No Escape (1953) Poster


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Cheap but very watchable.
MartinHafer10 January 2017
Back in the 1930sl, Lew Ayres was on top of the world in Hollywood. After starring in "All Quiet on the Western Front", he had a steady career in Hollywood. And, when he got the lead in MGM's Dr. Kildare series, Ayres continued on his winning ways. However, WWII arrived and Ayres was an avowed pacifist. While he bravely volunteered to be an orderly in the military, his refusal to fight soured him with the public and the studios. As a result, his career, with a few exceptions (such as "Johnny Belinda" in 1948), was mostly flat in the post-war years. He worked but the quality of the films declined. This is why he starred in a low-budget film like "No Escape"...a film that paired him with mostly no-name actors and Sonny Tufts...who, himself, had fallen even further in his career thanks to his off-screen habits (as well as his rather wooden acting). So, it seemed obvious that this film was most likely a second or third-rate affair. But is it worth seeing despite this? Read on....

The story finds John Tracy (Ayres) a down and out lounge singer. This part is pretty funny, as it's clearly NOT Ayres singing and the voice isn't even close to his. Soon, he's accused of a vicious murder and the San Francisco police force is looking for him. Oddly, however, Detective Shayne (Tufts) is mostly interested in getting John to disappear instead of catching him. Could this all have something to do with the lady who BOTH men are interested in...Pat (Marjorie Steele)?

This film has some shortcomings. Not only is the singing bad but a few scenes looked pretty cheap (such as the view from Pat's apartment which was at a VERY strange angle). Despite this, however, the film is still entertaining and worth seeing. A great mystery/suspense movie? Nah...but interesting and better than I had first hoped!
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Stylish "B" thriller
MikeMagi29 January 2016
Proof once again that a "B" picture needn't be "B" quality. But that was true of quite a few second features at MGM which gave even their lesser films a patina of quality. Lew Ayres stars as a drunk piano player cum songwriter who stumbles on a corpse and could be targeted by the police as the killer unless he can solve the crime. Sonny Tufts co-stars, wearing a suit that makes him look like a 300 pound wrestler walking around incognito. Ayres took a bad rap when he refused to serve as a soldier during World War 2 but distinguished himself as a medic. If nothing else, this film is a reminder of what a blithely ingratiating actor he was. Well worth watching
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Loved it
chrisbolei6 January 2016
Look... what did you expect? It's a "B" movie, even if Lou Ayers is in it. As a Native San Franciscan, this movie warmed the cockles of my heart. There is no feeling that can match the scenery of San Francisco back in the day! It is absolutely magical to see the Golden Gate Bridge with NO CARS ON IT, and the City looking so pristine! This is a MUST SEE for any person with an interest in what the " good old days" looked like in San Francisco. The plot was decent, acting wasn't bad.....very few movies are close to documentaries of what San Francisco looked like back in the day. This is worth a look for the nostalgic value and scenery alone. For that I give it a 7...
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An uptempo thriller
franzgehl27 August 2000
John Tracy, former hit maker and now a looser, is accused having murdered a man who escorted a lady at home. Of course we know he's innocent but the thrill of this movie is to see how he looks for a way to escape from the trap. The city is closed up by the police. To that point, note the remarkable directing by Charles Bennett showing us all the ways out of this place. Moreover the sightseeing of the town is oppressive : the illuminated streets are surrounded by the cops' sirens, which make the spectator thrill as if he were at John Tracy's place. Watch this great one to discover it. I've seen this film on german TV and I was surprised to discover that it was forbidden to minor under 16. I still wonder why.
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Grittle Little 50s Noir
Handlinghandel11 May 2007
Lew Ayres, drinking? An out-of-work drunk? Well, here he is. And he's good. The whole cast is excellent. I have heard of Sonny Tufts but this is the first time I can think of that I've ever seen him. I think this is not his native terrain. But he's just right as a tanned, slightly disreputable police officer.

Gertrude Michael plays the girl Ayres has been seeing, though she is not the female lead. I don't recognize that woman at all, though she looks like Lizbeth Scott. Michael was a bit of a scandal in "Murder at the Vanities." That movie was released almost 20 years before this one but she looks great here. She has the right feel for a noir actress, too. She's a bit under-the-weather, pretty but a little tarnished, and goodhearted.

The San Francisco locations are good. The music isn't my cup of tea. But it in no way sinks the movie. It's a real find. Watch for it.
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Even San Francisco locations don't help NO ESCAPE...
Doylenf9 May 2007
What a tepid little thriller this is, with LEW AYRES as a lounge lizard who sings for his supper, finds romance with a girl (MARJORIE STEELE) when both of them have to go on the lam for a crime they didn't commit. SONNY TUFTS is the detective on the case in what can only be described as a sketchily written role with almost no real substance. Miss Steele remains a nonentity throughout.

As a result, this is a poorly motivated crime tale using authentic San Francisco backgrounds for some local color but the B&W photography is notably ineffective in bringing the film to life.

Ayres seems to know he's coasting along in inferior material and only occasionally shows a flash of his talent that gives the tale a momentary lift from the ordinary. Tufts is solemn and humorless in a poorly written role as the detective who seems obsessed with keeping his girlfriend out of the case when it's discovered that she paid a visit to a murdered man.

The revelation of the murderer comes as no big surprise.

Summing up: Strictly a low-budget affair that never becomes the taut tale it strives to be, judging from the opening credits and music.
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one of those B movies that seems longer than it is
blanche-214 January 2016
"No Escape" is a B movie starring Lew Ayres, Sonny Tufts, and Marjorie Steele, set in San Francisco.

The best thing about this film is the look of the city, and all the '50s furnishings and men wearing hats. I know those features are in many films, but for some reason, I noticed them more in this.

Lew Ayres plays alcoholic pianist/singer/songwriter John Howard Tracy who works in a club now that his career as a successful songwriter has ended. One night, a man named James Griffith gives him some money, which he doesn't realize until Griffith has left. He goes to his apartment to return the money and finds the man dead. There's also a sketch of a woman named Pat (Marjorie Steele), who was in the club earlier that evening.

Tracy believes Pat to be the killer. Her boyfriend (Tufts) is a police officer who wants to frame Tracy for it and clear her. It goes from there, with Pat, unable to allow Tracy to be arrested for a crime he didn't commit, helps him while he's on the run.

This film was made just ten years after "So Proudly We Hail" so what the hay happened to Sonny Tufts? He looks like a madman and a good 20 years older here. I admit I was never crazy about him, and I found his performance one note.

Lew Ayres is very good, but the singing voice used seemed strange coming from him. Marjorie Steele only made a few films. She was an excellent stage actress and married - hello - Huntington Hartford, who got her into movies. But she retired to raise her family. She married twice more and today has commissions as a sculptor. A long way from "No Escape."

An ordinary noir with great shots of San Francisco.
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Mostly a Failure of a Film…For Bad Movie Buffs Only
LeonLouisRicci7 January 2016
This very Low-Budget Movie seems to have been Produced by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Police Department.

By 1953 just about every Crime Film had these kinds of sappy, self-important, openings about how the United States, the post WWII Land of Milk and Honey, was "Protected" by the World's best Military and Police Force. The Conservative 1950's, if these "Propagandized" Pictures were to be believed, was Paradise Personified and the "Big Brother" Overseers were dedicated to keep it that way.

Pure Film-Noir suffered during this period and started to morph into Police Procedurals and Governmental Agency Puff Pieces. This is an example of one of those with an Opening and "Authoritarian" Voice Over comforting Audiences that everything was under control and there was "No Escape" for Criminals and Illegal Activity was futile.

This Film is almost inept and amateurish at times with its bad Acting, weak scripting, and horrendous editing. Add to that the bland and brightly lit interiors and flat and uninspired travelogue shots of the City, it ultimately is a failure on most levels.

Lew Ayres is miscast as a down on His luck Singer-Songwriter, Sonny Tufts is a cartoonish, buffoonish, brutish, behemoth of an Actor who might have had a more successful career as a Pro Wrestler where His Acting Chops and huge physical presence could be put to better use.

Marjorie Steele is a pretty, full-lipped natural blonde that is easy on the eyes and does nothing to embarrass Herself in one of the only four Films She appeared. Marrying a Multi-Millionaire at Age 19, set Her on a course to abandon Stage and Screen.

Overall, the Movie is a huge disappointment, especially for Film-Noir Fans and Crime and Mystery Film Buffs. The on location San Fran Street Photography can't save the thing and it remains for B-Movie and Bad Movie Completists only.
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Uneven Crime Drama
Henchman_Number115 December 2019
Formerly successful songwriter John Tracey (Lew Ayres), now a down and out entertainer in a San Francisco dive bar, finds himself on the lam when he becomes the chief suspect in a murder investigation after one of the bar patrons, who had earlier humiliated Tracey in front of the girl he was trying to impress, is found dead in his apartment. As misfortune would have it, Tracey becomes enmeshed in a triangle of treachery and deceit with a police detective and his girlfriend (Sonny Tufts, Marjorie Steele). Deciding that proving his innocence is futile, Tracey attempts an 'escape' to Mexico.

The movie by-in-large is a lackadaisical effort. There isn't any component that elevates the film, beginning with the dubitable casting of Sonny Tufts as Marjorie Steele's love interest. Not sure who thought that to be a good idea.Ayres, a solid actor who wasn't necessarily a poor choice, comes off with a misplaced light comedy style in this otherwise dour crime drama. Even with the police on his tail, Ayres inexplicably sits down at the piano and cranks out a tune for a group of party goers. It continues on in an incongruent style with the direction, script, and cinematography, none of which create much in the way of tension, drama or atmosphere. Even what would normally be welcome San Francisco exterior shots are primarily stock footage. Then there is the voice-over narration. Whenever a film starts off like this viewers should be on high alert. As often as not, it's used not as a plot enhancement but as a device to cover up a multitude of film making sins and a way to cover large chunks of story line on the cheap.

'No Escape' isn't downright awful but the disinterested feel and the mishmash of wandering styles ultimately caters to nobody. The movie is just a series of blandly filmed scenes pieced together that will leave fans of the old crime programmers disappointed. So if it comes down to watching this or another movie, most people would do well choosing the other movie.
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good try, no cigar: No Escape
arthur_tafero23 April 2019
Lew Ayres, a decent actor, tries to save this turkey from execution, but not even a decent looking and acting Marjorie Steele can help him do that. That is because the story, dialogue and editing are so bad, that no one could have saved this film. Sonny Tufts was as wooden as Pinnochio in this film. There was absolutely no chemistry or believability about his supposed relationship with Steele. I kept thinking this role would have been perfect for Jack Lemmon (whom with little imagination, you can imagine that Ayres is acting just like). But the character is so corny (as is the leaden dialogue), that not even Jack Lemmon could have saved the film.
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