Folks who follow this blog and its corresponding page on Facebook know what a fan I am of 1940's/50's cutie Jeanne Crain. She never made it into the really big time but she had quite a run at 20th Century-Fox while it lasted. Well, in 1953 that run ended and one of her last vehicles at the studio which had been her cinematic home for a decade, was Dangerous Crossing, a low(er) budget mystery-suspenser that did little to furthur her career or the careers of anyone associated with it. However, it was the very first Jeanne Crain film I ever saw as a youngster and, though not very plausible at times, it really is a fun and suspenseful potboiler.
Based on a 1943 radio play called "B-13" by noted mystery writer John Dixon Carr, Dangerous Crossing follows the they're-crazy-as-a-bat, they-claim-their-relative-vanished-but-they-were-never-there-in-the-first-place plotline. This style of mystery had been filmed several times before and would be afterward. Besides Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, one notable version of the theme was So Long at the Fair (1950), a British historical mystery with Jean Simmons. Dangerous Crossing was actually remade as a TV movie in the 90's called Treacherous Crossing with Lindsay Wagner.
She interacts with various passengers and crew members as the puzzle just gets more and more tangled. Among those trying to help her, either solve her mystery or just keep her sedated, is the handsome ship's doctor, Paul Manning (Michael Rennie; you knew he wouldn't be a troll, didn't you?). As frustrated as she is with her situation, she can't help but be attracted to the tall doctor who is genuinely trying to help her. So where's her husband? Or did he even really exist?
As stated above, I love Jeanne Crain. Her beauty and elegance are top notch in my book and she brought some fine performances to the table when challenged. This, however, wasn't one of the most challenging ones. She races around the ship with wide eyes expecting to see Frankenstein's monster at every turn. When she's happy she's ecstatic and when she's stressed (which is often here) she takes the wide-eyed approach. She's still lovely though and the movie is still fun.
When she decided to leave 20th Century-Fox after ten years there, Crain said: "Fox was wonderful to me but I wasn't happy for the last few years. I wasn't permitted to go to other studios on loan-outs, and lost the leads in Quo Vadis and Carrie. Other girls were signed for the roles I wantedat my own studio. I asked for singing and dancing roles, but the answer was always 'no.' Now, after ten years, maybe I'll get my big chance." She didn't. Nonetheless, she DID get to try a few different characterizations, as with Man Without a Star as a redheaded tough, yet glamorous, ranch owner, out to tame Kirk Douglas and The Joker is Wild (1957) with Frank Sinatra. When she and Betty Grable, who left Fox shortly after, ended their tenure at the studio, their portraits in the Fox commissary were replaced by images of Terry Moore and Jean Peters.