HARBOR OF MISSING MEN – 1950
This is another one of those REPUBLIC PICTURE programmers made for the bottom of the double feature. They were also a staple on various late night television venues.
In this one we have charter boat Captain, Richard Denning, doing a spot of smuggling while taking customers out Marlin fishing. He is making a bit of extra change running stolen jewels into Florida.
Denning's business takes a turn for the worse when he his grabbed up by several large gentlemen with a definite anti-social bent. They escort Denning to see gangster, George Zucco. Zucco has a sideline shipping illegal weapons to South America for a tidy profit. Zucco needs a new boat to deliver a shipment of guns to a freighter out past the 10 mile limit. Zucco tells Denning there is a cool 2000 bucks in it for him for one night's work.
Denning agrees to the deal. Zucco tells him he will also pick up the 30,000 dollar payoff from the freighter's Captain. Everything seems to go like clockwork. The guns are loaded on the waiting freighter and the cash changes hands. However, there is a slight change. Onboard the ship is Zucco's secretary, Barbara Fuller, and her brother, Ray Teal. They tell Denning that they are there to make sure the deal went off without a hitch. Denning is to take them back to town with him.
Needless to say there is something wrong with this picture. Half way through the trip back, Teal pulls a piece and relieves Denning of the envelope of cash. He administers a belt to Denning's noggin and tosses him overboard. Denning though is only slightly dazed, and does not drown.
Several hours later a small fishing boat comes along and Denning manages to flag the boat down. He is hauled on board by a bunch of Greek sponge fisherman. They are heading up the coast to their home port after several weeks out. Denning goes along figuring it will be safer there than back home. He is sure that Zucco had arranged the rub out by Fuller and Teal.
The leader of the sponge fishermen, Steven Geray, welcomes Denning into his home and puts him to work on the boat. Denning goes gaga over Geray's daughter, Aline Towne. He quickly puts the moves on the sweet thing and they more or less become an item.
Denning now decides to get on the horn and get the "30 large" problem settled with Zucco. He calls but gets Fuller instead. Fuller of course is not amused with the fact Denning survived the deep six attempt. It turns out that Fuller and her brother, Teal had pulled the job on their own, without Zucco's knowledge.
The brother and sister act soon track down Denning, and Teal makes another play for Denning. He empties his pistol into a café phone booth Denning is using, then, he beats the feet out of town. Denning though, is one lucky duck, and escapes the attack with only a leg wound.
Now Denning is really annoyed, He heals up for several weeks then takes Geray's boat back down the coast. He intends to settle the matter one way or another. He calls up Zucco again, and this time gets through to the man. He tells Zucco that he can get back his 30 grand. He tells Zucco to bring Miss Fuller and meet him at the dock. Fuller is of course somewhat reluctant to go. She makes a quick call to warn Teal.
Zucco shows with Miss Fuller in tow. They board Denning's boat and head off shore. Denning tells Zucco about the night of the gun delivery and how Fuller and Teal had taken the cash. Zucco is needless to say, less than amused with the fast one Fuller and company pulled. He yards a piece to take care of Miss Fuller. Now Teal pops up out of the boat's cabin. It seems he had beaten everyone to the boat after being warned by his dear sister. He also has a gun, and rounds are exchanged between Zucco and Teal.
Zucco goes down and then there is a free for all between Denning and thug, Teal. Fuller now also yards a weapon, and fires, she however hits Teal by mistake, putting him down for the count. Fuller is quickly tackled and the boat returns to port and a visit to the local Police. Denning is soon on his way back up the coast and into the arms of the pretty Miss Towne.
While a lightweight film for sure, it does supply more than enough action and tension for the low budget programmer fan. George Zucco is always a hoot to see in anything. Barbara Fuller and Ray Teal are quite good as not so effective would be killers. Denning gives his usual solid performance and as an added bonus, Percy Helton shows up in a small role.
The director, REPUBLIC regular, R.G. Springsteen, cranked out several watchable low rent crime/film noir such as, SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATOR, THE RED MEANCE, STREET BANDITS, WHEN GANGLAND STRIKES and REVOLT IN THE BIG HOUSE.
Handling the director of photography chores is equally long serving Republic staple, John MacBurnie. MacBurnie started out on serials like, RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, CAPTAIN America, JESSE JAMES RIDES AGAIN and THE BLACK WIDOW. He then moved on to B-westerns and low rent crime and film noir. These include, SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATOR, HIDEOUT, THE RED MEANCE, FEDERAL AGENT AT LARGE, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR, MISSING WOMEN and INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR. Several of these like, HIDEOUT, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR and INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR are quite nifty low renters.