Escape in the Desert

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Drama, USA, 1945, 79 min.

Synopsis While on a mission to destroy a Japanese oil refinery, pilot Phillip Artveld remembers his first visit to the United States in 1944: After his country, the Netherlands, is liberated, Phillip volunteers to fight in the Pacific. In order to see some of the country, he decides to hitchhike to San Francisco, from where he will leave for the East. Meanwhile, four Nazi prisoners of war escape into the California desert. Although motorists are warned not to pick up hitchhikers, Phillip gets a ride from Gramp, the owner of the Land's End motel and gas station near Death Valley. When Phillip makes a statement in German, Gramp concludes that he is one of the escaped prisoners and takes him into custody at gunpoint. Waiting at the motel are Gramp's beautiful granddaughter Jane, her younger brother Danny and station attendant Hank Albright, who is in love with Jane. Hank summons the sheriff, but Jane quickly discovers Phillip's real identity, and overjoyed at finding someone who shares her interest in painting and literature, begs him to take her to San Francisco. Realizing that Jane would leave with any man who would take her, Phillip replies that he will travel on alone. Nonetheless, Jane kisses Phillip and is seen by Hank, who jealously picks a fight with Phillip. Phillip then walks back up the road to wait for a ride. He is picked up by the escaped Nazis, who have already killed several people for their clothes and cars. When they learn about the motel, the Nazis return there, hoping to acquire guns. Captain Becker, the leader of the Nazis, plans to kill the men and take Jane as a hostage, but his plans are interrupted by the arrival of the sheriff, who is responding to Hank's earlier summons. Becker pretends to be Phillip, and Jane goes along with his charade to protect the others. Later, tourists Dr. Orville Tedder, a dentist, and his wife Lora stop at the motel, and Becker takes them prisoner in order to steal their car. His plans are thwarted, however, because the car is not full of gas, and the Nazis must wait for the midnight gas delivery. When the truck approaches, Jane calls out a warning, but the Nazis shoot the driver. After they fill up the tank of the car and drive off, the car crashes and explodes. Although all the Nazis manage to escape, the explosion attracts the attention of the sheriff, and a gunfight ensues. Becker tells Phillip, who is outside with the sheriff's men, that he will kill his hostages unless he and his men are allowed to go free. In order to prevent this, Phillip throws a dynamite fuse into the room and, mistaking it for a bomb, the Nazis run outside and are captured.

Directed by Edward A. Blatt  

Starring Jean Sullivan, Philip Dorn, Irene Manning, Helmut Dantine, Alan Hale, more...

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