Monday, February 22, 2010
Review: Five Came Back (1939)
The pilots are able to land the plane into a remote jungle, but it is populated with headhunters. The pilots have to repair the plane before they can try to take off and it's a race against time. As the headhunters drums signal they are preparing to attack. Days turns into weeks and most everybody pull their own weight except for Crimp and Ellis who become full on alcoholics. Everyone else remains strong and vigilant. The top performances are by Calleia who actually turns out to be a fair and actually likable man. He is at ease with the current situation because he knows once the plane if fixed, he is that much closer to being hanged for his crimes. Lucille Ball is very good in a rare dramatic role that makes her tarnished lady trying her best to be a better person, despite the resistance from others. Wendy Barrie is also very good as the lovestruck secretary who manages to put her alcoholic fiancee in check. Allen Jenkins is tops as Pete, who believes in honor, despite being on the wrong side of the law. Morris and Taylor are very good in their roles as the pilots. And C. Aubrey Smith is excellent as the Professor who is very knowledgeable about the current situtation. The final twist at the end is a shocker and makes one take value of life and choices. There are a few deaths before then but when the climax comes you will be completely enthralled.
The running time is only about 75 minutes long but it is a taut, tension filled 75 minutes. It's to the director's skill and credit that we actually never see the headhunters but we know they're coming thanks to those constantly banging drums. Five Came Back is a top notch thriller that deserves more attention now since it didn't receive it back then. A pleasing little B thriller from yesteryear.