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03.19.08

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Phaedra

Dangerous Crossing

One disc; 20th Century Fox; $14.98

By Michael S. Gant


The tag line "Why would a man do a thing like this to his wife?" sounds like a question for Eliot Spitzer. This 1953 Fox noir is based on a story by the prolific John Dickson Carr, master of the so-called "locked room" mystery genre. The locked room in this case is a ocean liner. Jeanne Crain (Leave Her to Heaven, Vicki, State Fair) plays a blushing bride whose husband (Carl Betz, the dad on The Donna Reed Show) vanishes as the ship sails. No one remembers seeing the husband, and soon the whole ship thinks the increasingly frantic Crain has gone nuts. Only the handsome ship's doctor, Michael Rennie, is sympathetic. The ending gets tied up too easily, but getting there is definitely more than half the fun. Crain, with hair arching eyebrows, looks fabulous in her star close-ups, and the camera glides around the fog-bound ship in crisp black-and-white. An excellent minidocumentary about making of Dangerous Crossing includes some comparison shots from the 1953 Titanic and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, both of which used the same luxury liner set. The extras also feature reproductions of the advertising and promotional materials sent to theaters by the studio. Among the suggestions: enlarge an ocean liner's blueprint ("any travel agency can supply this" and display with crime-diagram clues like "Bride on a honeymoon!" and "Husband vanishes!"


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