LURE OF THE SWAMP. Regal Films/20th Century Fox, 1957. Marshall Thompson, Willard Parker, Joan Vohs, Jack Elam, Leo Gordon, and Joan Lora. Screenplay by William George, from the novel Hell’s Our Destination, by Gil Brewer (Gold Medal, paperback original, 1953). Directed by Hubert Cornfield.

   No great shakes, but a solid bit of pulp from a director with a feel for two-bit paperbacks.

   Marshall Thompson stars as Simon Lewt, a good ol’ boy making a meager living on the Florida bayou. As the film, opens, he’s approached by a furtive-looking city-slicker (Willard Parker) with a heavy suitcase, who wants a guide into the swamp — only so far and no farther. The stranger goes on ahead a short distance, and when he returns his suitcase is noticeably lighter.


   The plot quickly thickens when Simon goes into town a few days later and sees the stranger’s face on the front page of a newspaper, above the headline BANK ROBBERY SUSPECT MURDERED. About the same time, strangers hit town: A businessman on vacation, looking for good fishing (Burly Leo Gordon) a mysterious blonde (Joan Vohs) and ratty-looking Jack Elam, who just wanders out of the swamp and moves in with Simon. All three are obviously at odds with each other, all three know Simon can lead them to the stashed loot, and Simon finds himself holding low cards in a game that makes its own rules.

   There are no surprises here, but Director Cornfield moves it right along, and evokes a real sense of claustrophobic angst out of Marshall Thompson (never the most electrifying of actors) finding himself mired in a crime that just seems to go on and on.

   The ending is entirely too pat, but here, as in The Third Voice, and whatever he did of Night of the Following Day, Hubert Cornfield showed a feel for the essence of the classic paperback that was decades ahead of fashion.