|Appointment in Honduras (1953)
Run time: 79 min
Genres: Adventure | Crime | Thriller
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Writers: Karen DeWolf, Mario Silveira
Stars: Glenn Ford, Ann Sheridan, Zachary Scott
On a tramp steamer off Central America are Mr. and Mrs. Sheppard, five prisoners en route to a Nicaraguan prison, and Corbett, an American carrying money for a Honduran counter-revolution. Denied permission to land in Honduras, Corbett releases the prisoners and with their aid hijacks the ship. They land, taking the wealthy Sheppards as hostages, and start the arduous trip upriver to Corbett’s rendezvous, meeting jungle hazards. Written by Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Release Date: 16 October 1953 (USA)
Steve Corbett (Glen Ford) is given a mission to find a former Honduras president who was recently deposed in a result of a coup d’etat in order to give him money that will help him to come back to power. In order to do that he is made to join a group of prisoners who were being transported on a boat, force the captain to take them to the shore and set them free, taking as hostages an American couple (played by Ann Sheridan and Zachary Scott) and embark on a dangerous journey through Central American jungle in order to fulfill his mission whatever the cost.
Though the film has it’s interesting moments, such as location shots of the jungle and it’s inhabitants, the story is weak with uninteresting characters not managing to convince one to care for them. 5/10
It was with some interest that I read that Appointment in Honduras was shot in the Los Angeles Botanical Gardens serving as the Central American jungle. We should probably be grateful that RKO did spring for color and did not use the old King Kong set once again.
I can see the minds at RKO now (read Howard Hughes). Rita Hayworth is Harry Cohn's main meal ticket at Columbia, no getting here, but we can probably get Glenn Ford's services. Since they were such a popular screen team, we can team Ford with another redhead and see if the public will buy it. Ann Sheridan was past her best days and she'd work cheap, so the team of Ford and Sheridan was sent to the tropics.
Central America was in the news at the time. The Central Intelligence Agency had a big hand in overthrowing the government in Guatemala of Jacobo Arbenz. Ford's role is rather unclear in this film. At the end he identifies himself as a planter, but I suspect he's probably got some CIA involvement.
The film opens with Ford on a tramp steamer off Central America. He's got a mission of some kind and HAS to get off there, but the captain won't stop. So Ford's got some bad choices to make. He frees some convicts headed by Rudolfo Acosta to help him get ashore. They in turn take quarreling couple, Zachary Scott and Ann Sheridan along as hostages. Acosta's idea, not Ford's.
After that it's a competition between the steamy jungle and the steamier romance heating up between Ford and Sheridan. The two of them do their best, but they're not Ford and Hayworth. It's definitely not Gilda, it's not even Affair in Trinidad.
Some nice color cinematography of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is the best thing about Appointment in Honduras. Maybe it might stimulate one to go there to see where a Thanksgiving beauty was shot.
Bad script, bad editing, bad direction, bad film but great for fans of really bad movies with interesting casts: Glen Ford, still leading man quality; Zachary Scott with his usual smooth performance; and Ann Sheridan, the reason I bought the DVD, always worth watching even if her good roles were in the past. As they wandered through the jungle I kept wondering why they didn’t just step off the set and go the commissary. Things I liked were the red-yellow color tones on the DVD I saw and the crude – scratching on film – special effects of the ants and the flying insects, whatever they were and it was interesting to see Stuart Whitman in a small role as the telegraph operator at the beginning and Jack Elam as one of the bad guys.
For a Glenn Ford junkie, which is easy for me to be with the films he made in the late Forties and early Fifties, Appointment in Honduras is a temptation hard to resist. Ford hadn't become a superstar yet. Most of his movies during this period had decent budgets and solid co-stars. A lot of them were adventures and westerns. Appointment in Honduras, however, has a lot of clichés to overcome before you can decide if Ford makes it worthwhile. In fact, next to Ford, the best thing about the movie is Rodolfo Acosta who plays Reyes, a murdering bandito who has charm and ruthlessness. Compared to Ford's stalwart integrity and firm- jawed decisiveness, Acosta's cheerful lack of conscience makes the movie interesting.
Ford co-stars with Ann Sheridan and Zachary Scott. They re passengers on a tramp freighter carrying five prisoners to Nicaragua. Jim Corbett (Ford), a tough guy with more grease on his hair than your car needs for an oil change, frees the prisoners, takes over the ship and then lands on the coast. They'll head inland. They take fellow passengers Harry and Sylvia Sheppard (Scott and Sheridan) with them as hostages. Corbett is carrying a money belt stuffed with currency. As they start to hack their way through the jungle toward Guatemala, we learn Corbett is bringing the money to help overthrow a ruthless dictator. What he hasn't counted on is Reyes' determination to come out ahead, or that Harry Sheppard, weak, sleazy and sniveling, is rich enough to tempt the criminals. It doesn't help that Sylvia Sheppard didn't have time to pack when they left the ship. For most of the movie Ann Sheridan has only a nightgown, cut low, to wear. Corbett may avert his eyes, but Reyes enjoys the view.
The jungle is strictly back-lot make believe. One can almost see the potted banana plants being shifted around for each new scene. Every menace that every jungle movie ever had shows up…piranhas, pumas, crocodiles, an anaconda, biting ants, bats, malaria, and a cloud of what were either locusts or really sturdy mosquitoes. Ford's grim determination and Scott's sneering become tiresome. The emerging romance between Corbett and Sylvia is intriguing but unlikely, since after two days of sweating in the fetid jungle neither probably wants to stand downwind from the other, much less embrace.
But the movie has enough of Ford's underplaying to justify staying with it. Ann Sheridan, in my book one of the best of the Forties movie stars, doesn't have much to do except look worried. Sheridan's film career was just about over, but she still was a star who was sexy, good-humored, intelligent and warm-hearted. For those who also like this period in Ford's career, even if the movies weren't always very good, try Lust for Gold (1949), The White Tower (1950), The Secret of Convict Lake (1951), Affair in Trinidad (1952), The Green Glove (1954) and Plunder of the Sun (1953.