the end is willing to make a deal with the cop to save her skin. Ladd goes through his usual drill as the tight-lipped tough guy who seems to be at home in the underworld setting. Since we know from the film’s beginning who committed the murder, the film instead of being a whodunit is viewed as a semi-documentary styled exposé of a crime.
REVIEWED ON 2/1/2007 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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