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

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Danton, Faylen, Adams, Calhoun
THE LOOTERS (1955). Director: Abner Biberman.

"I haven't had this much fun since I was kicked out of the Campfire Girls." -- Sheryl.

Jesse Hill (Rory Calhoun of That Hagen Girl), a loner and mountain climber who lives in the Rockies, gets a visit from a shady ex-army buddy, Peter Corder (Ray Danton of Code Name: Jaguar). When a commercial plane crashes in the mountains, the two decide to climb towards the wreckage, but with very different motives. Jesse wants to look for survivors, while Pete is more interested in salvaging what he can, which turns out to be a trunk full of loot. Pete's true nature is revealed pretty quickly, and he stakes his claim while threatening everyone else. Before long the two men start a tense descent back down the mountain along with three survivors, a former cheesecake model named Sheryl (Julie Adams), a captain named Leppich (Frank Faylen of The Mystery of the 13th Guest). and a wannabee big shot named Parkinson (Thomas Gomez). Who will get to keep the loot and who will survive?

Ray Danton as sneaky Pete
The Looters has a very good premise and could have been turned into a nail-biting and memorable suspense film. Instead it's a mediocre and often hokey time-waster that isn't good enough for the audience to ignore its many implausible aspects. Now, the plane crashed on top of a mountain, but it isn't in a nearly impassable area as the plane was in Three Secrets, so it seems to me that even if there were no survivors, arrangements would be made to get the victims' bodies back to their loved ones. But when the military, who is playing war games in the area, discovers that no one is at the plane, they start bombing the whole area -- say what? Admittedly, this adds some excitement to the climax, but it doesn't make much sense, as if the military's attitude would be "let's just blow up the bodies of the crash victims without even finding out what caused the crash!"

Of course one reason for this silliness is that it may fool viewers into not scratching their heads when one survivor expresses the hope that everyone will think he died in the crash. Another problem is that no one seems to act as if this was the scene of a tragedy, that there are several dead bodies (never shown) lying just out of view for much of the film's length. Then you have to wonder why Sheryl and Jesse would want to make out when neither has brushed their teeth for at least several days. Gomez makes his mark as the weaselly Parkinson, Danton is typically vivid, Adams is reasonably adept and sexy, giving the film no more than it deserves, and Calhoun is adequately stolid and heroic. But this is one flight you may not want to book. After meeting on this film, Adams and Danton were married. Abner Biberman was originally an actor, playing a great many Asian roles, before switching to directing.

Verdict: Another reason to avoid the Rockies. **. 


angelman66 said...

Will probably skip this one, Bill, on your recommendation, but if I am channel surfing and run across the strapping and handsome Ray Danton, I know I'll stop to feast my eyes for a while!

William said...

Don't blame you one bit! (Not a bad actor, either!)