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  • Flynn's last line in the movie sums up the tenor of the entire piece, "Now for Australia and a crack at those Japs." A bomber crew on a heroic mission is shot down and make their way from Poland, through Germany and Holland, to England, losing a few of their members enroute, but nothing compared to the slaughter and destruction the wisecracking warriors wreak on the Germans.

    Let's see. Dispensing with the crew members who die early on, there is a British flight sergeant whose role is to be the plucky but inexperienced youngster who is wounded and holds the others back, although he urges them to leave him behind and save themselves. Then there is Alan Hale as the comic old cook, more or less transposed from the USS Copperfin in "Destination Tokyo." Then there is Arthur Kennedy as the serious Canadian accountant who objects to the playful way the others make war on the Nazis. He mistakenly thinks war is a serious business, but he comes around in the end. There is Errol Flynn, the only officer, and an Australian, who organizes one adventure after another and speaks German. (Somebody has to speak German.) Ronald Reagan is the American from Jersey City. He is Flynn's sidekick.

    The Germans aren't so well differentiated but they're just as stereotyped. Raymond Massy is the monocled Herr Major who pursues them for personal reasons across half of Europe. Sig Rumann provides the best comic interlude. As a railroad policeman he discovers our gang making themselves at home in Gorings private car. He sarcastically tells them in German that he's happy to see that they've made themselves at home in the Reichsmarshall's quarters and asks them if there is anything he can do for them -- "Do you think the cigarettes are good enough for you?" Alan Hale completely mistakes Rumann's sarcasm and comes back with a jolly, "Oh, ja, ja," until Rumann spits on Hale's outstretched hand and throws them all off the train.

    Boy, this movie is packed with action. Badabing, badaboom! Trains, planes, and automobiles -- one chase after another. Flynn setting his cap firmly on his head before diving through a window. Most of the movie was shot on Warner's lot, but there is some nice location shooting too at what I take to be the flats around South San Francisco Bay. Prop up a few fake windmills on the horizon and you have Holland. (You can see the same flats substituting for the Japanese coast in "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," or nearby ones on the Sacramento River posing as a ships' graveyard in "Blood Alley.")

    The story isn't really worth going into. It isn't quite as focused as some other war movies in that there is no single mission to which the group must devote themselves. Instead they improvise a lot. But you can hardly notice it because the pace is so fast. Good old Raoul Walsh. Flynn got along a lot better with Walsh than he did with Michael Curtiz. Both were demanding directors but Walsh was more nearly human, stipulating only that Flynn's drinking wouldn't begin until five in the afternoon.

    And Max Steiner, the composer, should get a medal. How can he possibly have ground out so many scores for so many different movies in so short a time? Did he ever sleep? He doesn't give this one a memorable theme as he did with "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," but still there's hardly a moment that the orchestra is not banging away behind the action. One thing you do when you're pressed for time is to incorporate traditional tunes into the score, substituting them for original music. I was able to catch snatches of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (or, I guess, "God Save the King," in this context), "Du, Du, Liegst mir Im Herzen," "Deutschland Uber Alles" (or the hymn it comes from), "British Grenadiers," "Rule Brittania," and "Ich Hatt Einen Kameraden."

    No comments on acting are required. If you're in the mood for being diverted, "Desperate Journey" ought to get the job done. It's unpretentious propagandistic fun.
  • In this exhilarating adventure five POWs in Nazi Germany fight their way back to freedom...

    Errol Flynn plays a downed RAF pilot making his journey through enemy territory disguised as a German officer... In addition to evading capture he manages with his crew, a Scottish veteran of World War I, Alan Hale; a Canadian navigator, Arthur Kennedy; an American Ronald Reagan and a young Englishman Ronald Sinclair, to blow up a secret chemical plant and steal a German bomber from a Messerschmitt factory...

    The film (with exciting music by Max Steiner) ends with Flynn leading an RAF assault on the airplane factory after various acts of sabotage & violent conflict, aided and inspired by an anti-Nazi German family headed by a pleasant doctor (Albert Basserman) & his sweet daughter (Nancy Coleman).

    The best scene comes early in the picture, when a Nazi Major (Raymond Massey) after having questioned the captured RAF crew, calls for a private interview with Reagan, thinking he will agree to reveal what he knows about the new RAF bomber engines, and recites easily an impressive number of facts about the component parts--all nonsense... Once he has the major's rapt attention, he punches him on the jaw, knocking him out and then help himself to the major's breakfast...
  • blanche-227 March 2009
    Errol Flynn, Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan, Arthur Kennedy, and Ronald Sinclair are on a "Desperate Journey" in this 1942 wartime film directed by Raoul Walsh. The film also stars Raymond Massey as a German commandant and Nancy Coleman as a member of the underground.

    Flynn and his pals crash land in Germany and attempt to fulfill their mission plus destroy other enemy sites and enemies as they make their way to safety.

    For guys trapped in an enemy country, arrested at one point, and in constant danger, they're a pretty lighthearted bunch. They're also amazing at getting out of tight spots.

    While it's not particularly realistic, "Desperate Journey" is very entertaining with non-stop action all the way, a charming performance by that prince of charm, Errol Flynn, and good support. People are terrible about Ronald Reagan's acting - he didn't have much range, but he was pleasant enough and very good for a role in this kind of film.

    One interesting thing is that I didn't understand any of the German, which I usually do, so I wondered if it was a dialect. As usual, the actors used the formal instead of the familiar tense, which I doubt officers did when speaking to soldiers. In one part of the movie, a German is asked if he speaks English, and he answers, "I speak as if I was in London born," which is exactly the way the German language is spoken, with the verb at the end. So someone knew what they were doing.

    Recommended.
  • kseemoe18 January 2006
    Propaganda? Yes. Some preposterous scenes? Yes. Entertaining? Very. Think "Hogan's Heros", with a Keystone Kops chase scene.

    It is easy to imagine folks in theaters in 1942 cheering loudly as the GIs outwit the thick headed Germans in one escapade after another. Just when it appears they have escaped capture, they are surrounded by the enemy again, with no apparent chance to escape this time.

    It is easy to find fault with many films, and this one is no exception. However, imperfect films can still be very entertaining if we allow them to be!

    Not currently out on VHS or DVD - but look for it on Turner Classics.
  • Of all the actors who made WWII adventure films, Errol Flynn was second only to John Wayne in being accused of 'winning the war single-handed'. His civilian status ridiculed (Flynn HAD attempted to enlist; despite his healthy appearance, it was discovered he had an 'athlete's heart', plus traces of malaria and TB he had contracted in his youth, and was turned down), and his wild lifestyle becoming impossible for WB publicists to cover up any longer (his arrest for trumped-up charges of statutory rape was about to explode into the nation's headlines), Flynn's unique status as an Australian who was also an American movie star would, nonetheless, make him an ideal leading man for war movies that would not only be morale boosters for American audiences, but international audiences, as well.

    DESPERATE JOURNEY was the film Flynn's detractors most often ostracized, with it's 'over-the-top' action, and wildly improbable story (downed fliers reap havoc on moronic Nazis, then return to England in a stolen bomber). Certainly, Flynn's ease in both eluding and harassing the Germans, and the infamous tag line he delivers at film's end ("Now to Australia, and a crack at those Japs!") were comic book heroics, at best, and could not be taken seriously. But the same critics that lambasted him ignored the equally far-fetched WWII-themed ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT and ACROSS THE PACIFIC (with Bogart), THEY MET IN BOMBAY (with Gable), and ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON (with Cary Grant). The pity about all this was, when Flynn would appear in superior war pictures (EDGE OF DARKNESS and OBJECTIVE, BURMA!), the films would be 'lumped in' with his more cartoonish epics.

    All this being said, as a 'tongue-in-cheek' adventure yarn, DESPERATE JOURNEY is fast-paced and very enjoyable! Directed by action film veteran Raoul Walsh, the story of British bomber 'D-for-Danny', shot down over occupied central Europe, offers a terrific cast, including Ronald Reagan and Arthur Kennedy (in their second teaming with Flynn), and Alan Hale (in his tenth of 12 Flynn films). The gifted Canadian actor, Raymond Massey, also making his second appearance with Flynn, is a thoroughly hiss-able Nazi Major (speaking the gobbly-gook Hollywood passed off as 'German' in these films) who 'loses' the captured fliers (after a brilliantly funny scene with Reagan, which Flynn, jealous of his co-star, attempted to cut, or have re-written for him), then pursues them, futilely, across the continent. The fliers receive aid from a sympathetic German doctor and his beautiful assistant (Nancy Coleman, providing a bit of romance for Flynn), lose Hale (a truly sad moment, in the film's most dramatic escape), and Flynn, Reagan, and Kennedy eventually discover a captured, fueled British bomber, about to be used to attack England, which provides a convenient means of returning home (so Flynn can have his 'crack' at the 'Japs').

    At a running time of 108 minutes, the film seldom drags, provides Flynn a chance to give a "There'll always be an England" soliloquy, and has more one-liners than most screen comedies (Reagan's hilarious 'double-speak', describing allied bomber capabilities, leading to knocking Massey out, with the comment, "The Iron Fist has a Glass Jaw.")

    The years have been far kinder to DESPERATE JOURNEY than many other war era films, and it holds it's own very well in the 'Indiana Jones' climate of today's action flicks.

    It is certainly a 'must' for any Errol Flynn fan's collection!
  • With Errol Flynn, Nancy Coleman, Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale and Arthur Kennedy in a picture, how bad can it be? Not at all. "Desperate Journey" is an exciting fast paced film about American and British soldiers inside Nazi Germany after their bombing plane crashes.

    There is plenty of excitement as they try to evade their captors, the head being a very German-like Raymond Massey in another of his stellar performances. Alan Hale and Sig Ruman, the latter in one scene, bring comic relief.

    Of course, there is the cliché speech of Nancy Coleman, a German helping the allies, who stays despite the fact that the Nazis know her whereabouts. Her speech about patriotism is familiar but keenly on target.

    We have exciting chase scenes, and wonderful sabotage by our heroes inflicted upon Massey and his group of vultures.

    A wonderful war-time journey that should be viewed by all.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Near the end of the movie, Errol Flynn (Lt. Terrance Forbes) cautions his two fellow crew members that they should wait before they try to recapture the stolen RAF (Royal Air Force) plane. Ronald Reagan (Johnny Hammond) says to his two buddies (who want to wait until the odds are more favorable): "Why wait? There's only twelve of them?" This Reagan comment pretty much captures the ideas of the young men from Australia (Flynn) the US (Reagan) but is somewhat in contrast to the former bookkeeper-accountant from Canada (Kennedy). Yet, mainly these young fighting men see themselves as invincible and uncapturable. This is the attitude that the Armed Services of the England, Canada and the US were each trying to instill in the minds and hearts of their soldiers, as these nations were reeling from defeats at the hands of the axis nations (Germany, Japan and Italy).

    The plane, that this crew is a part of, is shot down on its mission to disrupt German production by bombing a certain railroad switching yard, deep in German territory. The crew of the bomber, loses three men in the raid and the crash landing. And just after the captain of the plane dies, the crew is captured and taken to be interrogated by Major Otto Baumeister (Raymong Massey). However, they escape from their captures led by Raymond Massey's character. The major is humiliated. This movie centers on their attempt to escape back to England from deep inside the German held Europe. Raymond Massey is seen pursuing them all the way.

    By the time of the movie, France had fallen (as had the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Poland and almost all of Western Europe). The British had been driven into the sea at Dunkirk. With all of Western Europe held by the Germans, the escape across the Western European continent would not be easy. There is loss of life, a sympathetic doctor with a pretty daughter, several escapes from custody or capture, allied sabotage of German installations, a car chase and finally they arrive at the site of the stolen RAF aircraft. The idea that the Germans might bomb the London water supply with this plane and leave millions without water and helpless, prompts the selfless, patriotic fervor that leads young Johnny Hammond (Ronald Reagan's character) to say to his two companions, "Why wait? There's only 12 of them!" Will our heroes escape back to England? Or is this just too much to ask of any men in occupied Western Europe? Do they die a heroes death or live to fight one more day? Watch this patriotic, drama with its lighter moments and you will see. Either way you will be encouraged as were the audiences that viewed this movie in 1942, the armed forces as well as movie audiences in thousands of small towns in Canada, England and the USA.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS***Entertaining but utterly mindless allied WW II propaganda movie that has a group of downed allied pilots, American Australian and British, trek their way across hundreds of miles of enemy territory from the German/Polish border to Holland and the English channel with no more then a company of German troops to stop them. This gang of five with two of them Sgt. Llyod Hollis II & Sgt. Kirk Edwards , Ronald Sinclair & Alan Hale, not making it back are lead by Flight Lt. Terry Forbes, Erroll Flynn, who seem for the most part to live charmed lives. They amazingly gets themselves out of one tight squeeze after another with the help of a number of British & American supporting German civilians helping them, putting the lives of themselves and their families on the line, along the way.

    The task to get these allied fliers into custody falls on the shoulders of German Major Otto Baumeister, Raymond Massey, who at first screwed up by letting them get the best of him and making their escape after Maj. Baumeister's men had initially captured them. The movie then turns into a Willie Coyote Road Runner cartoon with Maj. Baumeister playing the part of the thankless and frustrated Willie Coyote who no matter how hard he tries just can't get his hands on his speedy adversity, the escaped allied fliers, even with the help of the entire German Whermacht and Lufftwaffe.

    The escaped fliers who include future US President and leader of the Free World Ronald Wilson Reagan, as the wise cracking US fly-boy Johnny Hammond, have a field day in making the Germans look both incompetent and ridicules as they hopelessly bumble their way through the movie in trying to apprehend them. Forbes Hammond & Co. easily make their way to the English Channel, knocking out dozens of Germans on the way, with the only thing stopping them from making it back home is that their car, carjacked from the German Army, ran out of gas.

    Just when you would think that it's curtains for Lt. Forbes and fly-boy Hammond together with numbers man, or accountant, Jed Forrest, Arthur Kenndey, Lord and behold there's a British Lockeed Hudson bomber materializing right before their eyes as if it were a desert mirage! The Lockeed Hudson happens to be the very plane that the trio were trained to fly and there it is right there for them to hijack and fly back to England! The dastardly and not at all cricket Germans were going to use the Birtish bomber to sneak over the channel and knock out the Battersea Waterworks that, among other things, supply the water for the London Fire Department! Only the scheming and not on the level Nazis would think of something as evil as that being that the waterworks are the reason that kept London from burning down during the German Blitz of 1940/41!

    Forbes Hammond & Forrest gun down scores of hapless Germans, who have no idea in how to use firearms, together with the luckless Maj. Baumeister as the Lockeed Hudson finally takes off with Jed Forrest getting shot at least a half dozen times and surviving with only a minor flesh wound. On their way home to England Johnny Hammond just couldn't resist, against orders, to drop the bomb destined for the Battersea Waterworks on a German gun battery aimed at Dover England knocking it out of commission. All this happens without a single Lufwaffe plane or German anti-aircraft artillery battery in sight to stop the dynamic trios escape!

    Within sight of the White Cliffs of Dover and freedom Flight Lt. Forbes radios in that he's looking forward to go to Australia, his home, and get a crack at the "Japs". If the "Japs" are anywhere as helpless and buffoonish as their German allies in the movie "Desperate Journey" it will be nothing more then a walk in the park, and not at all desperate, for Forbes to deal with them.
  • bennyto42 August 2006
    I just love this picture. It was the first movie I ever saw and I keep coming back to it because it's pure escapism. Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan were never better than in this World War II saga of Royal Air Forcers downed behind enemy lines. They escape Nazi capture and take the audience on a rousing adventure as they make a high spirited bid to reach home. Never a dull moment, this is an obvious precursor to the Indiana Jones films. Raymond Massey is pure evil as the Nazi commandant who relentlessly pursues the fliers. Arthur Kennedy and Alan Hale provide able support and welcome humor as RAF comrades sharing in the robust flight across Germany. Not to be missed!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WITH the United States' entrance into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japanese forces, December 7, 1941; the gloves were off in Hollywood. No more would they have to tap dance around the War issues, make up any generic names for any agents of some "unnamed" European power nor feign neutrality with regards to their own sympathies, nor our Nation's. From then on, it was strictly double-barreled, full speed ahead and take no prisoners!

    WE'RE fairly certain that even though this had a September 1942 release, it had been planned and done most of its shooting before the entry of the U.S. into the conflict; as the storyline involved a bomber crew in the RAF (that's the Royal Air Force, Schultz!). The Flight Commander, Lt. Terry Forbes (Errol Flynn) was an Australian (or was it New Zealand-oh, hell, it was "Down Under" in any case!). Flying Officer Jed Forrest (Arthur Kennedy) was a Canadian, the others including Flight Sgt. Kirk Edwards (Alan Hale) were all Brits of basically the Working Class. Flying Officer Johnny Hammond (Dutch, himself, Ronald Reagan) was a wise cracking, go-getter of a Yank. (God, they talk about Politically Incorrect Stereotypes today!)

    AS a whole, the crew represented a World, not simply a Nation, which wouldn't and couldn't have any true peace and freedom as long as such evil as the Axis Powers were loose and undefeated. The others were all Brits or at least members of nations which were formerly part of the British Empire, now called the British Commonwealth of Nations; except for Johnny Hammond (Dutch). As an American, a "Yank", his character as well as his cocky, self-assured and unpretentious attitudes were very important and symbolic in the story. In short, Studio Honcho, Mr. Jack Warner was asking America just how could we remain neutral in the Global Conflict?

    OUR STORY………………Following an air raid over a German industrial city, the RAF Bomber of the Flynn & Company's Crew is shot down. Not to be sold short, this band of Anglo-American RAF Airmen travels across Germany from the East to the Western part, traveling by night, masquerading in Nazi Uniforms and pulling off many guerrilla missions of behind the lines sabotage.

    OH sure, they ere captured by the Nazis and interrogated by Major Otto Baumeister (Raymond Massey); but no matter, they managed an escape due to Hammond's (President Reagan) expertise in double talk , as well as a great left hook. And once free and impersonating the 'Krauts' in uniform, they manage to stow away on board a train. But, do they get into just any passenger train car? No, of course they don't. They wind up traveling in the private car of Deputy Fuehrer Herman Goering; being explained as being out of commission and sort of "dry-docked" for repairs and refurbishing.

    ONLY three of the crew get out of the Third Reich safely and alive. Messers Flynn, Reagan and Kennedy were the successful ones who lived to tell about it, though all of the crewmen were heroic and highly successful.

    TRAGEDY such as the loss of friend or family member is handled in the standard method of the day. In short a death is announced and, whatever the circumstance , it is dealt with quickly and the other characters move on; just as we have to do during such trying times.

    THE overall effect of the film and the style of the story is very similar to that of a superhero comic book. And what's more, we have always felt there was a strong resemblance of DESPERATE JOURNEY to the Blackhawk Comic Book Feature; which had its origin in Wartime England with a special group of multi nationals made up their own squadron. The leader, an American, was known as Blackhawk and had a right hand man, Chuck; also a Yankee.

    IT has always seemed that, perhaps, DESPERATE JOURNEY provided inspiration for comic book creators Will Eisner, Reed Crandall, Lou Fine and company in creating the Military and War based feature. But, Blackhawk bowed in Quality Comics' MILITARY COMICS No 1, dated August, 1941. This was over a year before the release of DESPERATE JOURNEY; ergo, the film could not have been a factor in the story. But, could it have been the other way around? Was Blackhawk an inspiration for this film? IT is food for thought.

    THIS surely must rank as one of Hollywood's top Wartime Home Front Propaganda movie. The plot line has enough romanticized action scenes to generate excitement with the younger crowd; but never goes overboard as to render the film down to the level of "B" Movie or relegating it to the Saturday Afternoon Matinée. There is plenty of counter-balancing and sobering occurrences chronicled to remind us that the War is truly H-E- DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS. (That's HELL, Schultz!)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I stumbled onto this beauty on TCM a few weeks ago, and could not believe it. It is the closest thing I have seen to a prototype for the much-maligned Hogan's Heroes television program. We have a multinational Alied group in Germany doing as much damage as they can to the Axis war effort, with laughs all along the way wherever they can be found. It even has received some of the same criticism that Hogan's Heroes received.

    There are some substantial differences: Sargent Schultz is on the Allied side; I am not sure if he, played by Alan Hale, is supposed to be American or English. There is a sort of Sargent Schultz for the Germans, in Sig Ruman (who I believe also played Schultz in Stalag 17), but he is a little tougher and a little smarter than Schultz. Colonel Klink in this picture, played by Raymond Massey, is a thoroughly bad baddie, sort of a Major Hochstedder with a monocle and a promotion. The biggest difference is that the boys are on the road, not stationed in a prison camp. But then, to turn it into a long running TV show, putting them into a prison camp makes perfect sense.

    Most reviewers think this movie is totally silly with unrealistically stupid and incompetent Germans and too many hair's breadth escapes by the boys. I do not agree, as the Axis German establishment showed themselves to be not the supermen they were billed to be. After all, with an incompetent lunatic leader and incompetent lazy assistant leader in Hitler and Goering, and a German military and Gestapo drilled to blind obedience, it should not be surprising that people brought up in an environment that values independent thinking are able to outwit them time and again. And in spite of that, only three of the bomber crew survived to get out of Germany - the majority of the crew perished, mostly on-screen. Two things that did not ring true did capture my attention: 1) I don't think the railway junction that was the target existed, or if it did it was not where they said it was; and it appeared that the mission failed to hit it anyway. 2)I am not familiar with the Lockheed 2-engine bomber that was supposedly used, but I doubt that it could have made the round trip that would have been necessary to reach the target and return.

    A couple other notes: Regarding the "Japs" comment. It may or may not have been racist, but the Japanese military government of the time earned a reputation for evil, and deserved no polite consideration. Their treatment of Chinese civilians and American and British prisoners of war is sufficient evidence (see "Rape of Nanking" and various documentaries on the Bataan Death March). Even today, it is my belief that the Japanese have never officially apologized or made any atonement for what they did. This is in sharp contrast to the Germans, who I believe murdered fewer innocent non-combatants than did the Japanese (or Joseph Stalin throughout his career for that matter).
  • This is probably the silliest WW2 film made during the war. But if you dismiss that fact, you find yourself enjoying a well-made piece of Hollywood escapism. Everyone in the cast seems to enjoy themselves. Walsh's direction is good and Max Steiner provides a really exciting and stirring score. So who's quibbling?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **Possible Spoilers.

    Action-packed, high paced escapism. I've seen this movie many times and always get a kick out of it. It's fun Saturday matinée entertainment. It's an obvious war-time propaganda, feel good adventure yarn, and nothing more. Remember it was made in 1942 at the height of the war.

    A big budget, ridiculous, Rover Boys episode in the Hogan's Heroes mold. There are obvious big budget values though. First - The cinema's greatest hero and master swashbuckler - Errol Flynn, at the top of his popularity. Second- Ronald Reagan, coming off his biggest hit film "Kings Row" joining the mix. Getting two Warner Bros. film heroes for the price of one -- Captain Blood and Brass Bancroft one-two punch. Not to mention a good music score by Max Steiner. (This is the guy who scored "Gone with the Wind" and "Casablanca") Add a good batch of your Warner stock character actors ie..Alan Hale Arthur Kennedy and Nancy Coleman and you've got fun, exciting action and lots of car chases, daring escapes, impossible odds, good guys versus bad guys...is this starting to sound real familiar? Basically the very same formula Hollywood's cranking out now.

    This stuff never gets old, because it's pure escapism and fun. The best scene remains the one with Reagan, where he's in the Kommandant's office and trying to be tricked into revealing secret information, because the Germans think Americans are good businessmen. Reagan spits off a bunch of double-talk nonsense, totally confusing the Kommandant raps him on the jaw, and the boys make their escape.

    "Desperate Journey" is fun to watch and doesn't try to be anything more than what is is. Fun. -- "Now to Australia and a crack at those Japs."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, so it's a fantasy. Maybe this was one of the first movies of the Indiana Jones or Die Hard variety where the hero surmounts insurmountable odds. More of a comic book than a commentary on real life. But it was made in 1942, when folks needed some encouragement. From some of the historical allusions (the invasion of Normandy not having happened yet but being planned) it was aimed at the hearts of Americans, encouraging them that we could fight and win against the Nazis, and the "Japs", at the same time.

    There is some great humor and very likable acting. Ironically, Ronald Reagan of all people has some of the best lines. Perhaps he really believed that right makes might no matter the odds, as he said to his 2 buddies as they were about to attack another pack of Nazis who had them outnumbered, "We might as well do it now, there's only 12 of them!" Too bad Americans don't have that kind of confidence in their country against those who would destroy it today and are destroying it themselves with their disloyalty and capitulation. The people of this era knew what evil was, and sought to fight it, rather than sell out to it.

    At any rate, it's a fun fighting film. A must see for all fans of Erroll Flynn and Ronald Reagan or any WWII adventure fans. Fantasy? Yes. But there are plenty of true life heroes who have been recognized for their valiant fight against tremendous odds, and some are still fighting today. So maybe it's not such a far-flung fantasy at that, for patriots willing to believe and fight.
  • "Desperate Journey" comes down to Errol Flynn vs. the Nazis and I'll give you two guesses who wins this one! This film isn't about realism, just to entertain and boy, it certainly does! The pace never lets up as Errol and a small group of Allied soldiers find their way behind enemy lines in Germany. Their plane has crashed and they need to pool their resources in order to fly back to Headquarters in England. There is action aplenty and a very good supporting cast. An Errol Flynn movie wouldn't be complete without regular co- star Alan Hale. Raymond Massey is very good as a Nazi officer who is hot on the Allies trail. Unlike a lot of Flynn's films, "Desperate Journey" doesn't allow much room in the plot for a female leading lady. Nancy Coleman is cast in that role here but her screen time is restricted. The climax is an excellent one and there's also a bit of suspense. 1942 was the last year in which Errol Flynn was at his most popular at the box office. Not long after, his star gradually faded and his career didn't re-gain its former glory.
  • WW2 action movie has Errol Flynn leading a RAF bombing mission into Germany and being shot down by the Nazis. Flynn and his crew (including Alan Hale and Ronald Reagan) are taken prisoner but manage to escape with some valuable information. Now the men fight to get out of Germany alive, doing as much damage and killing as many Nazis as they can along the way.

    This one is just so much fun between the exciting action scenes and the zippy dialogue delivered by a great Warner Bros cast. There's never a dull moment! Raoul Walsh directs with style and a great pace. The always-reliable Errol Flynn leads a terrific lineup that includes the aforementioned Reagan and Hale plus Arthur Kennedy, Ronald Sinclair, Nancy Coleman, Sig Ruman, and Albert Basserman. Ronald Reagan has one of his most enjoyable roles here, snapping off quotable lines one after another. Raymond Massey plays the lead Nazi and makes for a fine villain. An interesting thing about this movie that may surprise some viewers is that, unlike most WW2 films that were understandably serious in tone, this one has such a light, humorous feel that it's almost jarring upon first viewing. You have protagonists killing and also dying, yet nobody stops for more than a minute to dwell on that before continuing with the quips and punches. It's fascinating to watch and so very entertaining but some won't care for the "whistling past the graveyard" approach the film takes. I definitely recommend you give it a shot, particularly if you're a fan of the many excellent movies Errol Flynn and WB made to help with the war effort. This is one of the best.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well, OK my review title overemphasizes the frequent characterization of the Nazis as robotic bumbling fools, surely the most inept marksmen on the planet. The film also has its serious moments and themes.

    The costars: Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, and Raymond Massey, of the previous "The Santa Fe Trail", return to star in this Nazi-bashing Warner film, released in the midst of WWII. As usual, during this era, Massey plays the sinister villain, here in the guise of an important Nazi desk officer, who chases a downed British bomber crew across Germany, into Holland, before the 3 survivors manage a miraculous takeover of a captured British warplane from maybe 50 swarming Nazis, as their ticket back to the UK.

    In "Santa Fe Trail", Massey's John Brown is presented as a murdering madman, who thinks of himself as a messiah: not unlike Warner's perception of Hitler and the other Nazis. Now that the US was officially at war with the Axis, Warners no longer felt constrained to making Flynn-starring films, such as "Santa Fe Trail", "The Sea Hawk", and more obtusely "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "Virginia City", in which the Nazis are allegorically represented by long past historical villains. Now, Warners could feel fully justified in releasing films scripted as taking place in the present, that gave hope that the Nazis and Japs could be defeated before they took over the entire world. Thus, a series of 5 Flynn-starring films promoting such hope was released between 1942-45. The present one was the first, and the only one scripted as taking place mainly within Germany. It also has the best balance of seriousness, humor and sentimentality, and includes excellent background music by Max Steiner. It's also the only one not focused on a single objective to accomplish. The bomber crew find themselves not only hitting several bomb targets, but unexpectedly undertaking a sabotage operation and engaging in espionage, when they steal Massey's important classified documents relating to an aircraft factory. Thus, I would guess this film to be the clear winner of the 5 films, as entertainment for audiences, including kids, of the time. However, when Flynn was slated to star in the last of the series : "Objective Burma", in which he again leads a small group on a long sojourn through enemy-held territory, he initially refused, until assured that a more realistic characterization of the Japanese would be followed.

    By including several acts of sabotage and help from a 'resistance' organization within the occupied country, this film established a theme central to most of the following films. Thus, in "Edge of Darkness" and "Uncertain Glory", the focus is on sabotage by 'resistance' organizations in occupied Norway or France, respectively. In "Objective Burma", as in the present film, external allied military personnel carry out the sabotage, before fleeing back to 'safe' havens.

    In contrast to the 3 films in this series, which include a leading lady romantic interest for Flynn for much of the film, there is no woman at all in "Objective Burma", and Nancy Coleman, who plays an anti-Nazi German helper in the present film, has very limited screen time, providing a very fleeting romantic interest for Flynn.

    Of the bomber crew, only 3 survive their various ordeals to get to Holland and beyond. Interestingly , none of the 3 is scripted as a Brit. Flynn, for once, is realistically scripted as an Australian, Reagan as an American, and Arthur Kennedy as a Canadian. Presumably, this is to emphasize the importance of a worldwide collaboration of all the British Commonwealth plus the USA in defeating the Axis. Apparently, the screenplay for this film was written before the USA was officially in the war. I was surprised that frequent film Flynn pal Alan Hale wasn't among the 3 survivors. Hale mainly served as the most consistent 'cut up' of the bunch, spitting BBs(presumably), as if spit balls, at his comrades and Nazis. But, Reagan gets his chance to shine as a comedian is his double-talk description of the workings of a new American bomber engine to a most perplexed Massey.

    During much of their overland journey, the fliers are wearing German uniforms they stole from dispatched Nazis. Flynn, as the only one who speaks German, provides the other essential ingredient in getting them accepted as genuine Nazi soldiers, in several key situations. Unfortunately, I don't understand German, but my impression was that much of the 'German' was Germanized gibberish. Correct?

    The long chase of the fliers in a stolen Nazi car, across the Dutch countryside, by Massey and his crew, in a car plus motorcycles, smacks of a Keystone cops chase. Why didn't the Germans shoot at their tires, instead of their smaller heads? Ditto in the later escape of our heroes in a stolen bomber surrounded by Nazis!

    The American-built Lockheed Hudson that the lucky 3 captured from the Germans was a 2-engine light bomber, most of which were sold to the RAF and Canadians for antisubmarine warfare and other smallish targets, reconnaissance, convoy protection, troop movement, spy transport, and training. Thus, their claim to have trained in this type of bomber is quite feasible.

    Flynn's parting ambition: to fight the Japs, would later come true in "Operation Burma": a more serious war film, except that in the main confrontation, the Japs fell like so many dominoes, like the Nazis in the stolen bomber scene. Flynn, of course, tried to become a real fighting man in the war, but was deemed physically unfit.
  • See it - This is an oldie but a goodie. This movie is hard to find, so if you run across it be sure to snatch it up. The main characters, played by Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan (that's right, the prez), are shot down over Germany during a bombing run. Disguising themselves as German soldiers, they then begin the long road back to England on foot. The boys decide to engage in a little constructive destruction along the way. At one point, Flynn says "Gents, I have a suggestion to make; how about a spot of sabotage." Haha, I love it. It doesn't get any better than this. It's more than just a light-hearted romp about good guys getting chased across the rooftops by a Nazi with a monocle and a Doberman. It's a desperate journey. 5 out of 5 action rating
  • When the mission begins and the crew is ready to take off, the captain says, "Start port outboard engine" (this would be the left side of the plane farthest away from the fuselage). Yet the camera flips to the inboard starboard side and the engine starts followed by the other engines.

    The movie is a bit of a feel-good movie but it's also fun. Alan Hale Sr. (father of the "Skipper" on TV series "Gilligan's Island") often plays comic relief (e.g. with Mr. Flynn in "Robin Hood") and he does it well. Lots of quick one-liners you will enjoy.

    There's a lot of German language without subtitles but the even though I don't know German it doesn't hurt the plot. In fact, the meaning is fairly obvious even if you don't know German and gives a better feel to the idea of being in a foreign country during war.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . for a story in which six members of the featured nine-man crew get killed, including the youngest guy (whom the others had promised to safeguard for sure). It's as if Private Ryan WASN'T saved. Though the recent Brad Pitt vehicle FURY had an even higher attrition rate, its scriptwriters knew enough to spare the new guy. But most of DESPERATE JOURNEY has the feel of an extended episode of the 1960s TV Sit-Com, HOGAN'S HEROES (with Col. Klink and Sgt. Schultze getting gunned down at the end). Though there's a chick along for the ride during a minute or two of the JOURNEY, she's mere window dressing. This Warner Bros. flick recycles the ROARING TWENTIES' warehouse for confiscated Bootlegger booty (where Humphrey Bogart's character did in his old WWI sergeant) as a German bomb factory. After all, these guys made BULLETS OR BALLOTS, so why not BOOZE OR BOMBS?
  • MartinHafer24 June 2007
    Okay, this script was obviously NOT written by great intellects and will never be known as one of Errol Flynn's best films. This much is very obvious very soon into the movie. Yet despite a pretty stupid script, stupid dialog and a jingoism that is practically unmatched by any other film, it IS worth seeing because of the almost non-stop action and suspense--almost like a movie serial condensed into full-length movie form. That's because the four escaped prisoners (Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale and Arthur Kennedy) make a monkey out of the entire German war machine and outwit millions of Nazis and they do it in a very fun and light-hearted way. Sure, it isn't deep and it's all a lot of twaddle, but you can't help but suspend disbelief and just enjoy the hokeyness of the whole thing. Plus, it's a good chance to see Reagan actually play in a watchable film! My advice is see it and don't think. Watch it and enjoy it on a totally brainless level or you're bound to be disappointed.
  • Desperate Journey is a non- stop, action packed, thriil ride that entertains all throughout the whole film. Errol Flynn and his gang are five Rambo type guys who kick nazi ass and anyone else's out to stop their mission. This film is very fiction, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying this film. A good cast is featured, but though Alan Hale is downright annoying and Ronald Reagan is a total smart ass. This film could of been even better if they did without all the humor and spiced up a little romance between Errol's character and the girl who helps them throughout their desperate journey. Watch out for Raymond Massey's character the nazi general. He is totally unrecongizable from the film Santa fe Trial in which he, Errol, and Ronald starred in the year before. A film for all Errol Flynn fans and for other fans of this genre. **1/2 out of ****.
  • Around 1942 one year after America has been forced to enter in the conflict due the Pearl Harbor happenings, the allied forces glimpsed an upcoming and undeniable victory against the Nazi forces, in this promising environment all efforts came up from Hollywood's movies, this is a zany sample, The Desperate Journey lies down in this premise, how the war already virtually granted, let's deride of our wearily enemy, in a mission over the Germany on a flying fortress aircraft to destroy key railroads at small town, the aircraft was shot down, just five of the entire crew survives, Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy and Ronald Sinclair, arrested by Nazi under the command of Raymond Massey, they mocking over the enemy, running away from there, taking ride in Nazi's train, destroying factories and finally leaving there in a German Aircraft not before bombing another key target, portrayed the German as stupid and mainly as unqualified enemy, unrealistic and fully inacurrate, they were a true menace in early war when no country is able to face them over such military power, an action packed allowed just for entertainment purposes only, the Flynn's crew is a far-fetched adventure at wartime with solid humor oriented by the Alan Hale's character and having in the Reagan's character disregarding over a flagging enemy, too easy at its time, however unthinkable in1939, therefore let's easy with this razzle-dazzle picture, just for fun!!

    Resume:

    First watch: 2009 / How many: 2 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.5
  • If you're in the mood for an Errol Flynn WWII movie and you've already seen Objective, Burma! and Edge of Darkness, check out Desperate Journey. It's not as good as the other two, but it's entertaining with bits of humor to lighten the war tension.

    A group of international soldiers find themselves behind enemy lines when their plane crashes in Germany. Errol Flynn finally gets to play an Australian, and he's the leader of the bunch (of course). Arthur Kennedy is the Canadian challenger, the fellow with brains who sometimes questions Errol's orders. Alan Hale is the comic relief, always searching for food and spitting pellets at people when they're not looking. Ronald Sinclair is the young kid, there to play the violin strings when he gets injured early on in the movie. Ronald Reagan isn't really given anything to do but be the smart-aleck American. He is extremely nice to look at, though, so whether your tastes run blonde, brunette, or highlights, you're all set for this movie.

    Raymond Massey plays the head Nazi bad guy, and he gets to speak an awful lot of German. It's always a treat to see hidden talents, and coming across as fluent in another language is quite a talent! He spends the movie chasing down the good guys, and the four fellows have an incredible amount of obstacles on their path to freedom. There are chase scenes, lots of violence, covert infiltration, and suspense. Some Germans offer to help, but sometimes it's just up to Errol's guts, Arthur's brains, Alan's heart, and Reagan's quips (since the younger Ronald doesn't contribute anything) to get them out of their scrapes. My favorite line: Reagan gets awoken from his nap and says, "Why do you always have to wake me when I've got a date with Ann Sheridan?" This was the same year as King's Row; how cute is that?
  • A WWII rouser designed to bolster the spirits of wartime audiences - and I'll bet it succeeded. It also does wonders for modern audiences weary of waiting for a good movie to come along. It plays like a movie serial which were popular in the 30's and 40's and with the same flaws in design and lack of attention to detail How long can guys who are knocked out stay unconscious? and how do uniforms stay crisp after a week or so's wear? And it's always fun to find out how amazingly stupid Nazis were.

    But this is a flag waver, and the good guys do what good guys do. Don't ask questions or wonder about plot contrivances, just go with it. It's a hoot and not to be taken too seriously. After all, the principals (Reagan, Flynn, Kennedy and Hale) don't.

    7/10 ******* - Website no longer prints my star rating.
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