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Desperate Journey (1942)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 26 September 1942 (USA)
When the crew of a downed British bomber escape from their Nazi captors with Top Secret intelligence, they make a desperate journey to get out of Germany alive.


Raoul Walsh


Arthur T. Horman (original screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Flight Lt. Terrence Forbes
Ronald Reagan ... Flying Officer Johnny Hammond
Nancy Coleman ... Kaethe Brahms
Raymond Massey ... Major Otto Baumeister
Alan Hale ... Flight Sergeant Kirk Edwards
Arthur Kennedy ... Flying Officer Jed Forrest
Ronald Sinclair ... Flight Sergeant Lloyd Hollis
Albert Bassermann ... Dr. Mather (as Albert Basserman)
Sig Ruman ... Preuss
Patrick O'Moore ... Squadron Leader Lane-Ferris
Felix Basch Felix Basch ... Hermann Brahms
Ilka Grüning ... Frau Brahms (as Ilka Gruning)
Elsa Bassermann ... Frau Raeder (as Else Basserman)
Charles Irwin Charles Irwin ... Captain Coswick
Richard Fraser ... Squadron Leader Clark


When Flight Lt Forbes and his crew are shot down after bombing their target, they discover valuable information, about a hidden German aircraft factory, that must get back to England. In their way across Germany, they try and cause as much damage as possible. Then with the chasing Germans about to pounce, they come up with an ingenious plan to escape. Written by mike.wilson6@btinternet.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Man alive, just picture this excitement! See more »


Action | Adventure | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





English | German

Release Date:

26 September 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Forced Landing See more »


Box Office


$1,209,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Ronald Reagan's character is awakened, he complains that in his dream he had a date with Ann Sheridan. Reagan had played opposite Sheridan three times including his two previous features, "Juke Girl" and "Kings Row." See more »


When identifying themselves on the flight home they say plane markings "TK". While on the ground the marking was clearly "T". See more »


Flying Officer Johnny Hammond: [has just double-talked, sucker punched and knocked out Baumeister] The iron fist has a glass jaw!
See more »


Referenced in Five Came Back: Combat Zones (2017) See more »


Waltzing Matilda
(1895) (uncredited)
Original music by Christina Macpherson (1895)
(Based on the Scottish tune "Craigielee", music by James Barr, with words by Robert Tannahill)
Revised music by Marie Cowan (1903)
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson (1895)
Partially sung a cappella by Errol Flynn
See more »

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User Reviews

Far-Fetched but Action-Packed Flynn Adventure!
18 September 2003 | by cariartSee all my reviews

Of all the actors who made WWII adventure films, Errol Flynn was second only to John Wayne in being accused of 'winning the war single-handed'. His civilian status ridiculed (Flynn HAD attempted to enlist; despite his healthy appearance, it was discovered he had an 'athlete's heart', plus traces of malaria and TB he had contracted in his youth, and was turned down), and his wild lifestyle becoming impossible for WB publicists to cover up any longer (his arrest for trumped-up charges of statutory rape was about to explode into the nation's headlines), Flynn's unique status as an Australian who was also an American movie star would, nonetheless, make him an ideal leading man for war movies that would not only be morale boosters for American audiences, but international audiences, as well.

DESPERATE JOURNEY was the film Flynn's detractors most often ostracized, with it's 'over-the-top' action, and wildly improbable story (downed fliers reap havoc on moronic Nazis, then return to England in a stolen bomber). Certainly, Flynn's ease in both eluding and harassing the Germans, and the infamous tag line he delivers at film's end ("Now to Australia, and a crack at those Japs!") were comic book heroics, at best, and could not be taken seriously. But the same critics that lambasted him ignored the equally far-fetched WWII-themed ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT and ACROSS THE PACIFIC (with Bogart), THEY MET IN BOMBAY (with Gable), and ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON (with Cary Grant). The pity about all this was, when Flynn would appear in superior war pictures (EDGE OF DARKNESS and OBJECTIVE, BURMA!), the films would be 'lumped in' with his more cartoonish epics.

All this being said, as a 'tongue-in-cheek' adventure yarn, DESPERATE JOURNEY is fast-paced and very enjoyable! Directed by action film veteran Raoul Walsh, the story of British bomber 'D-for-Danny', shot down over occupied central Europe, offers a terrific cast, including Ronald Reagan and Arthur Kennedy (in their second teaming with Flynn), and Alan Hale (in his tenth of 12 Flynn films). The gifted Canadian actor, Raymond Massey, also making his second appearance with Flynn, is a thoroughly hiss-able Nazi Major (speaking the gobbly-gook Hollywood passed off as 'German' in these films) who 'loses' the captured fliers (after a brilliantly funny scene with Reagan, which Flynn, jealous of his co-star, attempted to cut, or have re-written for him), then pursues them, futilely, across the continent. The fliers receive aid from a sympathetic German doctor and his beautiful assistant (Nancy Coleman, providing a bit of romance for Flynn), lose Hale (a truly sad moment, in the film's most dramatic escape), and Flynn, Reagan, and Kennedy eventually discover a captured, fueled British bomber, about to be used to attack England, which provides a convenient means of returning home (so Flynn can have his 'crack' at the 'Japs').

At a running time of 108 minutes, the film seldom drags, provides Flynn a chance to give a "There'll always be an England" soliloquy, and has more one-liners than most screen comedies (Reagan's hilarious 'double-speak', describing allied bomber capabilities, leading to knocking Massey out, with the comment, "The Iron Fist has a Glass Jaw.")

The years have been far kinder to DESPERATE JOURNEY than many other war era films, and it holds it's own very well in the 'Indiana Jones' climate of today's action flicks.

It is certainly a 'must' for any Errol Flynn fan's collection!

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