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DANGEROUS MISSION (director: Louis King; screenwriters: Charles Bennett/W.R. Burnett/story by Horace McCoy and James Edmiston; cinematographer: William E. Snyder; editors: Gene Palmer; music: Roy Webb; cast: Victor Mature (Matt Hallett), Piper Laurie (Louise Graham), William Bendix (Chief Ranger Joe Parker), Vincent Price (Paul Adams), Betta St. John (Mary Tiller), Steve Darrell (Katoonai Tiller), Harry Cheshire (Mr. Elster); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irwin Allen; RKO; 1975)
“Starts off looking like a real corker but winds up looking as stale as month old bread.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An action movie made for 3D that starts off looking like a real corker but winds up looking as stale as month old bread. Director Louis King (“Frenchie”/”Green Grass of Wyoming”) never steers it away from its awkwardness. Despite a fine cast (unfortunately they all give corpse-like performances), capable screenwriters Charles Bennett and W.R. Burnett, and veteran story writers Horace McCoy and James Edmiston, the film is at best bearable.

Louise Graham (Piper Laurie) flees to Montana after witnessing a mob killing in a deserted New York nightclub, with the vic gunned down as he sits by the piano playing “One for My Baby.” The gangster killer is caught but plans to plead self-defense and hires Paul Adams (Vincent Price), a contract killer posing as a commercial photographer, to get the eyewitness. The action picks up at Montana’s Glacier National Park, where in a civilian disguise Matt Hallett (Victor Mature) checks in at the fancy resort hotel. It doesn’t take much detective work to figure out he’s the undercover NYC detective sent by the DA to bring back the eyewitness and not the killer as suggested by the lame script.

The story brings in a ridiculous romantic triangle involving Paul, Matt and Louise. If that romance wasn’t unbelievable enough, there’s also one that tops that one in credibility between Louise’s best friend Mary Tiller, a good Indian Blackfoot girl working in the hotel gift shop, and Paul; and, by the way, Mary’s caring Indian father, Katoonai, is a wanted criminal hiding out in the nearby mountains.

It leads to the action-packed climactic scene with the detective chasing the contract killer over a treacherous mountain glacier field. But even this scene looked tired. William Bendix plays a blustery park ranger chief who knew Mature from their days as marines. His mission, in this film, is to put out a forest fire that has nothing to do with the plot, but looks swell on 3D. The film is noteworthy for the clumsy job Gene Palmer turned in as editor.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”