Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Captain Scarface

If you want to watch an enjoyable, if not very good, B movie, you could do much worse than to watch Captain Scarface, which is airing this evening at 6:30 PM ET on TCM.

Leif Erickson plays a man who in Central America who is down on his luck and is trying to get back to the States. When two men get killed in a fight in one of the hotel rooms, Leif gets a bright idea: steal one of their passports, and get pasage on a ship back to the USA. Obviously, Erickson didn't see Detour, or he would have known this wouldn't turn out well for him.

In this case, it turns out that the man he has to impersonate is a Communist agent, and the boat that he gets on is captained by a man (Barton MacLane) who is carrying out a Soviet plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in the Panama Canal, thus disrupting American shipping. The plot has involved the kidnapping of a German nuclear scientist and his lovely daughter (Virginia Grey), who will be killed if he doesn't go along with the plot. Our hero figures out part of what the plot is at least, but has trouble convincing the lovely daughter (of course, by this time he's also begun to fall in love with her) that he can really help.

It's all formulaic stuff, and done at a Poverty Row studio on a very cheap budget. (In the case of a rusting old boat, however, having cheap sets isn't such a bad thing.) Still, it provides more than enough entertainment value. And, it's good to see some of the people who generally were relegated to character roles get more leading roles.

You might think that a B movie like this that has no real stars and was made at a studio way, way down the pecking order would never get a DVD release. Paradoxically, you'd be wrong. That's because movies like this have a way of falling into the public domain, which means that anybody with a copy of the movie's elements can transfer them to DVD and sell the DVD, and at least one such distributor has it on sale, for the low, low price of only $5.95. I don't know what the quality of the DVD is like. Still, at $5.95, you can't really go wrong.

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