Desperate Search Film Details
Overview: The family and friends of two children lost in the wilderness mount a desperate search to find them.
Tagline: Based on the Saturday Evening Post Story of Three Desperate People
Review: Hollywood movies made for a few years after the Second World War often had hidden political or sociological agendas. In some cases it was the studios trying to promote or to demonstrate a commitment to old-fashioned values. In other cases it was simply the perception of the marketing people that audiences wanted a return to the pre-war days. The extensive mobilization required to win the war had let the genie out of the bottle of women’s occupational choices. Women had served in the military, become military and civilian pilots, and replaced men in most factory jobs. When the men returned home they reclaimed most of their jobs but the myth of a woman’s inability to work productively outside the home had been exploded. For many, a big issue was how to undo this damage. “Desperate Search” (1952) tapped into this anxiety. The story revolves around two very young children, 9 year-old Don Heldon (Lee Acker) and his 7 year-old sister Janet (Linda Lowell) who are the only survivors of a small plane crash deep in the wilderness. Acker will look familiar to baby boomers as he went on to play Rusty in “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” and Russel in the first season of “Spin and Marty”. Their father Vince (Howard Keel) and mother Nora (Patricia Medina) are rival pilots who fly search missions for the missing plane (the two are divorced). Although in black and white there is a lot of beautiful scenery. The editors have some difficultly matching the second unit stuff to the in-studio flying sequences and special effects. One particularly amusing shot shows Vince’s plane in a very steep dive on what is supposed to be a gliding approach to land on a small lake. But if you suspend disbelief a few times you can get into the peril of the children, the anxiety of the searchers, and the relief of everyone when they are reunited. At first glance the film seems conflicted in its portrayal of women (as was the country at that time), but in final analysis it comes down squarely on the side of traditional roles. Elaine Stewart (one of Hollywood’s all-time most beautiful actresses) plays a stewardess and Medina a pilot; but Stewart is killed in her occupation and Medina hinders the search by questioning the wisdom of her ex-husband. And at the end Medina’s co-pilot (Keenan Wynn) has her pretty much convinced that she should become more traditional; in the husband supporting (but still very brave) model of Vince’s new wife Julie (Jane Greer). The traditional agenda is even more obvious with the children. Don is only slightly older but plays the protective big brother to an extreme. Poor Janet is almost constantly (and I mean constantly) crying and whining. The resourceful Don keeps his little sister safe while he takes the steps that will lead to their rescue. A little bit of this would have gone a long way but it is run into the ground. Also note that it is a growth experience for the boy but the girl is simply anxious to get back to her dolls. Then again, what do I know? I’m only a child.
Duration: 73 min
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Also known as: Kadoksissa,Vier dagen angst,Desperate Search,Disperata ricerca,Busca Desesperada,Quatre jours d’angoisse