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Hollywood has at last come across with the kind of picture everybody has been waiting for it to come across with. "Desperate Journey" which is now at the Met makes no bones about itself; it is pure, unvarnished adventure. From beginning to end, from the first bridge blown up to the last emplacement of Nazi guns reduced to a pile of rubble, it moves quickly, excitingly, and (what is the big surprise) uncornily. It never slows up, never wanders from its theme, and never becomes patriotically maudlin, as have so many of the war pictures to date.
The story it tells is a simple one. The crew of an English bomber is shot down in East Prussia, manages to escape capture, and in their journey back to the Dutch coast stage what amounts to a five-man invasion, opening up a second front all their own. If the picture has one weakness it is lack of plot; it is merely a series of highly exciting incidents strung together by the basic theme--the struggle to get out of Germany. There is a girl, but no love interest, and aside from a few conflicting personalities within the group of fugitives there is no real attempt at character delineation. But all this is perfectly excusable, simply because the pace is so rapid as it is that any attempt to add undercurrents of plot would undoubtedly slow the picture down.
What is most encouraging, in what it bodes for the future, is the fact that Hollywood has not stopped to the more obvious methods of waving the flag. "Eagle Squadron" an otherwise excellent picture, was made sloppy and in many spots embarrassing by the long sequences lauding the British bull-dog spirit and overdoing the jolly-well, pip-pip, chins-up attitude of the average Briton. This has not been done in "Desperate Journey," but rather the director has let the actions of the characters speak for themselves in conveying the same idea. Needless to say, the latter method is by far the more forceful.
As to acting, everyone keeps up his end perfectly adequately, though Nancy Coleman is slightly disappointing after her fine job in "King's Row." Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, and Alan Hale can be described only as "dashing," which is just what they should be, and Raymond Massey, though slightly hampered by his lack of success in assuming a German accent makes a thoroughly dislikable villain.
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