Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Back From Eternity


If a story really appeals to you, why not make it again for a new generation, right? Hitchcock did it, and so did Frank Capra. That must be how John Farrow was feeling, too, as he made this exact same story in 1939 as Five Came Back. But that one had a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo and Nathaniel West. This one was scripted by someone I’ve never heard of, John Latimer. He has some interesting credits earlier in his career, but ended up as mostly a TV writer.

I can see the title change. The first time, you know how many survive this plane crash in the jungle. It becomes a guessing game. Who will die? The pain-in-the-ass little kid? The gangster who is escorting the kid out of the country? The old professor and his wife? The brassy lady of ill repute? (Lucille Ball in the first one, Anita Ekberg here.) The spoiled and cowardly rich man, or his fiancée? You know at least one pilot has to make it out. This one has a pretty good cast, with Rod Steiger and Robert Ryan. Again, it’s pretty improbable that the plane could take off from a jungle setting, but never mind. The stress works its magic on all the people, revealing who has backbone or morals, and who doesn’t. Little of it is surprising. I think the chief difference in this one and the first is that instead of using that weird Capella XC-12, this one is a good old reliable DC-3. And there is a fully operating plane on the huge studio set.