Written and Posted by Sarah
Dan Duryea arrived in Hollywood as character actor who was adept at "sniveling sissy" roles and tough bad guys. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, however, he had been elevated into some starring roles in a variety of B-level films. Many of these pictures were released by by Allied Artists. World for Ransom was one such picture.
World for Ransom has not been released for home viewing, so I haven't seen the film. It seems to have been an average B-Adventure film (from all that I've read about it) that was well received in 1954 but has been criticized by modern viewers. The plot has to do with the capture of a Nuclear scientist by a blackmail gang. The film did well enough at the box office that Dan Duryea was hoping to make another one, though he wanted to use the "China Smith" name the next time. World for Ransom was shown in many theaters as the second feature. It followed The Great Diamond Robbery, starring Red Skelton.
World for Ransom was filmed in the Spring of 1953 and released in January of the following year. Duryea had been looking for a script to bring "China Smith" (his current TV show) to the big screen, though he was unsure that the public would come be willing to pay to see a long version of a story that they could view for free. He decided that it would be better if the names of the characters were changed, so "China Smith" became "Mike Callahan." Even Douglas Dumbrille reprised his role as the leader of British Intelligence.
The film was produced by the same production crew as the TV show. It was also filmed on the same lot and using the same sets. Director Robert Aldrich was brought in to lead the project. It was this move, apparently, that kept the film from joining the ranks of the other "TV show films" that were being released in the same period.
The supporting cast featured a lot of well-known names, including Patric Knowles, Gene Lockhart, Reginald Denny, Nigel Bruce and Arthur Shields. If you would like to read a blow-by-blow synopsis of the film, just CLICK HERE (TCM's movie page).