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Edwin L. Marin
While bombers roar overhead during a practice blackout in a large American West coast city, Robert Draper, is among the prisoners in a police van. The inventor of a new range finder for anti-aircraft guns, he has been sentenced to death for the murder of his co-worker, Tom Manton, on the perjured testimony of night club singer Marie Duval, despite character evidence given in his favor by John Ronnel. Draper escapes when the van is in an accident and seeks refuge in a park, where he runs into telephone operator Mary Jones who decides to help him. They go to a garage where they cut the chain holding Draper's wrists together, and then to a hotel where they register as brother and sister. Draper telephones Ronnel, sure he is the only man who can establish his innocence. Ronnel, however, anonymously, telephones the police and Draper and Mary barely escape. Draper, knowing that Marie has information that can clear him, goes to the club where she works and finds her murdered.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Pacific Blackout (1941) is a little known Paramount pre-World War II espionage movie containing strong comedy elements, and set in Seattle. It does not seem to have had a studio DVD release, but can be found on the internet. Although a B picture, it, like the Mr. Moto series, is well worth watching.
It's three weaknesses are a rather obvious villain, the astounding number of coincidences which prevent falsely convicted Robert Preston from escaping the downtown area, and the strange willingness of Martha O'Driscoll to attach herself to a stranger (handsome though he may be) whom she initially believes a murderer.
It's strengths are fourfold.
It presents an interesting civil defense exercise in anticipation of, and response to, a Japanese bombing raid. That involves both pre-raid blackout and post-raid triage of supposed victims. After Pearl Harbor, these west coast fears and exercises accelerated.
It has no dead spots and moves along at a nice pace.
It's special effects are well done, considering its modest budget, and when it was made.
It's actors do a good job. Standouts include the perpetually hungry Martha O'Driscoll, Mary Treen, J. Edward Bromberg, Spencer Charters, and Clem Bevans. Martha O'Driscoll was a wholesomely beautiful blonde who made thirty-nine movies by the age of twenty-five, then married a rich industrialist and retired. (Smart girl.) Here she looks and acts a bit like a ditzy, but much smarter, version of My Friend Irma (1949)--who Marie Wilson memorably portrayed. Mary Treen was a horse-faced comedian, who livened up most of the pictures she was in. Here she portrays Martha's switchboard co-worker and friend who is drawn into the plot through frantic phoned appeals from Martha. J. Edward Bromberg was a short, squat character actor who had his career and life destroyed by the hearings of the House Committee of Un-American Activities in 1950. Here he plays a surprisingly philosophical down-in-the-luck magician. Forced to live as a pickpocket, he becomes an unlikely ally. Spencer Charters was a beat-up looking character actor. He basically appeared in two hundred and twenty-five films as a blue-collar worker or minor official. Here he plays a suspicious, but confused garage watchmen. He confronts Robert and Martha, and suspects they are up to something, but can't figure out what. And he never does, do to a funny, distracting phone call from Mary. Finally, Clem Bevans, who cornered the market on benevolent old codgers, plays the munitions plant's kindly night watchman. He offers to share his dinner with Martha, then watches with amazement as she wolfs down most of it.
In summary, if you remember and like any of the actors, or other pictures, I mentioned, I believe you'll also find Pacific Blackout enjoyable.
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