Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake — Saigon (1948) 🇺🇸

November 12, 2021

Movie Review — Saigon (Modern Screen, 1948)

Alan Ladd pictures aren’t exactly full of surprises these days but routine or not, they’re good entertainment. In Saigon, Major Larry Briggs (Alan Ladd) has the customary two buddies. One is Sergeant Rocco (Wally Cassel) who is strictly from the Bronx, and the other is Captain Perry (Douglas Dick), a dreamy-eyed kid from Iowa.

The three of them are demobilized from the Air Force in Shanghai. Perry wants to go home, but the other two know that because of war wounds, he’s going to die in a matter of weeks. Why not keep him with them and never let him know what’s ahead?

Briggs has heard about a mysterious Shanghai importer who is looking for U.S. fliers. The three of them go to the native cafe where they have heard he can be found. By the way. the singer there (Betty Bryant) can really sing, besides having a figure which evokes considerable comment from Bocco.

When they find the importer, whose name is Maris (Morris Carnowsky), he offers them ten thousand dollars to fly him and his secretary to Saigon. Obviously there is something very fishy about a deal like that, but ten thousand bucks would come in very handy. It would stake them to everyone Perry might want or need before his death.

What none of them, including Maris, expected was that some last minute shots from the Shanghai police would keep him from the plane, so that only his secretary Susan (Veronica Lake) managed to get abroad. Said secretary is a small, nicely put together blonde, and ordinarily three normal young men would be glad to have her as a passenger. But Briggs is worried. He doesn’t like those shots as they took off, or the hard expression in Susan’s eyes.

But to Perry, she’s wonderful. She’s the girl he’s always been looking for. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Keon of the Saigon police is also looking for her. He wants to know some things about Maris’s business. And Briggs wants to know what is in the dispatch case she always keeps with her. In fact, everyone wants to know something, and sometimes the results are disastrous! — Par.

Saigon: Offered 10,000 to fly Veronica Lake to Shanghai, Alan Ladd meets trouble head-on.

Source: (Modern Screen, April 1948)

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Movie Review — Saigon (Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, 1948)

‘Saigon’ Ladd-Lake Co-Starrer Routine, But Exploitable

Rates 2.5 stars for action houses; slightly less elsewhere

Paramount 94 minutes

Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Douglas Dick, Wally Cassell, Luther Adler, Morris Carnovsky. Mikhail Rasumny, Luis Van Rooten, Eugene Borden.

Directed by Leslie Fenton.

This is an uninspired Alan Ladd vehicle, but it should pull ample grosses, since it again gives him one of those popular adventure roles. The story, however, lacks novelty and real punch, and it will require the showman’s best efforts to keep business above average when the word-of-mouth lakes its toll in the sub-runs. The names of Ladd and Veronica Lake offer good marquee substance and there is exploitation value in the yarn’s colorful Indo-Chinese locale, Saigon — “The Paris of the Orient” — one of those places where, you know, “anything can happen, and usually does!” Unfortunately, neither the screenplay by P. J. Wolfson and Arthur Sheekman nor the direction by Leslie Fenton contribute any spark to the proceedings. One welcome feature is the comedy relief role of Mikhail Rasumny. The Ladd fans have another opportunity to see their man, and that means good returns in action houses.

Exploitation: Sell Ladd in another adventure-action role. Play up the money-smuggling angle, the glamor of postwar Indo-China, the ruthless plotting of scoundrely profiteers.

Major Alan Ladd and Sgt. Wally Cassell, learning that their buddy Capt. Douglas Dick has but a few months to live — a fact of which he is unaware — get demobilized in Shanghai and, with the doomed co-flyer, undertake to fly war-profiteer and enemy collaborator Morris Carnovsky and a cargo of contraband into Saigon. At the last moment Carnovsky is detained by the police, his pretty secretary Veronica Lake appearing at the airport in his stead. Against her wishes that they wait for Carnovsky, the plane takes off. Later, the decrepit crate survives a forced landing, its crew and passenger making their way to Saigon. There Colonial Police Lieut. Luther Adler searches Veronica’s effects for the S1,000,000 he knows she has smuggled into the country, but Ladd outwits him. Still unaware he is doomed to die of his war injuries, Dick falls in love with Veronica, whom Ladd dislikes because of her affiliation with the scoundrely Carnovsky. At end, Dick is killed protecting Veronica from her enraged employer. Ladd discovers he loves her and the two plight their troth.

 

Source: Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, February 1948