DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
RED ENSIGN (director/writer: Michael Powell; screenwriters: Jerome Jackson/DuGarde Peach; cinematographer: Leslie Rowson; editor: Geoffrey Barkas; cast: Leslie Banks (David Barr), Carol Goodner (June Mackinnon), Frank Vosper (Lord Dean), Alfred Drayton (Manning), Donald Calthrop (Macleod), Allan Jeayes (Emerson), Campbell Gullan (Hannay), Percy Parsons (Casey), Fewlass Llewllyn (Sir Gregory), Henry Oscar (Ragland), Jack Lambert (Manning's goon); Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerome Jackson; MPI Home Entertainment; 1934-UK)

 
"This very moving fact-based exposé story is possibly the best made quota quickie to come out of England."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

MPI's DVD also includes Powell's The Phantom Light (1935), and Lawrence Huntington's Upturned Glass (1947). This very moving fact-based expository is possibly the best made quota quickie to come out of England. It's an early work of Michael Powell ("The Fire Raisers"/"Rynox"/"Pursuit of the Graf Spee") that seamlessly mixes documentary with a fiction thriller.

England's commercial shipping industry is in decline and maverick idealist and capitalist, David Barr (Leslie Banks), the managing director, ship designer and member of the board of directors of Burns Mackinnon, located in Glasgow, has designed a fleet new revolutionary cargo ship that will save the shipping industry in England by bringing back prosperity. He goes full steam ahead believing his brand of patriotism is good business despite receiving no support from his board of trustees or country. Barr is the kind of determined guy who is willing to risk everything to build his prototype ship and help get England out of its Depression. 

The film highlights in melodramatic terms the shipbuilder's earnest battle with his board of directors and their head, Lord Dean (Frank Vosper), who refuse to back him with funding with his experimental ship until he gets contracts or that the government sponsor the industry by passing the Closure Act. The venture capitalist battles his board of directors and his ruthless rival, Manning (Alfred Drayton), an oily and ruthless cutthroat shipbuilder who will stop at nothing to get access to Barr's top secret design and sabotages the ship building by planting his own men as shipbuilders to delay the work and paying off informers ranging from bartenders to bankers to keep him advised about Barr's activities. Manning also has his goons murder the nightwatchman to gain entry into the shipping yard and then blow it up. Even though Manning will not keep the jobs in Britain if he bought the ship, the only one to come to Barr's financial aid when he funds the project himself is the majority shareholder in Burns Mackinnon--the attractive wealthy heiress June Mackinnon (Carol Goodner). 

REVIEWED ON 9/26/2008        GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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