Dangerous Mission, 1954. 7/10

Unusual fish-out-of-water noir thriller. There are other successful ‘scenic’ noirs–Niagara being the most memorable. The picturesque background proves just as dangerous as the urban noir alleys. Victor Mature’s Matt has to leap to the rescue fighting an array of natural disasters. Having two guys zero in on each other over a murder, and over a girl (two actually) is a cool premise.

Piper Laurie and Betta St. John are definitely worth fighting over. But I agree with those who feel that Dangerous Mission has some casting problems. Vincent Price can be any kind of creep, but he’s not heavy enough for a hit-man role. He can make a decent lady’s man, but not opposite Mature’s superman Matt.

On the other hand, Mature’s undercover role works well. He’s got the quiet strength of a Robert Mitchum. My only problem with Mature was that the actual murderer Johnny is played by an actor who looks a lot like him. Also, since we don’t see the hit-man in the New York scene, we’re left to wonder if Mature could be the hit-man.

Not until Price’s barroom scene with Harry Cheshire’s Elster is Price’s identity revealed. I can see that Price has to bide his time to “make it [Louise’s murder] look like an accident”, and Laurie’s Louise just wants to blend in, it would seem that Mature should show his hand earlier. Why doesn’t he just take her back to New York? That’s what he’s sent there to do; and the longer she’s around Price, the more ‘dangerous’ the mission gets. Mature doesn’t know what Price is up to for a while, though.

The end-game on the glacier was pretty exotic, but it seemed to go on forever. How many chances does Price need to out-duel Mature? At least he’s shown reloading his revolver, unlike the typical western in which six-shooters seem to recycle their ammunition.

The local murder subplot should’ve been better developed or left out completely. I also agree with those who feel Bendix is underutilized. His best scene is dealing with the forest fire. There he shows his take-charge personality well, but, for the most of the movie, especially at the end, he’s literally a few steps behind the action.

Dangerous Mission could’ve been great with a few tweaks. Pretty good stuff anyway–worth a look. 7/10.

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