Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pier 5, Havana

Edward L. Cahn was known for cranking out features quickly, but he and producer/writer Robert E. Kent may have challenged some landspeed records getting PIER 5, HAVANA into theaters so quickly after Bautista’s fall from grace in Cuba. Castro gained control of the Cuban government in January 1959. Cahn began shooting Kent’s script the following month, and PIER 5 was in theaters before the end of the year.

Missing since the Cuban revolution began is Hank Miller, an alcoholic airplane mechanic and best friend of Steve Daggett (Cameron Mitchell), who flies from Miami to Havana to find him. He immediately suspects aristocrat Fernando Ricardo (Eduardo Noriega), who shows more than just a friendly attraction toward Miller’s estranged wife Monica (Allison Hayes, just off ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN).

Police lieutenant Garcia (Michael Granger) seems disinterested in the case, so Daggett investigates on his own and discovers a boatmaker named Schluss (Otto Waldis) who appears involved in a plot to bomb Havana and recapture the Cuban government for Bautista’s forces. But how does Miller’s disappearance tie into it?

More plot-heavy than Cahn’s other B-movies for United Artists, PIER 5 is less a political thriller than a private-eye movie with Mitchell’s air freight owner narrating in classic style. Cam and Cahn made three films together in less than two years (also THREE CAME TO KILL and INSIDE THE MAFIA), and it appears as though Cahn was a good influence on his star, who had a tendency to ham it up when not directed with a firm hand. Hayes does nice work as a woman torn between the husband she likes and the man she loves (Daggett).

Seven Cahn films were released in 1959—not an unusual pace for him, and one wonders whether it contributed to his 1963 death at age 64.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Another movie that uses the Cuban Revolution very early is (oddly enough) a comedy, Roger Corman's CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA.