Desperate Journey. 1940. USA. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Screenplay by Arthur T. Horman. With Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Coleman, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy. 35mm. 107 min.
Flynn’s career entered a new and more creative phase after They Died with Their Boots On, the first of his seven films with director Raoul Walsh. Walsh understood and was fascinated by Flynn’s relentless dynamism, and their films together are records of bodies in movement, of the drama and excitement of getting from point A to point B. Desperate Journey was the first of the Walsh-Flynn war movies, and at this early point in the conflict the war is still being presented as an adventurous romp—a perspective that would greatly darken until the final episode, the starkly existential (and unfortunately unavailable) Objective, Burma! (1945). Flynn joins Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale, and Arthur Kennedy as members of a British bomber crew shot down over Germany; Raymond Massey, channeling Conrad Veidt, is the Nazi officer on their trail.