A Film Rumination: Non-Stop New York, Robert Stevenson (1937)

May 24, 2011 § 10 Comments

5/10 (Bad/Average)

This “lost” (for good reason) little film is vaguely watchable for one aspect alone — a massive futuristic art-deco transatlantic plane which can fly from London to New York in 18 hours!  Non-Stop New York (1937) is an early film from illustrious director Robert Stevenson (Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Love Bug, Jane Eyre 1943, The Absentminded Professor, etc).

However, Non-Stop New York fails to deliver in every regard — the acting is grating, there’s a silly pseudo-comic gangster plot, and has a complete lack of interest in the MASSIVE FUTURISTIC art-deco TRANSATLANTIC PLANE everyone is flying on!

Perhaps that’s the bizarre sort of charm it exudes — the mater-of-fact way that the plane is presented as if such flying monstrosities existed in the 30s.

The film serves as a vehicle for a high-strung/bubbly performance by Anna Lee (Stevenson’s wife).  She nails perfectly the naive yet good-hearted down on her luck bleached-blonde choir girl character.  However, all the other bit parts are frustrating and grating — especially the dumb kid violin prodigy whom I wanted to personally toss out of the plane along with the “villains.”

Brief Plot Summary

Down on her luck Jennie Carr (Anna Lee) is a witness to a murder of a friendly lawyer who had previously offered her food at his house.  The lawyer had recently quit his job working for the mob.  Jennie, an English woman, returns to England but learns from a newspaper that the wrong man has been convicted for the crime.  Desperate to return and clear the innocent’s name she tries to enlist the help of Inspector Jim Grant (John Loder) who doesn’t believe her story.

Jennie, with the help of her mother, stows away on the transatlantic plane to head back to New York.  Little does she know that the mob wants to have her killed since she witnessed the crime and knows about the cover-up.  The mob boss, the inspector, and Jennie are all on the plane together along with a host of annoying secondary characters.

Some “action” occurs — and a semi-fun action sequence where Jim Grant traverses the plane’s exterior WHILE it’s in midair and plummeting to the ocean…

Final Thoughts

Only watch this brainless caper if you have an obsession with shoddy 30s comic action ‘B’ movies… Or like me, had heard rumors of a movie with a futuristic two-level plane (with external decks)!  The rumor proved to be correct — the film itself, ehh…

At least the posters are worthwhile!

Oh, and the film is free on The Internet Movie Archive (here).

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§ 10 Responses to A Film Rumination: Non-Stop New York, Robert Stevenson (1937)

  • I have to admit, despite your warning I am tempted to watch this trainwreck. You had me at “multilevel art deco flying monstrocity.” Great review!

    • Joachim Boaz says:

      Yeah, that’s what I thought, until I discovered that the film “has a complete lack of interest in the MASSIVE FUTURISTIC art-deco TRANSATLANTIC PLANE everyone is flying on!” — haha — which kind of ruins the experience…

      But, there’s also the strange cinephilic joy at watching a film with less than 100 imdb.com votes — HAHA — right?

  • I miss watching this kind of film. I definitely have to look up for this.

  • Thomas Evans says:

    Oh my God! This sounds fantastic! I absolutely MUST watch it. Just the fact that it takes place on a MASSIVE FUTURISTIC art-deco TRANSATLANTIC PLANE and that is totally ignored. Must see.

    I do wonder, however, how did you even hear of this film?

    • Joachim Boaz says:

      I have an encyclopedia of science fiction films which mentioned this… It’s been on my radar of esoteric films to see for the past year or so. Don’t get your hopes up — it’s crud. Interesting crud.

  • I’m also very tempted to see this now. I have to at least see the plane, but might not try to watch the whole thing.

    • Joachim Boaz says:

      Well, even the plane will be disappointing — if you have a cinephilic urge to see a very very esoteric film then go ahead — little other pleasure will be derived from it ;)

  • Thomas Evans says:

    Ok. I just finished watching this and must admit your review is spot on. Talk about missing a plot device. Plane? Who needs the plane?

    Actually, in some ways it reminded me of Airport ’79, though that film’s “plot” was at least centered on it being a supersonic jet.

    • Joachim Boaz says:

      I know (@missing plot device)! The film is really frustrating because of that epic lapse…. The latest Robert Stevenson feature I’ve seen (and reviewed) was The Man Who Changed His Mind — with Karloff, John Loder, and Anna Lee — substantially better! Because of Karloff of course…

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