Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Air Patrol

Another movie I watched over the weekend was Air Patrol. I mentioned it a month ago, although I don't think I had seen it before, pointing out that it was directed by Maury Dexter. I said then that I thought that would probably make the movie worth one viewing, which turns out to be the case. The movie is available on DVD from Fox's MOD service, which means that it's pricey, and to be honest a bit more than I'd pay for any B movie, and perhaps any A movie, too.

The movie starts off with a man going into an office and cutting a painting out of the frame. Pan to somebody's legs; whoever was supposed to be guarding the painting was waylaid and conked over the head. (Nobody in the movies ever gets a concussion.) The thief goes up to the roof of the building and, in the middle of the night, climbs aboard a helicopter!

The cops are at first baffled, since apparently at the time the movie was made nobody had ever thought to make a getaway in that manner. But somebody comes up with it as an idea, and a member of the Los Angeles helicopter air patrol, Sgt. Castle (Richard Dix's son Robert) is brought in. He investigates all the air fields and finds a possible lead. Meanwhile, the regular cops have a couple of suspects in the form of the head of the syndicate that bought the painting, Arthur Murcott (John Holland), and an art-loving actor who was supposed to buy the painting from the syndicate but is short of money, Millard Nolan (veteran character actor Douglass Dumbrille). Meanwhile, Sgt. Castle strikes up a relationship with Mona (Merry Anders), the secretary who was struck on the head by the thief.

The investigation eventually does find the thief, but not before somebody is pushed off a building, and not before the painting is ransomed off. There's a final chase catching the thief, and cut to credits. To be honest, there's not a whole lot going on here, and the story would have done just fine if it were an episode of one of the detective series that were around in the early 1960s. As a movie the story is nothing special -- not particularly bad, but not memorably good, either. Just a competent ultra-low-budget movie.

Maury Dexter's involvement is one thing making the movie at least worth a watch. The other thing is the location shooting. When Mona goes to pick up the painting and deliver the ransom, it's done at the Hollywood Bowl early in the morning, when the structure is empty other than her and the thief. And then the car chase takes place along one of the empty riverbeds, concreted over, although this time it has a bit of water in it, ultimately ending at the Sepulveda Dam. The period shots of Los Angeles are also worth a watch.

To be honest though, I wouldn't drop the DVD price on this one. Wait for it to show up on FXM Retro instead.

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