The Dawn Express (1942)

So this is what I would call a “resume-builder”.  That is a movie that is mediocre and can’t realistically expect to become a blockbuster or classic and seems to exist for no other reason than to make a movie.  This specific type is basically a movie where they they shoot it in the studio with contract actors/employees with preexisting sets and props.  Costs are very low and therefore so is the risk.  This lead to a glut of similarly banal Hollywood movies.  Add to this the Motion Picture Production Code and you’re guaranteed to have not much to see.

The premise is good, the screenplay is bad.  It’s not the worst film-making, it’s not the best.  I can’t tell if the edits make it confusing or if the story was meant to be this disjointed.  It does have a Nazi spy ring working in the US the year after Pearl Harbor with some nice propaganda touches in the dialogue.  The funny thing is that except for the cartoonish Captain Gemmler, they could have been anyone (mafia/Russians/corporate espionage agents) except for the heil Hitlers at the very end.The best part is that it shows the use of “spies” as a generic bad guy category and “science” as a sort of magical ability or property that is a wonderful unknown instead of a variety of disciplines with varying degrees of utility and quality even within common research areas.

It’s an hour so it’s not a big time commitment but there are much better movies to spend your time on this forgettable one.


p.s.  Was the blind spy assassin everyone else’s favorite too?