Sunday, November 29, 2015

Appointment With Danger (1951)

*** out of 5

"Go swallow a germ."

directed by Lewis Allen, this story takes the odd choice of US Post Office Postal Inspector as its hero.  Alan Ladd is the star as a man who admits he's not as good at being human or compassionate as he is at being a good cop.  Phyllis Calvert is a nun who teaches him how to be.  She is the one witness who can possibly identify the assailants who killed a postal inspector whose death Ladd is investigating.

The thugs in question are none other than everyone's favorite dragnet duo, Jack Webb and Henry Morgan, as  Joe Regas and George Soderquist respectively.  Webb is his usual edgy, lowlife mug, and Morgan give another of his quirky performances as a thug with a stammering problem and an instinct to help nuns with stuck umbrellas, even when he's in the middle of disposing of a body.

These two thugs are in the employ of a gang leader named Earl Boettiger (Paul Stewart), who is planning a big mail heist.  Jan Sterling is his quirky, music-mad moll, whose unique philosophical attitude toward life takes a change after the murder that makes an interest twist in the plot.

The story initially moves a little slowly while it shows a lot of the investigative legwork, but crescendos into high suspense by the climax. Ladd's efforts to get to the gang from the inside put him at risk of losing his own life trying to get the evidence he needs to put them away.

The story also features one of the more unusual murder weapons in film history-  a bronzed baby bootie, in a scene that has to be seen to be believed.  Another interesting side note is that Harry Antrim, who plays the local postmaster (and is best known as Mr. Macy from Miracle on 34th Street) , is doing so not first time - he also played a postmaster in 1936's Postal Inspector.  

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