Highly Dangerous (1950)

Article #1640 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-10-2005
Posting Date: 2-7-2006
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Featuring Margaret Lockwood, Dane Clark, Marius Goring

A female entomologist agrees to visit a foreign country to do some spying; specifically, to investigate reports of a plot to use germ warfare and to bring back insects slated to be used as carriers.

Genre-wise, the germ warfare element nudges the movie towards science fiction, but it’s only a nudge. There may be another fantastic element as well, but I can’t quite nail it down. And therein lies the problem I had with this movie. Though it has an interesting and somewhat offbeat plot and has a good pace, I didn’t enjoy the movie as well as I could have. The reason is that the movie has a flaw that I can only describe as “free-floating vagueness”. It’s hard to explain what I mean by this, but throughout the movie, I kept having the sense that certain elements weren’t clearly explained and certain scenes don’t quite make sense. The other fantastic element I mentioned above is a prime example; in an early scene in the movie, the woman listens to an action / adventure show on the radio, and it momentarily makes her increase the acceleration of her car. Then, later, when she is given a drug to make her tell truth, she starts to act as if she’s either a character in that radio show, or somehow involved with those characters. If I’m not explaining this well, it’s because I myself am very vague on just what is going on here. Is it a form of self-hypnosis? Split personality? Something else altogether? I don’t know whether I missed a subtle explanation somewhere in the script, or whether the script itself (or the acting, direction or editing for that matter) is at fault. It might even be that my copy of the movie (which is short by a few minutes of the running time and shows signs of having a few scenes lopped off) may simply be at fault. Whatever the cause, this vague sense of not quite knowing what’s going on permeated my whole experience of viewing the movie, and though it didn’t exactly ruin the movie, it did mute my enjoyment of it quite a bit. In some ways, it was like having an itch I needed to scratch but couldn’t reach. All in all, a strange viewing experience for me.


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