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At the Tangier airport, a group of people await the arrival of a mysterious plane from behind the Iron Curtain. The reception committee includes Susan, an American; Gil Walker, a free-booting pilot; Danzer, a black market operator; and Danzer's girlfriend, Nicki. The plane crashes and burns. No survivors are found, nor are any corpses. Soon the search begins for a missing courier worth $3 million. Written by
Ray Hamel <email@example.com>
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When Gil, Susan, and Nikki are asleep in the grove, a small plane searching for them wakens them. The branches Gil had previously placed on the car to camouflage it disappear then reappear when the camera changes from the plane to the car. See more »
Great color and two solid actors can't hold up the slow dull plot
Flight to Tangiers (1953)
An odd Technicolor movie, not yet fully widescreen, with the impeccable Joan Fontaine being impeccable, and Jack Palance as his suspicious, quirky self. The setting is Tangiers, though the shooting is all in Hollywood. This is no Casablanca, for sure, despite the mixture of American expatriates in a North African port city. (There is even a point when Fontaine says, "America," and Palance clarifies, "Lisbon, then America," just as in Casablanca.)
The plot overall gets far more complex than it needs to be, with a plane going down in an exciting beginning and then a whole slew of people having some interest in what went missing in the wreckage. The complexities are told more than shown (just by having characters talk to each other). As much as I wanted to love this movie (as much as I love Fontaine), I couldn't do it. And it even looks good--not only the color, but the light and sets.
"In America, do they think you're beautiful?" says a European beauty to the American Joan Fontaine.
"I don't know," Fontaine replies, and it sums her up, especially a decade after her flirting with the Academy Awards (she won one). I dwell on this because Fontaine rises above this middling movie. And there is an odd competition between the Euro girl and the American one, and Fontaine is made to outclass her even though the other is more clearly a young, voluptuous type. It's mostly silly stuff.
The gorgeously lit night scenes, far too perfect for location shooting of the time, and the careful, luxuriating pace are wonderful in their own way. The color (including the famous Technicolor control of set design) is terrific in a way you forget is possible with modern movies, which look good but simply different than these 40s and 50s gems. One great little moment (that almost gives away the mood in the shooting behind the camera) is at 1:25:10 where the guy smoking and walking toward flicks the cigarette right at the lens. I guess this is the level of boredom I was at, too, noticing and caring.
But the plot really doesn't hold water long enough to suck you in or make the movie come alive. The arms dealing, backstabbing, foreign intrigue stuff is not enough in itself, and when they drop the phrase "Iron Curtain" into the mix it feels like a last minute add on, not relating to the events in North Africa at all. The director, by the way, Charles Marquis Warren, is also the writer, and he has a slim reputation on both counts. This is one reason why.
Fontaine devotees, give this a close look. Jack Palance devotee? Less essential, for sure, but interesting. The rest of you, I'm not sure I'd recommend it in particular.
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