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Category:    Home > Reviews > Adventure > B-Movies > RKO Adventure Set (VCI)

RKO Adventure Classics Double Feature (VCI) featuring

Appointment in Honduras/Escape to Burma

 

Picture: C- Sound: C Extras: C- Films: C

 

 

In the final years of the RKO studios, one of the things the studio tried out was upscale B-movies. These would have slightly higher budgets, lavish Technicolor, and more name stars, but the results were still B-movies just the same. They do make for some interesting viewing and look better than many films do today, if phony and even overproduced in spots.

 

Appointment in Honduras (1953) has Cat People director Jacques Tourneur helming the usual tale of Western outsiders (Glenn Ford and Ann Sheridan) going on a hunt for gold in dangerous jungle areas, but the accompanying gang (including Jack Elam) has more sinister ideas. Think of a stiff, overproduced section of an Indiana Jones film and you begin to get the idea. That does not mean its not a hoot. See the animation department getting carried away with killer ants, see Ford clash with the rest of his cast and unable to hide it, see what in-house studio productions used to look like, and see the B-movie in its last years before TV killed it altogether.

 

Escape to Burma (1955) has Allan Dwan in his final years, working again in SuperScope in a tale of a king whose son has killed himself, but is convinced it was murder. Barbara Stanwyck stars as the woman trying to make it in the jungle with her animals and tea plantation, Robert Ryan and the man about to be framed for murder, and a kingdom that is powerful enough to do the wrong thing. This has better actors, but is not as unintentionally funny. It still has its moments and Stanwyck saves the film, while we see Ryan as a talent that left us too soon.

 

Appointment is 1.33 X 1 full screen, while Escape is presented in 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced widescreen. The problem with that is that the SuperScope frame is more like 2.2 X 1 2.35 X 1, so some of the picture is missing, while the color is not as vibrant as the former. Detail is lacking in both transfers, with some frame-mixing showing up here and there. Both films fair a little better with their Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, but the age limits are typical and expected. Extras include trailers on each side of the DVD, though they are not total repeats of each other. The usual nicely written biographies VCI has on the actors and directors is included with each film as well.

 

Collectors and the curious will want to check out these films, just to see how a major studio like RKO tried desperately to hold on to the movie-going audience. Sadly, RKO would soon fold, its studio space making way for the legendary Desilu Television. At least RKO and company was ambitious.

 

 

- Nicholas Sheffo


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