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It's been a while since I've seen this film but I believe that you have to judge it for what it is (or was). First, it is very 1950's. Low budget 'B' movie probably shot and filmed in a matter of days and on a shoe sting budget, in an era when the big studios cranked these things off the assembly line. But what I remember most about the movie is how seductive was Mari Blanchard. You have to see the opening scene of her dancing and flirting around a little diner to music on a juke box. Albeit her character was cheap and bawdy, something comes across on the celluloid that moved me, and I think that had it not been for her untimely death, her career may have really opened up. The movie itself is a love triangle trapped in a stupid little plot, but amidst the backdrop and supposed romance of the crop dusters of the day, which were common in the 1950's, when America was a little more rural and agricultural, and with all the fly-boys returning from WWII and pursuing said nomadic lifestyle. Also, possibly one of the first films to deal with a female stalking a male, maybe not quite in the vain of Fatal Attraction but at least helping blaze the trail a bit. The movie could be described as terrible, but it's so bad that it almost compels you to watch it, like some Ed Wood films were famous for.
Art work for cast cards was usually prepared and set before editing had
been completed. This often resulted in the scenes for cast-credit
players (as seen on the film) ending up on the cutting-room floor.
This film ( if anything with the name of Albert C. Gannaway attached to it can be called a film)is a prime example of missing faces/characters. Whitey Hughes, Bill Blatty, John Carpenter and Bill Coontz are all-credited on the film credits, but do not show up in the finished film. Or, at least, do not show up in the film as the characters credited. Hughes, Coontz and Carpenter are visible in the film, but only as uncredited stunt men, and not as the characters billed on the cast list.
The film itself is just a swipe from Paramount's "Wild Harvest" with crop-dusters and airplanes subbed for men-and-machine wheat harvesters.
Gannaway often made directors Robert Horner, Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) and Ed Wood look like masters of the directing craft.
Noticeably lacking in things like a cohesive plot and logic this cheap
programmer with an apparent budget of about fifty bucks is
representative of what used to fill the bottom half of a double bill.
For such a short feature with the rather innocuous theme of a crop dusting business this has a remarkably high body count, some of those incidents happening without a sensible reason.
As for the performances, John Ireland is okay if unmemorable in the lead while Mari Blanchard is properly brazen as a tramp with a serious case of hot pants. Jackie Coogan, who gives the film's best performance and also has the part with the most depth-which isn't much but comparatively speaking there is at least some reasoning behind what he does.
The only other performer of note is Gail Russell nearing the end of her career. Once considered to have the potential to be a big star her insecurity led to an enormous drinking problem which wrecked her career. Her appearance is shocking-her beauty ruined by booze, she was only 34 when this was made and looks a rough 50. Ironically her one big speech is about how her character's husband has ruined his life though his addiction to alcohol, it's terribly sad if you know her back story. She would only make one film after this and literally drink herself to death within three years.
Not an awful film but not a very good one either. If you like 50's melodramas or any of the stars it's worth catching once but that will be enough.
"No Place to Land" is grade-b film noir, and grade-b film noir is
better than no noir at all. Grade-b noir is actually not bad at all,
but do not expect "Lawrence of Arabia".
This picture has a great deal of plot for its 77 minutes. John Ireland and Jackie Coogan are crop dusters. Coogan saved Ireland's life once, and now Coogan's going blind. Mari Blanchard has her hooks in Ireland emotionally, but he walks out on her (actually flies away to parts unknown). In spite she has married Robert Middleton, a highly possessive and violent man, but she's searching for Ireland. Mari uses sex to get what she wants from men. She finds Ireland and takes after him. Meanwhile, he's fallen for Gail Russell, who is married to a good man (a crop duster too and Ireland's new employer) who is also a drunk.
At this point, the plot, already in high gear, accelerates to its conclusion.
Blanchard is a true femme fatale, and Middleton a true heavy. Ever since "The Desperate Hours", I've always liked his work. I like Blanchard's work too in other b-movies like "Machete" (1958) and "The Cruel Tower" (1956), two more b-noirs. Of course, Ireland and Gail Russell were very professional and smooth actors with charisma. Ms. Russell is unforgettable in "Angel and the Badman" taming John Wayne.
The director was not at all shy about letting the camera linger on Mari from all angles.
Being lower budget, it's not as polished as a major feature, and that's why I give it a 5, but for what it is, it's a good and enjoyable movie. I saw it in widescreen, which is a very big plus.
The tragedy of the beautiful Gail Russell is only compounded when one sees this celluloid disaster, because the only thing that makes it almost tolerable is the natural, easy, relaxed and totally believable Gail Russell. In this pic, her next to last one, she indicates that she had continued to mature as a skilled actress -- she is even able to utter these incredible moments of dialog with a lovely voice and convincing demeanor. Too bad that her superb work in 'The Tattered Dress' didn't get her an Oscar nomination as a Supporting character. If that film had been a little better and a little better received then Ms. Russell might have had a shot at a formidable and hopefully self-assured return. This enormously awful film about crop dusters is really about the ridiculous character portrayed by a swaggering, hip-swinging, silent movie vamping of Mari Blanchard, who was a pale imitation of Mamie Van Doren who was a pale imitation of Jayne Mansfield who was a pale imitation of MM. Veterans Jackie Coogan and John Ireland cannot do much with the asinine plot, although Coogan has a moment or two of something akin to professionalism. Robert Middleton is amazingly bad in his villainous role. The screenplay is one long horror, and the direction, to be kind, is so inept that the film would have been turned down by the Creeping Crud Film Festival!! But,despite Blanchard's incompetence and the lousy work of all the others, there is still the radiance of Gail Russell, turning in a performance where none would have seemed possible.
This film originally titled NO PLACE TO LAND opened on a double bill with an Ed Wood film. I cannot decide which was more ridiculous. This Republic "B" stars John Ireland, Gail Russell, Mari Blanchard and Jackie Coogan. I am sure none of the above would want it on his or her resume. Ireland walks through the film knowing what he got himself mixed up in. Mari Blanchard is totally ludicrous as the femme fatale wiggling her rear end for 77 minutes. The only person in the film who tries to say the lines with a straight face is the lovely Gail Russell. This was her next to last film before she died tragically from alcohol abuse. Sad to see her go out this way but she at least doesn't embarrass herself like the others do. Her beauty lives on in our memories from films like THE UNINVITED, ANGEL AND THE BADMAN and MOONRISE.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was lucky to catch this one in LBX, folks. Yes, LBX, and not from a
TCM taping off, or a DVD new release. I guess it was from a 35mm print.
Well that's so are it deserves to be told. That's probably one of the
only Naturama - Republic system - movie I have in my huge film library,
except MAVERICK QUEEN and JUBILEE TRAIL. All the others are in
f..."garbage can" pan and scan. When I think about it, I feel dizzy. I
need to puke.
Well, enough talk. This little programmer is not a masterpiece, far from that. At first, I expected a sort of poor man's GREAT WALDO PEPPER. Nothing of that. Of course, the gorgeous Marie Blanchard worth the watching. But it remains an usual piece of work. Nothing special. Gail Russel, this poor actress who died so soon, is also here at her right place. I am very pleased to have seen this one. The other film from Albert Gannaway that I search is REBELLION IN CUBA. A very rare item. If I find it one day, I'll comment it.
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