APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER —I always like Alan Ladd, and this 1951 gig as a postal inspector looking for killers (in the days before ‘going postal’ became an early retirement option for harried sorters) falls into line as his 22nd starring feature. Though not full top drawer material, it was overlooked as a decent noirish meller, directed by Lewis Allen, clipping along at a compact 89 minutes. Aside from Ladd being his cool and competent self (38, not yet showing the effects of alcohol that doughed up his face and dulled his performances), this one features Jack Webb & Harry Morgan as creepy bad guys, before they switched sides and played monotone into Dragnet glory.
Leading lady is Phyllis Calvert (a popular British actress who didn’t break through during seven years in Hollywood), playing a nun who witnesses a murder scene that jump starts the plot. Non-church types include Orson Welles stock company alumnus Paul Stewart as crook ‘Big Earl’ (trivia note: aside from acting, Stewart directed more than 5000 radio shows) and dependably tartish Jan Sterling (40 movies and much TV work) as his moll.
Crisp b&w camera work from John F. Seitz, and the script has it’s share of tough-guy dialogue, topped off with a sarcastic Ladd’s admonition about what constitutes a love affair: “It’s what goes on between a man and a .45 pistol that won’t jam.”
Grossing $4,140,000, coming in #83 for its year (release was delayed from 1949, apparently to keep the Paramount star from over-exposure), the film pretty much vanished into the shadows until recent DVD revival gave its rep an fairly enthusiastic uptick.