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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Blood Alley (1955)

A small village in Red China bribes a prison guard to let an American Merchant Marine Captain (John Wayne) escape. But there's a reason: they want him to navigate a stolen ferry that will hold 180 people and undertake a dangerous 300 mile sea trek to Hong Kong and freedom. Directed by William A Wellman, this is one of his and Wayne's weaker efforts. The first 45 minutes are a chore to get through with its Red scare paranoia, Caucasian characters mimicking Chinese pidgin English and worst of all, Wayne continually talking to an unseen presence he refers to as "baby" which gets tiresome very quickly. Lauren Bacall as a missionary's daughter provides the romance and while she looks great, it's an ungrateful role. But once the escape by sea goes into motion, the film kicks in to a decent action/adventure movie. I thought the film was filmed on location but it was actually filmed in various parts of Northern California, you could have fooled me! My hat goes off to cinematographer William H. Clothier and production designer Alfred Ybarra for making the California locations look authentic. Roy Webb contributes a first rate underscore as well. Most of the supporting Chinese characters are played by Caucasians including Anita Ekberg, Mike Mazurki, Paul Fix, Barry Kroeger and with Henry Nakamura (who's Japanese) and Joy Kim (who's Korean) but at least they're Asian.

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