21 January 2013 | AlsExGal
Fast and furious
I am puzzled by this film's low rating. You couldn't ask for anything more of a B action film directed by the prolific Lew Landers. At the heart of the plot you have John Beal as radio reporter Ben Fallon, immediately before Pearl Harbor, trying to make his fellow Americans aware of what he believes to be acts of sabotage. He does have some clues - strange incendiary devices found at several disaster scenes, watchmen who have never fallen asleep before feeling like their coffee was drugged and then slumbering and then an explosion, a fire, etc. at a place of vital national interest should there be a war.
Of course his boss at the radio station is mainly interested in not getting sued or having the FCC come down on him, but at one point he says something wise and thoughtful - Ben has the list of the names of a ring of spies and he wants to broadcast those names. His boss asks him - even if he's right, what if he's just tipping these spies off by broadcasting the names? What if the authorities know about these people and he ruins any sting operation already in progress? Bull-headed Ben is undeterred by his boss' questions and forges ahead with his investigation. One of the silliest aspects of the whole plot is this - why didn't Ben turn over the evidence he had to the government he was so badly seeking to preserve? But I digress.
There is no character development to speak of, but then there is no time for such niceties as this thing charges from scene to action packed scene. It turns out there are both spies and American government agents just under Ben's nose the whole time and it won't be immediately obvious to you who is who. Then comes Pearl Harbor, and long after Ben has been fired from the radio station, the greatest mystery of all - what sounds like Ben's voice is broadcasting propaganda telling people that resistance is futile and that they should not resist any invasion. So now Ben's a wanted man himself and he must hunt down the source of these impersonated broadcasts.
Looking back at this today, this film is a double-edged warning. Sure, people were too complacent just prior to Pearl Harbor due to a long period of pacifism that followed WWI. It's telling people to wake up! Better safe than sorry! However, after WWII people took this message a little too much to heart and lists of names were all the proof that was needed to blacklist alleged Communists out of their professions for years. In this case there were many innocent people that were sorry and nobody was the safer for it.