Dangerous Mission (1954)
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Piper Laurie witnesses a mob killing in New York, but she's afraid to testify and flees back home to Montana where she knows everybody and strangers can be spotted easily. She's a guest at the tourist lodge owned by Betta St. John and her father Steve Darrell who's also got some problems with the law. But being an Indian he's pretty good at staying outdoors and living off the land.
Two strangers take an interest in Laurie both quite charming in their own ways, Victor Mature and Vincent Price. Just the names will tell you who the good and who the bad guy is. William Bendix is also in the cast as the chief Forest Ranger in the park. I wish Bendix had been given more to do in Dangerous Mission.
With the great outdoor cinematography in color you can't really call this a noir film. Still the plot elements would be noir if it were set in the big city.
Another thing Dangerous Mission has to recommend it is a very good depiction of a landslide which wreaks havoc on a hillside house and later Victor Mature goes out and tames a downed power line. The final chase scene across the glacier is also well done.
Though the plot is routine, it's all well written and staged and Dangerous Mission is enjoyable.
Louise Graham (Piper Laurie), originally from the east, runs a gift shop at the Visitors' Center. Converging there are amateur photographer Paul Adams (Vincent Price), Hallett, and chief ranger Joe Parker (William Bendix). Parker reminds Hallett that he needs to disclose to park authorities that he has a .38-caliber pistol on the grounds, even though it is legally registered. Hallett says he is an ex-marine. But is he a policeman or the killer hired by Yonkers? For it is obvious that either Adams or Hallett is the gunman. Louise is unaware that both Adams and Hallett are after her for different reasons. Neither of the two men knows her likeness.
This formerly 3D movie features an avalanche, forest fire, Indian dance/ceremony, and live wires (downed electrical power line), none of which is related to the plot. Katoonai Tiller (Steve Darrell), at large in the distant part of the National Park, is wanted for murder. His state of affairs also has nothing to do with the plot. Tiller's daughter Mary (Betta St. John) is the sexy Indian girl in love with Adams, who is much older. Dennis Weaver ("Gunsmoke," 1955-1964) has a small role as a park ranger. As of this writing Piper Laurie is still acting; she had silver screen parts in "The Hustler" (1961) and "Carrie" (1978). Victor Mature, who was decent enough, had good roles in "My Darling Clementine" (1946), "Cry of the City" (1948), and "The Robe" (1953). Also, Mature played such diverse historical figures like Sampson (Jewish), Hannibal (Carthaginian/North African), and Chief Crazy Horse (American Indian).
The editing of "Dangerous Mission" is quite choppy, and the character development is rather weak. For instance, at movie's end we still know very little about Louise Graham and Matt Hallett. And what is the story on Katoonai Tiller? Was he really guilty of murder? Then again there is the Cave of the Winds shootout and an exciting chase along the park glacier (even though it's a sound stage). The park setting, lovely ladies, and ending save the movie.
Originally filmed and released in 3-D, to keep up with the 3-D craze in the early 50s, Dangerous Mission had some great strengths: Irwin Allen's hand as Producer, a great cast, plot twists, a rousing music score, gorgeous location Technicolor photography.
The serious flaws are the disjointed story line: episodes that have virtually nothing to do with the plot: landslide during a party, forest fire, Indian ceremony and stupid subplot of an indian falsely accused of murder. Add some silly dubbed dialogue during noisy scenes and the usually great William Bendix given some incredibly stupid lines.
All in all, great fun despite typical 1950s stereotypes--especially to see Victor Mature as a moody tough guy, Vincent Price as a somewhat effeminate photographer, and the gorgeous Piper Laurie.
The scene abruptly changes to Glacier National Park as Victor Mature is heading into the park. As he reaches for the glove box, you see a gun but really don't know why he has it--perhaps he's a cop or perhaps he's a killer on the trail of the witness.
Much later, after some mushy romance between Mature and a gorgeous Piper Laurie, an assassin sent by the murderer makes his move and tries to kill Piper. However, when it's unsuccessful, the law is after the man and this leads to a very exciting chase through the mountains and onto a glacier.
While the plot is apparently recycled from a Gene Autry film according to one of the reviews, I felt that the action and suspense were good and setting most of the action in beautiful wilderness was a very nice touch. This might not have been the most surprising suspense movie I have seen, but it did deliver a pretty good punch and is well worth seeing.
And even Gene Autry was more animated than Victor Mature. Come to think of it, so was Glacier National Park.
The cast is also an uneasy blend of aging names and hopeful no-names. Mature, Price, and Bendix lend some waning marquee strength, while Laurie and St. John are attractive newcomers. Yet, it's a real stretch to have the nubile young St. John ga-ga over the slightly effete, 40'ish Price. Then too, casting the unlikely Price as a top New York hit-man doesn't help. I realize there's supposed to be a surprise factor here, especially with the guffawing Cheshire's role; still, these come across as little more than artificial plot devices. Note too, the remnants of 3-D that come rolling at us during the avalanche sequence. And judging from the extravagant set for the climactic crevasse scene, "disaster" producer Irwin Allen is already experimenting with big ideas. Anyway, the storyline may jumble, but those Technicolor vistas continue to shine through and remain about the only reason to catch up with this RKO goulash.
It's the story of a good guy cop going West to find a killer. Mature is the good guy, and Price is the killer. The killer is also trying to execute a witness to a murder (Piper Laurie). Any male watching will be sure to notice the heroine's perfect looking girl friend, played by Betta St John. One watches this film and wonders how this eye popper didn't become the centerfold girl of all time.
But enough about going gaga over Betta. This is a good old fashioned, rootin tootin film. There's a lot we'd probably all like to change. For instance, I notice many say Bendix as the park ranger should have had more to do, and I certainly agree with that. It looks like maybe some of his lines were cut, or perhaps it was just a hastily put together job. Price, as the killer, probably wasn't the best choice, but as an icon, it's good to see Price in the role.
The action sequences and adventure are well thought out, and it has a little something for everybody. It just seems like a lot was cut out. Still, the cinema scenery is excellent, and it is a great popcorn and soda film.
Victor Mature (he's Matt) and Vincent Price (he's Paul) compete to see who gets the girl -- when they're not competing to see who gives the worst performance. Piper Laurie is the blonde witness. There are Indians involved. When they all go after each other at the end, the background is entertaining to watch (snowy Montana mountains).
** Dangerous Mission (1954) Louis King ~ Victor Mature, Vincent Price, Piper Laurie
The first half of the picture tries to suggest that the unidentified hitman is actually leading man Victor Mature, but it's pretty easy to spot the fact that he's actually our hero. No, the villain in this piece is an unctuous Vincent Price, a "dangerous gunman from NYC". Having yet to perfect his evil leer, employed with ease in his many later horror pictures, Vinnie is still pretty smarmy in a greasy sort of way.
Mature always seems to be reading his lines from well-placed cue cards and never works up too much of a sweat while he's tailing (in more ways the one) our wayward witness. He soon saves the day, rescuing our damsel from the clutches of the killer as well as saving her from a fall into a glacial crevasse. Price gets his in the end, thanks to his own misguided ineptitude!
An avalanche & forest fire are thrown in to pad the running time, but little tension or suspense is generated during the thankfully short running time. The film is poorly edited (via "a chainsaw", according to Leonard Maltin)& the performances are uniformly trite (led by William Bendix' customary wooden performance in a supporting role).
If it's on past 11:00 PM, don't bother! You'll never stay awake.
Right away you see something terrible wrong with the storyline in that Louise is free to roam around the Galicer National Park resort with none of Yonkers men, whom one is the places manager, as much as laying a finger on her! We know right away that NYPD detective Matt Hallett, Victor Mature, is the good guy in the movie, what other role could Mature be cast in, who's there to see that Louise isn't murdered. We as well as know at the first moment that we see him that magazine photographer Paul Adams, Vincent Price, is the hit-man just by his phony inoffensive looking demeanor yet his his very obvious shifty looking eyes.
The one thing or person in the movie I found really worth watching was Betta St. James, what a knockout!, as native American Indian Mary Tiller who works as a hostess at the resort. It's Mary's pop Katoonai, Steve Darrell, who's on the lamb in a murder that he as well as park ranger Joe Parker, William Bendix, claims was in self-defense. The movie lumbers along with a number of 3D effect, like an avalanche forest fire and snow slide, which was put into it that we in the audience don't see making them totally useless to watch.
***SPOILERS*** The ending does in fact save the movie with Matt Hallett and Paul Adams slugging it out on a dangerous melting glacier with Louise falling through it and hanging on to dear life on an ice ledge below. Despite the final scene when glacier ice collapses and buried Adams, who in fact by shooting off his gun activated it, being original shot in 3D it still was effective as well as heart stopping. As for Matt he was rewarded at the end of the movie not with any promotion or raise in salary but something far better. A proposal of marriage by the person who's life he saved the sweet cute and cuddly Louise Graham.
Said storyline sees a woman (Piper Laurie, decades before she became the domineering mother in CARRIE) witnessing a murder in New York, and fleeing the murderer by escaping to a national park in Montana. There, she meets up with various characters, including the butch and heroic Victor Mature, a mild-mannered photographer (Vincent Price, no less), the voluptuous Betta St. John (playing an Indian!), and the thickset William Bendix.
The narrative is a kind of whodunit, with the mystery angle played up for the first half or so (when the characters aren't contending with the random natural disasters, that is). Things become more wild and adventure-style in the second half, with a suitably exciting climax to finish things off. It's not a great film - to be honest, the plot seems all over the place at times - but it is a mildly engaging one nonetheless.
Produced by Irwin Allen and filmed in Technicolor 3-D, Dangerous Mission is an absolute riot of a film. A campy classic awash with laughs and corner cutting techniques. Plot for what it's worth finds Louise Graham (Laurie) hiding out at the Glacier National Park after witnessing a gangland murder. Two men turn up and show great interest in her movements, Matt Hallett (Mature) and Paul Adams (Price), both of whom have different motives in mind.
A super cast, super scenery, even some super action scenarios that point where Irwin Allen was heading in the annals of cinema, yet it's also a pretty laborious story acted out by film stars in zombie mode. King, Allen and the ream of writers (did they all get to put one plot point in each?) insert an action scene wherever possible, but it all feels like cheap gimmicks over story telling worth. In fact some scenes have absolutely no worth to the story what so ever!
Technically it's suspect as well, the editing is awful, as is the back projection work, so to the fake sets and the sight of dummies being flung about the place. On the plus side there's bullet brassieres and square shoulder padded suits, while Mature – when he breaks off from his pissing contest with Price – gets to dally in heroic machismo by fighting the might of electricity. Wonderful! It's a fun movie for all the wrong reasons, but still fun none the less. 5/10
The 3-D may have been needed to propel rocks and fire out of the screen but these Women would have done it in 2-D. Aside from the eye candy there is little else here that is worthy of attention. There is an unfulfilled and predictable plot. Some cardboard performances stiffen things a bit, but it moves along at a welcome luscious pace.
If the viewer could disconnect sight from brain this might be a winner. But alas it is all simply simple and nothing but postcard imagery with a Hollywood Magazine gloss.
What struck me was how young Vincent Price was, and although he was not the master of horror he became later, in this film he was beginning to show his evil tendencies... Hidden under the guise of an almost Clark-Kent-ish character.
I do not recall too much of the plot... Just that there was a forest file, and an avalanche, and maybe a couple other disasters, occurring within a short amount of time.
"How was your vacation to the National Park?"
If you were Irwin Allen- Your answer would be:
"I got caught up in an assassination plot, a crime drama, a forest fire and I got buried in an avalanche. How was YOUR vacation?"