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Loretta Young, Don Ameche and John Carradine

Author: kevin olzak ( from Youngstown, Ohio
13 April 2014

1937's "Love Under Fire" is an often exasperating programmer, despite its reteaming of Loretta Young and Don Ameche, from the previous year's "Ramona." A romance quickly develops between Myra Cooper (Young) and vacationing Scotland Yard man Tracy Egan (Ameche), amidst the backdrop of the July 1936 outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. No sooner has the shooting begun, Egan finds his holiday abruptly cut short, assigned the task of bringing in a suspected jewel thief named Myra Cooper! Torn between love and duty, the two spend the rest of the film trying to make their escape from Spain, as authorities search for the missing Peralta pearl necklace, particularly the persistent but ineffectual Lieutenant Chaves (Harold Huber), who knows only that an Englishwoman is the likely suspect. The initial third serves as extremely lightweight exposition, then 30 minutes in we are introduced to Captain Delmar (a mustachioed John Carradine), commanding the aerodrome where everyone gathers together for a twenty minute stretch. Carradine's presence adds some weight to the silly proceedings, telling a plane running low on fuel to go crash somewhere else, before casually ordering it shot down out of the sky (blowing them a smiling kiss!). By this time, Myra, Tracy, and Chaves have been joined by Pamela Beaumont (Frances Drake), not surprisingly the actual thief of the Peralta necklace, and the execrable 'Borrah Minevitch and His Gang,' a kind of musical version of The Three Stooges, who stop the picture cold with their harmonica antics. Captain Delmar unsuccessfully tries to have Egan's plane shot down, setting in motion the final third aboard ship, covering the last 25 minutes, as Chaves is convinced he knows where to find that pesky necklace (E. E. Clive plays the ship's captain). Critics of the day found the film rather distressing, implausible jewel caper espionage full of unfunny comic relief, carried by the efforts of its two stars, and the indispensable villainy of another ruthless John Carradine characterization.

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