Dangerous Mission (1954) Poster

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Underrated Noir Thriller About a Man Who Is Something Special
silverscreen88819 June 2005
When "Dangerous Mission" was made as a another "B" color feature in 1954, it was probably considered by its producers to be a a routine action script. The film did have lovely young Piper Laurie, Betta St. John, Harry Cheshire. plus Vincent Price, William Bendix and as star handsome Victor Mature. But I assert that it had some hidden assets as well: very intelligent direction, unusually lovely Glacier National Park scenery, a logical storyline and first-rate production values from Roy Webb's music to costumes by Michael Wulfe and sets to art direction and second-unit work by Asst. Director James Lane. Also, the script was what I term a "sense-of-life film", of the same sort as "Bend of the River", "Smoke Signal" and "The Miracle Worker". We as viewers in other words only learn about a charismatic but suspect hero gradually, by experiencing his actions which are set against his negative reputation. Price steals the film as a complex character out of place among straightforward personalities; Mature lacks the speech for a senior detective but Bendix, St. John and Laurie and Cheshire are all very good in their roles. Make no mistake; this is an inexpensive film, with the outdoor actions using rear- projection to include most of the Glacier Park locales. But the film looks colorful and very spacious for a "B". It presents a square dance interrupted by an avalanche, a battle with a live-wire, a first-rate forest fire, a stirring chase and climactic battle on the glacier, plus intelligent dialogue and character-revelation scenes. The makers have put together I suggest a first-rate romance, an interesting mystery noir, and a very entertaining adventure. I never miss this one, having discovered it fifty years ago and championed its values for years. With a Keith Andes as its star, it might have become famous.
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yes, and?
ptb-823 July 2010
Oh Gawd...... RKO in the Howard Hughes years.... terrible films with good production values.... and in 3D comes DANGEROUS MISSION.... what a terrible title... it is like calling a film SOMETHING HAPPENED. Of course it is a dangerous mission.. what would be the point of it otherwise.....In this hybrid noir and faux-Republic western, we get some terrific location forest and glacier footage mixed with shoddy studio shots, half the film is re created indoors on sound stages almost as if to give the studio staff and crew something to do. The whole film could easily have been filmed on location, but for almost this 'keep 'em busy at Gower St' reason insert shots and close ups and odd shots get a studio level makeover.. and this includes a 3D forest fire (!) a 3D whiplash loose electrical cable, a 3D avalanche.. all of which believe it or not have nothing to do with the story. If you see the trailer on the "3D trailers DVD" available in discount shops, there is a hilarious gangland assassination of some piano player in reel one (he keeps tinkling on the treble keys as he slides off the stool) some gal sees it and some guys follow her to her holiday hideout in the mountains. The second unit alpine reality is gorgeous and the Indian theme inspires 50s sets and clothes are kitsch.. and the interaction and jumbled scenes often do not make sense... in fact it is downright startling that some scenes have nothing to do with the next. One scene in the lobby early in the film has Vincent Price and Victor Mature chatting up the two female characters in the film. cut to: entry at a chalet square dance where Mature arrives with one of them... no asking her out in the last scene... just 'here they are here now:... then the roof falls in courtesy of producer Irwin Allen. The glacial scenes in the last reel make no sense as they swing between the same actors in shopping clothes in icy terrain and them them on a cardboard set shooting each other. It is just a mess...BUT and here I have to admit, it is all so entertaining. Almost no story, subplots dismissed (the Indian Dad), pointless running about and apparently witty macho banter between the guys. Some noir twists and BANG it's all over in a 3D avalanche too. What a mess. How enjoyable!
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Chase In The Big Sky Country
bkoganbing2 October 2009
The best thing about Dangerous Mission is the great location cinematography of Glacier National Park where the film was shot. It must have boosted tourism in Montana considerably after it was in theaters and later on television. No doubt this film made WOR TV in New York when RKO closed as 99.9% of that library was sold to them.

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.
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Glacier National Park in Big Sky Country Is the Real Star
romanorum123 October 2013
A man tinkering on the piano with one hand – "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" – is murdered by an unseen gunman. A woman, whom we also do not see, happens upon the site, screams, and runs before the killer can plug her too. The next set shows a New York City backdrop with Johnny Yonkers and two men in a room discussing the necessity of tracking down and killing the female witness, who is in hiding. Although the gunman is present we still do not see him. The very next scene is at the visitor's entrance to Glacier National Park in northern Montana, where Matt Hallett (Victor Mature) has just driven. He packs a pistol. The Park will be the setting – a most attractive one – for the remainder of the movie.

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.
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Typical 1950s Suspenser
Evan J. Chase15 January 2003
Dangerous Mission has some great strengths and some very noticeable shortcomings.

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.
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A dandy little suspense film set at Glacier National Park
MartinHafer12 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The film begins with some sap getting blasted by a hood. Unfortunately, a woman witnessed the killing and the murderer knows he faces serious jail time unless she can be located.

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.
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Minimal suspense is buried under Big Sky Country travelogue
bmacv15 January 2002
Did the State of Montana invest a huge chunk of money in Dangerous Mission? We see, in brash Technicolor, the snow-capped mountains and crystalline lakes of Big Sky country; we even get to see a forest fire and a couple of avalanches, one of which seems to have something to do with a plot. There's not much else to divert the attention, except the spectacle of white actors "made up" to impersonate native Americans (they look as though they'd been steeped in Paas Easter-egg dye). A fine cast --Victor Mature, William Bendix, Vincent Price and the very young Piper Laurie -- is thrown to the winds in a wisp of a story that seems left over from the final days of film noir, reworked as a Western, and finally released as this mash-note to mountain lodges and dude ranches. It concerns a woman (Laurie) who witnessed an execution back in the evil east and is being tracked down to insure her silence. The song "It's A Quarter to Three" keeps cropping up as though it had great thematic relevance, but it doesn't. Dangerous Mission has no theme, let alone thematic relevance.
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It should have been called "The Old Corral Rides Again" since that is what it is.
Leslie Howard Adams8 December 2005
Plot line for "The Old Corral, 1936": Night club singer (Hope/Irene Manning) witnesses a gangland murder and heads West and is saved by Gene Autry; Plot line for "Dangerous Mission, 1954": Night club bookkeeper (Piper Laurie) witnesses a gangland murder and heads West and is saved by Victor Mature. RKO added 3-D, Technicolor, Glacier National Parks location and still came up short of the original. Not surprising, since the original had Gene Autry, the Sons of the Pioneers (when Roy Rogers was still a member), Smiley Burnette and Champion.

And even Gene Autry was more animated than Victor Mature. Come to think of it, so was Glacier National Park.
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Film Noir Meets The Nature Channel
dougdoepke25 October 2009
No doubt the real star here is Glacier National Park and its scenic vistas. It's 1953 and Hollywood is trying to lure TV audiences back into theatres with lavish Technicolor that b&w can't compete with, and with a 3-D process that faded as quickly as it soared. In short, Hollywood is looking for new formulas that work. I suspect an uncertain background of this sort accounts for this very odd movie product. In brief, it's a scenic jumble. Maybe you can make sense of story developments, I couldn't. It's a weird blend of noirish plot with The Nature Channel. Something about a mysterious hit-man tracking down a murder witness in the Park. But somehow the thread never really gels amid a welter of confusing events. I also suspect the screenplay is the result of too many chefs, even good chefs like W.R. Burnett, Horace McCoy, and Charles Bennett (a Hitchcock favorite), all of whom are credited, and each likely with his own ideas.

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.
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Stop going gaga over Betta and enjoy the show
drystyx10 May 2012
This is a good movie.

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.
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Mission: Intolerable
wes-connors20 August 2007
It's difficult to determine exactly what is going on in the minds of the people who made this movie. Anyway, it starts out as a crime drama; a murder is committed, apparently witnessed by a woman who gets away. Soon, there is an avalanche, causing massive destruction that completed disappears in a couple of seconds. I took the avalanche as a inside joke; you see, this film goes nowhere but downhill. Or, it might be meant to foreshadow the end.

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
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There is nothing like a good B movie, and this isn't one
nick-28229 September 2000
There is nothing like a good B movie (of which Casablanca is surely the best), and this isn't one, but nonetheless it is enjoyable if nothing else for the editing, which may be the worst I've seen. Victor Mature and Vincent Price in the same picture can't be all bad. Throw in Piper Laurie wandering around the back country in high heels, Indians in grease paint, a fire and a crevasse, and its an (unintentionally) amusing 90 minutes.
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Classic Actors in a B Film
whpratt116 February 2005
In 1954 many of our Classic Screen actors of the 30's up to the 50's were starting to find acting roles hard to find and this particular picture managed to give every one a salary. The picture was never meant to win an Academy Award, it was simply to entertain the public with the best production they could create in the 1950's. Victor Mature,(Matt Hallett)," I Wake Up Screaming",'41, gave a great performance along with another great veteran actor William Bendix, (Chief Ranger Joe Parker),"Lifeboat",'44, who tried to keep everyone under control while rocks and dirt came tumbling on their resort area. Vincent Price,(Paul Adams),"The Tingler",'59 was added to the picture in order to make the film a THRILLER. Matt Hallett became a hero to every one when he managed to turn off the electricity, while live wires were flying all over the front door and roof of the lodge. Lets just remember that this film was produced in the 1950's and actors need to find WORK.
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Grade C on a Generous bell curve!
sanzar1 June 1999
Warning: Spoilers
"Dangerous Mission" probably occupied the bottom half of double bills, back when they had such things. The mission referred to in the title: find a missing witness (Piper Laurie) to a gangland murder. The cops want to put her in protective custody; the hoods want to shut her up (accidently on purpose).

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.
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Just make it look like an accident
sol1 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** You can see right away that something is missing in the movie "Dangerous Mission" in that a number of the scenes in it were exclusively filmed for its 3D effects which watching it on TV or video tape & DVD are no longer there. Filmed at beautiful and breath taking Glaicer National Park the movie has to do with a planned hit job on eye witness Louise Graham, Piper Laurie.It was Louise who was at the scene when this hood Battaglia, Bert Moorehouse, was knocked off while playing the piano at a Glaicer National Park resort by New York hit-man Johnny Yonkers, Ken Dibbs. With Louise's life in danger of being rubbed out herself by Yonker's hoods it's decided to put her into protective custody by the FBI. But with time quickly running out in that a hit has already been set up by Yonker's boys back in NYC it's now up to the NYPD as well as the local law enforcement authorities to make sure that Louise lives long enough before the curtain, or gun hammer, comes down on her.

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.
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Had the ingredients to be good, but lacks suspense and adventure overall
TheLittleSongbird25 October 2012
Vincent Price was my reason for watching Dangerous Mission. Price himself is not bad, he is charismatic and wonderfully shifty though he has given performances that are somewhat less obvious. The film does look good with beautiful use of colour, Betta St John is a knockout and the climatic scene is fun in a way. These things aside, Dangerous Mission could have been far better, as far as Price's movies go it is a little better than Green Hell and The Story of Mankind but is still one of his weakest overall. The rest of the cast had potential but don't live up to it. Victor Mature is handsome but very wooden as well, while Piper Laurie is equally bland and William Bendix has literally nothing to do other than some of the film's worst lines. They are not helped by their cardboard-cutout characters, they are characters that we have seen many times before and in a much more likable way. The dialogue is inanely stupid, as said before Bendix's lines are the worst, while the film is unevenly paced complete with a really disjointed story, some scenes are abruptly ended which gives a very rushed feeling but the mostly flat set pieces like with the forest fire and the cable car give Dangerous Mission a certain dullness as well that really undermines the suspenseful and adventurous elements that you'd expect from a crime thriller. The song heard throughout becomes repetitive and eventually irrelevant. In conclusion, a film I really hoped I'd like but it was largely underwhelming. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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RKO meets Irwin Allen meets Victor Mature meets Vincent Price!
Leofwine_draca17 March 2015
A slightly different RKO Pictures movie to the normal - this one's in colour, with a bigger budget, and produced by disaster maestro Irwin Allen, no less. The story mixes in a little film noir with an outdoor action adventure template, and you can tell Allen's influence by the way an action scene has been shoehorned into the narrative at regular intervals. Avalanches, forest fires, you name it - they're here, although they have zero to do with the main storyline.

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.
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Avalanche of Action!
Spikeopath30 July 2014
Dangerous Mission is directed by Louis King and written by Charles Bennett, W.R. Burnett, James Edmiston and Horace McCoy. It stars Victor Mature, Piper Laurie, Vincent Price, William Bendix, Betta St. John and Dennis Weaver. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by William E. Snyder.

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
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Beautiful Banality
LeonLouisRicci15 March 2013
There is one reason to view this...Technicolor. Oh, maybe another. The surreal beauty of the female Stars. They have the most wonderful eyes and sublime looks and are all attired in cheesy 1950's wardrobes with a Native American motif that is gorgeous.

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.
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A Pre-Disaster film by Irwin Allen
XweAponX15 March 2008
I saw this in the early 90's on AMC and I could have sworn the title was "Avalanche" and not Dangerous Mission.

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?"
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