South of Panama (May 1, 1941)
Released on May 1, 1941: (running time 61 minutes) A reporter in Panama is mistaken for a scientist with a secret camouflage formula and is chased by foreign spies.
Produced by George R. Batcheller
Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Written by Sidney Sheldon with additional dialogue by Ben Roberts
The Actors: Roger Pryor (Mike Lawrence), Virginia Vale (Jan Martin aka Dolores Esteban), Hugh Beaumont (Paul Martin), Lionel Royce (hotel manager Burns), Lucien Prival (foreign spy Raynor), Duncan Renaldo (Captian of Police), Lester Dorr (cab driver Joe), Jack Ingram (henchman Wilton), Warren Jackson (henchman Lake), Edward Keane (Colonel Stoddard), Sam McDaniel (Rodriguez 'Rod' Lincoln Jones)
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The Blonde Spy and the Romantic Reporter
Sidney Sheldon was born on February 11, 1917 in Chicago, while World War One was raging in Europe. He must have always had a story in his mind, weaving characters through a plot with ease. He sold his first poem for $5 when he was ten years old. Sidney Sheldon dabbled in Broadway, motion pictures, television and novels throughout his life. His novels are the seventh most read of any author worldwide.
You might remember some of the television shows that he created and wrote episodes for. They include “The Patty Duke Show,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and “Hart to Hart.” He got an Oscar for writing the movie screenplay for “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” in 1947, but that was not the first screenplay that he wrote.
Sidney Sheldon got a job at Universal Pictures for $22 a week reading scripts that were offered to the company and passing on the best ones for further consideration. At night after work he began writing his own scripts, and the first one he wrote was ‘South of Panama’ – yes – this movie. He sold it to Universal Pictures for $250, and that was the beginning of his story scripts for motion pictures and later television.
This spy adventure was released in May of 1941 and it wouldn't be until the attack on Pearl Harbor later that year on December 7 that the U.S. would finally enter the war, but Europe was already aglow with the bombs of war.
American inventor, Paul Martin, has developed the perfect camouflage paint that makes airplanes invisible from the sky and when on the ground. This special formula paint can also make the Panama Canal invisible to overhead bombers, and Paul Martin, played by Hugh Beaumont, is on his way to Panama to give the formula to the American Colonel in charge of defending the Panama Canal.
The inventor has a beautiful sister who is a spy in Panama, and when she goes to the airport to meet her brother, she notices two shady characters following her and watching her every move. She signals to her inventor brother that they should not recognize each other, and then rushes past him and plants a long, seductive kiss on a total stranger. The stranger happens to be a newspaper reporter, and he has no idea what is about to happen as the foreign spies believe that he is the inventor with the secret formula. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Duncan Renaldo warns Roger Pryor
Edward Keane as Colonel Stoddard
Edward Keane and Hugh Beaumont
Edward Keane and Hugh Beaumont
Hugh Beaumont as inventor Paul Martin
Lucien Prival captures Roger Pryor
Virginia Vale kisses Roger Pryor
Roger Pryor and Lester Dorr
Sam McDaniel and Lucien Prival
Sam McDaniel and Virginia Vale
Virginia Vale and Hugh Beaumont
Virginia Vale and Roger Pryor
Virginia Vale singing in the hotel lounge
Virginia Vale flirts with Roger Pryor
Virginia Vale greets Roger Pryor
Virginia Vale sings to Roger Pryor
Warren Jackson and Jack Ingram