27 October 2007 | rsoonsa
An Able Group Of Players Is Gathered Here, But Static Direction Capsizes A Commonplace Storyline And Situations.
Anna Sten is backed by a hard-working cast in this film, one of the last productions from Grand National Pictures, but the players can utilize very little from a raggedly scripted and weakly directed affair during which Sten, in spite of her heavily accented English, is apt to please a viewer more by her performance than will the assemblage of stereotypical character types with whom she is interjoined. Ukrainian Sten is cast here as Nadine Nikolas, a Russian emigrant to the United States who is diligently studying for her citizenship qualification exam and employed as a laboratory assistant for a research chemist, Dr. Hite (Harry Davenport) who has discovered a (not terribly) secret formula, poisonous gas that is coveted by both the U.S. government and spies sent from a foreign nation (clearly meant to be the Soviet Union), but when Hite is slain, the subsequent scandal is more than enough to not only prevent Nadine from achieving her goal to become an American citizen, but additionally to place her aboard the eponymous "Exile Express", a deportation train that is the initial leg of a forcible return to her erstwhile Eastern European homeland. Her future plans blighted by enmeshment in a homicide, Nadine has glumly accepted her portion until she receives unexpected succour from a maverick journalist, Steve Reynolds (Alan Marshall), who has appointed himself as the eyefilling blonde's bodyguard after helping her escape from the train, with the two of them thereupon striving to elude both the set of murderous Slavic spies and a collection of U.S. law enforcement officials. A goodly portion of the film is apparently designed to be a skittish comedy, but the scriptors have sadly neglected to write lines that are even nominally comedic, and prosaic plotting is hardly helped by tepid direction given by Otis Garrett, on loan from Universal Pictures, with an effect that both featured and supporting actors are left to rely upon previously established stylistics that merely contribute to the tired quality of the tale. A repletion of poorly constructed farcical interludes, in combination with flaccid attempts at suspense and romance have brought about a work lacking in style, yet overstocked with predictability. Sten's widely undervalued ability is put to proper use as she is able to furnish some sparkle to her characterization, but the other players in most cases walk through their parts, with the exception of Leonid Kinskey who earns the acting laurels as a sinister foreign agent. The piece is reissued upon an Alpha Video DVD and, in accord with that company's custom, has not been remastered, as is easily evident. Its credits show George Parrish as composer of the work's score, but the latter is in truth a goulash from studio stock.