John Wayne Takes on the Red Chinese (And Lauren Bacall)
John A Lee III | San Antonio, TX | 07/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Wayne has his hands full in this one. He plays an American sea captain captured by the Red Chinese and held for the crime of not being a communist. While he sits rotting in a prison, he gets a mysterious note telling of arrangements made for his escape. He makes good on his escape only to find that his benefactors are the daughter of an American doctor (Lauren Bacall) and a village of Chinese who are less than thrilled with their communist masters. They have arranged to steal a ferry boat and want John Wayne to pilot it 300 miles to Hong Kong and take the entire village with him. The communist gun boats make for dangerous adversaries but navigating the river with a decrepit paddle wheeler, no charts and lack of fuel makes the going even more difficult. Taming Lauren Bacall makes all of that easy in comparison.
As usual, John Wayne plays himself in this film. He is a tough, uncompromising man who sets out to do a seemingly impossible task. This time it happens to be in China and aboard a ship. The character does not change but no one expects the Duke to be anyone but himself.
Bacall plays her part as a feisty American woman. She is, of course, Wayne's love interest in this film and her strong willed nature seems perfect to clash with Wayne's own will of iron. The conflict of wills comes across well. The love story comes across less well. Still, it is an entertaining movie. "
Good Adventure Movie with Wayne and Bacall from Wild Bill
hille2000 | USA | 10/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one movie I can watch over and over again. When the boat steams up and starts rolling down the river it's non-stop adventure. Nothing, I mean nothing is going to stop John Wayne from delivering the people of a Chinese village to freedom from the grips of the Communists. Director William (Wild Bill) Wellman once again delivers. Don't forget William Wellman because he was one of our best directors. I think it's time that he gets some recognition for his great body of work."
Ferryboat to Hong Kong
William R. Hancock | Travelers Rest, S.C. United States | 05/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Blood Alley" is a big, sprawling, grandly mounted and sumptuously photographed adventure story starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall that tells the tale of a merchant sea captain (Wayne) who has had his freighter stopped and boarded illegally in international waters by the Red Chinese, and who has been imprisoned by them for some time since. A village downriver from the prison where Wayne has been kept antes up a bribe to the prison guards and gets Wayne sprung. Taken downriver by his "contact", big Mike Mazurski made up to look oriental, Duke is informed that the entire village wants to escape to Hong Kong and they want him, Duke, to captain them all down the Formosa Straits ("Blood Alley") to Hong Kong and freedom...and they want this to be done on a leaky, creaky, pokey-slow and prone-to-breakdown stern-wheeled ferryboat. With no charts. Wayne mulls this and decides he has no choice in the matter. He makes a homemade chart from memory and sets about to put the escape plan in motion, taking everyone with him, including the headstrong daughter (Bacall) of a medical missionary, and an entire family of loyal communists who can't be left behind because their masters would kill them as "responsible" for this flight. Down the straits goes the ferry boat, dodging commie gunboats day and night and slipping into forests of reeds for camouflage when their pursuers draw too near.
The telling of the story of this journey is so well done that the viewer tends to be detoured away from the story's great glaring logical pothole. This escape is set in the mid-1950s and NOT the EIGHTEEN fifties. Decades earlier it COULD have happened the way it is shown, but NOT in its supposed time period. The reason? Airplanes. In the mid-1950s Communist Chinese forces would have aircraft up and down the Formosa Straits LOOKING for this ferry and they WOULD find it. Yet there is never a mention of aircraft here and no aircraft ever shows up anywhere in the movie. Its almost as though there is no such thing as a search plane in existance...or any kind of plane at all!!!
Very Strange. Yet, it is only later that you realize this. Throughout the film the movie-makers keep you so involved with the dangers and rigors of the journey that you don't even THINK about planes while you're watching it. Very clever diversion.
There is good chemistry with Wayne and Bacall and they go through the typical "difficult" time with each other before becoming hard-breathers as they enter Hong Kong Harbour together.
Aside from some minor silliness (Duke perpetually talks to an "imaginary friend" named "Baby"....which happened to be Bogart's pet name for Bacall) and the aforementioned mysteriously missing aircraft, this William Wellman-directed story hangs together well and delivers the goods on excitement and interest.
Good movie overall.
Now...WHEN are they EVER going to release one of Wayne's all time masterpieces? WHEN are we EVER going to see "The High And The Mighty"???????"
"Powder your nose, Baby!"
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 02/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BLOOD ALLEY (directed in 1955 by William A. Wellman and produced by John Wayne's film company Batjac) is one of the more unusual John Wayne adventures of the period. Set in Communist-run China, Wayne plays Tom Wilder, a sea captain assigned the task of taking a boatload of Chinese refugees to the safety of the Hong Kong harbour. To do so he must guide the boat down the dangerous 300-mile waterway known as 'Blood Alley'...
Also along for the ride is Lauren Bacall. She provides a much-welcome presence as Cathy Grainger, the daughter of a local doctor who has been murdered by the Communist regime. The cast also includes familiar Batjac personalities Joy Kim ("The High and the Mighty"), Anita Ekberg ("Man in the Vault"), Paul Fix and Barry Kroeger.
Although John Wayne's Batjac production company bankrolled the film, Robert Mitchum was originally-cast in the role of Captain Wilder; but he was later fired following a violent on-set incident. Both Gregory Peck and Humphrey Bogart (Bacall's real-life husband) were considered until it became necessary for John Wayne himself to step into the role.
Released hot on the heels of the previous years' John Wayne/William A. Wellman collaboration "The High and the Mighty" (1954), BLOOD ALLEY did very well at the box office, earning great notices for it's stars Wayne and Lauren Bacall. The timely political theme of the story had a lot to do with it's resonance with film audiences of the period. Today, we can still enjoy BLOOD ALLEY for it's tense action scenes, stunning CinemaScope photography and the memorable chemistry of Wayne and Bacall (they were later reunited in 1976 for "The Shootist"). Highly-recommended.
(Single-sided, dual-layer disc)."
Blood Alley in San Rafael
Richard Chamberlain | Concord, CA USA | 03/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I recently visited "China Camp State Park" near San Rafael on San Francisco Bay. I was surprised to learn that Blood Alley was filmed there. I had seen the movie many years before in a pan and scan version on regular broadcast TV. I had assumed that the movie was filmed in Hong Kong or someplace in the orient. I was very pleased on viewing the DVD that it contained a couple of short "making of" added features, based on home movies that John Wayne took during the filming at China Camp. It surprised me to learn that John Wayne was as much a producer of the film as its star. His home movies revealed other surprises too -- like the need for fog making machines in San Francisco Bay. I was pleased that little has changed at China Camp and it still looks much the same as it did in the movie. I am not a particular fan of John Wayne, although I do admire several of his movies very much including Hatari, The Cowboys, True Grit and The Shootist. It was especially nice to see another movie with John Wayne and Lauren Becall. While I like Lauren better in "The Shootist", her feisty personality works well played against John Wayne's usual self portrayal. I must agree strongly with another reviewer that the costume designer for the film was really off the mark with the dresses and make-up for Lauren Becall. Unfortunately, that really dates the film to the early 1950's. Otherwise, the story, action, special effects are all first rate and the film holds up well when compared to recent productions. Richard Chamberlain"