Appointment with Danger (1950)

I’m continuing with watching some old Alan Ladd movies that I first saw thirty years ago on American Movie Classics (AMC), when they showed classic movies.  I recently watched Appointment with Danger (1950), which was as entertaining as I remembered it.

Paramount Pictures released Appointment with Danger in London in 1950 but didn’t release it in the United States until 1951.  The film tells the story of the murder of a Postal Inspector.  The inspector stumbled upon a plan to rob a mail truck and was killed by Joe Regas, played by Jack Webb, and George Soderquist, played by Harry Morgan.  Webb and Morgan would partner up again in the 1950s hit television show, Dragnet.

The Postal Service assigns Postal Inspector Al Goddard, played by Alan Ladd, to solve the murder.  Goddard is jaded by his years dealing with criminals and doesn’t have much of a personal life.  His supervisor tells Goddard, “I believe you’ll solve it because you’re a good cop, Al.  But that’s about all you are.”

Regas and Soderquist were observed near the scene where the body was dumped by a Catholic nun, Sister Augustine portrayed by Phyllis Calvert.  Goddard convinces Sister Augustine to go back to Gary, Indiana, the site of the murder, by quoting the failure to do your duty is a sin.  When Sister Augustine says she likes the saying, Goddard thoughtlessly replies it is a quotation from Martin Luther.  Sister Augustine replies, “From his earlier writings, no doubt.”


Photo of Alan Ladd from a publicity still in the Public Domain

Due to his superior investigative skills, Goddard is able to infiltrate the robbery gang.  When Goddard suspects one of the gang has targeted Sister Augustine, he has second thoughts about convincing her to come back to Gary.  Goddard can’t poke a hole in Sister Augustine’s basic goodness and is clearly affected by someone “without an angle”.  Goddard will have to make some different choices to protect Sister Augustine and capture the gang.

Jack Webb gives a riveting performance as the sinister killer Joe Regas, who eliminates his partner with an unusual murder weapon.  Regas seems to have no problem with killing Sister Augustine to eliminate a witness.  Regas is a sharp contrast to the role of Los Angeles Police Detective Joe Friday on Dragnet.

Webb played Friday from 1951 – 1959.  Dragnet was also popular on radio.  Friday was a strict, “by the book” detective, who always did the right thing.  He just wanted the facts.  Friday’s “Just the facts, ma’am” would become part of the popular culture.

This role would make Webb a household name and lead to a second career as a television writer and producer.  Besides acting in Dragnet, Webb created the series and wrote a number of episodes.

Appointment with Danger runs about 90 minutes.  A quick moving crime thriller, it is available for rental on Amazon Prime and YouTube.  Let me know what you think of the film.

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