Monday, June 2, 2014

Rash Ambler

I was reading Movie Morlocks recently, and Greg Ferrara was writing about Highly Dangerous (1950). Since it was available on Netflix streaming, I figured what the heck. It's based on an Eric Ambler story, and he's always fun.

Ambler tends to put regular people into extraordinary situations and then let it play out in a more or less realistic way. Here, our heroine is Margaret Lockwood, a mild-mannered entomologist, who is recruited by the government for a spy mission. The recruiter, Naunton Wayne (one of the upper-class twits from The Lady Vanishes) needs an expert in insects to go to an Eastern Bloc country and find out what bug they are going to use for bio-warfare. She refuses, but change her mind when a radio adventure serial tickles her sense of adventure.

Once in Freedonia, she meets up with hard-bitten newsman Dane Clark, who speaks the local lingo (Turkish, according to my wife). I don't want to tell too much about what happens next, except that she somehow gets the idea that she is in one of those radio serials, and gets in way over her head.

It's a lot of fun although pretty far fetched. I liked Dane Clark a lot. He's got a kind of hangdog face and Brooklyn delivery that reminds me of Lloyd Nolan. Lockwood is pretty good, a little older than the ingenue in The Lady Vanishes, and more believable as a scientist.

Not the greatest thing we've ever seen, but I liked it a lot (Ms. Spenser thought it was a bit too silly). Of course, this is in one of my sweet spots - old, black and white noir or thrillers, with a touch of comedy. I don't know why Netflix didn't suggest it.

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