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Danger Signal

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Danger Signal
Danger Signal Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Florey
Screenplay by
Based onDanger Signal
1939 novel
by Phyllis Bottome
Produced byWilliam Jacobs
CinematographyJames Wong Howe
Edited byFrank Magee
Music byAdolph Deutsch
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 14, 1945 (1945-11-14) (United States)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,110,000[1]

Danger Signal is a 1945 film noir starring Faye Emerson and Zachary Scott. The screenplay was adapted from the 1939 novel of the same name by Phyllis Bottome.


A mysterious pulp writer—and psychopath—named Ronnie Mason, steals a dead woman's wedding ring and money and leaves a fake suicide note. The woman's husband, Thomas Turner, when questioned by the local police, believes his dead wife might have been seeing Mason behind his back. He also believes his wife was murdered, but in the absence of other evidence, the police list it as a suicide and drop the case.

Mason leaves town, changes his name to Marsh and, displaying a noticeable limp he acquired jumping from the dead woman's bedroom window and a veteran's pin he steals from a fellow passenger on the L.A. bus, passes himself off as a wounded veteran and rents a room in a house Mrs. Fenchurch shares with her elder daughter Hilda, a public stenographer, and the teenaged Anne. All three women are extremely impressionable, and to the consternation of professor Andrew Lang, who secretly loves Hilda, the girls fall for Marsh's charms.

Hilda and Marsh get involved, even spend a weekend retreat together - financed by the earnest, thrifty Hilda. Marsh claims to be broke, awaiting his first sale, but conceals it when the MacLellen Publishing Company sends him $200 for his short story "Dark Island," to be published in the next issue of Adventure Tales magazine.

Hilda sees visions of marriage straight ahead. When Marsh learns that Anne might inherit a great deal of money drops Hilda cold and secretly takes up with Anne. Eventually the truth comes out about them. Hilda is both jealous and suspicious. Enough so she plots to lure Marsh to a beach house and poison him. She is unable to go through with it, but when Marsh runs off he is surprised by Turner, who has tracked him down, and plunges off a steep cliff to his death.



Bosley Crowther, the film critic for The New York Times, panned the film, describing it a "diluted little melodrama" in which the filmmakers resort to a car chase in order to relieve boredom.[2] The ending proved to be a disappointment. In the Bottome novel, Hilda does indeed poison Marsh. Warner Bros., however, thought it improper to portray Faye Emerson, who was the daughter-in-law of President Franklin D. Roosevelt by her marriage to Elliott Roosevelt, as a murderess.

Box office

According to financial records at Warner Bros., the film was a box-office success, earning $689,000 domestically and $421,000 internationally.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Warner Bros. financial information in "The William Shaefer Ledger". See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 26 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, November 22, 1945. Last accessed: February 8, 2010.
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Danger Signal
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