9 December 2005 | rsoonsa
Below Average "B" Struggles With Weakly Written Script.
Joseph Lewis, later renowned for lifting standards above what might be expected for the second features that he was generally given to direct, through adept management of his actors as well as skillful editing, simply goes through the motions here with a low-budget PRC film that is completed in 1941, before formal entry of the United States into World War II, and it is a carelessly written espionage tale akin to pulp fiction of its day, with scant cinematic substance and ragged production values. When Professor Carroll, a U.S. Army scientist is murdered after formulating a powerful chemical explosive, Military Intelligence assumes the criminal investigation, leading to an apparent foreign spy ring that, along with M.I., is seeking to forestall inquiries being made by Carroll's younger brother, Army Corporal Greg (Eric Linden) whose aim (while AWOL) of locating his sibling's killer interferes with his pursuers as Greg is known to have had in his possession a list of other researchers involved in the development of the explosive who are, therefore, in danger. Greg's slapdash antics while escaping from his Post stockade and from military investigators, as well as from a contingent of spies, are entertaining only to him but Linda (Ann Doran), a reporter, takes an interest in Corporal Carroll because she needs more information from him in order to complete and file a news story about the affair, and the two are presently in trouble from all sides, especially from a diverse collection of alien agents, all seemingly as American as apple pie. This is a disappointing effort with often startlingly trite dialogue that renders ineffective any attempts by the players to create believable roles, and spirit is missing from a narrative within which nothing results from anything. However, there are veteran troupers on board here who give better service than their assigned lines deserve. A scene stealing comedic Negro couple, played by Dudley Dickerson and Bernice Pilot, give nicely natural performances, while acting honours go to Doran, whom fate has determined will be underrated, as she gives life to her part, and it is pleasant to watch Dennis Moore, although in a small part; capable Donald Curtis is trounced by his largely silly lines and Constance Worth appears to be playing to a mirror in a film that moves briskly but includes precious few sequences that will be of any interest to most viewers.