Dangerous Crossing


1h 15m 1953
Dangerous Crossing

Brief Synopsis

When a bride goes on a ocean liner with her new husband, he goes into hiding, and she becomes the target of a murder conspiracy.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cabin B-13, Ship Story
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Aug 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr (CBS, 16 Mar 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,798ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

After newlyweds Ruth and John Bowman board an ocean liner for their honeymoon, John carries Ruth across the threshold of their cabin, number B-16, in which stewardess Anna Quinn is arranging flowers. John leaves to visit the purser's office, and when he does not meet her later, Ruth becomes worried. Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Manning reports to Capt. Peters that 3rd Officer Jack Barlowe has been confined to quarters with stomach pains. Confused and upset, Ruth goes to the purser's office, and after he tells her that John has not been by, a steward informs her that cabin B-16 has not been reserved, and that she is booked into cabin B-18 under her maiden name of Ruth Stanton. Concerned about Ruth's hysteria, the purser sends for Paul, who tries to comfort Ruth while investigating her story. Officer Jim Logan, who was working on the gangplank, does not recall seeing John with Ruth, and Anna flatly denies having seen them in B-16. Paul then takes Ruth to see Peters, who initiates a search of the ship, although he is suspicious of Ruth's claim that John has their tickets, passports and marriage certificate. Realizing that Peters distrusts her, Ruth runs off, and Peters orders Paul to keep a close eye on her. Later that night, John calls Ruth and tells her that he is hiding because they are in terrible danger. John promises to call the next night then hangs up, after which Paul informs her that the search of the ship has revealed nothing. Ruth insists that John is aboard somewhere, and tells Paul about John's call, but he suggests that she had fallen asleep and dreamed it. Ruth disappears again, but when Paul finds her, pretends to cooperate so that he will not deem her crazy. In the bar, Ruth tells Paul that her father, to whom she was very close, died four months ago, and that she fell "ill" afterward. Deducing that Ruth had a nervous breakdown, Paul questions her until she exclaims that she and John are in danger. Paul calms her by prescribing some "normal activities," and the next day, Ruth's paranoia dissipates as the charming doctor spends time with her. That night, John fails to call, and Ruth investigates the luggage hold in case he is hiding there. Her search is interrupted by the appearance of a steward and a menacing European man with a cane, and the frightened Ruth runs away. Paul learns of her adventure and gently reproaches her the next day, telling her that she must trust him. Ruth muses aloud that although she and John had intended to get acquainted during the voyage, she is instead getting to know Paul, who in turn conceals his attraction to her. That night, as Ruth paces in her cabin, Anna enters and relays her regret that she could not help her earlier. After Ruth leaves for dinner, however, Anna makes a phone call and tells the person on the other end that their plan is proceeding on schedule. Just as Paul and Ruth are seated for dinner, Paul is called to Peter's office, where he learns that Ruth's acquaintances are unaware of her marriage, and that she did have a breakdown after her father's death. Peters wants Paul to confine Ruth to her cabin, but Paul, still unconvinced that Ruth is insane, refuses to lock her up. When Paul confronts Ruth with the new facts, she reveals that her father's ne'er-do-well brother had threatened her after her father willed his company to her. Realizing that Ruth may indeed be in serious danger, Paul promises to protect her. Reassured that Paul believes her, Ruth returns to her cabin, where she gets another call from John, asking her to meet him on deck. Their meeting is interrupted by the well-meaning Paul, who does not spot John in the thick fog, and John tells her to meet him later. Ruth runs from Paul, and when she causes a commotion, Peters orders Paul to lock her in her cabin. Paul reluctantly agrees, then visits Barlowe in his quarters. Unknown to Paul, Barlowe assumed the name "John Bowman" in order to marry Ruth, and has been feigning illness to prevent discovery. Barlowe tells Paul that he is feeling better, although he grows agitated when Paul innocently reveals that Ruth has been confined to her cabin. After Paul's departure, Barlowe calls Anna, who is his partner in the plot to inherit Ruth's fortune by killing her, and tells her to engineer Ruth's "escape" from her cabin. Anna visits Ruth and leaves the door open long enough for the still-sedated woman to leave, and Ruth then meets Barlowe on deck. There, Barlowe reveals that he has succeeded in convincing everyone that she is crazy, so that it will be assumed that she committed suicide when she goes missing. Barlowe attempts to throw Ruth overboard, but Paul arrives just in time. The two men fight, and Barlowe finally falls to his death. Soon after, Anna confesses all, and a search of Barlowe's cabin produces Ruth's documents. Peters apologizes to Ruth for his mistrust, and she graciously forgives him. The comforting Paul then assures Ruth that she has many happy tomorrows to anticipate, and as he leaves, adds that he will be part of them.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cabin B-13, Ship Story
Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Aug 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr (CBS, 16 Mar 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,798ft (8 reels)

Articles

Dangerous Crossing


Although popular mystery author John Dickson Carr was highly prolific, this is one of the few films derived from his work. It was adapted from his 1943 radio drama "Cabin B-13," an episode of the mystery series Suspense. The show was repeated, with different actors, just seven months later. In fact, the story and Carr were so highly regarded, the author was given his own program under the title, a mystery anthology series in which the ship's doctor related a different strange tale from aboard the ocean liner where the titular cabin was located.

This film is based on the original plot, the kind of "vanishing lady" formula used so successfully in Hitchcock's appropriately titled The Lady Vanishes (1938), Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), and most recently in Flightplan (2005). This time, however, it's the man who vanishes, the groom of newlywed Ruth Bowman (Jeanne Crain). After boarding an ocean liner for their honeymoon, hubby goes to the purser's office to put in safekeeping a large sum of money he's carrying. He never returns, however, sending his bride into a frenzy, especially when no one on board, and none of the ship's records, have any recollection of a husband accompanying her. In fact, she finds herself registered under her maiden name in another cabin, while hers (for some reason changed to B-16 in this version) remains empty. In her desperation, she turns to the only person who may be able to help her, the ship's doctor, played by British actor Michael Rennie.

The working titles of the picture were "Ship Story" and "Cabin B-13" (raising the mystery again of why the number was changed in production). It was filmed somewhat on the cheap (under half a million) and in only 19 days using the large ship sets from two of 20th-Century Fox's more lavish productions, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Titanic (1953). Coincidentally, Crain later starred in the sort-of sequel to the former movie, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), while Rennie provided the off-screen narration for the sea-disaster epic.

The leftover sets were well used by director Joseph M. Newman (The Outcasts of Poker Flat, 1952; This Island Earth, 1955) and respected cinematographer Joseph LaShelle , a nine-time Academy Award nominee, notable for his fine black-and-white work on The Apartment (1960), Marty (1955), and the film noir classic Laura (1944).

This was Crain's penultimate movie under contract at the studio where she started her career a decade earlier. Crain generally liked working at Fox, but she was eager for new horizons and different types of roles. "There comes a time when an actress stays too long in the same place," she later said. "People get used to having you around, and they can't think of you in a different light."

The vanishing husband may look familiar to some viewers - Carl Betz, the star's husband on the sitcom The Donna Reed Show.

Carr's story saw several other incarnations. It was printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1943, the year it debuted on radio, and later done on BBC radio in their Appointment with Fear series. It made it on to television as an episode of the Climax! series in 1958 with Kim Hunter in the lead and again as a TV movie (set in 1947), Treacherous Crossing (1992). As inexplicable as the cabin number changes, the characters' names in each version are different.

The urban legend that inspired the story can be traced back to a supposed conspiracy around the time of the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. An English woman traveling with her grown daughter collapsed on the bed of their hotel room. The hotel doctor sent the younger woman out for medicine, and when she returned, she found her mother had disappeared. The doctor and all of the hotel employees claimed never to have seen the mother, insisting the daughter had arrived alone, and someone else was registered in the room, which has now completely changed in appearance. According to the most frequent versions of the story, the young woman never sees her mother again, can find no one who will believe her, and ends her days in an insane asylum. In other versions, the determined daughter finally uncovers the truth-that the older woman had contracted the plague and the hotel, to avoid a tourist panic just when people were expected to flock to town for the world's fair, removed her and all traces of her to cover up the fact.

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Producer: Robert Bassler
Screenplay: Leo Townsend, based on the radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Editing: William H. Reynolds
Art Direction: Maurice Ransford, Lyle Wheeler
Cast: Jeanne Crain (Ruth Stanton Bowman), Michael Rennie (Dr. Paul Manning), Carl Betz (John Bowman), Mary Anderson (Anna Quinn), Marjorie Hoshelle (Kay Prentiss).
BW-75m.

By Rob Nixon
Dangerous Crossing

Dangerous Crossing

Although popular mystery author John Dickson Carr was highly prolific, this is one of the few films derived from his work. It was adapted from his 1943 radio drama "Cabin B-13," an episode of the mystery series Suspense. The show was repeated, with different actors, just seven months later. In fact, the story and Carr were so highly regarded, the author was given his own program under the title, a mystery anthology series in which the ship's doctor related a different strange tale from aboard the ocean liner where the titular cabin was located. This film is based on the original plot, the kind of "vanishing lady" formula used so successfully in Hitchcock's appropriately titled The Lady Vanishes (1938), Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), and most recently in Flightplan (2005). This time, however, it's the man who vanishes, the groom of newlywed Ruth Bowman (Jeanne Crain). After boarding an ocean liner for their honeymoon, hubby goes to the purser's office to put in safekeeping a large sum of money he's carrying. He never returns, however, sending his bride into a frenzy, especially when no one on board, and none of the ship's records, have any recollection of a husband accompanying her. In fact, she finds herself registered under her maiden name in another cabin, while hers (for some reason changed to B-16 in this version) remains empty. In her desperation, she turns to the only person who may be able to help her, the ship's doctor, played by British actor Michael Rennie. The working titles of the picture were "Ship Story" and "Cabin B-13" (raising the mystery again of why the number was changed in production). It was filmed somewhat on the cheap (under half a million) and in only 19 days using the large ship sets from two of 20th-Century Fox's more lavish productions, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Titanic (1953). Coincidentally, Crain later starred in the sort-of sequel to the former movie, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), while Rennie provided the off-screen narration for the sea-disaster epic. The leftover sets were well used by director Joseph M. Newman (The Outcasts of Poker Flat, 1952; This Island Earth, 1955) and respected cinematographer Joseph LaShelle , a nine-time Academy Award nominee, notable for his fine black-and-white work on The Apartment (1960), Marty (1955), and the film noir classic Laura (1944). This was Crain's penultimate movie under contract at the studio where she started her career a decade earlier. Crain generally liked working at Fox, but she was eager for new horizons and different types of roles. "There comes a time when an actress stays too long in the same place," she later said. "People get used to having you around, and they can't think of you in a different light." The vanishing husband may look familiar to some viewers - Carl Betz, the star's husband on the sitcom The Donna Reed Show. Carr's story saw several other incarnations. It was printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1943, the year it debuted on radio, and later done on BBC radio in their Appointment with Fear series. It made it on to television as an episode of the Climax! series in 1958 with Kim Hunter in the lead and again as a TV movie (set in 1947), Treacherous Crossing (1992). As inexplicable as the cabin number changes, the characters' names in each version are different. The urban legend that inspired the story can be traced back to a supposed conspiracy around the time of the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. An English woman traveling with her grown daughter collapsed on the bed of their hotel room. The hotel doctor sent the younger woman out for medicine, and when she returned, she found her mother had disappeared. The doctor and all of the hotel employees claimed never to have seen the mother, insisting the daughter had arrived alone, and someone else was registered in the room, which has now completely changed in appearance. According to the most frequent versions of the story, the young woman never sees her mother again, can find no one who will believe her, and ends her days in an insane asylum. In other versions, the determined daughter finally uncovers the truth-that the older woman had contracted the plague and the hotel, to avoid a tourist panic just when people were expected to flock to town for the world's fair, removed her and all traces of her to cover up the fact. Director: Joseph M. Newman Producer: Robert Bassler Screenplay: Leo Townsend, based on the radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle Editing: William H. Reynolds Art Direction: Maurice Ransford, Lyle Wheeler Cast: Jeanne Crain (Ruth Stanton Bowman), Michael Rennie (Dr. Paul Manning), Carl Betz (John Bowman), Mary Anderson (Anna Quinn), Marjorie Hoshelle (Kay Prentiss). BW-75m. By Rob Nixon

Dangerous Crossing - Jeanne Crain Stars in the Fox Noir Release DANGEROUS CROSSING on DVD


Dangerous Crossing is a weak thriller with a plot familiar from countless radio shows and movies: somebody claims that a relative or friend has disappeared, but no evidence of the missing person's existence can be found. This gimmick works well enough when encountered for the first time, in movies like Bunny Lake is Missing or the relatively new Jodie Foster show Flightplan. Fox's 1953 release strands lovely Jeanne Crain among a no-star cast with only the unemotional Michael Rennie to keep her company. Viewers who can't figure out the mystery by the end of the first reel need a refresher course of Perry Mason TV episodes.

Synopsis: Happy newlywed Ruth Stanton Bowman (Jeanne Crain) checks on board the SS Monrovia with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to be instantly thrown into a panic. John disappears, leaving her without her passport; a thorough search of the ship turns up nothing. When nobody on board can remember seeing John, the captain (Willis Bouchey) assumes that Ruth is either pulling a stunt or insane. Ship's doctor Paul Manning (Michael Rennie) takes an interest in Ruth's case and tries to believe her side of the story. Ruth begins to crack up under the strain, especially after she receives a mysterious nighttime phone call -- from John.

Dangerous Crossing plays as what it is, a radio show enlarged for the screen. Despite some atmospheric stalking scenes on the foggy boat decks, everything is conveyed in tidy expositional dialogue; little occurs that a blind person couldn't follow. Jean Crain is more than acceptable as the standard anxious heroine, but the script does her no favors. Following the format of a radio show, little patches of voiceover serve to clarify situations. Ruth Bowman realizes that her erratic behavior is becoming counterproductive, and we hear her consciously decide to behave more calmly. Ms. Crain isn't allowed to express a single thought without benefit of verbal explanation.

The rest of the show consists of scenes among a small number of passengers that are either sincerely concerned for Ruth, or part of a wicked conspiracy to drive her insane: it's "Ship of Gaslight". In the midst of her anguish, Ruth has time to enjoy herself with deck sports and dresses up to dine with the ship's doctor. By the time her background as a wealthy heiress is telegraphed into the movie (with a real telegram!) the mystery has become almost completely transparent. The crisis is resolved in a brief 76 minutes, which includes a redundant wrap-up scene to review details for comatose viewers.

Studio head Darryl Zanuck was known for riding close herd on his scripts, and we can only assume that his attention was diverted by the launch of Fox's CinemaScope process, a high-stakes gamble. Dangerous Crossing is one of the studio's last flat releases, quickly confected to yield additional use from expensive shipboard sets constructed for the studio's hits Titanic and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Michael Rennie is the same sincere but unexciting presence as he is in most of his films. The script gives Carl Betz only a couple of minutes on-screen, with the result that his character remains tied to the film's trick premise. Mary Anderson and Marjorie Hoshelle's thankless roles require them to maintain ambiguous, neutral attitudes throughout. Jeanne Crain must carry the entire show single-handed, and that it works as well as it does is a tribute to her talent.

The most successful version of this mystery gimmick is Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, no contest. Even back in 1938, Hitchcock knew that the 'impossible disappearance' gag wouldn't stand by itself, and his writers Launder Gilliat embroidered their story with plenty of witty, intelligent surprises. Dangerous Crossing pales in comparison. Clearly instructed to wrap the shoot up in record time, efficient director Joseph M. Newman films the script with a minimum of involvement or passion. A stronger director would have insisted on skipping those insulting 'inner voice' passages left over from the radio concept, and found ways to convey at least some of the exposition in images instead of words.

An even closer match can be found in a superior English thriller from 1950, So Long at the Fair. An almost identical mystery unwinds at the 1896 Paris Exposition, with young Jean Simmons searching for a lost brother. The story elements are handled with much more care, generating some genuinely frightening scenes.

Dangerous Crossing is an okay but undistinguished suspense thriller that seems to have reached DVD to provide another title for the Fox Film Noir line. The film has scenes at night and a heroine in distress, but never approaches the minimal definition of a Film Noir. It's too bad that legal obstacles continue to block home video releases of the classic Fox Noirs Cry of the City and Boomerang!

Fox's DVD of Dangerous Crossing is a fine transfer and encoding of a B&W picture that probably hasn't been out of the vault in decades. It's been given a full contingent of extras, which in this case amounts to embarrassing overkill.

Historian Aubrey Solomon contributes a pleasant commentary that quickly runs out of specifics about the movie. Solomon fills the extra time with good rundowns on the career of Darryl Zanuck and the history of the Fox lot. At one point he falls victim to the trap of using the IMDB as a quick resource to rattle off film credits. Solomon mentions the director Joseph M. Newman's movie "War of the Planets". Sure enough, the IMDB lists Newman's classic Sci-Fi film This Island Earth, and for some reason also includes, as a separate production, the home movie souvenir cut-down version issued by Castle Films, re-titled "War of the Planets". Oops. On the positive side, Mr. Solomon offers a great insights about the radio play adaptation, including one that undercuts Dangerous Crossing's very premise. Discussing it would spoil the movie's one good surprise.

The featurette Peril at Sea presents good film clips showing how Dangerous Crossing's hand-me-down sets were used in other, bigger films. Jeanne Crain's granddaughter is on hand to talk about her famous relative ("She was bigger than life"). Noir experts Eddie Muller and Alan Rode appear with Robert Osborne in interview clips clearly taped in sessions covering many films at once. As there's nothing remotely distinguished about Dangerous Crossing, the discussions never get beyond generalities. Osborne says that the film has great qualities, and then explains that its great quality is being a good example of the efficiency of the Fox studio system. That's like praising one's fiancée because she's an outstanding example of an average woman.

A pressbook, a still gallery and an anemic trailer appear, but the best extra by far is an isolated track containing Lionel Newman's score. Fox has been adding isolated tracks a lot lately, and fans of music scores really appreciate them.

For more information about Dangerous Crossing, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Dangerous Crossing, go to TCM Shopping

by Glenn Erickson Dangerous Crossing is a weak thriller with a plot familiar from countless radio shows and movies: somebody claims that a relative or friend has disappeared, but no evidence of the missing person's existence can be found. This gimmick works well enough when encountered for the first time, in movies like Bunny Lake is Missing or the relatively new Jodie Foster show Flightplan. Fox's 1953 release strands lovely Jeanne Crain among a no-star cast with only the unemotional Michael Rennie to keep her company. Viewers who can't figure out the mystery by the end of the first reel need a refresher course of Perry Mason TV episodes.

Synopsis: Happy newlywed Ruth Stanton Bowman (Jeanne Crain) checks on board the SS Monrovia with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to be instantly thrown into a panic. John disappears, leaving her without her passport; a thorough search of the ship turns up nothing. When nobody on board can remember seeing John, the captain (Willis Bouchey) assumes that Ruth is either pulling a stunt or insane. Ship's doctor Paul Manning (Michael Rennie) takes an interest in Ruth's case and tries to believe her side of the story. Ruth begins to crack up under the strain, especially after she receives a mysterious nighttime phone call -- from John.

Dangerous Crossing plays as what it is, a radio show enlarged for the screen. Despite some atmospheric stalking scenes on the foggy boat decks, everything is conveyed in tidy expositional dialogue; little occurs that a blind person couldn't follow. Jean Crain is more than acceptable as the standard anxious heroine, but the script does her no favors. Following the format of a radio show, little patches of voiceover serve to clarify situations. Ruth Bowman realizes that her erratic behavior is becoming counterproductive, and we hear her consciously decide to behave more calmly. Ms. Crain isn't allowed to express a single thought without benefit of verbal explanation.

The rest of the show consists of scenes among a small number of passengers that are either sincerely concerned for Ruth, or part of a wicked conspiracy to drive her insane: it's "Ship of Gaslight". In the midst of her anguish, Ruth has time to enjoy herself with deck sports and dresses up to dine with the ship's doctor. By the time her background as a wealthy heiress is telegraphed into the movie (with a real telegram!) the mystery has become almost completely transparent. The crisis is resolved in a brief 76 minutes, which includes a redundant wrap-up scene to review details for comatose viewers.

Studio head Darryl Zanuck was known for riding close herd on his scripts, and we can only assume that his attention was diverted by the launch of Fox's CinemaScope process, a high-stakes gamble. Dangerous Crossing is one of the studio's last flat releases, quickly confected to yield additional use from expensive shipboard sets constructed for the studio's hits Titanic and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Michael Rennie is the same sincere but unexciting presence as he is in most of his films. The script gives Carl Betz only a couple of minutes on-screen, with the result that his character remains tied to the film's trick premise. Mary Anderson and Marjorie Hoshelle's thankless roles require them to maintain ambiguous, neutral attitudes throughout. Jeanne Crain must carry the entire show single-handed, and that it works as well as it does is a tribute to her talent.

The most successful version of this mystery gimmick is Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, no contest. Even back in 1938, Hitchcock knew that the 'impossible disappearance' gag wouldn't stand by itself, and his writers Launder Gilliat embroidered their story with plenty of witty, intelligent surprises. Dangerous Crossing pales in comparison. Clearly instructed to wrap the shoot up in record time, efficient director Joseph M. Newman films the script with a minimum of involvement or passion. A stronger director would have insisted on skipping those insulting 'inner voice' passages left over from the radio concept, and found ways to convey at least some of the exposition in images instead of words.

An even closer match can be found in a superior English thriller from 1950, So Long at the Fair. An almost identical mystery unwinds at the 1896 Paris Exposition, with young Jean Simmons searching for a lost brother. The story elements are handled with much more care, generating some genuinely frightening scenes.

Dangerous Crossing is an okay but undistinguished suspense thriller that seems to have reached DVD to provide another title for the Fox Film Noir line. The film has scenes at night and a heroine in distress, but never approaches the minimal definition of a Film Noir. It's too bad that legal obstacles continue to block home video releases of the classic Fox Noirs Cry of the City and Boomerang!

Fox's DVD of Dangerous Crossing is a fine transfer and encoding of a B&W picture that probably hasn't been out of the vault in decades. It's been given a full contingent of extras, which in this case amounts to embarrassing overkill.

Historian Aubrey Solomon contributes a pleasant commentary that quickly runs out of specifics about the movie. Solomon fills the extra time with good rundowns on the career of Darryl Zanuck and the history of the Fox lot. At one point he falls victim to the trap of using the IMDB as a quick resource to rattle off film credits. Solomon mentions the director Joseph M. Newman's movie "War of the Planets". Sure enough, the IMDB lists Newman's classic Sci-Fi film This Island Earth, and for some reason also includes, as a separate production, the home movie souvenir cut-down version issued by Castle Films, re-titled "War of the Planets". Oops. On the positive side, Mr. Solomon offers a great insights about the radio play adaptation, including one that undercuts Dangerous Crossing's very premise. Discussing it would spoil the movie's one good surprise.

The featurette Peril at Sea presents good film clips showing how Dangerous Crossing's hand-me-down sets were used in other, bigger films. Jeanne Crain's granddaughter is on hand to talk about her famous relative ("She was bigger than life"). Noir experts Eddie Muller and Alan Rode appear with Robert Osborne in interview clips clearly taped in sessions covering many films at once. As there's nothing remotely distinguished about Dangerous Crossing, the discussions never get beyond generalities. Osborne says that the film has great qualities, and then explains that its great quality is being a good example of the efficiency of the Fox studio system. That's like praising one's fiancée because she's an outstanding example of an average woman.

A pressbook, a still gallery and an anemic trailer appear, but the best extra by far is an isolated track containing Lionel Newman's score. Fox has been adding isolated tracks a lot lately, and fans of music scores really appreciate them.

For more information about Dangerous Crossing, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Dangerous Crossing, go to TCM Shopping

by Glenn Erickson

Dangerous Crossing - Jeanne Crain Stars in the Fox Noir Release DANGEROUS CROSSING on DVD

Dangerous Crossing is a weak thriller with a plot familiar from countless radio shows and movies: somebody claims that a relative or friend has disappeared, but no evidence of the missing person's existence can be found. This gimmick works well enough when encountered for the first time, in movies like Bunny Lake is Missing or the relatively new Jodie Foster show Flightplan. Fox's 1953 release strands lovely Jeanne Crain among a no-star cast with only the unemotional Michael Rennie to keep her company. Viewers who can't figure out the mystery by the end of the first reel need a refresher course of Perry Mason TV episodes. Synopsis: Happy newlywed Ruth Stanton Bowman (Jeanne Crain) checks on board the SS Monrovia with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to be instantly thrown into a panic. John disappears, leaving her without her passport; a thorough search of the ship turns up nothing. When nobody on board can remember seeing John, the captain (Willis Bouchey) assumes that Ruth is either pulling a stunt or insane. Ship's doctor Paul Manning (Michael Rennie) takes an interest in Ruth's case and tries to believe her side of the story. Ruth begins to crack up under the strain, especially after she receives a mysterious nighttime phone call -- from John. Dangerous Crossing plays as what it is, a radio show enlarged for the screen. Despite some atmospheric stalking scenes on the foggy boat decks, everything is conveyed in tidy expositional dialogue; little occurs that a blind person couldn't follow. Jean Crain is more than acceptable as the standard anxious heroine, but the script does her no favors. Following the format of a radio show, little patches of voiceover serve to clarify situations. Ruth Bowman realizes that her erratic behavior is becoming counterproductive, and we hear her consciously decide to behave more calmly. Ms. Crain isn't allowed to express a single thought without benefit of verbal explanation. The rest of the show consists of scenes among a small number of passengers that are either sincerely concerned for Ruth, or part of a wicked conspiracy to drive her insane: it's "Ship of Gaslight". In the midst of her anguish, Ruth has time to enjoy herself with deck sports and dresses up to dine with the ship's doctor. By the time her background as a wealthy heiress is telegraphed into the movie (with a real telegram!) the mystery has become almost completely transparent. The crisis is resolved in a brief 76 minutes, which includes a redundant wrap-up scene to review details for comatose viewers. Studio head Darryl Zanuck was known for riding close herd on his scripts, and we can only assume that his attention was diverted by the launch of Fox's CinemaScope process, a high-stakes gamble. Dangerous Crossing is one of the studio's last flat releases, quickly confected to yield additional use from expensive shipboard sets constructed for the studio's hits Titanic and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Michael Rennie is the same sincere but unexciting presence as he is in most of his films. The script gives Carl Betz only a couple of minutes on-screen, with the result that his character remains tied to the film's trick premise. Mary Anderson and Marjorie Hoshelle's thankless roles require them to maintain ambiguous, neutral attitudes throughout. Jeanne Crain must carry the entire show single-handed, and that it works as well as it does is a tribute to her talent. The most successful version of this mystery gimmick is Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, no contest. Even back in 1938, Hitchcock knew that the 'impossible disappearance' gag wouldn't stand by itself, and his writers Launder Gilliat embroidered their story with plenty of witty, intelligent surprises. Dangerous Crossing pales in comparison. Clearly instructed to wrap the shoot up in record time, efficient director Joseph M. Newman films the script with a minimum of involvement or passion. A stronger director would have insisted on skipping those insulting 'inner voice' passages left over from the radio concept, and found ways to convey at least some of the exposition in images instead of words. An even closer match can be found in a superior English thriller from 1950, So Long at the Fair. An almost identical mystery unwinds at the 1896 Paris Exposition, with young Jean Simmons searching for a lost brother. The story elements are handled with much more care, generating some genuinely frightening scenes. Dangerous Crossing is an okay but undistinguished suspense thriller that seems to have reached DVD to provide another title for the Fox Film Noir line. The film has scenes at night and a heroine in distress, but never approaches the minimal definition of a Film Noir. It's too bad that legal obstacles continue to block home video releases of the classic Fox Noirs Cry of the City and Boomerang! Fox's DVD of Dangerous Crossing is a fine transfer and encoding of a B&W picture that probably hasn't been out of the vault in decades. It's been given a full contingent of extras, which in this case amounts to embarrassing overkill. Historian Aubrey Solomon contributes a pleasant commentary that quickly runs out of specifics about the movie. Solomon fills the extra time with good rundowns on the career of Darryl Zanuck and the history of the Fox lot. At one point he falls victim to the trap of using the IMDB as a quick resource to rattle off film credits. Solomon mentions the director Joseph M. Newman's movie "War of the Planets". Sure enough, the IMDB lists Newman's classic Sci-Fi film This Island Earth, and for some reason also includes, as a separate production, the home movie souvenir cut-down version issued by Castle Films, re-titled "War of the Planets". Oops. On the positive side, Mr. Solomon offers a great insights about the radio play adaptation, including one that undercuts Dangerous Crossing's very premise. Discussing it would spoil the movie's one good surprise. The featurette Peril at Sea presents good film clips showing how Dangerous Crossing's hand-me-down sets were used in other, bigger films. Jeanne Crain's granddaughter is on hand to talk about her famous relative ("She was bigger than life"). Noir experts Eddie Muller and Alan Rode appear with Robert Osborne in interview clips clearly taped in sessions covering many films at once. As there's nothing remotely distinguished about Dangerous Crossing, the discussions never get beyond generalities. Osborne says that the film has great qualities, and then explains that its great quality is being a good example of the efficiency of the Fox studio system. That's like praising one's fiancée because she's an outstanding example of an average woman. A pressbook, a still gallery and an anemic trailer appear, but the best extra by far is an isolated track containing Lionel Newman's score. Fox has been adding isolated tracks a lot lately, and fans of music scores really appreciate them. For more information about Dangerous Crossing, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Dangerous Crossing, go to TCM Shopping by Glenn Erickson Dangerous Crossing is a weak thriller with a plot familiar from countless radio shows and movies: somebody claims that a relative or friend has disappeared, but no evidence of the missing person's existence can be found. This gimmick works well enough when encountered for the first time, in movies like Bunny Lake is Missing or the relatively new Jodie Foster show Flightplan. Fox's 1953 release strands lovely Jeanne Crain among a no-star cast with only the unemotional Michael Rennie to keep her company. Viewers who can't figure out the mystery by the end of the first reel need a refresher course of Perry Mason TV episodes. Synopsis: Happy newlywed Ruth Stanton Bowman (Jeanne Crain) checks on board the SS Monrovia with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to be instantly thrown into a panic. John disappears, leaving her without her passport; a thorough search of the ship turns up nothing. When nobody on board can remember seeing John, the captain (Willis Bouchey) assumes that Ruth is either pulling a stunt or insane. Ship's doctor Paul Manning (Michael Rennie) takes an interest in Ruth's case and tries to believe her side of the story. Ruth begins to crack up under the strain, especially after she receives a mysterious nighttime phone call -- from John. Dangerous Crossing plays as what it is, a radio show enlarged for the screen. Despite some atmospheric stalking scenes on the foggy boat decks, everything is conveyed in tidy expositional dialogue; little occurs that a blind person couldn't follow. Jean Crain is more than acceptable as the standard anxious heroine, but the script does her no favors. Following the format of a radio show, little patches of voiceover serve to clarify situations. Ruth Bowman realizes that her erratic behavior is becoming counterproductive, and we hear her consciously decide to behave more calmly. Ms. Crain isn't allowed to express a single thought without benefit of verbal explanation. The rest of the show consists of scenes among a small number of passengers that are either sincerely concerned for Ruth, or part of a wicked conspiracy to drive her insane: it's "Ship of Gaslight". In the midst of her anguish, Ruth has time to enjoy herself with deck sports and dresses up to dine with the ship's doctor. By the time her background as a wealthy heiress is telegraphed into the movie (with a real telegram!) the mystery has become almost completely transparent. The crisis is resolved in a brief 76 minutes, which includes a redundant wrap-up scene to review details for comatose viewers. Studio head Darryl Zanuck was known for riding close herd on his scripts, and we can only assume that his attention was diverted by the launch of Fox's CinemaScope process, a high-stakes gamble. Dangerous Crossing is one of the studio's last flat releases, quickly confected to yield additional use from expensive shipboard sets constructed for the studio's hits Titanic and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Michael Rennie is the same sincere but unexciting presence as he is in most of his films. The script gives Carl Betz only a couple of minutes on-screen, with the result that his character remains tied to the film's trick premise. Mary Anderson and Marjorie Hoshelle's thankless roles require them to maintain ambiguous, neutral attitudes throughout. Jeanne Crain must carry the entire show single-handed, and that it works as well as it does is a tribute to her talent. The most successful version of this mystery gimmick is Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, no contest. Even back in 1938, Hitchcock knew that the 'impossible disappearance' gag wouldn't stand by itself, and his writers Launder Gilliat embroidered their story with plenty of witty, intelligent surprises. Dangerous Crossing pales in comparison. Clearly instructed to wrap the shoot up in record time, efficient director Joseph M. Newman films the script with a minimum of involvement or passion. A stronger director would have insisted on skipping those insulting 'inner voice' passages left over from the radio concept, and found ways to convey at least some of the exposition in images instead of words. An even closer match can be found in a superior English thriller from 1950, So Long at the Fair. An almost identical mystery unwinds at the 1896 Paris Exposition, with young Jean Simmons searching for a lost brother. The story elements are handled with much more care, generating some genuinely frightening scenes. Dangerous Crossing is an okay but undistinguished suspense thriller that seems to have reached DVD to provide another title for the Fox Film Noir line. The film has scenes at night and a heroine in distress, but never approaches the minimal definition of a Film Noir. It's too bad that legal obstacles continue to block home video releases of the classic Fox Noirs Cry of the City and Boomerang! Fox's DVD of Dangerous Crossing is a fine transfer and encoding of a B&W picture that probably hasn't been out of the vault in decades. It's been given a full contingent of extras, which in this case amounts to embarrassing overkill. Historian Aubrey Solomon contributes a pleasant commentary that quickly runs out of specifics about the movie. Solomon fills the extra time with good rundowns on the career of Darryl Zanuck and the history of the Fox lot. At one point he falls victim to the trap of using the IMDB as a quick resource to rattle off film credits. Solomon mentions the director Joseph M. Newman's movie "War of the Planets". Sure enough, the IMDB lists Newman's classic Sci-Fi film This Island Earth, and for some reason also includes, as a separate production, the home movie souvenir cut-down version issued by Castle Films, re-titled "War of the Planets". Oops. On the positive side, Mr. Solomon offers a great insights about the radio play adaptation, including one that undercuts Dangerous Crossing's very premise. Discussing it would spoil the movie's one good surprise. The featurette Peril at Sea presents good film clips showing how Dangerous Crossing's hand-me-down sets were used in other, bigger films. Jeanne Crain's granddaughter is on hand to talk about her famous relative ("She was bigger than life"). Noir experts Eddie Muller and Alan Rode appear with Robert Osborne in interview clips clearly taped in sessions covering many films at once. As there's nothing remotely distinguished about Dangerous Crossing, the discussions never get beyond generalities. Osborne says that the film has great qualities, and then explains that its great quality is being a good example of the efficiency of the Fox studio system. That's like praising one's fiancée because she's an outstanding example of an average woman. A pressbook, a still gallery and an anemic trailer appear, but the best extra by far is an isolated track containing Lionel Newman's score. Fox has been adding isolated tracks a lot lately, and fans of music scores really appreciate them. For more information about Dangerous Crossing, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Dangerous Crossing, go to TCM Shopping by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Filmed on the same sets as Titanic (1953) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Notes

The working titles of this film were Ship Story and Cabin B-13. Voice-over narration by Jeanne Crain, as "Ruth Stanton Bowman," is heard intermittently throughout the film. John Dickson Carr's radio play was published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in May 1944. Film editor William Reynolds was billed as William H. Reynolds in the onscreen credits.