World For Ransom Blu-ray Review
The film noir genre is not for everyone. I happen to love these types of films. There is a cool mood about them. The characters are not stereotypical good guys and bad guys. They swim in shades of gray. You also have to have cool lighting with either darkness, rain or some great fog. One or more of the characters have to smoke. It is required. There also seems to be a lot of drinking that goes on as well. So their lungs and liver are getting a workout, but they don’t care. Everyone seems to have the world on their shoulders and is world weary because of this.
WORLD FOR RANSOM is one of the first directorial jobs that Robert Aldrich had. He is uncredited here. Aldrich delivers a much better film noir the next year in the classic “Kiss Me Deadly”. Here he is just trying out some things to get it right in future projects.
Mike Callahan (Dan Duryea) is the perfect antihero for the proceedings. The setting is Singapore in the 1950s. The Cold War is in full effect. The world is on edge to what the two superpowers will do next. Callahan is rumpled as required. He slouches and seemingly has a permanent scowl on his face. He’s a man who knows things, knows people and knows how to get things. He is tasked by his ex-girlfriend Frennessey March (Marian Carr) to find out what her husband is up to.
Julian March (Patric Knowles) is another guy who is a jack of all trades. His office door lists things as varied as import export to tours. Julian though is mixed with up with the wrong guys this time. Alexis Pederas (Gene Lockhart) and his goon Guzik (Lou Nova) want Julian to kidnap a prominent nuclear scientist named Sean O’Connor (Arthur Shields). O’Connor is one of the few people who know how to build a hydrogen bomb. This information of course would be very valuable to several players on the world market. Julian’s job is to dress up as British military officer and intercept him at the airport.
Callahan is being pulled every which way. In the beginning of the film, he is dragged into the office of one Johnny Chan (Clarence Lung). Chan also wants to know what Julian is up to. Chan is interested in a piece of land to do his illegal activities. This land was overrun by Pederas’s people and Chan has seen Julian in talks with Pederas. Chan also knows that Julian has worked with Callahan in the past and actually saved his life at one time.
The authorities get pulled into this with the kidnapping of O’Connor. Pederas ups the stakes by demanding a ransom for the safe return of O’Connor or else he will give him over to the highest bidder whoever that may be. Pederas also orders a murder of a photographer who saw Julian with the scientist. Callahan is a possible suspect in this. So essentially it is a race against time as Callahan tries to clear his name, get the scientist back and also attempt to get his old friend out of this mess.
The film doesn’t quite come together as a classic film noir. Frennessey March is not enough of a femme fatale here. She is given little to do and doesn’t convey the proper amount of danger and intrigue. Pederas is a decent villain, but needed to be more tougher and menacing. Callahan though does make a mark. Dan Duryea plays him with enough weariness to last a lifetime. It is too bad that the other characters aren’t as in tune as him.
Video: The black and white looks great on the screen.
Audio: The sound is perfect for such a low budget and older film.
There are no extra features to speak of. It would have been nice to have something on here.