Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph M. Newman|
|Produced by||Robert Bassler|
|Screenplay by||Leo Townsend|
|Based on||the radio play "Cabin B-13"
by John Dickson Carr
|Music by||Lionel Newman|
|Edited by||William H. Reynolds|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Dangerous Crossing is a 1953 black-and-white film noir mystery film, directed by Joseph M. Newman and starring Jeanne Crain and Michael Rennie, based on the 1943 play Cabin B-13 by John Dickson Carr. The plot of the film centers on the gaslighting of a female protagonist aboard a cruise vessel.
Attractive newlywed Ruth (Stanton) Bowman (Jeanne Crain) joyously starts a honeymoon cruise to Europe with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to have him go missing shortly after they check into their room on board. Compounding her confusion, Ruth finds that she is registered solo under her maiden name in a different cabin and that none of the crew members who could have seen her husband on the ship remember him. These include the ship's purser, (Gayne Whitman), stewardess Anna Quinn (Mary Anderson), and second officer Jim Logan (Max Showalter). When she talks to the captain (Willis Bouchey), he notices that Ruth isn't even wearing a wedding ring, and the crew begins to suggest that she is mentally unbalanced.
That night, John calls Ruth with a cryptic warning not to trust anyone. A divorcee traveling solo (Marjorie Hoshelle) and the stewardess take an interest in Ruth. And Dr. Manning (Michael Rennie) spends time with her, assuming a clinical demeanor and getting her to open up about the recent death of her father, a wealthy steel executive.
Ruth decides to put on an act and agrees that she's been foolish, but mysterious things continue to happen. Ruth and Dr. Manning get closer, and a man who walks with a cane seems to stalk her.
Then the stewardess is revealed as conspiring with someone (by phone) to make Ruth seem unstable. Dr. Manning confronts Ruth over the fact that her marriage was either secret or non-existent. She explains that John wanted it to be quick and quiet and talks about an uncle who might scheme to get her inheritance.
John calls again and asks to meet Ruth on deck but runs into the fog when he hears others approach. When Ruth escapes from the ship crew chasing her, ending up in the dance room where she is trapped and making a scene of despair, the captain demands that she be locked in her cabin. She is sedated and a strict nurse prevents her from demanding anything.
Then John is revealed to be Barlowe, the third mate, under Dr. Manning's care all along for a claimed illness. When he learns Ruth has been locked in, he asks the stewardess to enable her escape. When they meet again, John attempts to throw Ruth overboard (mentioning the money of the inheritance he would get as a motive) but is stopped by Dr. Manning, who has followed her. It is John who goes overboard in the fight.
Later, Dr. Manning comforts Ruth, and the captain apologizes in the name of all who didn't believe her and explains that the stewardess confessed.
Film rights were bought by 20th Century Fox who started production in 1952 under the name Ship Story. Corinne Calvert and Gary Merrill were the original leads. Joseph M. Newman was originally meant to direct a film called The Raid but it was having casting issues and the director was under contract to the studio, so they transferred him to Ship Story.
Joseph Newman later recalled it was "a very low budget picture. At that time Twentieth Century Fox wanted to cut down on costs. But I think it was a good mystery. Crain and Rennie were both delightful people and pleasant to work with."
The film critic for The New York Times gave a lukewarm review, writing, "Although it maintains an eerie quality and suspense through the first half of its footage, Dangerous Crossing, which arrived at the Globe yesterday, is only a mildly engrossing adventure ... While sound effects, background music and shipboard sets lend a peculiar fascination to the melodrama, the acting of the cast adds little tautness to the proceedings. As the beleaguered heiress Jeanne Crain is beautiful but not entirely convincing in the role ... Dangerous Crossing, in effect, is intriguing only part of the way. Thereafter, it is a commonplace trip.