The Stilwins are on vacation to an isolated beach in Mexico. Walking on a deserted jetty, Doug Stilwin gets his leg trapped under one of the logs. All attempts to move the log are futile and Helen Stilwin takes the car to get help. However, an escaped criminal kidnaps her. Will she be able to return to her husband before he drowns?Written by
Tight, suspenseful thriller with Ralph Meeker stealing the show...
JEOPARDY doesn't deserve the brickbats it's getting from other viewers who think of it as little more than a B-film, a quickie in the career of Barbara Stanwyck.
Nonsense. Stanwyck was still a terrific actress and uses all her skill to keep this a taut woman-in-peril kind of story that starts out innocently enough but then shifts into high gear the moment her husband is trapped under some rotten pilings from a pier.
Nor is the plot a foolish one. Clearly, it's the kind of incident that could easily have happened on an isolated beach in Mexico, with Stanwyck unable to find an English-speaking person to help her when she and her small son are unable to free Sullivan as the tide rises.
It just so happens the only person able to understand her predicament is an escaped convict running from a murder charge (Ralph Meeker). The moment Meeker appears he lifts the film into a new realm of suspense, so convincing is his portrayal of a Stanley Kowalski-type of character without anything but self-preservation (and sex) on his mind. Meeker never had a better showcase for his machismo appeal.
Because of production code rules, the film fails to make more of the sex angle including Stanwyck's decision to be more cooperative with the man who clearly might do her a favor if she does him one. By glossing over this angle and merely showing Meeker grab her in a couple of tight clinches, the film loses some of its impact when she returns with him to help her husband.
Nevertheless, it's a brisk, tightly constructed story around a simple theme and it works beautifully. John Sturges doesn't waste a moment of the film on any sub-plots but stays firmly fixed on the woman's dire predicament and all of the tension the viewer must feel watching Stanwyck's distress mount, knowing that her husband is in even more peril than she is.
It's a much better film than cited here--definitely worth a look.
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