Tag Archives: Stephen McNally

Diplomatic Courier (1952, Henry Hathaway)

Diplomatic Courier starts a lot stronger than it finishes. For the first half or so, it’s a post-war variation of a thirties Hitchcock–a lot of unexplained, strange incidents and a protagonist trying to unravel them. Then it changes gear, becoming a Hollywood attempt at The Third Man. It’s successful during the first part and it fails miserably during the second.

Part of the problem is the inexplicably fourth-billed Hildegard Knef (she easily should be second billed). I’m not sure how her performance would have been in her native German, but in English, she’s not good. Her performance, along with the endlessness of the last thirty minutes, capsizes Courier.

Tyrone Power does fine as the protagonist, though the film’s a lot more interesting when he’s out of his depth. A CID officer, played by Stephen McNally, sends him out on an espionage job he’s not qualified to undertake. When Power is out of his depth, it works (there’s a lot of that confusion during the first half); eventually he becomes the standard heroic leading man and the film’s a lot less compelling.

The supporting cast, especially Karl Malden, is decent. Patricia Neal is all right, but the material fails her. McNally makes very little impression. Plus, bit parts for Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin.

Courier breaks the rule of Chekhov’s gun. The film probably would have been a lot more exciting if it had fired.

It’d be an inoffensive time waster if it weren’t for the weak finale.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Henry Hathaway; screenplay by Casey Robinson and Liam O’Brien, based on a novel by Peter Cheyney; director of photography, Lucien Ballard; edited by James B. Clark; music by Sol Kaplan; produced by Robinson; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Tyrone Power (Mike Kells), Patricia Neal (Joan Ross), Stephen McNally (Col. Mark Cagle), Hildegard Knef (Janine Betki), Karl Malden (Sgt. Ernie Guelvada), James Millican (Sam F. Carew), Stefan Schnabel (Rasumny Platov), Herbert Berghof (Arnov) and Arthur Blake (Max Ralli).


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Dangerous Partners (1945, Edward L. Cahn)

Much of Dangerous Partners‘s excellence comes from the script. Edmund L. Hartmann adapted Eleanor Perry’s story, which Marion Parsonnet then from wrote the screenplay from–in other words, it’s hard to know who’s responsible for the script’s brilliance.

Partners has a complex, unpredictable plot–it constantly forces the viewer to reevaluate characters and situations. Added to that compelling mystery element (really, the plot is superior… it’s better than most Hitchcock just in terms of fluidity and inventiveness) are the characters. Again, it’s hard to place responsibility, but every single character in the film is incredibly strong. As it progresses, further depths reveal themselves… it’s just fantastic.

The film sets up five principals–John Warburton and Signe Hasso are married con artists, Warner Alexander is a businessman, Audrey Totter is his showgirl fiancee, and James Craig is Alexander’s corrupt attorney. Edmund Gwenn shows up as a mystery man in all their lives.

Of all the performances, Totter’s is the only one with any weakness. She recovers and does well.

But Hasso and Craig are absolutely amazing. Hasso’s cold-hearted con woman, just arriving in America to make a fast buck, is frightening. Especially when she cruelly knocks Warburton around to motivate him.

And Craig… Craig manages to make a reprehensible mob lawyer not just likable, but an excellent lead character. Craig really holds the film together.

So what’s wrong with the film?

Director Cahn. While his medium and long shots are rather uninspired, his close-ups are particularly disastrous.

Still, Partners still manages to succeed.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Edward L. Cahn; screenplay by Marion Parsonnet, based on an adaptation by Edmund L. Hartmann and a story by Eleanor Perry; director of photography, Karl Freund; edited by Ferris Webster; music by David Snell; produced by Arthur Field; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring James Craig (Jeff Caighn), Signe Hasso (Carola Ballister), Edmund Gwenn (Albert Richard Kingby), Audrey Totter (Lili Roegan), Mabel Paige (Marie Drumman), John Warburton (Clyde Ballister), Henry O’Neill (Police Lt. Duffy), Grant Withers (Jonathan Drumman), Felix Bressart (Prof. Roland Budlow), Warner Anderson (Miles Kempen), Stephen McNally (Co-pilot) and John Eldredge (Farrel).


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