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After World War II Larry learns that his flying buddy Mike will only live a short time despite the efforts of the doctors. He takes on a profitable flying job for profiteers Maris to finance a good time for his buddy. As the plane takes off he shoves Maris' secretary Susan on board. When Mike falls for her, Larry tells her to play along for Mike's sake. She, of course, falls for Larry. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Saigon is the end of the line for Mike Perry (Douglas Dick). As a Captain in W.W.-II, Perry had taken a wound to the head, enduring 6 months of varied and complicated surgeries. And, as a crowning glory, earning a plate of platinum to match the medals on his chest. Despite the efforts of the best doctors, he is fading fast; only he doesn't know it. Rather than telling him and sending him home to die, Mike Perry's pals, Maj. Larry Briggs (Alan Ladd) and Sgt. Pete Rocco (Wally Cassell) decide to keep him on the move with them, as they travel the Far East. To cram "100 years of good living" into 2 months...maybe less. (For the rest, the only similarities with THE BLUE DAHLIA are 3 army-pals (Jimmy, George and Buzz), and 1 pal with a W.W.-II head-wound (Buzz).)
However, good living comes at a price: Larry Briggs and both boys take a flying job, offered them by the unscrupulous Alex Maris (Morris Carnovsky), and for a payment suspiciously high $10,000 suggests something more akin to smuggling rubies, than to an innocent business trip as Mr. Maris calls it. But then again, that kind of money could set thing up nicely for Mike Perry.
Shady deals often involve shady ladies. Just as the arranged flight is supposed to take off, Mr. Maris' secretary Susan Cleaver (Veronica Lake) appears on the scene, dressed in a leopard coat. Her demeanor is anything but sweet, a quality enhanced, when anyone reaches for the briefcase she carries; but something about her captures Mike's attentions and Larry's. The attraction might have been a passing fancy, if Susan Cleaver didn't now find her lot thrown in with the boys', when the sound of gunfire triggers an emergency take off. Amidst much protest, Susan is bundled in, up, and off to Saigon (nowadays called "Ho Chi Minh City", Vietnam).
Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd amaze me with their sensitive portrayals, they give so much! Susan Cleaver and Larry Briggs are characters with a past, melancholy, but not devoid of all feeling, of all hope. In one scene, Larry Briggs points to a mark on Susan Cleaver's face, where she had been slapped. "Is this where he hit you?" Larry asks, leaning over to kiss the spot. "There, now it doesn't hurt anymore." Susan shows indifference, almost loathing until he leaves the room. Then she turns slightly, resting her head against the bedpost .she's falling for him... There's another marvelous sequence involving an evening gown (made by Edith Head). Susan comes out of her hotel room, finding Larry on the adjoining balcony. Susan is resplendent in draped white. Larry walks up to her; Susan turns around to give him the full view, her usually straight face softened into a sweet expression. Gingerly, Larry takes the back collar of her gown, which is actually a hood, and frames Susan's beautiful face. Larry looks at her for a moment, and then with the same gentleness, lets it back down. "No. It looks better the other way, with your hair showing."...
I like "Saigon" very much. Performances are really excellent all the way around. Tender scenes are played with sincerity, as are the lighter moments that lend relief to this melodrama. Unconcerned with strict adherence to plot, it delves instead into character study, and is the better for it. It gives us the why, when and where, and leaves us to discover the how. The suspense and adventure are wonderful...the romance too!
I really look forward to the moment, when this great movie will be released on DVD; NTSC-VHS copies of this film are scarce nowadays. My proposal: a Veronica Lake DVD-box with Veronica's other scarce films, like "The Blue Dahlia", "The Glass Key", "I Wanted Wings" and "So Proudly We Hail!"
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