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South of Panama (1941)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Thriller | 2 May 1941 (USA)
Jan Martin, sister of government chemist Paul Martin, realizes she is being followed by enemy agents after her brother. She ignores him at the Panama airport and embraces a stranger, Mile ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Janice 'Jan' Martin, aka Dolores Esteban
Lionel Royce ...
Captain of Police
Warren Jackson ...
Colonel Stoddard
Rodriguez Lincoln 'Rod' Jones


Jan Martin, sister of government chemist Paul Martin, realizes she is being followed by enemy agents after her brother. She ignores him at the Panama airport and embraces a stranger, Mile Lawrence, instead. Enemy agents Lake and Wilton are convinced that Mike is her brother and attempt to trap the pair. They get away but Jan disappears. Disguised with a black wig and new makeup, Jan becomes Dolores and gets a job singing at a cafe. Spotting Jan without her disguise, Mike follows her down an alley where they are trapped by Raynor, another espionage agent. They get away and Jan also gets away from Mike. Later, both Mike and Jan are captured and the agents realize that Mike is not the brother they are after. Paul is also brought to the hideout, but Mike gets the drop on them. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Action | Drama | Thriller | War


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

2 May 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Panama Menace  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film occurred Monday 9 October 1944 on New York City's pioneer television station WNBT (Channel 1); in Baltimore it first aired Thursday 11 November 1948 on WAAM (Channel 13), in Detroit Wednesday 9 March 1949 on WXYZ (Channel 7), and in Los Angeles Thursday 22 December 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5). See more »


Madame Will Drop Her Shawl
Written by Sam Browne and Herb Pine
Sung by Virginia Vale (dubbed)
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User Reviews

Enjoyable, but not as good as "Across the Pacific"
11 November 2008 | by (Belgium) – See all my reviews

Chemist Paul Martin (Hugh Beaumont) has invented a special kind of paint, intended to use on airplanes, to make them less vulnerable to anti aircraft guns. As this invention could boost the security of the Panama Canal, the scientist is bringing a visit to a military base in that area, to demonstrate what his invention is all about. (Using "with kind permission" of the RAF a model of a Hudson. Some authentic newsreels showing clusters of bombers have been added to the movie) The leader of a (German ?) spy ring, who uses the role of hotel manager as a cover, has intercepted a telegram from the scientist to his sister, who's staying in that hotel. In it, the brother asks her not to come to the airport to pick him up. The hotel manager however sends her another telegram, asking her to come to the airport. This way his agents will recognize who they will have to kidnap. The sister however realizes that something isn't OK. In stead of rushing to her brother, she runs to a man standing behind her brother, and starts to embrace him. Mike Lawrence (played by Roger Pryor) later turns out to be a reporter, is of course somewhat surprised, but isn't minding too much being kissed by the blonde. (Pryor already played a reporter before, in "Missing Girls' from 1936). The enemy agents mistake him for the scientist. The attempt to kidnap him fails however. Several other attempts to lay hands on the formula of the special paint will be made, but of course the enemy agents –hey, this is a 1941 movie after all- will be outsmarted by the hero.

In fact it's a rather silly story, since it's quite strange that such an important scientist with an invention vital for US security is staying in a (not so) ordinary hotel. The logical thing to do with such a VIP would have been to keep him locked in a military camp, guarded by a bunch of mean looking MP's. But well, you'll have to accept this illogic part of the script, for otherwise there wouldn't be a story of course. Like often in the 1930's-1940's, the movie isn't politically correct towards Afro-Americans either. The filmmakers apparently just couldn't resist to add a scene, in which the friendly black hotel servant unnecessarily has to roll with cliché bulging eyes, after a corpse hidden in a cupboard fell down on his back. At that time, it were only whites who were supposed to be heroic and quick with their fists, saving beautiful ladies in distress or the country against vicious saboteurs and spies. The role of Afro-Americans then often was reduced to such grotesque stereotyping scenes. Finally, as so often in spy movies, the female lead character is playing a night club singer. Yet another aspect of a not so resourceful script.

I quite enjoyed Virginia Vale though. She clearly had a lot of fun playing night club singer Dolores Esteban. (A kind of fun that reminded me a bit of that of French actress Mireille Darc in the spy spoof "Les Barbouzes") This part of her double role allowed her to talk with a zany Spanish accent, and teasing reporter Mike Lawrence about a certain blond lady (the scientist's sister). In fact -unknown to Lawrence at the beginning- Dolores happens to be that same blonde, covered with a black wig, to give her a "latino" appearance. It's only at the end of the movie that he adds 2 and 2.

I'd give this B-movie a 6/10. Although better than ridiculous films such as "Adventure in Iraq" (1943), "Panama Menace" aka "South of Panama" is by far not as good as "Across the Pacific" (1942) with Bogart & Sydney Greenstreet. Rather a movie of interest for the "completist" collecting spy movies/political thrillers than for the average viewer hoping to spend a pleasant evening. The movie seems to be relatively obscure by the way:I didn't come across whatever lobby cards or posters of it in any of the main selling places (Moviegoods, Heritage Auctions etc.) To find a copy of the movie itself, check out eBay USA or Ioffer.com, you'll certainly find it there somewhere. Ben Vanhees Belgium

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