WINGS OF DANGER. Hammer Films, UK, 1952. Lippert Pictures, US, 1952 as Dead on Course. Zachary Scott, Robert Beatty, Naomi Chance, Kay Kendall, Colin Tapley, Arthur Lane, Harold Lang, Diane Cilento. Screenwriter: John Gilling, based on the novel Dead on Course by Mansell Black (Elleston Trevor aka Trevor Dudley Smith}. [Note: The movie credits also give Packham Webb as a co-author of the book.] Director: Terence Fisher.

   Zachary Scott, in my opinion, made a better villain in the movies he made than he did a hero. He had a beautiful speaking voice, but he seemed to have a perpetual semi-scowl on his face, the thought being that he had some sort of subtle dislike of what he was doing or who he was dealing with.

   But in Wings of Danger he is the hero, and if it doesn’t work out well, which I don’t think it does, I’d be the first to admit that it wasn’t all his fault. The story doesn’t allow his character much range at all, and you really have to wonder what he might have been able to do with a better script.

   He plays a post-WWII cargo pilot who’s been successfully hiding the blackout spells he’s been having from the firm he’s working for, and when he tries to stop a buddy (Robert Beatty) from taking off into stormy weather, the buddy threatens to tell all and flies off anyway. And his plane is never heard from again.

   Well, the wreckage is, but there’s no body to be found. The police are interested — smuggling is suspected — and Scott’s character (a fellow named Van Ness) is implicated. Van Ness’s other motive for snooping around is keep everything a secret from his friend’s sister and father, who idolize him.

   You might be thinking of The Third Man right about here, and rightly so. There is a lot more to the plot than I’m going to go into, but rather than adding to the story, it makes it all the more muddled. As an example of film noir, the story’s adequate. The photography, within the limitations of a low budget, is even more so.