DESPERATE JOURNEY—-put your brain on hold for one of the most entertainingly foolish of the WW2 adventures that were concocted during the dark days to buck up the home front and beef up the recruiting lines. An RAF bomber crew (democratically composed of an Englishman, an American, an Australian, a Scotsman and a Canadian) is brought down over Germany—after pasting their target, naturally—and are captured. They escape, and begin to make their way across enemy territory to get back to ‘Blighty’. En route are truckloads of ‘Krauts’ to be tricked, trapped, socked and shot, all of them clumsy buffoons and monocle-sporting maniacs, switching from German to English whenever the viewer needs to know what’s going on.
Rollicking action (director is Raoul Walsh), good special effects, another bravo score from Max Steiner and laughs aplenty at the heroic 1942 naiveté of it all. Errol Flynn at his Flynnist, with the famous jovial exit line “Now for Australia, and a crack at those Japs!” He says this because in 107 minutes they’ve left only a handful of Nazis for Eisenhower to polish off. Note that Ronald Reagan plays the bombardier.
With Raymond Massey (Gestapo major ‘Otto Baumeister’), Alan Hale (hearty), Arthur Kennedy, Ronald Sinclair, Nancy Coleman, Albert Basserman, Sig Rumann and Helmut Dantine. The special effects were Oscar nominated. Earning $4,460,000, scoring #23 for the year, continuing a string of hits for Flynn, who helped win the war at home since he was kept out of the service by tuberculosis. Reagan likewise was going strong, getting leads: after he went into the Army, his movie career never recovered momentum, and the rest of us ended up living with the results.