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Blood Alley

142 customer reviews

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(May 03, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

An American merchant marine captain ferries a group of Chinese refugess down the Yangtze River to escape the Communists.

Special Features

  • Newsreel Footage
  • Two Behind the Cameras featurettes from the Warner Bros. Presents series
  • John Wayne trailer Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Paul Fix, Joy Kim, Berry Kroeger
  • Directors: John Wayne, William A. Wellman
  • Writers: Albert Sidney Fleischman
  • Producers: John Wayne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2005
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0XCI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,443 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Blood Alley" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on July 6, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Wayne has his hands full in this one. He plays an American sea captain captured by the Red Chinese and held for the crime of not being a communist. While he sits rotting in a prison, he gets a mysterious note telling of arrangements made for his escape. He makes good on his escape only to find that his benefactors are the daughter of an American doctor (Lauren Bacall) and a village of Chinese who are less than thrilled with their communist masters. They have arranged to steal a ferry boat and want John Wayne to pilot it 300 miles to Hong Kong and take the entire village with him. The communist gun boats make for dangerous adversaries but navigating the river with a decrepit paddle wheeler, no charts and lack of fuel makes the going even more difficult. Taming Lauren Bacall makes all of that easy in comparison.

As usual, John Wayne plays himself in this film. He is a tough, uncompromising man who sets out to do a seemingly impossible task. This time it happens to be in China and aboard a ship. The character does not change but no one expects the Duke to be anyone but himself.

Bacall plays her part as a feisty American woman. She is, of course, Wayne's love interest in this film and her strong willed nature seems perfect to clash with Wayne's own will of iron. The conflict of wills comes across well. The love story comes across less well. Still, it is an entertaining movie.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By William R. Hancock on May 14, 2005
Format: DVD
"Blood Alley" is a big, sprawling, grandly mounted and sumptuously photographed adventure story starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall that tells the tale of a merchant sea captain (Wayne) who has had his freighter stopped and boarded illegally in international waters by the Red Chinese, and who has been imprisoned by them for some time since. A village downriver from the prison where Wayne has been kept antes up a bribe to the prison guards and gets Wayne sprung. Taken downriver by his "contact", big Mike Mazurski made up to look oriental, Duke is informed that the entire village wants to escape to Hong Kong and they want him, Duke, to captain them all down the Formosa Straits ("Blood Alley") to Hong Kong and freedom...and they want this to be done on a leaky, creaky, pokey-slow and prone-to-breakdown stern-wheeled ferryboat. With no charts.

Wayne mulls this and decides he has no choice in the matter. He makes a homemade chart from memory and sets about to put the escape plan in motion, taking everyone with him, including the headstrong daughter (Bacall) of a medical missionary, and an entire family of loyal communists who can't be left behind because their masters would kill them as "responsible" for this flight.

Down the straits goes the ferry boat, dodging commie gunboats day and night and slipping into forests of reeds for camouflage when their pursuers draw too near.

The telling of the story of this journey is so well done that the viewer tends to be detoured away from the story's great glaring logical pothole. This escape is set in the mid-1950s and NOT the EIGHTEEN fifties. Decades earlier it COULD have happened the way it is shown, but NOT in its supposed time period. The reason? Airplanes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAME on February 28, 2008
Format: DVD
BLOOD ALLEY (directed in 1955 by William A. Wellman and produced by John Wayne's film company Batjac) is one of the more unusual John Wayne adventures of the period. Set in Communist-run China, Wayne plays Tom Wilder, a sea captain assigned the task of taking a boatload of Chinese refugees to the safety of the Hong Kong harbour. To do so he must guide the boat down the dangerous 300-mile waterway known as 'Blood Alley'...

Also along for the ride is Lauren Bacall. She provides a much-welcome presence as Cathy Grainger, the daughter of a local doctor who has been murdered by the Communist regime. The cast also includes familiar Batjac personalities Joy Kim ("The High and the Mighty"), Anita Ekberg ("Man in the Vault"), Paul Fix and Barry Kroeger.

Although John Wayne's Batjac production company bankrolled the film, Robert Mitchum was originally-cast in the role of Captain Wilder; but he was later fired following a violent on-set incident. Both Gregory Peck and Humphrey Bogart (Bacall's real-life husband) were considered until it became necessary for John Wayne himself to step into the role.

Released hot on the heels of the previous years' John Wayne/William A. Wellman collaboration "The High and the Mighty" (1954), BLOOD ALLEY did very well at the box office, earning great notices for it's stars Wayne and Lauren Bacall. The timely political theme of the story had a lot to do with it's resonance with film audiences of the period. Today, we can still enjoy BLOOD ALLEY for it's tense action scenes, stunning CinemaScope photography and the memorable chemistry of Wayne and Bacall (they were later reunited in 1976 for "The Shootist"). Highly-recommended.

(Single-sided, dual-layer disc).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Chamberlain on March 3, 2006
Format: DVD
I recently visited "China Camp State Park" near San Rafael on San Francisco Bay. I was surprised to learn that Blood Alley was filmed there. I had seen the movie many years before in a pan and scan version on regular broadcast TV. I had assumed that the movie was filmed in Hong Kong or someplace in the orient. I was very pleased on viewing the DVD that it contained a couple of short "making of" added features, based on home movies that John Wayne took during the filming at China Camp. It surprised me to learn that John Wayne was as much a producer of the film as its star. His home movies revealed other surprises too -- like the need for fog making machines in San Francisco Bay. I was pleased that little has changed at China Camp and it still looks much the same as it did in the movie. I am not a particular fan of John Wayne, although I do admire several of his movies very much including Hatari, The Cowboys, True Grit and The Shootist. It was especially nice to see another movie with John Wayne and Lauren Becall. While I like Lauren better in "The Shootist", her feisty personality works well played against John Wayne's usual self portrayal. I must agree strongly with another reviewer that the costume designer for the film was really off the mark with the dresses and make-up for Lauren Becall. Unfortunately, that really dates the film to the early 1950's. Otherwise, the story, action, special effects are all first rate and the film holds up well when compared to recent productions.

Richard Chamberlain
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