Five Came Back


Five Came Back

John Farrow
USA, 1939
75min, OF

© Viennale

Five Came Back

John Farrow
USA, 1939
, 75min, OF

Chester Morris
Lucille Ball
Wendy Barrie
John Carradine
Allen Jenkins
Joseph Calleia
C. Aubrey Smith
Jerome Cady
Dalton Trumbo
Nathaniel West
Richard Carrol
Nicholas Musuraca
Roy Webb

RKO Pictures
35 mm

Among Nathanael West’s most significant screen credits is co-writer to John Farrow’s FIVE CAME BACK, a tense proto- disaster 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)