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C. Aubrey Smith
Twelve people are aboard Coast Air Line's flagship the Silver Queen enroute to South America when the airplane encounters a storm and is blown off course. Crashing into jungles known to be inhabited by head hunters, pilots Bill and Joe race against time to fix the engines and attempt a take off. The situation brings out the best and worst in the stranded dozen as they create a makeshift runway and prepare to escape before the natives attack. But damage to the plane and low fuel reserves means that only 5 people can be carried to safety. Do both Bill and Joe make the flight out? And what about the rest: Peggy, a woman with a slightly tarnished past; Pete, a racketeer who is escorting his boss's young son Tommy; Alice and Judson, eloping lovers who seem to have less in common as their plight changes one of them in the other's eyes; Crimp, who is bringing criminal Vasquez to justice; Prof. and Mrs. Spengler, an elderly couple whom become closer due to their predicament; and finally, is ... Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Passengers get ready for the ill-fated flight foreshadowed in the film's title "Five Came Back". Handsome businessman Patric Knowles (as Judson Ellis) and pretty blonde secretary Wendy Barrie (as Alice Melbourne) are going to elope. Looking like either a movie star or a classy call girl, beautiful Lucille Ball (as Peggy Nolan) wants to straighten up and fly right. Elderly botany professor C. Aubrey Smith and his wife Elisabeth Risdon (as Henry and Martha Spengler) want to enjoy their twilight years. As his gangster father is threatened with extinction, cute little Casey Johnson (as Tommy Mulvaney) is shuttled to safety with henchman uncle Allen Jenkins (as Pete)...
Veteran airman Chester Morris (and Bill Brooks) and co-pilot Kent Taylor (as Joe) announce a slight delay when they are asked to take on detective John Carradine (as Crimp) and his prisoner Joseph Calleia (as Vasquez)...
When the plane crashes in an Amazon jungle thought to be inhabited by hungry head-hunters, the crew must chose only five passengers to return home on their rickety, repaired plane. The director, John Farrow, re-made this as "Back from Eternity" in 1956. The later film has a stronger script, but with performances becoming overly obvious. Here, the swiftness highlights subtlety; for example, note the impassionate love between Mr. Knowles and Ms. Barrie, then how Mr. Taylor telegraphs his interest. The more toned-down tart played by Ms. Ball is superior, but lacks detail. You're well off seeing both versions as they make up for things lacking in each other.
******* Five Came Back (6/23/39) John Farrow ~ Chester Morris, Lucille Ball, Joseph Calleia, Patric Knowles
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