NON-STOP NEW YORK (1937)
Article #1576 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2005
Posting Date: 12-5-2005
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring John Loder, Anna Lee, Francis L. Sullivan
When a mob lawyer is murdered in New York, the authorities arrest and convict an innocent man. The only person who can save him from the electric chair is an English actress who can prove his innocence, but the mob has whisked her away to England in the hopes that she will be unable to clear him.
When I appeared in a production of “Witness for the Prosecution” a few years ago, I remember the director telling all of us who played the trial witnesses that he wanted each one of our characters to be little gems of character acting. Someone must have given that same note to the actors in this thoroughly delightful thriller; it is packed to the gills with fun and offbeat characters. As a result, this makes for one of the most engaging thrillers this side of Hitchcock; in fact, writer E.V.H. Emmett (who is credited with ‘additional dialogue’) had previously worked on Hitchcock’s SABOTAGE. The fantastic content appears only in the latter half of the movie, when most of the interested parties board a new luxury airplane (with cabins, observation decks, dining rooms and no seat belts), but it provides a truly memorable setting. The performances are uniformly excellent, but special notice should go to Anna Lee as the English actress who knows too much, Francis L. Sullivan as the mob boss who disguises himself as a Paraguayan general and who has a novel way of lighting his cigars, and Desmond Tester who takes a potentially annoying role (as a precocious and sassy musical child prodigy) and makes it hilarious. Fans of DR. STRANGELOVE will immediately recognize actor Peter Bull as a man who has the presence of mind to save a torn-up letter to sell to a blackmailer. This one is definitely recommended, especially to fans of Hitchcockian thrillers.