Tuesday, 22 January 2008
F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932)
F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (F.P.1 antwortet nicht) is an odd little film, a 1932 co-production between Gaumont British Pictures and the famous German UFA studios. The cast is a mix of British and German talent, including Jill Esmond, Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre. It’s a spy thriller with a dash of science fiction. A brilliant naval officer designs a floating airfield, a kind of gigantic stationary aircraft carrier, that is to be moored in mid-Atlantic. Various unspecified powers are determined to sabotage this project. Jill Esmond plays Claire Lennartz, the owner of the shipyard responsible for building the F.P. 1 (Floating Platform 1), a woman who is involved in a romantic triangle. Her would-be lovers are Droste, the designer of the F.P.1, and Major Ellissen, an adventurer and pioneering aviator. When saboteurs strike she realises which of the men she loves, but she has to call on the other man to carry out a daring rescue operation. The print I saw seems to be a drastically shortened version of the original release, making the plot rather obscure. The early 1930s aircraft are fun, and the special effects are reasonably impressive for a 1932 movie. This was a big-budget production filmed simultaneously in English and German. The idea is more exciting than the execution, and even the shortened version drags in places, but it’s worth seeing if you’re a fan of off-beat movies and strange genre hybrids.