Five Came Back (1939) starring Lucille Ball, Chester Morris, John Carradine, Allen Jenkins, C. Aubrey Smith
Twelve people are aboard Coast Air Line’s flagship the Silver Queen. They’re en route to South America when the airplane encounters a storm and is blown off course. The plane crashes into headhunter-inhabited jungles. Pilots Bill Brooks (Chester Morris) and Joe (Kent Taylor) race against time to fix the engines and attempt a take-off.
The situation brings out the best and worst in the stranded dozen as they create a makeshift runway and prepare to escape before the natives attack. But due to damage to the plane and low fuel reserves, only 5 people can be carried to safety.
- Will both Bill and Joe make the flight out?
- What about Peggy (Lucille Ball, in an excellent performance), a woman with a slightly tarnished past
- Pete (Allen Jenkins), a racketeer who is escorting his boss’s young son Tommy (Casey Johnson)
- Alice and Judson (Wendy Barrie and Patrick Knowles), eloping lovers who grow to have less in common as their plight changes one of them
- Crimp (John Carradine), who is bringing criminal Vasquez (Joseph Calleia) to justice
- Professor and Mrs. Spengler (C. Aubrey Smith, in a wonderful performance, and Elisabeth Risdon), an elderly couple who become close once again
- Flight attendant Larry (Dick Hogan)
Who will live, who will die — and who decides? Five Came Back is a very good film, a precursor to the disaster film genre, with a fine cast and some very fine acting all around.
Trivia for Five Came Back
According to Turner Classic Movies, there were real trees on the set for the jungle scenes. In one scene, Lucille Ball was leaning against one of the prop trees and spiders crawled out of it and into her hair, sending her and the rest of the cast screaming & running. Budgeted at $225,000, which was extremely low even by RKO standards, this picture netted a relatively amazing $262,000 in profits. In addition to a long and varied career (appearing with The Three Stooges, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton, Abbott and Costello, among many others), Allen Jenkins appeared with Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy three times as a police officer – Too Many Crooks, Ricky and Fred are TV Fans, New Neighbors