Five Came Back, 1939, John Farrow

Five Came Back (1939)

Studio: RKO Radio Pictures (RKO); Regie: John Farrow; Drehbuch: Jerome Cady, Dalton Trumbo, Nathanael West, Richard Carroll; Kamera: Nicholas Musuraca; Musik: Roy Webb; Darsteller: Chester Morris, Lucille Ball, Wendy Barrie, John Carradine, Allen Jenkins, Joseph Calleia, C. Aubrey Smith. 35mm, sw, 75 min
Am Drehbuch zu John Farrows Five Came Back wirkten US-Schriftsteller Nathanael West sowie der später bei Senator McCarthys Kommunistenjagd auf die schwarze Liste gesetzte Dalton Trumbo mit. Zwölf Leute überleben einen Flugzeugabsturz im südamerikanischen Dschungel, fünf davon – so der suggestive Titel – bis zum Abspann. Während die linksgerichtete Haltung Trumbos in der Figur des edlen Anarchisten deutlich zum Ausdruck kommt, zeigt sich Wests Humanismus in der Intensität unerwünschter menschlicher Intimität, während die Trommeln der Kannibalen an die blutdürstige Menge am Ende seines Romans The Day of the Locust erinnern. (H. G.)
Print courtesy of British Film Institute
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Among Nathanael West's most significant screen credits is co-writer to John Farrow's Five Came Back, a tense protodisaster film about a South American bound aircraft that crashes in the jungle and, as the suggestive title makes clear, can only accommodate less than half of its twelve passengers on its hobbled return flight. "But who?" the audience is asked to ponder while judging the motley gang of intellectuals, criminals and innocents fatefully united on the rickety craft and portrayed by a rich cast of character actors and rising stars including Chester Morris as a hard-boiled pilot, C. Aubrey Smith, predictably, as a distinguished professor and Lucille Ball in a revealing role as a tender hearted "fallen woman", a sensitive performance that brought new attention to her talents. While co-writer Dalton Trumbo's Leftist leanings are clearly expressed in the self-righteous figure of the noble anarchist, West's lurid humanism is rendered vivid in the sweaty, ribald intensity of undesired human intimacy and the ominous tom-toms of the unseen but ever-approaching cannibals that recall the blood-thirsty throng exploding in violent rage at the apocalyptic end of The Day of the Locust. (Haden Guest)

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