Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Patric Knowles and Joseph Calleia
FIVE CAME BACK (1939). Director: John Farrow.

A plane flying over South America crash lands in the jungle, but only five people can fly back when the plane is fixed, and there are headhunters in the area. Will it be the convict who faces execution (Joseph Calleia), or the blowsy brunette (Lucille Ball) who feels she hasn't got much of a future? Professor Spengler (C. Aubrey Smith) and his peppery wife (Elisabeth Risdon)? Crimp (John Carradine), who is delivering his prisoner but uses no handcuffs or takes any precautions? Or Pete (Allen Jenkins) who is traveling with his murdered boss's little boy, Tommy? Then there's the eloping couple, Judson (Patric Knowles) and Alice (Wendy Barrie), and the two pilots, played by Chester Morris [The She-Creature] and Kent Taylor [Gangbusters]. Five Came Back certainly features an interesting situation, but it's contrived, and the acting, while professional, is generally of the second-rate Hollywood variety. However, "Lucy" isn't bad as Peggy, and Knowles makes an impression as Jud, while Barrie does her best with the part she's given. At least in this earlier version the horrible death of a steward is remarked upon at some point. Farrow directed the remake Back from Eternity some years later, but it wasn't much of an improvement. This is not one of the great movies of 1939.

Verdict: Maybe more headhunters would have livened this up. **.

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