Non-Stop New York
- For the NBC-owned digital subchannel "New York Nonstop", see WNBC.
|Non-Stop New York|
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Written by||Ken Attiwill (novel)
Francis L. Sullivan
|Music by||Hubert Bath
|Edited by||Al Barnes|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
Non-Stop New York (also known as Libson Clipper Mystery) is a 1937 British science fiction crime film directed by Robert Stevenson and starring John Loder, Anna Lee and Francis L. Sullivan.[N 1] It is based on the novel Sky Steward by Ken Attiwill. A woman who can clear an innocent man of the charge of murder is pursued by gangsters onto a luxurious transatlantic flying boat.
On New Year's Eve 1938, lawyer Billy Cooper notices stranded English showgirl Jennie Carr (Anna Lee) gazing hungrily at other diners' plates and offers to buy her a meal. However, the restaurant is all out of food, so he invites her to his apartment. Before they arrive, Abel, another equally hungry and unemployed person, sneaks in for a chicken leg. Hearing them coming, he hides in a bedroom. When Jennie enters the room to remove her coat, he begs her not to cause trouble. She sympathizes with his plight and says nothing to Billy.
Just then, Hugo Brant (Francis L. Sullivan), Billy's gangster employer, and his men barge in. They make Jennie leave. When Billy admits that he is quitting, Brant shoots him dead. To get rid of loose ends, Hugo sends Harrigan aboard the ocean liner bound for Southampton with Jennie. He frames Jennie for robbery.
Meanwhile, Abel, who was caught by the building watchman as he tried to sneak out, is tried and sentenced to death for Cooper's murder. The woman he insists can exonerate him is in HM Prison Holloway, unaware of his plight. Hugo and gang member Mortimer travel to England to deal with Jennie.
When Jennie gets out of prison, her mother introduces her to her new tenant, a priest named Mr. Mortimer. After reading in the newspaper about Abel's impending execution, she goes to Scotland Yard, despite Mortimer's warning that she might herself become a suspect. She finds that other women have turned up, all claiming to be the missing witness. Inspector Jim Grant is skeptical, and that turns into certainty when Mortimer shows up and totally discredits her.
Meanwhile, Brant, under the alias of would-be Paraguayan dictator "General Costello", receives a message at his hotel, informing him of the developments. The messenger, Spurgeon (Peter Bull), later sneaks back in and collects the torn up pieces to sell to bookmaker and blackmailer Sam Pryor (Frank Cellier). Treacherously, Spurgeon also tips off Inspector Grant (for a price) that Pryor will be flying to New York on blackmail business.
With only two days before the execution and not enough money to pay for airfare, Jennie sneaks aboard the Atlantic Airlines "Libson Clipper", a giant transatlantic flying boat. The paying passengers include Costello, 14-year-old violin prodigy Arnold James (Desmond Tester) and his aunt Veronica (Athene Seyler), Pryor and Grant. Jennie finds an empty compartment. It turns out to Grant's; while he is deciding what to do when he discovers her, the aircraft takes off. After she leaves, he informs a crewman that he will pay her fare.
When Pryor tries to blackmail Costello, the latter bluffs him into leaving. Pryor then finds out that Jennie has some connection to the inspector; he passes himself off as a Scotland Yard superintendent and learns from her her involvement in the murder. She remarks that one of the perpetrators was able to light a match with one hand, a feat he saw Costello perform. He brings Jennie to Costello's table at dinnertime, but Costello remains outwardly unfazed.
Late that night, by chance, Jennie and Costello are the last ones left in the lounge. He lures the unsuspecting young woman out on the open-air balcony, intending to push her over, but Pryor is watching. Now in a much stronger bargaining position, he demands not £1,000 but £20,000, this time for not interfering with Costello's murderous plan. Costello seemingly gives in to his demand and leads him into the baggage compartment to get the money, but there he shoots the blackmailer dead. There is an unseen witness, however: Arnold. He wakes Grant. Meanwhile, Costello tries to strangle Jennie. When Grant hears her screams, he bursts in, only to be held at gunpoint. Arnold provides a distraction. Costello grabs a parachute, makes his way to the cockpit, locks the door, shoots the pilot and jumps out. With the aircraft careening out of control, Grant goes outside, makes his way across the top of the fuselage clinging to a cable handrail, to the cockpit, and opens the door for the other pilot, who regains control just in time. When Grant radios for a police cordon for Costello, Arnold sheepishly admits he cut out a piece of the parachute to muffle his saxophone (his preferred instrument).
As appearing in Non-Stop New York, (main roles and screen credits identified):
- John Loder as Inspector Jim Grant
- Anna Lee as Jennie Carr.
- Francis L. Sullivan as Hugo Brant, aka "General Costello"
- Frank Cellier as Sam Pryor, a bookmaker
- Desmond Tester as Arnold James, violin child prodigy
- Athene Seyler as Aunt Veronica
- William Dewhurst as Mortimer
- Drusilla Wills as Mrs. Carr, Jennie's mother
- Jerry Verno as Steward
- James Pirrie as Billy Cooper
- Ellen Pollock as Miss Harvey
- Arthur Goullett as Abel
- Peter Bull as Spurgeon
- Tony Quinn as Harrigan
- H. G. Stoker as Captain
Largely filmed at Gaumont Graphic studios in Shepherd's Bush, the production relied on a huge flying boat prop, that was realistically created and used for both exterior and interior shots. Recognizing the talent of "specialists at 'make believe'," the film employed the skills of the studio workmen to also build a realistic scale model.
The New York Times review called it a "well-staged and moderately entertaining Class B melodrama" featuring "a transatlantic airplane as richly imaginative as a front-cover of Popular Science or a Buck Rogers space ship". A more recent review by Leonard Maltin noted the film was a "... Fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek Hitchcock-like yarn ..."
- Anna Lee at the time was married to director Robert Stevenson.
- Lee and Cooper 2007, p. 87.
- Telotte 2000, p. 203.
- "Credits: Non-Stop New York (1937)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 30 June 2013.
- Dobinson 2000, p. 4.
- Crisler, B.R. "Non-Stop New York (1937); The Screen; ' Non-Stop New York,' a Gaumont British Film, Opens at the Globe." The New York Times, 29 November 1937. Retrieved: 20 September 2008.
- Maltin, Leonard. "Leonard Maltin Movie Review: Non-Stop New York." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 31 June 2013.
- Attiwill, Ken. Sky Steward. London: John Long Limited, 1936.
- Dobinson, Colin. Fields of Deception: Britain's Bombing Decoys of World War II. London: Methuen, 200. ISBN 978-0-41377-632-7.
- Lee, Anna with Barbara Roisman Cooper. Anna Lee: Memoir of a Career on General Hospital and in Film. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2007. ISBN 978-0-78643-161-8.
- Telotte, J. P. A Distant Technology: Science Fiction Film and the Machine Age. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2000. ISBN 978-0-81956-346-0.