Directed by John Gilling; produced by Robert S Baker and Monty Berman
A merchant marine officer (Scott Brady), whose ship has docked for a few days in London, takes advantage of the opportunity to visit his brother (Paul Erickson). Mystified when he can’t find him, the officer searches, and finds that his sibling has been convicted of murder and is due to be hanged in three days. Convinced of his innocence, the visitor has a short time and few clues to finding the real killer.
White Fire is an action-packed crime drama, more in keeping with American films of the time than British, though the combination of national cinematic traits is successful.
The plot is convoluted, perhaps too much so. Double-crosses abound and few people are what they seem. It is far simpler for the viewer to guess who is not to be trusted than who should be; in this, he is ahead of the hero. The latter freely admits more than once that the goings-on have him ‘buffaloed’. I am sure that at one point people rush to a location of which they could not possibly have been aware. However, like Bogart’s The Big Sleep, which contemporary critics found confusing, White Fire - though not in a Bogart film’s class - is good viewing, regardless of its periodic apathy toward logic.
The movie is filled with brawls and beatings, most of which are exhilarating and well-choreographed. The direction is adequate, and the film is well-served by its London locations, making the most of its low budget.
Some of the acting is a bit wooden, the leading lady (Mary Castle) being particularly guilty of this; she was likely cast less for her thespian ability than for her resemblance of Rita Hayworth. Brady, however, makes a convincingly determined hero, two-fisted and brawny, in over his head but cynically unrelenting in his quest for justice.
A few of White Fire’s twists and surprises must have been thrown in by writers carried away with their story-line, but implausibility doesn’t stand in the way of a fun time with this movie. Add enough action to satisfy tough-guy viewers, and the film is fast-paced, successful adventure.