Friday, December 7, 2007

Essential Cinema - 13




Murder In the Air

ACTORS
Ronald Reagan
John Litel
Lya Lys
James Stephenson
Eddie Foy Jr.
Robert Warwick
Victor Zimmerman

DIRECTOR
Lewis Seiler

SCREENPLAY
Raymond L. Schrock

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Ted D. McCord



SYNOPSIS:
Ronald Reagan, G-Men, Espionage, Airplanes....that about sums it up.


CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER:
American Government = Good / Foreigners = Bad. An entertaining propaganda film for its day. Supposedly, the 3rd in a series of G-Men pictures that Ronald Regan stared in. His character is named Brass Bancroft (Hollywood just doesn't use names like this anymore). Written and filmed during a time when the U.S. Government was never questioned and Communism was considered a mental plague and not a political view. It is easy to tell who the good guys are and you know the bad guys will be defeated in the end.



PROS AND CONS:
I have a soft spot for the old days. Back in the time when even second rate B-Movies had some art and talent to them. These films reflected the audience that they were marketed toward which was middle class white Americans before World War II. The concept of ethnicity hadn't yet come to light, segregation was the norm. The government was a benevolent autocratic entity that could do no wrong. This film centers around science, aviation and espionage, which was about as gee-wiz as you could get back then. There are shades of the Movie-Serials of the 40s as well as the coming paranoia of the communist conspiracy. If you want to see the roots of Star Wars and the Indiana Jones films, see pictures such as this.




One of the first things that was evident is that this film was produced on the studio lot. There is no location shooting and everything is shot on sound stage sets. What gives this away is the the lack of any ceiling on the interior shots and the shadows cast by the lighting. This gives the illusion that each room has 20 foot high ceilings that go up forever. This is pretty basic entertainment, meant to satisfy a pretty simple audience that didn't question much. Now, it is almost more entertaining for its simplicity and gullibility than anything else....and of course that the lead actor becomes president of the United States.