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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Big Jim McLain (1952)

Two investigators (John Wayne, James Arness) from the House Of Un-American Activities are sent to Hawaii to uncover Communist cells and expose them. Perfectly awful! So bad that it can't even qualify as "camp" (whatever that is!). It's entirely possible to make a good propaganda film, from either the right or the left, but this is one dull affair. This goes to ludicrous extremes like the Japanese woman (Soo Yong) who becomes a nurse in a leper colony to "atone for her crimes against humanity", i.e. she was a Communist! Not even an official with any power mind you, just a plain ole party member. Since the U.S.'s obsession with uncovering communists in the early 50s was a homegrown thing, when this film played in Europe, the film was titled MARIJUANA and the plot changed (mostly by the dubbing) to hunting down drug smugglers. Curiously the film doesn't take advantage of its lush tropical Hawaiian setting by shooting it in Technicolor and we get a B&W paradise instead. Directed by Edward Ludwig. With Nancy Olson as Wayne's love interest, Alan Napier, Hans Conreid and Veda Ann Borg, the liveliest performer in the film.

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