Toward the end of World War II, the allied secret service receives a partial message indicating that the Germans are researching nuclear energy to build atomic bombs. In Midwestern ... See full summary »
Three time loser Duke Berne risks life in prison with one more armored car robbery. His attorney's wife Lorna, Berne's old sweetheart, keeps him from it but he goes to jail anyway. Duke and... See full summary »
Near the end of WW II, a member of the German underground (Martin Richter) escapes from the Gestapo and takes shelter at Hotel Berlin, where he meets Lisa Dorn, a sleek actress involved ... See full summary »
When the four Nazi escaped prisoners show up, three of them wear overalls with big letters of PW on their backs. Actor Kurt Kreuger is wearing a military uniform which would never have been allowed. All prisoners would have either PW or POW on their backs. See more »
Fun wartime remake of THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) moves at a fast clip...
This updated cinematic remake of Robert E. Sherwood's 1935 play "The Petrified Forest" concerns four Nazi prisoners-of-war terrorizing the occupants of an isolated gas station deep in the California desert. Will these arrogant, vicious escapees manage to make it to the Mexican border in a stolen vehicle or be discovered and apprehended by the local authorities?
As a fan of Dutch actor Philip Dorn (RANDOM HARVEST, I REMEMBER MAMA) and Austrian actor Helmut Dantine (CASABLANCA, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA), this film was wish fulfillment for me because it was a joy to see Dorn and Dantine in the lead roles of a heroic Dutch protagonist (based on Leslie Howard's role as the philosophical Alan Squier) and a ruthless, cold-blooded Nazi (based on Humphrey Bogart's role as bank robber Duke Mantee), respectively. And it was also a delicious treat to see German character actor Rudolph Anders (THE MORTAL STORM, THE GREAT DICTATOR) as a wide-eyed Nazi thug who is treated with a toothache by dentist Alan Hale as Hale is held hostage. Enhancing the entertaining story were the moody black-and-white cinematography by Robert Burks (STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, VERTIGO) and fast-paced direction by Edward A. Blatt (BETWEEN TWO WORLDS).
I haven't seen the original film version of THE PETRIFIED FOREST and I'm not particularly a big fan of Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, and Bette Davis but I might give it a try someday after seeing this remake. And as for ESCAPE IN THE DESERT, it's a lot of fun seeing the typically cultured, intelligent Philip Dorn playing an action hero and beating the crap out of Helmut Datine in a stolen car that's about to crash and explode like a cliffhanger in a Republic serial! Unrealistic? Sure. Suspenseful? Of course. A lot of fun for classic film fans? Yes!
Unfortunately, the film was rushed into production to capitalize on the real-life Camp Papago Park escape of 25 German POWs in Phoenix, Arizona in December 1944 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Papago_Park). It was released on May 1, 1945 and the war in Europe was coming to a close then. Audiences weren't interested in a film based on old news and critics were certainly displeased towards a wartime remake of Robert E. Sherwood's famous play. But to a fan of Dantine, Dorn, and Anders the film is enormous fun. Just don't expect a masterpiece and have an entertaining excursion for 80 minutes.
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