Conspiracy


58m 1939
Conspiracy

Brief Synopsis

A shipment of poisonous gas is delivered for use in a mythical Central American country.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Release Date
Sep 1, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 23 Aug 1939
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

After discovering that the ship he is aboard is carrying contraband cargo, American radio operator Steve Kendall jumps overboard to avoid the guns of the secret police. Believing that Steve is in league with the revolutionaries attempting to overthrow the government, the police are bent on eliminating him. Steve swims ashore, where he meets Nedra, an agent of the revolutionaries. Nedra feels sorry for the innocent radio operator and decides to help him, but her organization, fearing complications, orders his death. Desperate, Nedra turns to Tio, an American who hides Steve in the bowels of his dance hall. Nedra then convinces the captain of the ship Falcon to take Steve out of the country, but before he can escape, the secret police raid Tio's on a tip from Nedra's comrade. Nedra, Steve, Tio and his sidekick Studs narrowly escape in a boat and speed to the Falcon , where the secret police await them. Chased by the militia, they make another getaway to a local police station, where Tio commandeers the radio and transmits an S.O.S. to his friends, who agree to send a seaplane to the rescue. Disguised as soldiers, the foursome flee the building and meet the plane. After a brief gunfight with the police, they reach safety across the Central American border. As Tio, Studs and Steve prepare to return to the United States, Nedra bids them farewell, then returns to join her fellow revolutionaries in the struggle for their country.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Release Date
Sep 1, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 23 Aug 1939
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6 reels

Articles

Conspiracy (1938) -


Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, isolationists in Congress lobbied Hollywood not to advocate for American participation in World War II. Alfred Hitchcock's anti-Fascist espionage thriller Foreign Correspondent (1940) was exceptional in its flaunting of those government edicts, but similar movies were vetted for 'interventionist' content. RKO's adventure thriller Conspiracy (1939) thrusts an unsuspecting American sailor into the middle of a Central American revolution. Discovering that his ship is transporting contraband weaponry, radio operator Steve (Allan Lane) must go on the run to evade the country's sinister secret police. He almost immediately meets young Nedra (Linda Hayes), a secret agent for the rebels. She hides Steve at the dance hall owned by her American friend Tío (Robert Barrat). If Steve can escape, will Nedra come to America with him? Conspiracy obscures its specific locale. In his New York Times review, Frank Nugent noted that "The natives seemed to be Teutons, the atmosphere Central American, the language Esperanto and the street signs a blend of Russian and Polish, except that the word-endings were either Spanish or Italian." Local native Nedra's last name is Carlson, which may account for at least one contemporary reviewer identifying the locale as Scandinavian. Other critics noted only the emphasis on action over credible drama. Hayes' exotic rebel agent Nedra performs in a public nightclub, singing the Sammy Fain-Lew Brown ballad "Take the World Off My Shoulders." Variety opined that the picture "at times looks like screen test for Linda Hayes and Allan Lane." The contraband cargo in question is poison gas, which the Geneva Protocol of 1925 had prohibited as a weapon of war. The supposedly neutral thriller surely touched on American war nerves, as a significant percentage of WW1 casualties had been caused by poison mustard gas.

By Glenn Erickson
Conspiracy (1938) -

Conspiracy (1938) -

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, isolationists in Congress lobbied Hollywood not to advocate for American participation in World War II. Alfred Hitchcock's anti-Fascist espionage thriller Foreign Correspondent (1940) was exceptional in its flaunting of those government edicts, but similar movies were vetted for 'interventionist' content. RKO's adventure thriller Conspiracy (1939) thrusts an unsuspecting American sailor into the middle of a Central American revolution. Discovering that his ship is transporting contraband weaponry, radio operator Steve (Allan Lane) must go on the run to evade the country's sinister secret police. He almost immediately meets young Nedra (Linda Hayes), a secret agent for the rebels. She hides Steve at the dance hall owned by her American friend Tío (Robert Barrat). If Steve can escape, will Nedra come to America with him? Conspiracy obscures its specific locale. In his New York Times review, Frank Nugent noted that "The natives seemed to be Teutons, the atmosphere Central American, the language Esperanto and the street signs a blend of Russian and Polish, except that the word-endings were either Spanish or Italian." Local native Nedra's last name is Carlson, which may account for at least one contemporary reviewer identifying the locale as Scandinavian. Other critics noted only the emphasis on action over credible drama. Hayes' exotic rebel agent Nedra performs in a public nightclub, singing the Sammy Fain-Lew Brown ballad "Take the World Off My Shoulders." Variety opined that the picture "at times looks like screen test for Linda Hayes and Allan Lane." The contraband cargo in question is poison gas, which the Geneva Protocol of 1925 had prohibited as a weapon of war. The supposedly neutral thriller surely touched on American war nerves, as a significant percentage of WW1 casualties had been caused by poison mustard gas.By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, the John McCarthy-Faith Thomas story was titled "Salute to Hate."