Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel



Desperate Journey (1942) no *


Directed by Raoul Walsh. Written by Arthur T. Horman. Photography, Bert Glennon. Editing, Rudi Fehr. Art direction, Carl Jules Weyl. Music, Hugo Friedhofer, Max Steiner. Cast: Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Coleman, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Ronald Sinclair, Albert Basserman, Sig Ruman, et al. A Warner Bros. Film. 108 minutes.

Prolific Raoul Walsh made something like 130 movies between 1912 and 1964, most of them "movie-movies" packed with action but also films in many genres, including ranging musicals and melodramas. Many were hits, some became classics, such as the Humphrey Bogart vehicles "High Sierra" and "They Drive by Night," or were successful Errol Flynn starrers "They Died with Their Boots On" (about George Armstrong Custer) and "Gentleman Jim" (boxer Jim Corbett.)

The latter movie is lovingly mentioned in Francois Truffaut's superb "Jules and Jim." The French loved Walsh.

However, "Desperate Journey" is a lemon the size of a World War II bomber airplane. Like the one that Flight Lt. Flynn flies over Germany when it is shot down, its crew gets captured by the Nazis, escapes, and, and, and

A ridiculous film in every respect, awfully, terribly dated in every possible way. The Good Guys keep on doing and saying "humorous" things, joke, banter, wisecrack in smartass style, are full of bravery and bravado, patriotism and superiority over the nasty, dumb Germans (these include Raymond Massey as a high-up officer and Sig Ruman as an idiot train conductor) Their heroics are cartoonish stuff I'll spare you and me by stopping here.

One has to be suspicious of any Hollywood film made during WWII and depicting the enemy -- or for that matter the allies, such as the German-occupied French, the fighting Russians, you name it. Hollywood was clueless as to what the places looked like, the people were or sounded like, etc. etc.

In this movie all is absurd, nothing is funny. Just think of that four-star gem "To Be or Not to Be," also made in 1942, starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny as stage actors in Nazi-occupied Poland. It was made by a genius, Ernst Lubitsch. This masterpiece comes to mind also because in "Desperate Journey" the good guys' plane comes down near the Polish border and a short strain of the Polish national anthem is vaguely heard on the soundtrack. I bet that the music person (both composers were Grade A) who dreamt this up was giggling at his private joke.

You really have to be desperate to watch this movie. And, to add insult to injury, the by far best-selling "bible" among movie guides gives this flick three stars. If you agree with this and disagree with my rating, please do not send me any messages.


Copyright © Edwin Jahiel


Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel