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DESPERATE CARGO (director: William Beaudine; screenwriters: John T. Coyle/Morgan Cox/story “Loot Below”by Eustace L. Adams; cinematographer: Jack Greenhalgh; editor: Guy V. Thayer Jr. ; cast: Ralph Byrd (Tony Bronson), Carol Hughes (Peggy Morton), Jack Mulhall (Jim Halsey), Julie Duncan (Ann Howard), I. Stanford Jolley (Professor Carter), Richard Clarke (Ryan), Paul Bryar (Dessler), Johnstone White (Madden), Kenneth Harlan (Capt. Hank MacFarland), Thornton Edwards (Manuelo), Don Forrest (Navigator Williams), Rick Vallin (Radioman Stevens); Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John T. Coyle; PRC; 1941)
“Exciting B-film action-packed crime thriller, an early example of a disaster film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William “One Shot” Beaudine (“Born to the Saddle”/”The Green Hornet”/”Billy the Kid versus Dracula“) serviceably directs this exciting B-film action-packed crime thriller, an early example of a disaster film. It’s based on the 1937 Argosy magazine serial “Loot Below” by Eustace L. Adams. The screenplay is written by John T. Coyle and Morgan Cox.

A disguised gang, led by “Professor Carter (I. Stanford Jolley), a former pilot who flew the “Caribbean Clipper”, board as passengers and hijack the Trans-Caribbean Airways plane in mid-air after it takes off from an unnamed Caribbean island at the fictional site of Puerto Nueva and is en-route to Miami. The Professor’s confederates are Madden (Johnstone White), Ryan (Richard Clarke), and Desser (Paul Bryar). They take over the plane by killing the navigator (Don Forrest) and co-pilot. The gang lock the crew in the cargo compartment and lock the passengers in their quarters. They rob themand steal the plane’s safe, which is carrying a shipment of $500,000. Carter then tries to land the plane on a remote island of the Caribbean Sea and plans to be picked up there by other gang members and whisked away in another plane. When they can’t open the locked safe, they force the purser, Tony Bronson (Ralph Byrd), to open it. Tony resists and in a struggle grabs Ryan’s gun. After shooting Ryan, Tony frees the pilot, Capt. Hank MacFarland (Kenneth Harlan, silent screen star), and crew, locked in the cargo area. Tony then overpowers the Professor in the cockpit while holding the gang off with the gun. MacFarland will then fly to Miami, where the police will be there to arrest the gang.

Julie Duncan plays the sweetheart passenger the hero fell in love with back at the hotel. Carol Hughes is her gold digger showbiz partner, who is dating fellow passenger Jack Mulhall, a hotshot New York journalist.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”