Dangerous Crossing (1953)

All aboard for terror! Drop anchor on suspense! Prepare to walk the plank of total madness! Man the lifeboats…for mystery! It’s the most dangerous freaking crossing ever! Because the ship’s doctor is not adverse to slapping the taste out of unruly female passengers’ mouths!

Ruth Bowman (Jeanne Crain from A Letter To Three Wives) is a newlywed traveling on her honeymoon aboard a cruise ship with her mysterious husband John. John is mysterious mainly because he goes out and disappears five minutes into their trip.

Ruth desperately searches for him, but is hampered by the fact that no one remembers seeing him and she has no proof of his existence!

But what about the ship’s purser who was watching everyone board the ship? He does remember Ruth because she’s such a hot tamale that he wanted to lay all hands on her shapely deck! But there were so many people boarding, he never saw John!

What about the maid who was in Ruth and John’s room when they first entered it? Surely she saw John since she was looking straight at them and spoke with them! That’s a no go as well!

And just to pile on, no one even believes that Ruth was in that room! Her crap is in a different room (minus John’s stuff) and when she is allowed back into the room that she remembers John carrying her into, it’s clear that it hasn’t been used!

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Surely though she has some kind of proof of John’s existence. Perhaps their tickets, marriage license, some mementos from their recent wedding, or a wedding ring. Maybe even some information about where they were married so the ship could radio back to shore to at least confirm that part of Ruth’s story. There must something to back her up besides her insane caterwauling!

John had their tickets! She also doesn’t have any paperwork! And no wedding ring! They were just married a night ago! It was also one of those quickie weddings done someplace in Maryland, but she can’t remember where!

I was beginning to think that whatever John was mixed up in, he wasn’t going to have to work that hard at it since Ruth was proving to be the best patsy since Lee Harvey Oswald!

It’s her irresponsibility and gullibility that make it such a pleasure to see the ship’s doctor smack her upside the head. Of course, our pleasure obviously derives solely from the fact that this abuse is a medical necessity.

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Besides, just as the ship’s captain is empowered to marry people aboard his ship, the ship’s doctor is authorized to smack around sexy, but hysterical passengers. It’s just the Law of the Sea.

Dr. Paul Manning gives his hand a rest long enough to explain to Ruth why he became a ship’s doctor. It isn’t because of the usual reasons, like being on the run from something in your past or because he watched a lot of The Love Boat growing up and idolized Dr. Bricker. It’s because of the power and the responsibility! No second opinions are available on the ship! If Dr. Paul prescribes a punch in the face, that’s just what you’re going to get!

Dr. Paul and Ruth’s relationship blossoms as they try to unravel what is going on. Dr. Paul thinks she’s nuttier than a first mate’s turd while we begin to hear Ruth think to herself that she shouldn’t trust anyone and to just go along with whatever Dr. Paul says so that she’ll be able to keep looking for her missing husband. They also work in a little shuffleboard.

Though I was intrigued by what happened to Ruth’s husband, the movie confirmed my worst fears when it delivered it’s quite mundane resolution.

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Some of what was going on was obvious right from the beginning. Both Ruth and the audience know that the maid is lying since she clearly saw Ruth and John in their room. That Ruth never bothered to press this issue more than she did wasn’t believable.

Some may also wonder how believable it was that Ruth would fall for Dr. Paul after a few days of her husband being missing. Dr. Paul was played by the lanky and helmet haired Michael Rennie who was Klaatu from The Day The Earth Stood Still which clears that up at least!

I also question the wisdom of the people responsible for the mystery. Ruth has made an enormous stink about her missing husband such that the doctor, captain, other crew members, and passengers all know about it. If the plan was successful, there would have been some uncomfortable questions the players would have had to face from these folks, especially considering the quickie marriage Ruth had entered into.

The shipboard setting with its fog and bellowing ship’s horn help give Dangerous Crossing a claustrophobic and menacing atmosphere (as does an old guy with an accent and a limp) and at 75 minutes, it ends soon enough that its leaky last third doesn’t entirely sink it. But it sure could have used one of Dr. Paul’s patented slaps!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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