Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Richard Arlen, Wendy Barrie, Nils Asther, Roger Pryor, Abner Biberman
Director: Frank McDonald
Genres: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: Gotham (dba Alpha) Release Date: 01/27/2004
Unka Woo, don't forget to kiss her!
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/30/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A brace of Nazis arrive at a secluded rural shack. "Ve haf come for ze transmitter, Mr. Bergstrom." Bergstrom ain't selling and he ain't giving it away, either. In fact, he's running away. Not, unfortunately for him, fast enough to outpace a bullet. The Huns shoot, Bergstrom falls and is presumably ground to gruel as a tractor/tiller runs over his body. Fortunately for the plot ze transmitter is unharmed, and the Huns steal it.
Soon enough the spy bad guys are using ze transmitter to contact the submerged bad guys. Axis submarines off the American coast are alerted when American cargo ships are departing, and vital oil tankers begin sinking at an alarming rate.
And so the premise of SUBMARINE ALERT. It stars the mediocre Richard Arlen as Lew Deerhold, an electronic engineer who is recruited by the Nazis to work on ze Bergstrom transmitter. The FBI has orchestrated his firing to put him on the street, as it were, and Deerhold isn't aware those throwing all that money at him are agents of the enemy. The female lead is played by Wendy Barrie, whose trivia entries at imdb.com are much more intriguing than her on screen performance or credit list. Barrie's godfather was, we are told, the author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie. Pan's Wendy was named after Miss Barrie. Another interesting snippet - Barrie was once engaged to the gangster "Bugsy" Siegel. Barrie plays undercover FBI agent Ann Patterson, who is assigned to Deerhold. The two leads don't necessarily strike sparks in their scenes together, but they seem to be hitting their marks and delivering their lines competently enough.
The 3-stars I gave to SUBMARINE ALERT is for fans of the sub-sub-genre Action-War-War Bond Rally movies. In other words, if you like movies that deal with war and that were churned out quickly during a war, in this case World War II, SUBMARINE ALERT will satisfy your craving. Just barely, but it'll do. You can tell this is a War Bond Rally movie because it contains a final scene with one of the leads giving a testimonial to all that is good about America and why we have to defeat the enemy at any cost.
Even fans of the genre will be annoyed by the most cloyingly cute child actress I've ever seen. Fortunately, the only reason she's in the movie is to require an expensive operation. The film trots her off to a hospital before the bad taste has a chance to set in your mouth. In other words, she gives the Arlen character an altruistic reason to need money NOW and explains his willingness to ask too few questions when approached by the disguised Germans. More annoying are some closing scenes of airplanes chasing a submarine. They must not have had any stock footage of subs or planes because this is the most pathetically obvious use of cheap models I've seen this side of Ed Woods. Finally, some scenes reveal a seriously scratched and deteriorated master print."
Rainy Day Fun
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 07/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Arlen was a Paramount contract star dating back to the silent era, where he gave an emotional performance in Wings, one of the most famous of silent films. During the 1940's he became the rugged and stoic action hero of "B" movies, designed to entertain on a slim budget. Some were subpar, but this one is a nifty little wartime "B" with a good story from Maxwell Shane. Because it is a "B" from a major studio rather than a Poverty Row entry, it's a little tighter and leaner than most, streamlined direction from Frank McDonald and pleasant leads keeping you interested on a Saturday morning or late at night.
A secret transmitter is being used by German spies to pinpoint oil tankers for Japanese subs to sink, slowing the war effort. The F.BI. decides to have several topflight radio engineers laid off and see if any are approached. The firing comes at an inopportune time for our stoic hero Arlen, as his daughter Tina needs a costly operaton. Anne Patterson (Wendy Barrie) just happens along so he can save her from a scripted purse snatching, and she can keep an eye on him. When he's offered work which unbeknownst to him is helping the enemy with their transmitter, her feelings for he and his small daughter make her give him the benefit of the doubt.
When an F.B.I. man is knocked off at his place, and the transmitter he'd been working on stolen, he takes off after the bad guys to see what's going on. He's already pegged Anne for a Fed and blows her off because she's been lying to him. Nice touches, such as a waterwheel being used during an exciting little chase, help elevate this nifty "B" above most of Arlen's other slew of low budget action films from the 1940's. Once Anne arrives it gets better, albeit a bit cornball, as they're both trapped in a room full of steam and must rely on a young ham radio operator who knows Morse code to get help and save those oil tankers.
It is swiftly paced and played out so sincerely you don't get those eye rolling moments you do in many programmers from the era. It won't grab you, but will keep you interested on a rainy night, rewarding the viewer with a dash of excitement near the end. Nils Asther is among the cast, and fans of Gunsmoke can catch a young Milburn Stone in a small part. A nice little "B" film with a fine cast and a couple of stylish touches which lift this one to the higher echelon of "B films."