7 September 2019 | Kittyman
Enjoyable Pre-World War 2 Espionage Film
Pacific Blackout (1941) is a little known Paramount pre-World War II espionage movie containing strong comedy elements, and set in Seattle. It does not seem to have had a studio DVD release, but can be found on the internet. Although a B picture, it, like the Mr. Moto series, is well worth watching.
It's three weaknesses are a rather obvious villain, the astounding number of coincidences which prevent falsely convicted Robert Preston from escaping the downtown area, and the strange willingness of Martha O'Driscoll to attach herself to a stranger (handsome though he may be) whom she initially believes a murderer.
It's strengths are fourfold.
It presents an interesting civil defense exercise in anticipation of, and response to, a Japanese bombing raid. That involves both pre-raid blackout and post-raid triage of supposed victims. After Pearl Harbor, these west coast fears and exercises accelerated.
It has no dead spots and moves along at a nice pace.
It's special effects are well done, considering its modest budget, and when it was made.
It's actors do a good job. Standouts include the perpetually hungry Martha O'Driscoll, Mary Treen, J. Edward Bromberg, Spencer Charters, and Clem Bevans. Martha O'Driscoll was a wholesomely beautiful blonde who made thirty-nine movies by the age of twenty-five, then married a rich industrialist and retired. (Smart girl.) Here she looks and acts a bit like a ditzy, but much smarter, version of My Friend Irma (1949)--who Marie Wilson memorably portrayed. Mary Treen was a horse-faced comedian, who livened up most of the pictures she was in. Here she portrays Martha's switchboard co-worker and friend who is drawn into the plot through frantic phoned appeals from Martha. J. Edward Bromberg was a short, squat character actor who had his career and life destroyed by the hearings of the House Committee of Un-American Activities in 1950. Here he plays a surprisingly philosophical down-in-the-luck magician. Forced to live as a pickpocket, he becomes an unlikely ally. Spencer Charters was a beat-up looking character actor. He basically appeared in two hundred and twenty-five films as a blue-collar worker or minor official. Here he plays a suspicious, but confused garage watchmen. He confronts Robert and Martha, and suspects they are up to something, but can't figure out what. And he never does, do to a funny, distracting phone call from Mary. Finally, Clem Bevans, who cornered the market on benevolent old codgers, plays the munitions plant's kindly night watchman. He offers to share his dinner with Martha, then watches with amazement as she wolfs down most of it.
In summary, if you remember and like any of the actors, or other pictures, I mentioned, I believe you'll also find Pacific Blackout enjoyable.