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SEVEN MILES FROM ALCATRAZ (director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriters: story by John D. Klorer/Joseph Krumgold; cinematographer: Robert de Grasse; editor: George Crone; music: Roy Webb; cast: James Craig (Champ Larkin), Bonita Granville (Anne Porter), Frank Jenks (Jimbo), Cliff Edwards (Stormy), George Cleveland (Captain Porter), Erford Gage (Paul Brenner), John Banner (Fritz Weinermann), Tala Birell (Baroness), Otto Reichow (Max); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herman Schlom; RKO; 1942)
“Surprisingly suspenseful patriotic wartime programmer about Nazi shenanigans in a lighthouse near Alcatraz.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Edward Dmytryk (“Cornered”/”The Young Lions”/”The Falcon Strikes Back”) in his first directorial gig at RKO directs this surprisingly suspenseful patriotic wartime programmer about Nazi shenanigans in a lighthouse near Alcatraz. It’s based on a story by John D. Klorer and the screenplay is by Joseph Krumgold.

At the onset of WWII, cynical Alcatraz prisoners Champ Larkin (James Craig) and Jimbo (Frank Jenks) fear they are sitting ducks for a bomb attack and make a daring escape (they refuse to tell us how, so it’s anyone’s guess). They end up at the nearby lighthouse, where they take the following hostages: Captain Porter (George Cleveland), his pretty daughter Anne Porter (Bonita Granville), radio man Paul Brenner (Erford Gage) and Stormy (Cliff Edwards). The hostages can’t get help and soon learn that a Nazi spy ring also wants the lighthouse to use for their rendezvous, bringing in a submarine, and that one of the lighthouse staff is an undercover Nazi spy. When the Nazis arrive at the lighthouse, the inmates suddenly get patriotic. They say such things as “We may be rats, but we’re American rats!” The spies are led by an evil baroness (Tala Birell) and her ruthless Aryan liaison Fritz Weinermann (John Banner, would later play the lovable Sgt. Schultz on TV’s Hogan’s Heroes). The film’s message is that even dangerous criminals can be patriotic and have more worth than Nazis.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”