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  Non-Stop New York Atlantic Crossing
Year: 1937
Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: John Loder, Anna Lee, Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Cellier, Desmond Tester, Athene Seyler, William Dewhurst, Drusilla Wills, Jerry Verno, James Pirrie, Ellen Pollock, Arthur Goullet, Peter Bull, Tony Quinn, H.G. Stoker
Genre: Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jennie Carr (Anna Lee) is a chorus girl in New York City on New Year's Eve, making her way through the crowds but not feeling the upbeat revelries, more feeling the ache in her stomach, for she has not eaten in a while. All she can afford is a cup of coffee, but when she is in the diner a lawyer (Arthur Goullet) bumps into her and knocks the cup from her hand; apologetic, he offers to replace it, and then when he sees how hungry he is, he invites her back to his place for a late night meal. She accepts, but once there she stumbles into an interloper who has been raiding the lawyer's kitchen. Promising to keep quiet, she has little idea that her presence will prove lifechanging...

If you thought Alfred Hitchcock was the be all and end all of British film in the nineteen-thirties, you would be wrong, for he did not emerge from a vacuum, there were other creatives doing much the same as he did in that era, which was turning out fast-paced little thrillers and comedies, and at times combining the two. You could argue Hitchcock was the main exponent, but he was by no means alone in his endeavours, and Non-Stop New York shared some of the talent from his earlier thriller Sabotage, though there is a reason why we do not speak of director Robert Stevenson as a master of suspense. No, it's not because this little item was far from exciting, it was a later career.

If you have heard of Stevenson, it would be down to his Disney films of the sixties and seventies, most prominently Mary Poppins, that perennial classic that earned him an Oscar nomination. There's no doubt that movie is a classic (unless you're a real grump), but a gander at this may have you pondering what might have been had he concentrated on thrillers, as he had a genuine flair for them on this evidence. It was not an outright comedy, but contained quirks and eccentricities that were amusing in that manner, all part of a recipe for suspense that British films liked to follow, or they did if they had any sense, for these have dated more winningly than many serious efforts.

Anna Lee became a queen of daytime soap opera in her latter years, but it is worth recalling her days as a leading lady. They may have largely been B-movies that she showed up in, but she had a sprightly quality when given the chance, and she was here, positively delightful as the determined heroine who needs to avenge the death of her Good Samaritan, having glimpsed the murderers as she was trying to make good her escape from the apartment. The trouble is, those killers were gangsters who offed the lawyer because he refused to participate in their schemes anymore, and these mobsters have influence that extends beyond a hit: they can orchestrate all sorts of sabotage against anyone who stands in their way, and that includes Jennie who winds up in a British prison on a trumped up charge.

When she is released, the interloper who just wanted a bite to eat (this was a Depression-era picture, let's not forget) is about to be executed for the murder, and our heroine must make the journey back across the Atlantic to clear his name. Here's where the title comes in: a fancy new aeroplane that has sometimes seen Non-Stop New York labelled as science fiction, though that is solely down to the aircraft which was presented as the most futuristic design imaginable. For 1937, that is. No, it is not a jet, it is propeller, and yes, it is more like an ocean liner complete with cabins for the passengers and an observation deck (!) to go out on in the open air and look down at the sea - or the clouds. If that sounds a tad dangerous, then the team of writers were well aware of that and having placed incognito villain Francis L. Sullivan on the plane, we are waiting for him to try and push Jennie overboard. Luckily, dashing inspector John Loder may be able to save the day. This was so breezy and daffy that it would take a hard heart not to be won over, a relic, but a fun one.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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