Appointment with Danger

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Appointment with Danger
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLewis Allen
Produced byRobert Fellows
Screenplay byRichard L. Breen
Warren Duff
StarringAlan Ladd
Phyllis Calvert
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyJohn F. Seitz
Edited byLeRoy Stone
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
7 April 1950 (UK)[1]
  • May 9, 1951 (1951-05-09) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,450,000 (US rentals)[2]

Appointment with Danger is a 1950 American crime film noir directed by Lewis Allen and written by Richard L. Breen and Warren Duff.[3] The drama features Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Paul Stewart, among others.[4]


Al Goddard (Alan Ladd) is a U.S. Postal Inspector of the United States Postal Inspection Service. He is assigned to locate and arrest two men who have allegedly murdered a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Goddard must find a witness, an attractive young nun named Sister Augustine (Phyllis Calvert). He later poses as a corrupt inspector, and gains the confidence of the killers' honcho Boettiger (Paul Stewart), who has worked out a plan to steal one million dollars that is being transported by the U.S. Postal Service.

Once they discover the deception, the villains take Goddard and Sister Augustine prisoner. This leads to a shoot-out in an industrial district.



The film was announced in July 1948 as Postal Inspector. It was always envisioned as a vehicle for Alan Ladd.[5] Ardel Wray and Robert L. Richards wrote the script and the film was meant to follow Chicago Deadline.[6] However production was pushed back to allow Ladd to make Captain Carey, U.S.A.. The movie's title was changed to Dead Letter.[7] William Keighley was originally announced as director, but then he was replaced by Lewis Allen.[8]

Phyllis Calvert was signed in April 1949.[9] According to Calvert the studio did not think she would accept the part, as she had turned down several films before. They spent another six weeks rewriting the script.[10] Filming started on 16 June.[11] The title was changed again to United States Mail.[12]

The film features both Jack Webb and Harry Morgan as villains. Both would later work on the Dragnet television show as fictional police detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department. One of the co-writers of the script, Richard L. Breen had previously worked with Webb on the radio series Pat Novak for Hire, and would write at least three scripts for Dragnet, including the 1954 theatrical film and the 1966 TV-movie pilot for the revival series in which Morgan joined the cast as Detective Bill Gannon.


The film was not released in the USA until 1951 by which time it was retitled Appointment with Danger. It was released in the UK almost a year earlier.[13]

The movie was nominated for the Edgar for best mystery film of the year from the Mystery Writers of America, but lost to Five Fingers.[14]

Critical response[edit]

Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, liked the film, especially the screenplay which Alan Ladd took full advantage of. He wrote, "[I]t's fairly obvious that it's all familiar stuff to our hero, for he evinces as much emotion over these muscular goings-on as a postal clerk counting air mail stamps. But he is fortunate in having a vehicle, which is basically a cops-and-robbers tale, tautly written by scenarists Richard Breen and Warren Duff, who also have injected humor in the modern idiom into their dialogue. And he is fortunate too in having the support of principals who handle these lines and roles as to the manner born. As a result, Appointment With Danger lives up to its title as Ladd, checking on the murder of another postal inspector in Gary, Ind., finds a visiting nun who saw the criminals."[15]

The staff at Variety magazine gave the film a positive review, writing, "Ladd is right at home as the tightlipped, tough inspector assigned to the case. There is a neat contrasting byplay in the nun character done by Phyllis Calvert as co-star, which adds an offbeat note to the meller plot.[16]


  1. ^ NEW FILMS IN LONDON Our Film Critic. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 01 Apr 1950: 5.
  2. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  3. ^ Silver, Alain (2010). Film Noir: The Encyclopedia. p. 29. ISBN 978-0715638804.
  4. ^ Silver, Alain (2010). Film Noir: The Encyclopedia. p. 29. ISBN 978-0715638804.
  5. ^ Roberts Busy Perusing New Novel by Wolfert Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 July 1948: 21.
  6. ^ SCHARY RETURNING TO METRO STUDIOS: Likely to Be Executive Producer Second to Louis B. Mayer -- RKO Leaders in Meeting By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 July 1948: 26.
  7. ^ Otto Preminger to Direct Tierney, Conte as Team; Barker Scouts Zoo Stars Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Nov 1948: B9.
  8. ^ ELEANOR PARKER IN BOGART MOVIE: Warners Name Actress to Lead in 'Chain Lightning' -- Change Directors at Paramount By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Apr 1949: 38.
  9. ^ FOX BUYS RIGHTS TO KERSCH NOVEL: Studio Pays $175,000 for 'Night and City,' 1946 Story of Nightlife in London By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Apr 1949: 39.
  10. ^ Film: For love? Hell no, I did it for money Frustrated by the British studios, Phyllis Calvert went to Hollywood. What followed was even worse.: [FOREIGN Edition] Sweet, MatthewAuthor InformationView Profile. The Independent; London (UK) [London (UK)]25 Feb 2000: 12.
  11. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 May 1949: 34.
  12. ^ New Screen Team Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 12 Mar 1950: G2.
  13. ^ SANDERS TO PLAY 'ANDROCLES' ROLE: Actor Will Take Part of Roman Emperor in Screen Version of Shaw's Classic Story Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Feb 1951: 43.
  14. ^ Ladd's Picture Nominated for Mystery Award Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 25 Nov 1951: g2.
  15. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, May 10, 1951. Last accessed: December 28, 2007.
  16. ^ Variety. Film review, May 10, 1951. Last accessed: December 28, 2007.

External links[edit]