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Dangerous Crossing (1953)

aka Dangerous Crossing

Directed By: 
Details: 75 mins · English


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Small Ruth Stanton Bowman
Small Dr. Paul Manning
Small Jim Logan (as Casey Adams)
No_movie_poster John Bowman
Small Anna Quinn
No_movie_poster Kay Prentiss
No_movie_poster Capt. Peters
No_movie_poster Miss Bridges


No_movie_poster William Reynolds Editor
No_movie_poster Joseph LaShelle Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Joseph M. Newman Director
No_movie_poster Robert Bassler Producer
No_movie_poster John Dickson Carr Writer
No_movie_poster Leo Townsend Screenplay


Attractive newlywed Ruth Stanton/Bowman (Jeanne Crain) joyously starts a honeymoon cruise to Europe with her husband John (Carl Betz), only to have him go missing shortly after they check into their room on board. Compounding her confusion, Ruth first finds herself locked out of the cabin she and John entered upon boarding the ship, then learns that she is registered solo under her maiden name in a nearby cabin, and that none of the crew members who could have seen her husband on the ship remember seeing him. These include the ship's purser, (Gayne Whitman), stewardess Anna Quinn (Mary Anderson), and Second Officer Jim Logan (Max Showalter). The crew's records and recollections are then confirmed when only Ruth's luggage is found in the cabin indicated in the passenger list.

Ruth's fear and confusion are first heightened by a mysterious phone call to her room from John later that evening. Later, other interactions with passengers and crew heighten her paranoia regarding a plot that John hinted about in the mysterious phone call. These include the ship's Doctor Manning (Michael Rennie), fellow passenger Kay Prentiss (Marjorie Hoshelle), an elderly man with a limp and cane, the Second Officer Logan, and stewardess Quinn. Believing that no-one on board will help her find John, Ruth undertakes several searches of the ship, first by herself later night, and then the next day also under the guise of a tour of ship by Doctor Manning.

Because Ruth's emotional state could lead to trouble on the ship, Doctor Manning has been ordered by the ship's Captain Peters (Willis Bouchey) to watch over her. Doctor Manning first tries to convince Ruth that she is likely confused by informing her that a search of the ship failed to locate her husband. Next, after finding her wandering the passenger decks in a state of distress, he strengthens his entreaties that she is imagining things, and eventually convinces Ruth to take a sedative to help her sleep. The following day, Doctor Manning keeps a close watch on Ruth, first after being warned by the captain to control the situation, and then to forestall the captain confining her to her cabin because the captain fears she might commit suicide.

During the day spent together, Doctor Manning's belief that she is imagining things evolves into believing that aspects of her story are true. A comment from Kay Prentiss about Ruth's behavior when the ship was casting off leads him to believe that Ruth might be married but her husband remained ashore. Later, when he confronts her with a report from authorities on back on shore denying any record of Ruth's marriage, Ruth's discussion with him about her family situation convinces him that someone may be scheming to acquire her late father's fortune. Compounding the situation are the mutually attractive feelings Ruth and the Doctor Manning are experiencing and starting to share with each other. These feelings are put aside by Doctor Manning when he learns from Ruth the details of her family situation that explain why the shore report contradicted her claim of being married and that Ruth has an angry envious half-uncle who vowed to reclaim his portion of the family fortune. After this discussion, Ruth calms down and expresses comfort because of Doctor Manning's attention to her situation.

Meanwhile, Ruth has experiences that heighten her fear and confusion. Interspersed in time spent with Doctor Manning, she is visited with offers of help by the other passengers and crew members she had met earlier. Also, John fails to call her back at the time he had promised the previous night in the mysterious phone call. The audience, however, learns that Ruth's feelings of paranoia are not unfounded. After visiting Ruth to supposedly turn down her bed for the night, Quinn makes a phone call to an unknown person conveying that the person's plan is working because "everybody thinks [Ruth is] crazy." When Doctor Manning visits Third Officer Barlowe, who had taken ill at the beginning of the trip and assigned to his quarters until he recovers, the audience learns that Barlowe and John are the same person.

The run-up to the story's climax begins with Ruth receiving a second phone call from John much later on the second night, in which he tells her to meet him up on deck by the lifeboats. Ruth finds John, but when the doctor approaches them, John runs away into the foggy night telling her to meet him at the same spot at a later time that night. Believing that danger is imminent, Ruth runs away, first calling out for John on deck, then taking refuge in the ship's ballroom while a dinner ball is going on. With assistance from other crew members, Ruth is caught by the doctor and locked in her cabin for the remainder of the trip.

The climax begins with Quinn arranging for Ruth to escape her cabin so that she can meet up with John on the lifeboat deck. When Ruth meets John, she learns that he was responsible for all of her confusion as he tells her of his nearly completed plot to pass off her death as a suicide. Before John can throw her overboard, Doctor Manning intercedes and starts fighting with him. In the struggle, John gets pulled overboard to his death by the line of a tackle he had tried to use as a weapon against Doctor Manning.

The story's resolution is quick. Grief-stricken Ruth is easily comforted by Doctor Manning's overtures of what the future has in store for her. Barlowe and Quinn's plot to kill Ruth for her money is then intimated when the captain visits her to apologize for doubting her earlier. First, her marriage to John is confirmed by her marriage certificate that was found in a search of Barlowe's quarters. Second, Quinn, apparently distraught from earlier seeing John/Jack Barlowe fall overboard, fully confesses to her part in John's plans to stage Ruth's suicide. Ruth and Doctor Manning then wish each other goodnight, each glowing with the unspoken prospect of what could develop between them on the remainder of the cruise.