Saturday, I found another film directed by Muriel Box. She directed another Hollywood actor. Van Johnson starred in the military murder mystery, 1959's SUBWAY IN THE SKY. I had a good time watching this mystery/romance. SUBWAY IN THE SKY is another Box film that made me think of the Hollywood films from Fox in the early '50s. In fact, I could see the SUBWAY IN THE SKY script having been tailored as a film noir-ish drama for Betty Grable, something like her 1941 movie, I WAKE UP SCREAMING.
The scene is Berlin. We see a U.S. military jeep speeding back to the base. A sergeant is killed in the woods. The search is on for the killer. In the city, lovely and sophisticated Hildegarde Knef appears as Lilli. She's renting a deluxe apartment for six months. She's renting it from a rather nervous woman named Anna who's quickly leaving Berlin to care for her terminally ill sister. She dodges leaving a forwarding address. Lilli is with a friend who would like to be more than a friend. However, Lilli tells him honestly that she treasures his friendship. However, she now loves being single and independent. She was married. She loves her job and she loves her life as a single woman who can take care of herself. Lilli sings at a classy nightclub. Says Lilli, "I always wanted to live in a penthouse..." and "...I fancy myself as a spinster."
While alone, Lilli is frightened to see a U.S. soldier enter her apartment. He had a key. He's Baxter Grant and he's wanted as a deserter. How does he have access to the apartment? He's the husband to Anna who's later described as "unstable, neurotic." Baxter deserted because he was framed for a crime. He was a medical officer framed for peddling drugs. This all ties in to the murder. Lilli allows him to hideout and be her roommate while she goes to work and tries to deflect U.S. military police from searching her apartment. The plot may be a bit far-fetched. I think the best way to view this movie is as an enjoyable B-movie mystery.
Baxter and Lilli will fall for each other. To show how their attraction has progressed, there's a scene that would've been forbidden in a Van Johnson Hollywood film of the 1950s. The camera travels into Lilli's room. We see clothing strewn about on the floor and on furniture and then it pans over to show us her double bed. He's lying shirtless on one side under the covers. We see that a head had rested on the pillow next to his. Then we hear Lilli in the shower. That was pretty sexy for 1959.
After that, the hunt to find the killer intensifies. As for the odd title, it came from Baxter's childhood. In New York, he got lost once on the subway and felt helpless. Now he has that same feeling of helplessness in Lilli's -- sing it along with me -- "deluxe apartment in the sky -- hy..."
SUBWAY IN THE SKY directed by Muriel Box runs about 90 minutes.