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CAPTAIN SCARFACE (director: Paul Guilfoyle; screenwriter: Charles Lang; cinematographer: Norbert Brodine; editor: Gene Fowler Jr.; music: Leon Klatzkin; cast: Leif Erickson (Sam Wilton), Virginia Grey (Elsa Yeager), Rudolph Anders(Dr. Yeager), John Mylong(Kroll), Paul Brinegar(Clegg), Howard Wendell(Fred Dilts), Isabel Randolph(Kate Dilts), Barton MacLain (Captain Scarface, Tregnor), Martin Garralaga(Manuel), Don Dillaway(Crofton), Peter Coe (Perro); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal Roach Jr.; Alpha Video Distributors; 1953)
A good Red Scare thriller from the 1950s.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A good Red Scare thriller from the 1950s skillfully directed by long-time television director Paul Guilfoyle (“Tess of the Storm Country”) and tautly written by Charles Lang.

The freighter S.S. Banos is torpedoed at sea, as an act of sabotage by communist agents. The only survivor is the venal radioman Clegg (Paul Brinegar). Captain Scarface (Barton MacLain), the new captain of the replaced Banos, is a communist agent, who is the leader of a group of commie agents who plan to blow up the Panama Canal with the Atomic bomb they have stored in the freighter.

Scarface refuses to pay Clegg his promised $5,000 for not reporting over the radio the ship’s destruction, and is directed by Scarface to go to the South American port city of San Brejo and meet Kroll (John Mylong) at the Los Rios Hotel for payment. When Kroll double-crosses Clegg, he kills the commie agent. While fleeing with the cash, the hotel owner, Manuel (Martin Garralaga), kills Clegg.

Sam Wilton (Leif Erickson) is an American working in S.A. on a plantation, who is on the run because he wounded the owner of the plantation in self-defense and fears he won’t be believed by the authorities, as the owner was jealous of Sam and suspected he was having an affair with his wife. Manuel allows his friend Sam to take Kroll’s passport and then substitutes his photo, which he uses to board the Banos. There Sam befriends the brilliant German atomic scientist Dr. Yeager (Rudolph Anders), who with Kroll’s help escaped from being held captive in Russia. Yeager reunites with his attractive daughter Elsa (Virginia Grey) and are bound for safety in America, but they soon learn of the danger they are in when Scarface threatens the scientist to help destroy the Panama Canal or else.

With the help of other American tourists aboard (Isabel Randolph, Howard Wendell and Don Dillaway), the good guys overcome the bad dudes.

The film received little recognition and attracted hardly any box office when released, but built an audience through playing from time-to-time on television over the years. It’s a nice little thriller, that is fun watching because it’s so well presented and acted.

REVIEWED ON 12/10/2010 GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”