Submarine Alert

1943

Frank McDonald
Director
Pine-Thomas Productions
Studio

FBI has to track down spies who are broadcasting shipping information to Japanese submarines using a new type of radio transmitter. Their plan is to have all the radio technicians in the area fired from their job, so that one will find employment with the bad guys when the transmitter breaks. Dumb idea, but it works!

Bargain basement World War 2 film held together by Arlen's likable everyman and some interesting casting, mainly Dwight Frye in nearly his last role, but also the underrated Miljan in a dual role. Some of the better points of the film--a surprisingly good car chase sequence, for example--are offset by hokey elements that you only find in cheapies of this era: the Japanese spoken by the submariners is merely some bits of dialogue played backwards, footage of a Navy destroyer being sunk (probably footage from the 1930 film The Seas Beneath) is shown, then followed by a spinning headline stating "Another tanker destroyed," a heroic kid saves the day by staying up past bedtime listening to his ham radio, and so on.

To up the emotional ante, Arlen has a supposedly adorable little girl in his care who also happens to be vaguely and deathly ill. The fact that she is played by perhaps the worst child actor in the history of cinema rather detracts from the sub-plot, though. That being said, the dialogue is pretty sharp, such as when the main baddies salute "Heil Hitler!" and sub commander Biberman blithely states, "The submarine accomplishing this work, gentlemen, is Japanese." Nothing beats the first two minutes of the film, though, where radio inventor Van Sloan refuses to give up his invention to the baddies and runs, only to be shot in the back and then run over by a tractor and harrow that convieniently happens to be passing by!

-Dave W.

Note: There are many more people in this film than listed, but given the quality of the print and the fact there are so many night shots, it proved impossible to do the usual. No point in posting caps of amorphous blobs!



28th June 1943
Cinema

Not Rated

66 mins
1.37:1




"
Richard Arlen
Lewis J. 'Lew' Deerhold
Wendy Barrie
Ann Patterson
Nils Asther
Dr. Arthur Huneker
Roger Pryor
G.B. Fleming
Abner Biberman
Commander Toyo
Marc Lawrence
Vincent Bela
John Miljan
Mr. Bambridge
Captain Hargis
Patsy Nash
Tina Deerhold
Ralph Sanford
Agent Freddie Grayson
William Bakewell
Agent Pomeroy
(uncredited)
Jack Carr
Old Mill Gate Guard
(uncredited)
Edward Earle
Dr. Barclay
(uncredited)
Edward Fielding
Shipping Merchant
(uncredited)
Dwight Frye
Haldine
(uncredited)
John George
Man in FBI Raid
(uncredited)
Harry Hayden
Larson
(uncredited)
Eddie Kane
FBI Agent
(uncredited)
Edward Keane
J.D., Deerhold's Boss
(uncredited)
Donald Kerr
FBI Agent Dave
(uncredited)
Robert Middlemass
Johnny's Father
(uncredited)
Fred Sherman
FBI Operative
(uncredited)
Stanley Smith
Clerk
(uncredited)
Edwin Stanley
Commanding Officer
(uncredited)
Milburn Stone
Lt. Winston - Naval Intelligence
(uncredited)
Dale Van Sickel
Radio Man
(unconfirmed)
Edward Van Sloan
Dr. Johann Bergstrom
(uncredited)
Pat West
Radio Listener
(uncredited)
Will Wright
Sheriff
(uncredited)

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes